Agriculture

Agriculture

Marissanne Lewis-Thompson/KRCU

Nowadays we can improve just about anything, from the smartphone in our pocket to the latest gaming system. Even basic things like plants are no exception. For roughly six decades Dave Niswonger has been improving the appearance of plants. He’s hybridized everything from daylilies to daffodils. But his speciality are irises, of which he’s introduced nearly 300 varieties.

 

“It’s partly an art as well as being scientific knowledge in breeding,” Niswonger said. “You just get a sense of what a certain plant has to offer in a cross.”

(Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media)

Peggy Fogle and her dog, Abe, walk among rows of aronia berry bushes on the family property outside Carlisle, Iowa. Plants on the ends of rows are smaller from years of being nibbled by deer and rabbits. But on nearly nine acres, filling four separate fields, the bushes are reaching maturity, eight years after Fogle and her husband decided to put in their first ones.

“We had looked for something organic, sustainable, native to the area, low-maintenance,” Fogle says, “that could be done here to provide a secondary income and be a healthy alternative.”

(Brian Seifferlein/Harvest Public Media)

The meatpacking plants that enable American consumers to find cheap hamburger and chicken wings in the grocery store are among the most dangerous places to work in the country. Federal regulators and meat companies agree more must be done to make slaughterhouses safer, and while there are signs the industry is stepping up its efforts, danger remains.

The rate of meatpacking workers who lose time or change jobs because they’re injured is 70 percent higher than the average for manufacturing workers overall, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

(Brian Seifferlein/Harvest Public Media)

The nights were often worse for Gabriel, even after long days working on the production line at a pork slaughterhouse in Nebraska.

He had nightmares that the line – what the workers call “the chain” – was moving so fast, that instead of gutted hogs flying by, there were people.

“You’ve been working there for three hours, four hours, and you’re working so fast and you see the pigs going faster, faster,” he says. 

(Dan Boyce/Rocky Mountain PBS for Harvest Public Media)

On the worst day of Greta Horner’s life, she was dressed in a burlap robe, waiting by the window for her husband to come home from work.

The couple was down to one car. The other one was in the shop. She donned the costume for a play, set in Old Jerusalem, later that morning, part of Vacation Bible School at the church. She just needed the car to get there. 

Pages