News>Iowa ADT trains with Amish, at Living History Farms
Story at a Glance
Iowa National Guard's 734th ADT getting training in unmechanized agriculture Iowa's ADT will protect the Afghan people by helping them feed themselves Northeast Iowa Amish farmers support goals of ADT Living History Farms provided training on handling draft animals Training provided useful information, techniques to take to Afghanistan
An Amish boy on his family's farm in northeast Iowa teaches Chief Master Sgt. Don Kuehl, left, and other members of the Iowa National Guard's 734th Agri-Business Development Team the finer points of using a manure spreader hauled by draft horses. U.S. Air Force photo by Captain Peter Shinn (Released).
With his daughter watching, a northeast Iowa Amish farmer discusses his operation with Lt. Col. Neil Stockfleth, Officer-in-Charge of the Iowa National Guard's 734th Agri-Business Development Team Ag Section, and from left, Ag Section members 1st Lt. Scott Rottinghaus and Staff Sgt. Ben Groth. U.S. Air Force photo by Captain Peter Shinn (Released).
Members of the Iowa National Guard's 734th Agri-Business Development Team get a lesson in the power of draft animals from Living History Farms manager Steve Gray. The Team traveled to Living History Farms in Urbandale, Iowa, to conduct training in unmechanized agriculture ahead of their deployment to Afghanistan later this summer. U.S. Air Force photo by Captain Peter Shinn (Released).
Staff Sgt. Ben Groth, a member of the Iowa National Guard's 734th Agri-Business Development Team who farms with his family near Moville, Iowa, took the reins during pre-deloyment training at Living History Farms in Urbandale, Iowa. The Team traveled to Living History Farms to conduct training in unmechanized agriculture ahead of their deployment to Afghanistan later this summer. U.S. Air Force photo by Captain Peter Shinn (Released).
by Capt. Peter Shinn
734th Agri-Business Development Team
6/21/2010 - Camp Dodge, Iowa -- It was an unlikely scene Wednesday, 18 June, in northeast Iowa Amish country. The uniforms of the Iowa Army and Air National Guardsmen who make up the Iowa National Guard's 734th Agri-Business Development Team (ADT) were quite a contrast with the Amish farmers who opened their mostly unmechanized operations to the military personnel.
The ADT aims to protect Afghanistan's population by helping Afghan farmers improve their production and economic well-being. But Maj. Duane Eden, an Iowa farmer and agricultural specialist for the ADT, discovered bringing Afghan ag production up to the standards of Amish farms won't be easy.
"I was very impressed with the Amish operations," Eden said. "And, you know, hopefully we can get the Afghans up to a level somewhat like the Amish even, which I would guess is probably a hundred years ahead of where they currently they are at."
The Amish farmers agreed to be photographed only if their faces did not appear in the images. Only one of them, Ura Gingrich, who has been farming for decades much as his forbears, have, agreed to let a recording of his voice be made. Gingrich pledged his support for what the Iowa ADT is attempting to do in Afghanistan and wished the team success.
"Yeah, I hope you have good luck over there with them and teach them how to do things so they can get their mind on agriculture instead of fighting," Gingrich said.
The following day, Iowa's ADT continued to prepare for the underdeveloped conditions they will encounter in Afghanistan with a day-long visit to Living History Farms in Urbandale, Iowa. Living History Farms is a non-profit, educational institution that features farming demonstrations and practices dating as far back as 1850, and the ADT learned the finer points of working with draft animals such as oxen and horses.
That information is important, because the use of draft animals is common on Afghani farms, most of which are no larger than a single acre of land. Of course, most of the draft animals used by Afghani farmers are much smaller than the oxen team, named Beauregard and Lucas, who make Living History Farms their home.
"Beauregard and Lucas is - just a rough estimate - would say as a team weigh around 3000 pounds," said Living History farms manager Steve Gray.
Master Sgt. Darla Sheasley is the veterinary technician for the 734th Agri-Business Development Team. She called the Living History Farms training on the handling of draft animals "unique and very useful." And she noted the Living History Farms training offered lessons the ADT can definitely take with them to Afghanistan.
"One, that we have to treat the animals with respect," said Sheasley, "train them the best we can and treat them the best we can."
The Office of Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Secretary Bill Northey arranged the ADT visit to the northeast Iowa Amish farms. The Iowa National Guard's Ag Development Team has its official going away ceremony 1 July.