Food is something that is very emotional for us. Many of us have fond memories of spending time with grandma in the kitchen while we made cookies or learning how to cook or bake from mom or dad. Shannon indeed found her love of food and baking at a young age. These pumpkin muffins were her very first food entry in the county fair! I regularly enjoy Shannon’s recipe posts as well as all she does to connect people to agriculture through Enchanted Acres.
- When did you start farming? What brought you into farming?If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember that this whole thing was started with a dream and a mouse.”– Walt Disney
I was raised on a small farm in northeast Iowa where my family raised corn, soybeans, alfalfa and purebred Suffolk sheep. I was extremely active in 4-H and FFA. Through my involvement in communications and projects – along with guidance from my parents, my county youth leader and my FFA advisor – I earned my degree in Agricultural Journalism / Public Service & Administration in Agriculture from Iowa State University.
Even though I graduated and then moved to the “big city” of Des Moines, my heart belonged to rural Iowa. I yearned for wide open spaces and the smell of fresh cut hay. I missed the warm feeling that spreads from head to toe when you nurture an animal. And, I really missed the feeling of accomplishment that comes from doing things yourself!
When I became a mother, I wanted my children to experience life’s simple pleasures like: marveling at stars twinkling in the sky; watching sunsets paint the evening sky with rich hues of purple and magenta; appreciating wildflowers splash color in a sea of green grass; and feeling the summer sun kiss their cheeks and a gentle summer breeze tickle the backs of their neck. I really wanted my children to have a place where their imaginations could run wild, and that’s what started the idea for Enchanted Acres.
It was eight years in the making, but I never lost sight of my dream. Last year (2013) was the grand opening of Enchanted Acres, a place where all families can escape reality for a few hours and simply enjoy spending time together in the great outdoors. It’s “that happy place” where kids, from 2 to 102, can channel Cinderella or Jack Sparrow. Enchanted Acres is a place where we all can dream about our happily ever after!
- What crops (or animals) do you grow and why?
One of the reasons I started a pumpkin patch in North Central Iowa is because I saw a need for an agri-tourism destination where learning is made fun! As a former lobbyist, I believe ag illiteracy is a growing problem that is going to negatively impact policy and regulations. As an entrepreneur, I believe unfounded food fears is a real threat to our family-owned business.
Each fall I spend many hours each year hosting field trips where we explain “the pumpkin circle” to children. They learn that pumpkins grow from seeds into plants. The plants need bees to help pollinate plants that bear fruit. After the fruit is produced, the pumpkin seeds can be replanted the following year.
We also explain to our visitors how the corn and alfalfa (hay) we grow is fed to our goats. Letting our goats eat from their hands is a highlight for many visitors! We also raise rabbits and chickens. All of these animals are my daughter’s 4-H projects, their small size isn’t scary or intimidating to our guests who aren’t used to being around livestock.
I’m very passionate about helping consumers understand where their food comes from and how to enjoy it. This season I started a blog on my website (http://www.enchantedacresia.com/#!blog/c1n9k), so I can help answer questions I’m asked plus it’s a good way for me to share my love of cooking and baking. I hope to help people connect with their food by sharing some of my favorite recipes.
- What is your favorite thing to do with a food crop you grow? (recipe, method of cooking, etc.)
Fall has always been my favorite time of year. There are so many things to see and do like: Roasting marshmallows over an open fire. Toasting pumpkin seeds after you’ve carved a masterpiece. Walking through rustling leaves. Admiring the beautiful palette of fall colors as the leaves turn. Sipping spiced cider from your favorite mug. Riding in combines with hardworking farmers. Curling up with a good book on a rainy day.
As a child, I always looked forward to the first weekend of October when my parents and grandparents would travel to Wisconsin where we visited apple orchards. We’d stop at Pike’s Peak State Park, overlooking the Mississippi River where we’d enjoy a picnic lunch that included my grandma’s fried chicken.
My grandma, my mom and my neighbor lady were all wonderful cooks. I truly believe these influential ladies in my life showed their love to family and friends by the foods they made for them. Their love of cooking prompted me to start baking at a young age, and I entered muffins I’d baked at the county fair for the first time when I was 9 years old. I earned a blue ribbon with my first food entry, and muffins are still one of my favorite things to make!
Future of Farming
- What is one message you’d like to get across to the general public about what you do?
Many of our memories are formed around food from childhood birthday parties to holiday gatherings. Other memories that we often remember are associated with trips we’ve taken and the experiences we’ve had while traveling. That’s why I want to help visitors to Enchanted Acres create positive memories around food and experiences. I want them to experience a slice of farm life that leaves them with a favorable impression.
I also want to help consumers engage in healthy food dialogues, so I’m an advocate for groups and initiatives like Ag in the Classroom, Iowa Food & Family Project and CommonGround.
As a mother, I understand that nothing is more important than making the choice we believe is best for our bodies—and our families (sometimes these two are one in the same). Greater understanding happens when consumers understand the facts of food production. That’s why I advocate for food dialogues that allow producers and consumers to truly engage in healthy conversation, leading to greater understanding.
Thank you to Shannon for the recipe for these muffins. I couldn’t help myself and added an ingredient to them… chocolate chips. It also helped my husband eat them. 😉 Do yourself a favor and make these, they are so simple and take almost no time at all!
- 1 3/4 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup oil
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 - 15 oz. can pumpkin
- Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, & nutmeg. In a small town beat together the eggs, oil, and sugar.
- Add the can of pumpkin and dry ingredients to the egg mixture. Beat for 2 minutes. Pour into muffin pans.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
- Let cool and enjoy! These freeze really well too!
- Top with cream cheese if you're craving a pumpkin bar! Or I added chocolate chips to the batter before baking!