A Farm Wife’s Hustle

Blogger, mother, teacher and farm wife, Kim Baldwin, utilizes sorghum in her advocacy efforts and in her own kitchen. Connecting with moms and dietitians across the country, she spreads awareness of the ingredient’s benefits and versatility.

Written by: Matthew Winterholler

Farm wives across America keep farms and families running. They juggle many chores and responsibilities like caring for their children and running errands for the farm. In this current age, many find themselves as an advocate for their farm, the crops they grow and for the way they choose to farm and raise a family.

For Kim Baldwin, a farm wife from McPherson, Kansas, being an advocate is a priority in her busy life. She is a teacher, a mother, and she is also doing her part to promote sorghum both in the field and in the kitchen.

“Historically, sorghum has always been in the rotation on the farm,” Baldwin said. “We do a lot of dry land farming here in our area, and it’s a crop that works for us and our conditions.”

Not only has sorghum proven to be a crop that fits agronomically well for the Baldwins, but new markets have also given the Baldwin family an advantage to having sorghum in their rotation.

“When the Chinese market opened up a few years back, we were able to take advantage of that market,” Baldwin said.

The Baldwins’ 2017 sorghum crop is also going toward high-value markets in other countries. Knowing where their crop is going and what it is being used for is something that is exciting for the family, Baldwin said.

The farm’s use of sorghum in their crop rotation is not the only impact the crop has had on the family. Baldwin uses sorghum throughout her nightly meals for the family and farm hands because it is an easy and versatile ingredient she enjoys cooking.

“We grow it, so we might as well be eating it, as well,” Baldwin said. “I just like the texture of it and the flexibility of incorporating it in recipes.”

For Baldwin, using an ingredient that the family grows leads to a sense of pride.

Baldwin said she has been cooking with sorghum for 6-7 years now. She enjoys sorghum because it is easy to prepare in a number of recipes, and with her pressure cooker, she can have pearled grain sorghum ready in only 15-20 minutes.

“It kind of takes on whatever flavor you give it,” Baldwin said. “If I wanted to add cinnamon or vanilla, itas opposed to it working against those flavors.”

That versatility of sorghum as an ingredient has inspired Baldwin to create unique, yet popular dishes.

“One of my favorite dishes that I make is actually with pearled grain sorghum, and it’s similar to Arroz Con Leche—like a rice pudding,” Baldwin said, “It’s a warm, yummy dessert that is good in the winter because it’s good and warm, but at the same time you can serve it with whipped topping and cream and serve it in the summer months. The guys on the harvest crew really appreciate it in the summer, as well.”

Baldwin said she also enjoys sharing her sorghum recipes with new people—a chance to showcase the benefits of sorghum in the kitchen. She also looks to others for inspiration for new recipes. She said she often finds recipes on SimplySorghum.com and adds her own unique twist as well as looking to social media.

“There’s a registered dietitian named Cara Harbstreet,” Baldwin said. “She has really taken onto sorghum, and what’s really cool is we’ve been able to connect through social media. She’s one I kind of look to for inspiration.”

Baldwin’s advocacy through social media has spread the word to different people, like Cara Harbstreet, about using sorghum as an ingredient.

Baldwin’s efforts have shown how sorghum can become a central ingredient in many meals for the working family.

Even though much of Baldwin’s time is split between teaching English and communications, taking care of two young children and keeping the farm afloat, she is also an outspoken advocate for agriculture.

Baldwin manages the Alive and Well in Kansas Facebook page, Instagram account and blog, advocating for agriculture and different commodities like sorghum. Social media has played a significant role in connecting agriculture with moms and dietitians across the country, Baldwin said. The impact of social media on developing relationships with consumers makes it important to keep up with developments and innovation within the social media realm.

“I’ve been trying to be as proactive as possible when a new social media trend starts hitting,” Baldwin said. “We’ve hosted a number of blogger tours out on our farm, which are mostly mommy and millennial bloggers.”

That passion for showing her agricultural lifestyle to others has also allowed the Baldwin family to host guests from around the world.

“We’ve hosted a number of Chinese groups over the years,” Baldwin said. “Last year there was a group of Australian farmers and sorghum producers that stopped in. It’s been really fun to connect with people from different parts of the world, to expose our kiddos to those individuals and to recognize that we’re all coming together because of this crop, because of sorghum.”

Whether she’s educating international buyers about sorghum and other crops or investing her time in youth in her local community, Baldwin instills a spirit of rural America and agriculture awareness no matter her classroom.

“I teach in a rural school district,” Baldwin said, “We’re surrounded by fields of different crops, but you’d be surprised by how many kids drive by those fields every single day and cannot identify if it’s a field of wheat or a field of sorghum.”

The disconnect between American farmers and consumers is what drives Baldwin to continue to advocate.

“Continuing to tell the story of what we’re doing on our farm and what American agriculture is doing and how it is benefiting everyone is a really important deal for me,” Baldwin said.

Being involved in so many different efforts, time management is essential for Baldwin.

Planning around busy times on the farm allows her to set her priorities and choose what she wants to focus on during the busy season.

“I just have to recognize my commitment and remind myself that I’m not superwoman,” she said, “even though sometimes I think I am.”