Breakfast on the Farm sets attendance record, helps the public understand how their food is produced

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.

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