MSU Extension’s Breakfast on the Farm program expands to new commodities

Since 2009, MSU Extension has sponsored 13 Breakfast on the Farm events and all farms have been either dairy or beef operations. This year, visitors will also have the opportunity to learn how apples and potatoes are produced.

On July 28, visitors to the Delta county Breakfast on the Farm event will see first-hand how potatoes are grown, harvested, stored and processed for fresh markets. Located near Escanaba, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, VanDrese Farms produces both milk and potatoes for Michigan consumers. The potatoes grown at this farm are marketed directly to stores and restaurants and to wholesale operations.

The United States Department of Agriculture indicates that Michigan’s potato production was 15.2 million hundredweight in 2011. The state ranks sixth in the nation for the production value of this crop with producers growing nearly $165 million worth of potatoes. There are approximately 90 families, like the VanDrese family, who grow potatoes in Michigan.

As for apples, they are Michigan’s largest and most valuable fruit crop and Michigan is the third largest apple producing state in the United States. Michigan growers on average harvest about 840 million pounds of apples per year. There are close to 950 apple growers in regions near Lake Michigan and along the Western part of the state.

Guests attending the Kent County breakfast and tour on August 4 at May Farms will get a close-up look at apple production on Fruit Ridge. Known simply as the “ridge,” this area of Michigan is one of the most abundant fruit growing regions because of its fertile soils, elevation and proximity to Lake Michigan. This event will also feature a special tour of Jack Brown Produce, a cooperative which packs, stores and sells apples from approximately 80 West Michigan orchards.

Americans consume almost 130 pounds of fresh and processed potatoes annually and approximately 50.6 pounds of apples per year. Visitors to the Delta and Kent county Breakfast on the Farm events will have the unique opportunity to see how they are grown, harvested and packed before they reach local groceries and markets.

For more information about these events or any of the 2012 Breakfast on the Farm events, visit the Breakfast on the Farm website.