Roger Rank has grown popcorn on his fields near Van Wert for almost 40 years. For much of that time, the early part of each harvest has had to go to waste in order to comply with some of the regulations and demands of the distributors who bought the crop.
But lately, he’s found a use for those first kernels of the season. Instead of disposing of them, he donates a portion of that crop to various organizations.
Anyone who visits the Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives Education Center at the 2019 Farm Science Review Sept. 17–19 in London will know exactly where part of that donation has gone.
“The smell of popcorn popping is one of the lasting memories people take away from our building,” says Janet Rehberg, director of cooperative development at OEC. “People come back and visit us year after year, and one of the first things they do is head for the popcorn stand. So we’re grateful to Roger, who has been very generous in donating the popcorn we’ve served for the past couple of years now.”
Rank, who also grows field corn, soybeans, and wheat on about 1,800 acres, sells the majority of his popcorn crop to Weaver Popcorn, though demand has fallen in recent seasons — leaving plenty for him to provide for area schools to use at their concession stands and for serving to visitors at Farm Science Review.
“People always liked it and thought it tasted good,” says Rank, who’s also a co-op member and on the board of directors at Midwest Electric in St. Marys. “I’ve really enjoyed being able to make the donation and see people enjoy it and groups benefit from it.”
The popcorn is just part of a wider food theme inside the OEC building. There will be a full slate of cooking demonstrations as familiar faces Patty Miller and Sherri Bickel appear for their 30th year of microwave magic. They’ll be joined by educators from Ohio State University Extension’s 4-H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences programs during the course of the event.
The chefs won’t be the only OSU feature in the OEC building, either. The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro modified by the OSU Center for Automotive Research team that won the national EcoCAR 3 competition will be on hand as well.
Regular attendees at the review know the weather in mid-September isn’t always at its most cooperative.
The OEC building, however, has gotten a comfort boost thanks to Enertech and Geo-Flo, which donated an entire geothermal heating and cooling system; and Hydron Module dealers Danco Enterprises of Springfield and Shafer Heating and Cooling of Hillsboro, which donated all labor for the installation of the system for use — and demonstration — in the building.
Farm Science Review attracts upward of 140,000 visitors from all over the United States and Canada to the Molly Caren Agricultural Center. The review includes 4,000 product lines from 600 commercial exhibitors and features the latest in agricultural production. The 80-acre exhibit area allows visitors and exhibitors to experience all aspects of agricultural production. Inside the exhibit area are static displays, but Farm Science Review dedicates over 600 acres of land for field demonstrations, such as corn and soybean combines, tillage, nutrient and lime applications, and drainage installations.
Tickets are $7 in advance at the FSR website, or $10 at the gate. Ohio electric cooperative members can enter to win a $100 bill credit by completing the entry form on the inside back cover of their August or September edition of Ohio Cooperative Living and bringing it to the OEC building.