By David Klein

For women looking to spread the importance of agriculture, The Knox County Farm Bureau Women’s Group provides opportunities. The group meets at the Western Avenue Farm Bureau office every second Thursday of the month. There is a meal at 6, and meetings begin at 7 and last 1.5-2 hours. Membership costs $25 yearly.

“The main focus is for us to go out and give back to the community and bring awareness to agriculture,” Pam Stoutt, Chair of the Knox County Farm Bureau Women’s Group, said.

According to the website, the Tennessee Farm Bureau’s mission statement is “to develop, foster, promote, and protect programs for the general welfare, including economic, social, education, and political well-being of farm people of the great state of Tennessee.”

Also according to the website, The Tennessee Farm Bureau has nearly 600,000 members, and Tennessee Farm Bureau Women contribute an essential perspective to the organization and provide opportunities for women to become involved in all aspects of Farm Bureau. The website states that The Farm Bureau Women actively participate in the implementation of priority issues, take part in leadership development opportunities, network with other individuals and organizations, and communicate the agricultural story to achieve a positive image for agriculture.

The Knox County Farm Bureau began in 1931 while the Knox County Women’s Group originated between June 1943 and 1947, Stoutt wrote in an email.

Stoutt outlined four essential values of the group. Value number one is faith. “We all have different beliefs, she said. “At the beginning of each meeting we start off with prayer. We pray over our meal.”

Value number two is family. “Once we establish our faith, we can trickle that down into our family, we can build on that and make the best of our farms,” Stoutt said.

Value three is farm. “We bring the farm, because the farm is our livelihood, our way of living.”

The fourth value is country. The women’s group says the pledge of allegiance at each meeting. “We distribute the pamphlets that explain the pledge of allegiance to kids. The kids have a better understanding of what it is. We focus on country, and we value the freedoms we have. We don’t want to neglect our ability to focus our voice on agriculture. We intertwine all (four values) of it together for success,” she emphasized.

As chair, Stoutt said some of her duties are supporting farmers, contacting legislators concerning the Farm Bureau, and promoting different ideas and values about agriculture.

Vice chair of the group, Mildred Thompson, has been attending Knox County Farm Bureau Women’s Group meetings for at least 10 years. “It’s well worth its cause,” Thompson said. The time we put in is well worth it,” she added.

Besides the monthly meetings, the women’s group hosts special events during the year. One event coming up is on Wednesday, March 15. Women from the Knox County Farm Bureau, the Grainger County Farm Bureau, and the Hancock County Farm Bureau will purchase local food products to donate to the Ronald McDonald House at the corner of 17th Avenue and Clinch Avenue.

“We are meeting at Food City at 9 a.m.,” Stoutt said, where the group will purchase local food products to support local farmers. “We are to be at the Ronald McDonald House around 11,” Stoutt added. She said the event is hosted by Sue Beverly of the Ronald McDonald House and lasts about an hour.

In addition to the Ronald McDonald House event, Stoutt said the Farm Bureau Group will host a big Farm Day on May 9 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Chilhowee Park Fairgrounds in the livestock area.

“We have hay rides; we have Cattlemen’s Association there teaching children how to make butter,” Stoutt said.

Besides the Cattlemen’s Association, Stoutt said UT Agriculture Campus, UT Wildlife, Holden Nursery, the Tennessee Forestry Division, Rural Metro, Knox Co. Sherriff’s Office, and Highway Patrol will be there. Local 4H students will work with animals, cows, pigs, chickens, rabbits, horses and have demonstrations.  Mayfield Dairy Cow will have an ice cream machine that teaches kids how to make homemade ice cream, Stoutt added.

Thompson said, “I think they had 3,000 children from Knox County last year.”

Currently, about 15 regular members attend every month. “I would like to see at least 50 plus,” Stoutt said. “We should be the biggest farm bureau organization in East Tennessee. The more people you have the better the chance you have of your voice being heard on agriculture.”