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The perfect Christmas gift for the farmer in your life
Many farmers’ wives have told me that buying a Christmas gift for a farmer is very difficult. What they really want are trucks or tractors that just don’t fit well under the tree and are a devil to wrap.

When you ask a farmer what he wants for Christmas, he is more than likely to say something like “$10 soybeans.” This year, however, there is something on the market sure to please the producer in your life.

It is an art book. Yes, I said an art book. I know this is not something you would normally think of, but this is different.

It is a book that combines agriculture and art. “Painting Indiana II: The Changing Face of Indiana Agriculture” is just off the press from Quarry Books.

This full-color, large-format book is filled with paintings of Indiana agriculture. The text tells the story of Indiana’s agricultural past and its promising future.

The book is a project of the Center for Agricultural Science and Heritage, also known as The Barn. It was an effort to bring together two groups of people who usually don’t associate with each other, artists and farmers.

All the paintings were done on location on farms and in rural communities. Unlike the usual artistic treatment of rural life that focuses on nature and landscapes, this book is filled with paintings that showcase the production side of agriculture.

In addition to paintings of working farms and farmers, you will find paintings of meat processing facilities and ethanol plants.

The text traces Indiana agriculture from the beginning of the 19th century to the present and look ahead to the next 100 years.

The story of agriculture is really the story of our society. As machines brought technology to the farm, farmers, farm families, and their communities also changed. The kind of small towns and big cities we have today are a result of the way agriculture has changed over the past 100 years.

Likewise, the world our children will inherit is being shaped by the trends and innovations we see today. This book would also make a great gift for those outside of agriculture. It showcases the food and fiber industry in a positive light.

It demonstrates in words and pictures how farmers care for the land, their animals, and their families. It also draws the connection between agriculture and the needs of society at large. Many of the paintings show how agriculture touches the lives of ordinary people every day in ways they never think about.

The book is the companion to a traveling art exhibit that will be on display across Indiana for the next year. In this exhibit the actual paintings are arranged to tell the story of art and agriculture.

You would think agricultural leaders would support such a project, yet farm organizations and state ag leaders tried to kill this project several times. The dedication and perseverance of a few individuals at The Barn kept the project alive.

The book is on sale at most major bookstores and online. So, this Christmas, buy your favorite farmer a book. It may be one he actually takes time to read.

This farm news was published in the Nov. 22, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.