Breakfast on the Farm Events in Michigan
Breakfast on the Farm (BOTF) showcases a selection of Michigan farms and educates the general public about modern agriculture.
In 2009 Faith Cullens, a Michigan State University Extension educator based in Clinton County, spearheaded a project called Breakfast on the Farm (BOTF). She had previously worked in Wisconsin where ‘dairy breakfasts’ are held in June (dairy month) as a way to showcase their farms. After arriving in Clinton County and meeting with dairy producers, they expressed needs to educate the general public about modern farming, teach the producers how to talk to the public and engage the farm community in the event.
Dutch Meadows Dairy in Clinton County opened their doors to more than 1,500 guestsfor the first-in-Michigan Breakfast on the Farm. The one-day event attracted families from a large geographic area and included many whom had never been on a farm before. Because of the huge impact of this event, MSU Extension has taken the lead in making this an annual activity at locations across the state. Michigan’s county Farm Bureau organizations and several statewide agricultural organizations have been important partners in this educational event.
There were four BOTF events held in 2010 – dairy farms in Clinton, Washtenaw and Alpena counties, and a beef/cash crop farm in Isabella County. More than 7,500 people attended these events. Although each BOTF is unique to the farm and area, all of the events have followed a similar format. The breakfast and tour are free, although a ticket is required to eat. Each BOTF haschosen to have a self-guided tour so participants can ask as many questions as they want. There is educational signage with 10- to 15-second messages at each learning station, along with resource people and answers to the kids’ quiz. Past educational stations have included: Meet the Family; Feed Area; Milking Parlor; Animal Health; Calves; Crop Production; Nutrient Recycling/Conservation Practices; Cow Housing/Maternity; Farm Equipment; Kid’s Quiz and Survey. Some have also added a Michigan Commodities Showcase and special activities for children.
Committees of 10 to 20 volunteers have been critical to the success of the program, as well as many local sponsors, partners and farmers. There have also been several statewide sponsors who help make the program possible. The goal is to make each BOTF program similar in quality and all of the sites are able to use the statewide equipment, signage and marketing efforts.
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 for Michigan communities and the world. For information on how you can become involved in BOTF programs please contact MSU Extension agriculture literacy educators: Nancy Thelen at 734-222-3825 or Mary Dunckel at 989-354-9870.