Stop with a truckload of dry beans at the Melvin farm during harvest and Hattie will probably treat you to navy bean oatmeal chocolate chip cookies or pinto bean raisin applesauce.
Hattie Melvin, waving to a trucker waiting on the farm scale, signals that she has recorded the weight of the load. Hattie treats bean growers who deliver beans to their farms receiving station with navy bean chocolate chip cookies and other treats made from dry beans.
Its fun. Its part of harvest. I like to show how we can use our dry beans, says Hattie, vice-chairman of the North Dakota Dry Bean Council.
Hattie has a keen interest in promotion. She serves on the Northarvest Bean Growers Association promotion committee and has traveled to a number of local, regional and national shows to showcase Northarvest beans.
I always come home from the shows with renewed enthusiasm for the dry beans business. People are really eager to use our product. Because were from the Midwest, we dont realize how many people in the other parts of the United States eat beans on almost a daily basis. And its a growing segment of our population.
Hattie and her husband, Gerald, farm near Buffalo, N.D. The Melvins have two sons, Randal and Jonathan. Randal joined the family operation in 1999 after graduating from North Dakota State University. Jonathan is a graduate student at Purdue University.
A former elementary school teacher, Hattie has worked full-time on the farm since 1974. She handles the bookkeeping chores for the farm and for the familys other businesses, helps with fieldwork and runs the receiving station that the farm maintains for Walton Bean Growers Cooperative. During harvest she weighs and grades dry bean loads and, at the same time, spreads the good news about dry beans.
It gets pretty hectic around here, Hattie says.
Hattie Melvin juggles a number of jobs on the farm she fills in the field wherever needed, handles all the book work for the operation, and mans the bean receiving station that they maintain on their farm. Here she tallies load weight for gravel trucks using their farms scales as they repair a nearby stretch of Interstate 94.
The Melvins began growing dry beans in the mid-1980s.
We got in on the 50-cent navies in 1986, and its all been downhill from there, says Hattie, laughing.
Hattie has served on the North Dakota Dry Bean Council for the past three years. She likes the direction that the North Dakota and Minnesota councils and the Northarvest Bean Growers Association have taken with promotion. The groups are focusing on professional foodservice and restaurant managers and chefs. This industry serves millions of meals each day and sets culinary trends.
Were working in an area that complements what other bean grower organizations in other states are doing, she says. We are not duplicating efforts.
Hattie has championed the idea of doing more local promotion, too. She supports the celebrity chef campaign (see story on page 11), which will bring signature dry bean dishes to Minnesota and North Dakota supermarket delis.
We need to do promotion at home to raise local awareness of our industry and to show members some of the things we are doing to promote beans, she says.
Hattie also believes that educating young people about agriculture is important.
A passion of mine is Ag in the Classroom, Hattie says of the program that provides teachers with information about agriculture. In some cases, farm families visit classrooms to show students how agriculture affects everyones life.
Students today will be our voters in just a few years, Hattie says. They need to understand how important agriculture is.
No doubt, Hatties navy bean chocolate chip cookies and pinto raisin applesauce make that point well.