Farmers help farmers. That premise has seldom been more apparent than when cast in the light of the recent flooding across the Midwest. As parts of Iowa and Nebraska continue to languish under floodwaters, and farmers continue to assess the damage and work toward recovery, a collection of Iowa artists with farm ties have joined forces to help provide aid.
During the month of May, Love Your Neighbor offered unique, original products created by Iowa artists for sale via the Rural Revival website, with a portion of proceeds going to help flood victims.
Love Your Neighbor raised $1,000 with the funds donated to the Nebraska Cattlemen Disaster Relief Fund and Omaha Community Foundation — Southwest Iowa Flood Fund.
Love Your Neighbor began when Michelle Meyers of Dirt Road Candle Co. of Atlantic was a guest on a Rural Revival podcast. Rural Revival was created by Danna Larson as a platform for revitalizing the Heartland’s rural communities.
Larson and Meyers began talking about their desire to help the flood victims. Meyers already had a Love Your Neighbor candle on the market with proceeds directed toward the flood victims. Dirt Road Candle Co. candles are made from pure American-grown soy and hand poured in small batches into reusable amber jars. They also offer a line of air sprays, vintage candles and other related accessories.
A southwest Iowa farmer, Meyers carries her love of farming and the agriculture community into her business.
She contacted fellow rural entrepreneur Melissa Nelson of Hungry Canyon Design, located near Moville.
“Our friends and neighbors have been deeply affected by this flooding,” says Nelson. “It’s a horrible tragedy.” Her family hails from eastern Nebraska where flood waters caused her sister’s family to evacuate, but luckily, damage to their home and farm was not disastrous.
Others were not so lucky. Entire farmsteads were lost. Newborn calves and their mothers were swept downriver before producers even knew they were born. Grain bins filled with wet corn and soybeans exploded. Lives were lost.
Nelson added a boxed set of her Midwest farm-themed notecards to the cause.
“This is just a cool thing to do,” says Nelson. “It’s people like us who are affected, so it’s easy to reach out and offer a hand. We farmers help our own. We love our neighbors.”
Hungry Canyon Design offers birthday, Christmas and all-occasion cards created with farmers in mind. Nelson insists her cards be agriculturally accurate, part of conveying the real story of ag through interesting designs and plays on words farmers understand.
Linley Cavin of Matted Ink and Regan Doely of Doe a Deer joined in the cause as well.
Matted Ink sells art prints, wall art, mugs, apparel and home decorator items from Cavin’s home near Protivin, where she and her husband are engaged in the family farming operation. She offered a Together We Cultivate Greatness T-shirt.
Doely offered an insulated tumbler inscribed with "When I Walk Through Deep Waters, I Know You Will Be With Me." Doe a Deer is a kitchen lifestyle brand. From her farm near Stuart, Doely creates and sells vintage design flour sack tea towels and napkins, mugs, greeting cards, notebooks and notepads. She also has a line of T-shirts and hoodies. Aside from helping flood victims, 25% of proceeds from all apparel sales go to the Alzheimer’s Foundation.
“So here are Iowa artists creating products to sell for the cause,” says Nelson. “Love Your Neighbor gives folks a chance to purchase with purpose.”
The original products of the Love Your Neighbor campaign have sold out, but there may be more to come. Stay tuned to www.ruralrevival.co/loveyourneighbor.
In the meantime, for those who wish to donate directly to flood victim aid, donations can be made to the Nebraska Cattlemen Disaster Relief Fund, created to help cattlemen in need. Cash donations can be made via the website, or mail a check to Nebraska Cattlemen Disaster Relief Fund, 4611 Cattle Drive, Lincoln, NE 68521. Donations to the cause can also be made through the state’s #NebraskaStrong website.
Or contributions can be made through the Omaha Community Foundation, which provides easy links to several donation opportunities on its flood assistance page.
Queck-Matzie is a freelance writer from Greenfield.
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