Farmers’ breakfast draws crowd
By Fran Odyniec
email@example.comAbout 500 or so people could say after breakfast on June 16, “I met a farmer today.”
That’s how many folks attended the first ever “Breakfast on the Farm,” hosted by the farm bureaus of Madison and Franklin County, and held on the Yutzy Farm at the Kramer Homestead on Converse-Huff Road in Plain City.
“We wanted to create an atmosphere where the consumer could rub elbows with the producer,” said Dwight Beougher, president of the Franklin County Farm Bureau. “Less than two percent of the state’s population lives on the farm. So we better tell our story.”
The goal of the breakfast was to address the disconnect between producer and farmer by letting people view first-hand what takes place on a farm, and in this case the Yutzy’s dairy farm. The Yutzy Farm is a five-generation farm with four of those generations currently working the herd.
Breakfast was prepared and served under a huge tent set up across from the dairy barn. Members of the farm bureaus and culinary students from Tolles Career and Technical Center made omelets to order from ingredients found on a farm such as eggs, milk, ham, sausage, and vegetables.
“This is an effort to educate people on ag,” said Dennis Wilt, president of the Madison County Farm Bureau. “It’s just not livestock and animals but grains as well.”
Wilt flashed a satisfied smile when he saw one consumer make a discovery in the barn where information on the various aspects of farming in Ohio was available along with live displays that included calves, two-day old piglets, roosters, hens, and rabbits. Of course, the Yutzy dairy cows were out in the field next to the main barn giving curious looks to passers-by.
“There was a guy who had never seen a soybean before,” Wilt said. “He put his hand into the bucket of soybeans (on display). He thought that soybeans grew underground.”
Chalk one up for the breakfast.
“This is good,” Wilt smiled.
He said that when people come up to him and ask, “Can we see big cows?” he just points to the Yutzy’s herd which has its fair share of “big cows.”
“The impact is more than what you think,” Wilt said of that simple yet effective encounter of the bovine kind.
During a presentation the Madison County Farm Bureau recently made in London, Wilt asked the young audience, “Where do you get beef?”
The answer, “At McDonald’s.”
Any wonder then why Wilt says, “Our number one goal is to promote all of agriculture.”
“The average person is three times removed from the family farm,” said Jody Carney, organization director for the Ohio Farm Bureaus in Madison, Franklin, Delaware, and Union counties. “That’s why we have events like this. When consumers are shopping for food, the connection is there between Kroger and the farmer. Milk comes from Kroger, but they have to know how that milk gets into the bucket.”
Just outside one of the barns, kids were busy taking turns milking “Bessie, the Buckeye Cow.” Bessie, festooned with OSU regalia, is a life-like replica of a cow and contains a system that dispenses milk through an udder. The kids work the teats and milk squirts out into a bucket-like container that “recycles” the milk back into the system for another squirt.
Through conversation with farmers at the breakfast, Carney said that consumers can learn how and why farmers do what they do. Farmers could easily be spotted at the breakfast. They wore bright stickers that offered, “Ask me. I’m a farmer.”
“Ag is a 24–7 lifestyle,” she said, “especially on a dairy farm. They’re milking day and night.”
Saturday’s breakfast was only a start.
“Ag has done great,” Beougher said of the industry in Ohio that he considers is the greatest thing going for the state and the nation. “But we have been terrible at communicating. We have our work cut out for us.”
He indicated that presentations by farm bureaus to schools, service, fraternal, and church organizations around Ohio are key to creating increased awareness and improved understanding of what farmers provide the state and the world.
Carney pointed out that the mission of the Farm Bureau is to go out and have open dialog with consumers.
“With an event like this,” she said of the breakfast, “we can get them out on the farm and meet the families (that produce food), see the animals, and how we care for them. They can explain why such and such meets certain specifications and can learn how much responsibility and dedication there is on the farm.”
Fran Odyniec is editor of The Madison Press.