Farming her way: Boyle woman to be featured on television show
Published 11:31 am Thursday, October 19, 2017
When readers of The Advocate-Messenger last saw Kaitlyn Elliott on our pages in 2015, she was a 17-year-old graduate of Boyle County High School, owner of Poorhouse Sorghum and recent winner of a state star in agribusiness from the Kentucky Association of the Future Farmers of America.
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Now, a few years later, the 20-year-old junior at the University of Kentucky is studying agriculture education and still working her farm and business with the help of her grandfather, Jimmy Elliott.
And she’s gaining attention as a female farmer — attention that garnered her air time on FarmHer, a show on RFDTV to be aired at 9:30 p.m. Friday, and again at 11:30 p.m. Saturday and 9:30 p.m. Sunday.
“That’s kind of exciting,” said Kaitlyn Elliott Wednesday. She’s admittedly a little nervous.
“I think I’m more nervous to see what they actually kept,” she said. “With eight hours of footage and it only being a 30-minute show, obviously a lot is going to end up getting cut … that’s the nerve-wracking part.”
Elliott said the show should feature video and interviews conducted on the farm in the Gravel Switch area and a visit to a Lebanon restaurant, County Seat Kitchen and Bar, which uses Poorhouse Sorghum on an appetizer it has called the Cornbread Mafia Waffles.
“It was very delicious,” she said.
She said the cast and crew were easy to talk to.
“I wasn’t nearly as nervous (filming) as I thought I’d be,” she said. “Now I’m waiting for Friday.”
FarmHer started in 2013 as a photo project by Marji Guyler-Alaniz in Iowa as a way to highlight women of agriculture. It expanded to social media, a website and more. In 2016, FarmHer aired for the first time on RFD-TV, with Guyler-Alaniz as the host.
A fan of the show, Elliott said she signed up for the email list to get the newsletters and articles.
“I really enjoyed, especially, getting to hear about women farmers — because I’m a woman farmer myself — and getting to hear what other farmers’ stories are. I signed up so that I could read about it and see more than what I see on TV,” she said.
It asked about her name and her operation. Elliott said she almost didn’t complete that part, but went ahead and filled it out.
“It was about a week later, I got a phone call from her saying that she would really like to have me on her show,” she said, calling it surprising.
Elliott said her friends are excited for her — for some, it will be their first time seeing her farm. One of her friends told her she is famous now.
“It is kind of cool. A lot of my friends, I think they all find it fascinating … Most of my friends who are involved in agriculture, I don’t think they think it’s cool that I’m ‘famous,’ because I definitely don’t feel famous by any means. It’s cool because people who haven’t been out to the farm will get to see it now.”
Famous or not, her friends are proud, Elliott said, because they know that she has worked hard, with the help of her grandfather, to produce the sorghum.
It’s especially hard to find the time, she said, now that she’s a student at UK. She spends time during the week promoting the farm on social media, using photos sent to her by her grandfather and worrying about the farm. The majority of the work is done on the weekends — her grandfather works part-time during the week, too, so they devote their weekends to the farm.
She said she loves spending that time with her grandfather.
“There’s plenty of things that I could be doing at school on the weekends. There’s football games, there’s tailgates — and goodness knows I need to be studying. But nothing will replace the memories that I have with my grandfather and I can cherish that forever,” Elliott said.
Selling the sorghum is her favorite part, and “not because it’s the least labor-intensive, although it definitely is. You finally get to see the people who really want your product. They ask lots of questions, they want to know what sorghum is.”
People are starting to ask more questions about where their food comes from, Elliott said, which is why she and other farmers are turning to social media to answer those questions. Poorhouse Sorghum is now on Facebook and Instagram, and they use Square to make sales. Her grandfather is learning how to use those things.
“He’s learning. He sometimes sends me the pictures and what he’s doing and I post it,” she said.
That’s also part of the allure of FarmHer, Elliott said, because it shows people what’s life is like on the farm, building that connection.
“People really like to hear that stuff,” Elliott said.
Looking to the future, Elliott said she has accepted a plant science internship at Disney in the spring, which will result in her having one extra semester of school.
After she graduates, Elliott said she plans to return to the farm and continue to expand it.
“When I was in high school, even though I was in school, I would come home and immediately work on sorghum until dark. Then from dark until bedtime I would do homework,” she said.
Being able to get back out there each day is something Elliott looks forward to.
She hopes to get their barbecue sauces, which she said are getting pretty popular, commercially licensed in the future. And she wants to look at ways to use the Poorhouse Sorghum crop in the brewing industry.
Elliott wants to encourage others interested in getting into farming.
“It can be a struggle. There’s a lot of financial things that will come up because farming equipment is expensive, it takes a lot of time and it can be a lot of hard work,” Elliott said. “When I started freshman year (of high school,) there were times when I went out there and I was like, ‘Gosh, this is a lot of work, what did I get myself into?’ But, if you keep at it and you are passionate about it, it becomes something that no longer looks like work.
“It becomes something that you love … Keep at it. It will eventually, turn out really great.”
SO YOU KNOW
FarmHer airs on RFD-TV at 9:30 p.m. Friday, and again at 11:30 p.m. Saturday and 9:30 p.m. Sunday. For more information about FarmHer, visit farmher.com. For more information about Poorhouse Sorghum, find them on Facebook or Instagram.