Greetings everyone! I am Jaclynn Knutson and my family has been raising pigs for Niman Ranch my entire life. I had the honor of receiving the David Serfling Memorial Scholarship in 2016 and was later asked to represent Niman Ranch in Denver, Colorado. I traveled to Denver July 14th-17th and had the opportunity to spend time with both Marczyk Fine Foods and Slow Food Nations.
I learned about Marczyk’s and their business after attending the 2016 Niman Ranch Farmer Appreciation Dinner. Marczyk’s was honored at the dinner for being the number one scholarship donor in 2016. I knew that they were passionate about the next generation of agriculturalists, but it wasn’t until attending their Burger Night on July 14th, did I realize their level of passion. Every Friday night, the Marczyk brothers host a Burger Night at both locations in Denver. All of the money raised on the 14th will go to the Niman Ranch Scholarship Fund. At Burger Night, I got to speak with customers about Niman Ranch, educate them about my family’s farm, and I even got to see Niman Ranch products in a distributing store for the first time ever!
Saturday was an exciting day that was spent at the National Slow Food Nations Convention. I had the opportunity to meet the famous chef, Alice Waters, listen to fantastic panelists, and taste test foods from many vendors.
On Saturday evening, I was invited to Pete Marczyk’s house for the annual “Front Porch Dinner.” At the fantastic dinner, Marczyk’s top customers are invited to enjoy the company’s products while also raising additional funds for the Niman Ranch Scholarship. This was my favorite event of the weekend because it was great to speak with those that enjoy Niman products regularly and appreciate the work that the company and farmers do.
Sunday was spent listening to additional phenomenal panelists including the speaker Wes Jackson, pictured to the right. He was one of the many contributors to the new book, Letters to a Young Farmer. The panel also included, Jil Isenbarger and Ben Burkett. It was interesting to get the perspective of the authors of such a truly inspiring book to agriculturalists of my generation.
I not only got to attend the Front Porch Dinner once, but twice. Although I may have gained twenty pounds, Sunday night’s event was just as fantastic. I was given the opportunity to speak with new supporters of Marczyk’s and Niman Ranch while continuing to raise money for the Next Generation Scholarship Fund.
My trip in Denver was completed with lunch at Illegal Pete’s before driving to the airport. They are a new Niman Ranch customer! It was great to get to support a business that is also supporting my family’s farm.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed my experience in Denver. Not only getting to raise money for the Niman Ranch Next Generation Scholarship Fund, but also getting to educate and speak with consumers. I would like to thank all those involved for the opportunity!