Our Rural Roots

Time To Cultivate New Memories

Blogger Katie Pratt says her children's popcorn business helped create memories and lessons for their family. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Katie Pratt)

We know "to everything there is a season." The hard part of that message is moving on when situations change.

For 10 years, our seasonal routine has included popcorn. When we opened the virtual popcorn stand -- my answer to the ill-fated country lemonade stand -- I thought one season of work would deter my children from their desire to make money. Instead, after selling their first harvest in a day, they dreamed bigger.

They bargained precious planting and harvest time from their dad, negotiated for prime location of their patch, carefully selected varieties, experimented with different packaging and used their cute-kid status to secure many sales at farmers' markets. Eventually, they recognized each other's strengths -- my son in production, my daughter in marketing -- and divided the work to gain efficiency.

The truth of farming is that nothing comes easy. Growing popcorn has certainly been an experiment in more than cultivating a crop. My type A personality often shuddered watching the kids struggle with their business decisions. The operative word being "theirs." I'm fully aware I have been schooled as much as they have.

Three years ago, the business partners contemplated the future. The season had been rough. Frustration ran high. Ultimately, my son stepped aside. My daughter continued, though never truly alone. Popcorn started and remained a family affair.

This season, a calendar filled with school, extracurriculars and work left my daughter assessing priorities and personal identity. Her life routine -- our family's routine -- seamlessly absorbed the basic tasks of caring for another crop. But routines change. This coming spring, no popcorn will "pop" from the ground. My son will head to college and my daughter on to her next big adventure. She always has one waiting.

While I'm sad to see this chapter close, I'm grateful for what popcorn gave us: the opportunity to cultivate a family fortified by memories popped in a field.


Katie Pratt writes, tweets, farms and grows her family from north-central Illinois. Find her blog at https://theillinoisfarmgirl.com/…, and follow her on Twitter @KatiePratt4.