Breakfast on the Farm Program features the families behind the food
MSU Extension's Breakfast on the Farm gives consumers and farm neighbors a first-hand look at modern food production and the farm families who work hard to produce a safe, wholesome food supply.
Since the inaugural Michigan State University Extension Breakfast on the Farm program in 2009, twenty-six families have opened their farm to the public and worked with their farm neighbors, industry and agricultural organizations to educate thousands of visitors who come to learn about modern agriculture and where their food comes from. As one of the past host farm owners shared, “Breakfast on the Farm puts the face of a producer on the products that consumers buy at the grocery store.”
Governor Snyder has proclaimed March Food and Agriculture Month in Michigan. In recognition of this celebration of the importance of agriculture in our state and the families who help to build trust between the producer and consumer, we want to recognize the farm families who hosted a Breakfast on the Farm during the past year.
Reid Dairy Farm, LLC hosted the first Breakfast on the Farm program of 2013. The farm, owned by Jim and Pam Reid of Jeddo in St. Clair County, was started by Jim’s grandparents in 1868. Jim started farming with his father in 1962, moving four miles from the family centennial farm to the present farm in 1978. The Reid’s dairy herd consists of 205 cows and they also raise corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa on 1,100 acres of cropland. As Jim and Pam shared, “Most of the visitors had no experience with modern agriculture, but left with a positive attitude of how milk is produced.”
The next program was held near Coopersville in Ottawa County at Walt Dairy Farm, owned by Arlyn and Kathy Walt. They are the third generation to farm on the family homestead which dates back to 1932. The Walts milk 430 cows and grow corn and alfalfa on 1,200 acres. The family has also incorporated several conservation practices into their dairy and crop operations. A highlight for their visitors was being able to watch the cows get milked in a double 12 milking parlor where 24 cows can be milked at the same time.
Humm Farm, LLC near Breckenridge in Gratiot County hosted the first ever Breakfast on the Farm held on a crop farm. Brothers Kent and Olan Humm and their families are the sixth generation in their family to farm. They grow 3,000 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat. Visitors learned about a year in the crop cycle from special plots the family had planted to display the large variety of field crops grown in Gratiot County. Attendees were able to learn how farms use global positioning systems (GPS), analyze soil samples and learn about beneficial and harmful insects.
The Tom and Jack Jeppesen families from the Stanton area in Montcalm County hosted breakfast and an educational tour in September at Black Locust Farms, LLC. The brothers milk 180 cows and are the third generation to operate a dairy farm. They also grow corn, soybeans, alfalfa and wheat on 900 acres. Despite a downpour during the program, more than 2,200 visitors learned about dairy and crop production, animal health and food safety. As one participant shared, “I was amazed at how uninformed I was until I came today.”
Ferry Farms, LLC owned by Scott and Ali Ferry hosted the final 2013 program at their Litchfield area farm in Hillsdale County. The Ferry’s are fourth generation owners who purchased the family farm in 2009. They milk 300 cows and grow corn, soybeans and alfalfa on 1,500 acres of cropland. Like the other host families, Scott and Ali are passionate about promoting agriculture. “We were most excited to be able to give the public an opportunity to connect with where their food comes from,” Ali said. “We wanted to open our doors and help remove any misconceptions about food and agriculture.”
In addition to each of the host families being so willing to open their farms for the public to increase their knowledge of food production and trust in farmers, the families are also active in their communities. They are school board members, township officials, fair board members, active in church and civic groups, as well as in several local, state and national agriculture related organizations. During Food and Agriculture Month it is a pleasure to recognize these hardworking, special families for providing safe and high quality food and being willing to share their farms with the public.