Host farm applications now available for 2015 Breakfast on the Farm Programs
The 2014 Breakfast on the Farm programs will soon be getting underway, but it is also time for interested farm families to apply to host a 2015 event.
Since the inaugural Michigan State University Extension Breakfast on the Farm program was held in 2009 at Dutch Meadows Dairy in St. Johns, more than 53,550 visitors and volunteers have participated in the 26 programs held throughout Michigan. Twenty-two of the host farms have been dairy farms, two were beef farms, one was a crop farm and one was an apple operation. The 2014 host farms will offer a diversity of types of farms, ranging from a dairy farm to a beef feedlot and crop farm and a dairy farm that also has a sheep flock.
Breakfast on the Farm is an MSU Extension program that is guided by a statewide advisory council and the events are made possible through local partners, generous statewide and local sponsors and many local volunteers. Host farms are selected by the advisory council through an application process. In an effort to reach consumers throughout Michigan, the council strives to have events in diverse geographic areas. Extension staff will offer guidance from the early planning stages through the event.
Breakfast on the Farm showcases a selection of Michigan farms and introduces the non-farm public to the life and business of modern agriculture through a fun and educational event that emphasizes the importance of environmental stewardship, food safety and good animal care practices. The educational farm tours provide the public an opportunity to see modern, non-commercial farm operations first-hand. With only 1.8 percent of the population providing food for the other 98 percent, there is a large information gap about how today’s modern farms operate. Host families realize the importance of opening their farm to teach consumers about modern farming and building trust in agriculture production. As programs are completed, host families are very glad that they provided an opportunity for consumers to learn about farm life and educate them about agriculture. Many of the attendees write thank you notes or leave comments such as, “We now have a better understanding of what farmers do” or “I was amazed at how uninformed I was until I came today” or “Great experience – I will go home and have a large glass of milk and not be concerned at all”.
The Breakfast on the Farm connection increases consumer confidence in Michigan food products, increases the consumers understanding of agriculture as a whole, and increases the amount of food products they purchase. Data from past surveys show that approximately 45 percent of the attendees have not visited a modern farm in twenty years or more. Another 33 percent of the visitors have only been on a farm one to five times in the last twenty years. The data is also showing that Breakfast on the Farm is connecting to the consumers by increasing their confidence in Michigan food products by 78 percent. Follow-up surveys of attendees have also shown that 20 percent of the households attending a Breakfast on the Farm program at dairy farms have increased their consumption of dairy products. This educational program has helped to provide information and experiences for thousands of participants who have changed their attitudes about modern food production as a result of attending a BOTF.
Information on past events is available at Breakfast on the Farm. Interested host farms are also encouraged to attend one of the 2014 breakfasts to experience the program. The application and a checklist to guide interested host farms are located at Contact Us! If you would like your farm to be considered for a 2015 event, please complete the application and submit it to your local MSU Extension educator for approval and submission to the program organizers by September 1, 2014. The advisory council will review all applications and notify applicants in October of farms selected for a 2015 event. The deadline for potential host farm applications has been moved up to allow more time for the farms to plan for a parking area and crop rotations.