Every year around this time I think it’s hard to not get all “lovey dovey”. I mean even if you aren’t feeling the love, most of the people around you are!
|Fall 2012 Harvest|
It’s farmersonly.com.With subscribers in the United States and Canada, the website was the start of a relationship involving a farmer from Colman, S.D., and an ag education student from Indiana who was attending Purdue University.Morgan and Jason Kontz met on the website, and their story has a lot of twists and turns, but it resulted in marriage.
Morgan said it was the summer of 2008 when she was encouraged by a friend who had been using the site for a long time to get on it and “just check it out.”With an outgoing personality, Morgan usually didn’t go on dating websites but decided to give it a try.
Looking through the profiles, she spotted Jason and his dog in a photo and sent him a message.“He sure had a cute puppy,” she said.
They exchanged more information and soon started emailing each other. From there, they started texting, and finally the phone calls began.
She had a few weeks off from her 2008 summer job before school started again at Purdue, so she suggested that she might make a trip to South Dakota. Jason couldn’t really get away from the farm as he was preparing for the corn silage harvest.
So Morgan hopped in her car, hoping to arrive in about 12 hours. But she got a flat tire in Minnesota, delaying her arrival on the Colman farm for several more hours. So she was late for the first date.
Because she was late and an annual late-summer barbecue on the farm was about to start, they had about five minutes together before they were off and running to Jason’s mother’s house to prepare for the event.
“I met his entire family about a half-hour later,” she said.And quite a family it is. Jason and Morgan farm with his two brothers and their wives, seven nieces and nephews and Jason’s mom and dad.Morgan stayed about a week before heading back to Purdue. They had talked about her transferring to South Dakota State University in Brookings to finish her degree studies, and by the end of the semester they decided to make it happen.After growing up not on a farm but in a suburb of Indianapolis, Morgan was a bit apprehensive about the move to rural South Dakota.But she fell it love with it – and Jason.
Was it love at first sight?“I don’t know,” she said. “I think what we both loved so much about meeting online was the fact that sometimes on that first date it can be kind of awkward. You don’t know what to say and a lot of times don’t know what kind of questions to ask.”However, she said, because of the Internet and getting introduced to each other beforehand, they already knew a lot about each other.
“I would send him 10 questions in the email, and he would answer them. Then he would send me 10 questions back. We got a lot of stuff out of the way in the beginning. We were both looking for that right person. We just figured it if we didn’t find it, that was OK.“But I can’t believe or imagine that I would have met someone like him (online),” she said.“The more we talked, I guess I fell head over heels over him, and I would say he probably did, too.”
The website’s founder, Jerry Miller, said the number of good matches and marriages among the more than 350,000 current members is amazing.Miller, a marketing executive who worked with farmers across the United States, started the website in 2005 after talking to a divorcee who expressed her frustration of how difficult it was to meet someone new.Working on the farm all day, she didn’t have a lot of time to find a date, and she already knew almost everybody who lived around her.So she signed up for another dating website and found that the men who were contacting her didn’t understand the farm lifestyle.“They don’t have a clue,” she said. That led to the website’s slogan, “City Folks Just Don’t Get It.”
During the first year, Miller, who operates the site from northern Ohio, said there were a lot of long-distance relationships. But membership grew and now includes men and women in all 50 states.“You would think it would be people in Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and Indiana, but I’m always shocked when we get members from places like Rhode Island. But they are people who grew up in an ag area and had to move there for work, but they miss it – the rural lifestyle,” Miller said.
He sums up his website this way: Imagine throwing a party for 350,000 people, and everybody came, and everybody was like-minded and had the common denominator of being down-to-earth, appreciative of the outdoors, nature, animals and enjoying the rural lifestyle. The odds are pretty good of meeting a good match. “For some, it’s just meeting friends and companions, but there have been countless successful matches and marriages in the past eight years,” he said.Miller said it’s not always matches between farmers, but perhaps a farmer and a teacher in a nearby small rural town. “It’s for down-to-earth people who understand and appreciate the lifestyle of agriculture and farming,” he said.The price is $17.95 a month, although rates are lower when a person signs up for multiple months. It’s free at the beginning to give people a chance to check it out.Miller said the biggest current change is that more people are using their cellphones to surf the site. He said about 50 percent of the traffic now is through mobile devices, so he said there are farmers out there maybe plowing their fields while looking for a date.When looking into how people meet in rural areas, Miller said his research has found that many married high school sweethearts or met someone in ag school, but the people who didn’t meet anyone were really frustrated.
That’s where the website has filled a void.
For Morgan and Jason, they still like to cuddle up occasionally and go to the website to see whether there’s anything new.“In the beginning, he didn’t want to tell anyone we met online,” she said. “I’m so outgoing and more than happy to tell someone. If anyone asks me about it, I tell them to go to farmersonly.com. I’ve only heard good things. I loved it because it was so simple.”She said Miller is right when he talks about farmers worried about meeting someone. She said Jason often works seven days a week, and when he would get home, it was dark and he was exhausted, and the last thing he wanted to do was get cleaned up and go to town to try to meet someone.
“It’s a lot harder (to date) when you work as hard as a farmer does,” she said.The couple was married about a year after they met in South Dakota and are closing in on four years of marriage. In April, their daughter, Elliette, was born.
Morgan is loving the rural life. In addition to helping on the farm, she is a blogger for Common Ground, a group of farm wives and women involved in agriculture who reach out to consumers to talk about how the food chain works and to inform moms and others about agriculture and answer questions. She also blogs for Real Farm Wives of America and Friends, which launched its newly revamped website Feb. 1.
Just last month, she won the “Excellence in Public Outreach” award from the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council for her work in blogging and meeting with consumers and other groups in the state to talk about social media and the positive side of agriculture. So it wasn’t only a “catch” for Jason when they met online, but it also was a catch for South Dakota agriculture.