Michigan State University Extension looks forward to having a big presence at the 33rd Ag Expo this year. The event runs July 17–19 at the corner of Mt. Hope and Farm Lane on the MSU campus.
Faculty, educators and specialists will be on site, offering educational sessions and demonstrations. The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) Tent will brim with educational exhibits and demonstrations from the Master Gardener Volunteer Program, Firewise, the Farm Information Resources Management Team, AgrAbility, 4-H Youth Development, the Health and Nutrition Institute and others.
Master Gardener staff members and volunteers will present gardening sessions: Gretchen Voyle on tomato diseases, Hal Hudson on drip irrigation and Jarred Morris on cucurbit downy mildew.
Breakfast on the Farm, led by Extension educators Mary Dunckel and Nancy Thelen, will present a large walk-through experience showcasing what Extension is doing to educate consumers about modern food production.
Joyce McGarry, Extension educator, will present food preservation tips.
James Whaley, a Bryon 4-H’er and entrepreneur, will educate visitors about raising poultry.
And to answer any other visitors’ questions, Extension experts will staff the “Ask an Expert” booth.
Don’t leave the Expo without your free MSU Dairy Store ice cream. Donations for the ice cream go to the CANR Alumni Scholarship Fund.
Ag Expo, Michigan’s largest outdoor farm show, gives us another opportunity to reach out to Michigan residents.
In a recent Spotlight article, I let you know that Breakfast on the Farm (BOTF) is entering its fourth season this year. BOTF is a popular event that attracts Michigan residents who want to learn more about how a farm operates, have a delicious down-on-the-farm breakfast and just enjoy a Saturday with family or friends.
The first BOTF took place in Clinton County in 2009. This Michigan State University Extension program guided by a statewide advisory council has held 13 events from 2009 through 2011. This year, eight events will take place in eight counties.
The first 2012 BOTF occurred June 16 at Myers Farms LLC near Scotts in Kalamazoo County, the first time the event took place in southwestern Michigan. Despite the more than 90-degree heat, 2,430 visitors from 71 cities and 8 states got a firsthand look at how farmers care for the environment and their animals, and how they produce a safe, wholesome food supply. Nearly 50 percent of those who completed surveys stated this was the first time they had visited a working dairy farm in at least the past 20 years. Many were impressed with the cleanliness of the operation.
Jackson County’s first Breakfast on the Farm took place June 23 at Choate’s Belly Acres near Cement City. This BOTF set a new attendance record of 2,658 attendees. Long lines did not dampen the interest of the visitors who came to enjoy the pancakes, sausage, eggs, applesauce and yogurt breakfast, and to learn from the more than 200 volunteers about modern agriculture. This family farm uses technology in their dairy and cropping system. The majority of those completing surveys said the event increased their knowledge and changed their perceptions about modern food production, including how farmers care for the environment, how they treat their animals and how they provide comfortable housing for them. They also reported that their participation increased the likelihood that they will purchase Michigan products and increased their trust in milk as a safe food.
MSU Extension agriculture literacy educators Nancy Thelen and Mary Dunckel would like to thank all of the Extension educators, specialists and district coordinators who’ve assisted or will assist in BOTF and the generous statewide and local sponsors and many local volunteers who make the events possible. They say local planning committees are the key to implementing each breakfast.
Enjoy a visit to the Goma Dairy in Sanilac County on July 21 or check the schedule for a BOTF near you.