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My featured Merit Badge Awardee of the Week is … April Choate!!!

When a Farmgirl Sisterhood member earns a certificate of achievement in the Farmgirl Legends category, it is a really big deal. That means that this Sister has taken on a particularly monumental farmgirl task and met the challenge head on.

April has earned a certificate of achievement, and the honorary title of – Chapter Guru. The requirements for earning this distinction takes a lot of planning and work. Here is how it is listed:

  • A Chapter Guru is a Farmgirl Sisterhood member who shares her expertise on at least three subjects at chapter meetings. She must create a lesson plan and projects for her Sisters to engage in to ensure her knowledge has been successfully conveyed. The Guru can teach projects that fulfill requirements for Merit Badges or create a lesson of her own devising.

So what does April do?

Over the last 3 years April has hosted TEN meetings. That’s more than 3 times the effort required and deserves a standing round of applause! Here’s the full report…

Presentation Number 1
The second meeting that I held after the startup of River Valley Farmgirls in 2010 was on Square Foot Gardening. I could hardly believe the attendance! There were 13 of us in my small living room. I took them through the basics of what Square Foot Gardening was using Mel Bartholomew’s book as my guide. I had a handout for them to write notes on and everyone had a bazillion questions. It was a super successful and fun evening of learning about the ins and outs of Square Foot Gardening. From that one meeting, 7 of the ladies started their own Square Foot Garden in their backyards and still have them today!

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Presentation Number 2
We had a meeting in May 2010 where we talked about Milk and the differences in them. We discussed Ultra-Pasteurized/Homogenized, Pasteurized/Homogenized, Pasteurized/Non-Homogenized, and Raw. We then did a “milk tasting” of 4 different kinds of milk. My husband poured them so we didn’t know which one was which and then tasted each of them. The four we tried were: Ultra-Pasteurized Conventional 1%, Pasteurized Organic 1%, Pasteurized/Non-Homogenized Grass-Fed Organic Whole, and Grass-Fed Organic Raw. It was a really fun evening of tasting, discussing and discovering! In hindsight, I would have made sure that all the milks were whole milk to be fair. The next month I invited the Farmgirls to an event at the local dairy I get my milk from. It was called Milkapalooza. They toured the farm, pasture, and dairy to see where the wholesome grass-fed milk came from they had tasted a month before. Everyone that was at the milk tasting attended plus more farmgirls and their families! They even got to milk a cow by hand! Great fun!

2Presentation Number 3
In August of 2010, we had a bread night where I taught the ladies how to make bread and pizza from scratch. It was a hilarious and hot night of flour flying all over my small kitchen. The ladies got their hands dirty and in the dough to make several loaves of bread and to have a go at making pizza dough. I showed them how to make the pizza on a pizza stone in the oven and use a pizza peel. It was a lot of fun and aprons were definitely required for this fun evening….night…we were up late that one chatting about all sorts of crazy things!


3Presentation Number 4
I taught a sewing class on making aprons. I took them through the basics of sewing and we made aprons together. It was an interesting evening to see the different styles of personalities shine through in the making of their projects. Some were very exact and perfectionists and others were totally “wild” and carefree in their process of making them. Regardless how they got there, mistakes left in or ripped out, they all felt accomplished with their new aprons. It was a fun evening to share.


4Presentation Number 5
We had a canning night where I walked them through the basic steps of canning. We didn’t actually can anything that evening, but it was a great evening getting familiar with all the tools. We had canned items for door-prizes and even a Ball Blue Book for one lucky gal!

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Presentation Number 6
In January of 2011, I gave a presentation called, “How to Eat Organic Without Going Crazy or Broke.” I discussed with them all the ins and outs about shopping organically at their local grocery store, warehouse clubs, farmers markets, and CSAs. We discussed some of the dilemmas with trying to give their families healthy options when their budget just wasn’t large enough. We talked about the “Good, Better, Best,” principle and how to not beat yourself up if you couldn’t do all organic perfectly. I told them about our journey to an organic lifestyle and encouraged them that it takes baby steps and a lot of planning. I showed them my grocery list system, my meal planning notebook, the clean 15/dirty dozen lists, what is essential to buy organic and what can wait till your budget gets caught up with your desires. It was a lot to pack into one evening, but I think most were encouraged or inspired to give it a go.


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Presentation Number 7
Pie Night! We all brought our own pies to share, then I talked about my method of pie crust making. I demonstrated for the ladies my way of making a pie crust. I showed them the pastry blender method and that I love using butter. Others shared their methods and then one showed us her technique with the food processor. We all concluded that pie in any shape or form is amazing! “I like pie!”

7Presentation Number 8
In March of 2012 we had a Cleaning Green meeting. I posted online about it and this is what it said:

“We made some laundry soap and all-purpose cleaner www.rodale.com/natural-cleaning-recipes and www.care2.com/greenliving/make-your-own-non-toxic-cleaning-kit.html, made t-shirt reusable bags www.marthastewart.com/266942/t-shirt-bag, had a granola taste-off, ate some amazing lunch together, chatted about heirloom gardening and everyone saw my baby chicks. It was such a great time! We had 9 of us together that day. One of the farmgirls brought us some farm fresh eggs too!We were working on the Going Green and Shopping Green merit badges.”

8Presentation Number 9
After snowstorms and other postponements…we finally had our meeting January 2013 called, “Beef, It’s What’s For Dinner.” I did a presentation on beef and all the magical parts of a cow. We discussed all sorts of topics involving beef, from tallow to oxtail soup. It was a great evening with some great handouts and lots of laughs! I pulled my oxtails out of my freezer for them to see and that’s what I’m holding in the picture!

9Presentation Number 10
“Here Chicky-Chicky!” was a fun evening of learning all about chickens. We did chicken trivia, I had them look at a chicken diagram to learn the parts of a chicken, talked about raising chickens, fencing/housing chickens etc…, they also saw my new baby chicks and got to hold them. We ate a yummy meal of various chicken salads and thoroughly enjoyed the topic! We even had chicken show and tell!!!”

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Leave a comment 6 Comments

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Congratulations April!! I sure wish I lived closer to you and could join the group. Your group learning sessions look like they were so fun and informative. Everyone is having such a great time in the photos. Planning such meetings does take a lot of time and preparation, and I congratulate you on making it seem so easy, when in reality it took hours of prep time. You are inspiring!!

  2. Marcia Hippen says:

    Yeah, April! Your motivation to be a guru farmgirl has benefitted so many! I love our group and can’t wait for more. Thank you a million times over for all of your meetings, tips, and above all sharing your love for your fellow sisters!

  3. Congratulations April! You have been an inspiring Farmgirl and have coordinated a wonderful group of “sisters” too! I’m honored to be a part of the group and look forward to more Farmgirl fun and follies to come!! Cheers to you!

  4. Darlene Ricotta says:

    April, that was wonderful and I bet it would be very interesting to sit in on your meetings and learn what you have taught already,
    Congratulation’s April
    darlene

  5. CJ Armstrong says:

    Congratulations April! I wish I could get a LOCAL group together here to do stuff with! You go girl!
    CJ

  6. Kristi Kern says:

    Congratulations, April! So proud of my friend! Wish you were back home in Kansas so I could be a part of all that you are doing! Your zest for family and farm life (and especially your organizational skills) always encourage and inspire me!

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