Upper Peninsula Breakfast on the Farm features potato and milk production

Visitors attending the Delta county Breakfast on the Farm event got a taste of how both milk and fresh market potatoes are produced.

Delta County Breakfast on the Farm

Photo: Delta County Breakfast on the Farm

The VanDrese family, owners of a dairy and potato farm in Cornell Mich., graciously hosted more than 2,350 visitors and volunteers at a Michigan State University (MSU) Extension sponsored Breakfast on the Farm event. This farm, located approximately ten miles north of Escanaba in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, was the first Breakfast on the Farm to feature a specialty crop. The farm, which is currently operated by the third generation, began in 1914 with 20 milking cows and 98 acres, ten of those were planted to potatoes. Today, the family milks over 100 cows and they plant just over 100 acres of potatoes.

The event began with a delicious farm-cooked breakfast including pancakes, eggs, sausage, potatoes, coffee, milk and apple juice. After enjoying breakfast, visitors toured the milking parlor and the barn that houses the milking herd. Visitors learned how cows are fed, watered, milked and housed and how the milk is carefully stored until it is picked up by the milk hauler.

Upon exiting the freestall barn, visitors boarded a tractor-pulled wagon ride for a trip through fields of potatoes and oats to the VanDrese potato storage warehouse. Here visitors had a first-hand look at where potatoes are washed, sorted and stored before being packaged and transported to grocery stores and restaurants. Visitors learned that there are approximately 100 potato producing farms in the state of Michigan with 44,000 acres of land in potato production. The annual estimated value of Michigan grown potatoes is $164 million and the state is the number one grower of potatoes for the production of potato chips.

Delta County Breakfast on the Farm visitors came from 22 Michigan counties and seven other states including: Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Florida, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Washington. When asked how many times they have been on a modern farm in the past 20 years, this farm visit was the first for 47 percent of the guests. For these first time visitors and others, the VanDrese farm was a great example of modern agriculture. Visitors left the farm with a better understanding of how farmers care for their animals, how they protect and preserve the environment and how they produce safe, wholesome and nutritious food for Michigan consumers and beyond.