You could say Sam Santini has a green thumb for corn production in the Garden State. Consistent dryland yields in the 180-200-bu. range and national contest yields that bump 300 are proof. But he and his wife Chris know that being grain producers carries other responsibilities, including those of being ambassadors for their crops, their profession and agriculture as a whole.
The fact that they grow bin-busting corn and soybeans crops in New Jersey – yes ’Jersey – even forces them to educate other growers on the value of their state in agriculture. “I hear about it every year at the Commodity Classic – ‘they don’t grow corn in New Jersey,’ others say,” notes Santini, “but we do a pretty god job of it.”
Santini, whose farm is in the northwest corner of the state in Stewartsville, either wins or places in the top three or four in the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) yield contest about every year. Soybean yields are in the 55-bu. range.
But along with making sure their farm produces yields that normally generate a profit, they’re also proponents of educating “people in town” about the value of corn and soybeans as livestock feed and other foods, and as sources of fuel.
“We grow corn 60 miles from New York City and 60 miles from Philadelphia,” says Chris Santini. “We’d like to see more people come out to the country and see how corn, soybeans and wheat are grown. We want to show them we are actually an agricultural community.”
NCGA is hoping more growers become ambassadors for corn and agricultural production. It doesn’t have an official “ambassador program per-se,” says Ken Colombini, communications director. “But we have been doing a lot to help growers be more active in their communities and especially via social media.
“We recently worked with the state associations to provide 11 social-media workshops around the corn states, from Colorado to Maryland. We are also providing growers with a more strategic focus on getting active on the issues, and using new communications tools to reach them,” Columbini explains.
The Santinis also operate a small ice cream shop in their community and like to promote their farm-fresh products as much as they do the sweet treats. “We like to tell others that we produce a fresh product that is essential for poultry and livestock production,” says Chris.