Breakfast on the Farm Appeals to Many

Since its inception in Michigan in 2009, the Breakfast on the Farm (BOTF) event in our state has reached over 9,000 people.

The mission statement of one of Michigan’s newest and most exciting agricultural events says it all:

Breakfast on the Farm (BOTF) gives consumers and farm neighbors a firsthand look at modern food production and the farm families who work hard to produce a safe, wholesome food supply for Michigan communities and the world”.

One of the goals of the program is to educate a population that is becoming farther removed from agriculture about how their food is produced. In 2009, the first Michigan BOTF event was held in Clinton County and spearheaded by Michigan State University Extension educator Faith Cullens. More than 1,500 people attended this free event, leading to four additional BOTF events in 2010 with over 7,500 in total attendance. Breakfast on the Farm is a program of Michigan State University (MSU) Extension, in collaboration with county Farm Bureau offices and many other agricultural organizations.

Efforts to educate the public about modern agriculture have been increasing and many agricultural organizations have identified this as a top priority. The BOTF program offers an opportunity for visitors to learn first-hand about current farming practices, meet the farm owners, and to talk with farmers. Under the leadership of Extension dairy specialist and professor Ted Ferris, more than 9 percent of the visitors to the three dairy farms completed exit surveys to help provide a base for our event evaluation. The survey helped determine who came to BOTF events, what their impressions were and what they learned from their visit. At the three locations, 46 percent had not been on a dairy farm before, while 25 percent had been on a dairy farm between one and five times. In addition, 45 percent lived in an urban area; 42 percent lived in a rural area; and only 14 percent lived on a farm. Of the respondents, only 23 percent grew up on a farm, while 51 percent grew up in an urban area. Future articles will provide information on what the visitors thought before and after the farm visit.

Breakfast on the Farm is one effort to improve agricultural literacy. The events attracted a large number of visitors who had never been on a farm or are not connected with modern farming. BOTF also has broad appeal as 58 percent brought their kids, 16 percent brought grandchildren, 26 percent brought friends and 6 percent brought neighbors. BOTF provides the public with an opportunity to learn firsthand about current farming practices, and it has the potential to impact visitors’ knowledge of how food is produced and better inform their impressions about modern farming practices.  Eight BOTF programs are currently being planned throughout the state for 2011. For complete details on who came to the 2010 BOTF events, see the Michigan Dairy Review article at www.msu.edu/user/mdr/.

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