Singles in Agriculture
By Devon Immelt
In today’s fast-paced society, being “single and looking” can be a challenge. That challenge is often doubly so for farmers who frequently work long, physically hard days and live in rural areas where opportunities and venues for social activities are few and far between.
So what’s a single farmer to do? For some, finding that special someone has come in the form of Singles In Agriculture, a group that works to promote recreational and social opportunities for singles who have an agricultural background or an interest in agriculture.
The idea behind the group, which now boasts 11 chapters in 24 states across the U.S., appealed to Darlene Foos, who lost her first husband to cancer in 1986 and was left trying to manage an 186-acre farm in Galion, Ohio.
“I had a good marriage and hope to get married again, but meeting people with similar interests who understood the farming lifestyle wasn’t easy,” Foos said. “It seems like a lot of farm people just stay home.” Two years later, in 1988, Foos learned about Singles in Agriculture (SIA) through a farm journal. She made contact with the organization and soon found herself participating in SIA events. The group organizes inexpensive group activities for its members, including tours, dances and educational weekend outings.
Foos met Dan while attending an SIA-organized singles dance in Marion County, Ohio. The two hit it off, as they say, and married after a courtship that included numerous SIA activities. Although no longer single, the Foos remain involved with Singles in Action — the couple currently serve as the co-presidents of the organization’s Ohio chapter. Dan Foos also serves as the group’s treasurer.
“For us, it’s more of a social group now, but most of the members are single. Some are there to find their soul mate, others are there for companionship and to travel,” Darlene Foos said.
And the Foos’ are far from the only success story coming out of SIA.
Robert Hall grew up on a dairy farm outside of Lima, Ohio and lived there most of his adult life. Like Darlene Foos, Hall said he struggled to find available women who were familiar with and enjoyed the farming lifestyle — traits he hoped to find in a prospective future wife.
He first heard about SIA in 1995 when he read a newspaper article promoting an upcoming event organized by the Ohio chapter. Hall then began attending SIA activities regularly, he said.
But it wasn’t until he started going to the organization’s national activities, where single farmers meet with other single farmers from out of state, that he met Sandy, the women he would eventually marry.
“We had quite a few things in common and after that I visited her in Iowa probably once a month for several months,” Hall said.
Ultimately, Hall decided to pick up roots and relocate to be with Sandy, who he has since married. The two currently live in South Dakota near Sandy’s family farm, where they are building their first house together.
Without a group like Singles in Agriculture, Hall said, as a farmer, he would have struggled to find a significant other.
“It’s a different lifestyle and the weather and seasons have a larger impact on your life. You don’t see as many people, … you’re a little bit isolated from other people,” he said
Singles in Agriculture was formed in the mid-1980s after a single farmer sent a letter to a farming magazine expressing the difficulties of meeting single women interested in a rural lifestyle. His letter prompted a writer from the magazine to write a series of articles on the social lives of single farmers. The articles became a popular read and a column asking single farmers to submit biographical information to the magazine resulted in more than 2,700 responses, according to SIA’s website.
The magazine’s work caught the eye of an Iowa woman who ultimately helped to establish Singles in Agriculture as a national organization. “Iowan Marcella Spindler volunteered to handle correspondence from those interested in forming a singles organization. By the summer of 1986, the project had generated so much interest that 23 people met in Peoria, IL. to take the necessary steps to make SIA an official organization,” the website states.
In October of that same year, Singles in Agriculture was chartered as a non-profit organization. The nationwide organization boasts members in 41 states. Ohio’s chapter is one of the smaller ones. It currently has about 30 active members.
What separates SIA from a dating service is the fact that everyone involved has, or is interested in, an agricultural lifestyle, Hall said. There is no pressure to date while participating in the social activities, it’s about meeting people, seeing new places and having fun, he said.
“I would say, if you’re interested, go and see what it’s about. Check out the activities and see if there’s something you might like,” Hall said.
“Stay active,” Foos added. “There is someone out there fo ryou. It’s just about being at the right place at the right time and knowing that your not going to find them sitting at home.”
For more information visit www.singlesinagriculture.org.