Granton FFA Member Rhiannon Reimer

Granton FFA member Rhiannon Reimer has been named a state finalist for the
Diversified Crop Production Proficiency and Star in Agribusiness awards.  
Submitted photo

By Valerie Brecht    

A young woman from Granton has expended her agricultural skills through a number of projects and gotten to see the fruits of her labor, literally and figuratively.

Rhiannon Reimer, a high school senior, has been named a state finalist for the FFA’s Diversified Crop Production Proficiency Award as well as the Star in Agribusiness Award. She has been working hard growing her own fruits and vegetables for the past several years.

“I’ve been working with plants for as long as I can remember,” said Rhiannon. “I only got started because of my grandpa, because my family is big into gardening and growing fruits and vegetables and selling them at a farmer’s market. My grandpa always noticed that I was always really excited to go by them and help them pick various fruits and vegetables and enjoy nice snacks in the garden.”  

Rhiannon visits her grandpa, Paul Krause, in Auburndale fairly often to help him out with gardening. She and her mom also grow a lot of their own produce, including apples, apricots, cherries, asparagus, green beans and more. Rhiannon and her grandpa sell produce at the farmer’s market at Festival Foods in Marshfield.

“I really like it … It’s always fun,” said Rhiannon.

Last year, Rhiannon won Fruit Production Proficiency Award for Wisconsin and advanced to the national level. She was not a finalist on the national level, but she did earn a gold rating, which is the highest one can earn on a project. Since she won Fruit Production Award last year, she couldn’t apply for it again this year, so she decided to expand her horizons and apply for the Diversified Crop Award so her vegetables could be included in the project.

To apply for the award, Rhiannon had to submit records of all the produce she has grown since she started in FFA in seventh grade. She had to include information on the types of trees, seeds an purchased: the prices for each plant and how much produce she sold. Much of the same information had to be provided for the Star in Agribusiness Award application.

“It’s very important to keep good financial records,” said Rhiannon.

Her FFA teacher, Katie Reider, also suggested she try hydroponics to diversify her crops and make her stand out from the competition. Rhiannon has been growing lettuce since midway through this year.

“It’s been my toughest project yet,” said Rhiannon.

Rhiannon Reimer Transplanting Lettuce

Rhiannon Reimer transplants Leaf lettuce into net pots, each containing a small amount of sponge.
She grew lettuce in a hydroponic system.
“Having a Hydroponic system is a more efficient way to provide food and water to the plants,
adding a small amount of sponge keeps the roots wet so they are able to get the nutrients they need,” Reimer wrote.

By the time school closed, the plants weren’t big enough to take cuts, but the idea is for the plants to eventually support a food-to-table program where students will be able to enjoy lettuce grown at the school on sandwiches and salads.

Rhiannon also has her hand in several other agricultural experiences through FFA. She manages the school orchard.

Rhiannon Reimer Pruning Fruit Trees

Rhiannon has been the caretaker of her school’s apple orchard.
Her responsibilities include pruning the trees.
“Pruning helps get rid of dead branches and crowded areas.
It helps open up an area for air to flow under the tree, to let the tree breath,” Reimer wrote.
She also grows her own fruit at home. 


“Mrs. Reider was noticing that the trees up in the apple orchard, no one was really caring for them and she didn’t have time to do it. And she found out that I have a really strong background in fruit identifying diseases in trees and stuff, so she asked me if I wanted to take care of it,” Rhiannon explained.

Rhiannon agreed and signed a contract with the school. Her responsibilities include mowing, pruning the trees, fertilizing the trees with organic fertilizer, picking the fruit and sorting it by quality. Since she is a senior this year, Rhiannon has trained up younger FFA member Abby Woller, who will be a sophomore, to take over for her.

Rhiannon has achieved several local proficiencies for FFA, including raising beef to show at the fair and helping care for chickens. She also completed a local proficiency in agriculture services, which involves articulating how and why she sells the products she does.

“It’s basically working with the community to incorporate to make sure that I am meeting the needs of the community and growing what the community and local people want to buy,” said Rhiannon.

Rhiannon has been able to incorporate her local proficiencies into her produce project. She uses manure from her steers and egg shells from the chickens to provide natural fertilizers for her produce.

“My mom and I always try to use the natural fertilizers, just because we feel like it helps the plants grow and produces a better yield of the fruit,” said Rhiannon.  

For example, the trees in the apple orchard were producing apples with spots on them, indicative of a calcium deficiency, said Rhiannon. After switching to a fertilizer with egg shells, the apples didn’t have those spots anymore and were rounder.

Rhiannon said that growing her own food as well as taking care of the school’s apple orchard has taught her a lot about planning ahead. She has to make sure the plants received the right amount of water and sunlight, and that the produce is harvested on time.

“I’ve learned about staying committed and staying on top of things. … mainly it’s just staying on top of things and making sure you’re not overwhelming yourself have to pick all 20 trees on one day,” said Rhiannon.

She’s also gained leadership throughout her time in FFA. She was the FFA president this year, last year she was vice-president and the year before that, she was reporter.

“Honestly, I think every kid should be in FFA or 4-H just because of the things you learn,” said Rhiannon. “Through FFA, you can do career or leadership development events and work on public speaking. … FFA just teaches you a lot of life skills.”

Rhiannon will find out what her final placing is for the Diversified Crop Award during the Wisconsin FFA Virtual State Convention June 15-18. The Star in Agribusiness placings will be named later this summer. But beyond what happens with the awards, for Rhiannon, the experience of caring for plants has been its own reward, she said.

“If you really care for something, you can watch it bloom and blossom, versus if you neglect a plant, it won’t do as well, so, it shows you that your hard work pays off and you’re doing something good for the plants, and for other people in that you’re growing crops that you’re able to sell. Basically, if you stay committed to it, good things happen.”

Rhiannon plans to attend UW-River Falls and major in physical therapy.


From the Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

May 20, 2020

Transcribed by Dolores Mohr Kenyon, May 22, 2020

Web page by James W. Sternitzky PhD, May 25, 2020

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