The next big idea

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Many agriculturists look at new ways to create or improve revenue streams, and I’m no different. The farmers and ranchers I talk to fuel my need for change, but my plans don’t always come together. 

Most of the time, I either get a solid “no” or a cross-eyed look from my husband when I say, “You know, I think we can….” That’s usually as far as my big ideas go. For years I was frustrated, but I see how my “epic” ideas tend to be spur of the moment and not always thought out very well.

A few weeks ago, I had a brilliant idea. It was going to be big, really big. 

At 10:30 p.m., it hit me out of the blue, and I began an online search for greenhouses and possible grant funding sources for a commercial produce operation. 

I had the perfect spot figured out for a greenhouse, and I was beginning to look at for best time to start the tomatoes from seed. I would grow lots of varieties of tomatoes, lettuce, squash, you name it. Summer crops or cool crops, I would grow it all in my greenhouse, and it would be awesome. I was going to set up a little stand at the house to sell my produce on the weekends and maybe even take over one whole side of the big shop. We would need another big fan or two installed to help move air so my customers would be comfortable as they looked over the bountiful harvest from my greenhouse in the hot summer months. And maybe, just maybe, I could finally grow one of those giant pumpkins that get hauled to those great pumpkin festivals on a roll-back or flatbed trailer. It was going to be awesome, so awesome. I could feel my heart beating just a little faster as I went to page after page on the internet. 

After about an hour, I realized one very, very important thing; I don’t like to garden. I usually put a few tomato or pepper plants in old mineral tubs, but I didn’t even do that this year. I just planted flowers, which I failed to water for about two weeks during those really hot spells, so they died. I’m not even good with inside plants because I forget to water them as well, so a commercial produce operation really would not be the best option for me. I’ve decided horticulture is out of my wheelhouse.

Wild ideas have been some of the leading agricultural innovations. John Froelich had more than a few skeptics when he introduced the first gas-powered tractor in the U.S. Froelich and his partners formed the Waterloo Gasoline Traction Engine Company to manufacture the “Froelich Tractor.” The new company sold two units, which were returned shortly after purchase. 

To make a long story short, Froelich eventually left the company to focus on tractors, not the stationary engines the company moved to after the flop of the Froelich. The company, however, continued development and had a few successful models by 1914. In 1918, The Waterloo Company was purchased by John Deere. The rest, as they say, is history.

Froelich’s idea didn’t go as planned, but he planted a seed that revolutionized agriculture and his name is forever etched in history.

Maybe one day I can be the next Froelich. I’ll have another “epic” idea in the future that just might work, but until then, I will enjoy sharing the stories of farmers and ranchers and how you make your ideas work. You are making your own page in the history of the Ozarks, one idea at a time.

Julie Turner-Crawford is a native of Dallas County, Mo., where she grew up on her family’s farm. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Julie, call 1-866-532-1960 or by email at [email protected]

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