Modern Farmer is the T.V. show that taught Baby Boomers from the cities and suburbs all they ever learned about farming. Modern Farmer was on at 6:30 am Saturday mornings and the cartoons did not begin until 7AM. Kids sat through Modern Farmer because they did not want to take a chance of missing even a second of the precious Saturday cartoons.
When Baby Boomers were kids there was no way to instantly get a cartoon. No “on demand” channels, no VCRs or DVDs. Not even an internet. If you missed a cartoon you wanted to see, you had missed it forever.
Therefore, Baby Boomers got up extra early every Saturday and watched Modern Farmer while waiting for the cartoons. Modern Farmer was not a cartoon, and was not even a kids’ show. It was a public service documentary designed to instruct farmers about all the most recent technological advances in American Farming. Modern Farming showed how harvesters and combines worked. It demonstrated the importance of rotating crops, and the most efficient methods of irrigation. It had films of real American farms producing the vast supply of food that is one of the country’s greatest strengths.
Modern Farming was not designed to be a show to teach kids, but teach kids it did. Children have amazing absorbent minds, and millions of children throughout the United States learned about farming while waiting for cartoons.
Ironically, I remember a lot more about Modern Farming than I do about the Saturday cartoons. To this day, I have a tremendous respect for American farmers and the complexity of their profession, all thanks to Modern Farmer.
The impact of Modern Farmer should have lessons for today’s T.V. producers. Children are much smarter than producer think, and kids have an amazing capacity to learn. Teaching them something worthwhile is up to us.
So what ever happened to Modern Farmer? It actually never went away. Various versions of the show are popular throughout the world. German Farmer, Japanese Farmer and Korean Farmer have all been made.
There are even many video farming games where kids can get a feel for how hard it is to run a farm.
Very few Baby Boomers ever became real farmers. Food production in the United States is so efficient that the number of farmers has been decreasing for decades. However, Modern Farmer did teach a whole generation of kids that food does not just magically appear on the table. It gave them an appreciation for a complex and fascinating world just a few miles away from the cities and suburbs.