Breakfast on the Farm succeeds despite many adversities

The last Breakfast on the Farm event of this season took place last weekend at Uphaus Farms in Washtenaw County. I was proud to hear how the event went off without a major hitch, especially considering the storm that hit the area on Friday night. The resourcefulness and perseverance of the family, volunteers and our staff prove that nothing holds down Michigan State University Extension.

A little background on Uphaus Farms: The host of this event, Lyndon Uphaus, is the fifth generation to operate the family-owned farm, which got its start 139 years ago. He and his wife, Ann, care for about 1,000 beef animals annually, with about 450 cattle on site at one time. They also work approximately 600 acres of crop land. This year, the farm boasted 450 acres of corn, 100 acres of soybeans and 50 acres of wheat.

At 8 p.m. Friday, 70 mile-per-hour winds and heavy rain caused a power outage, holding off set-up until the next morning. In addition, the rains made parking on the now-soaked grounds impossible. The family made a phone call to ensure that the drivers of four school buses would be on standby to transport visitors to the farm on Saturday morning from off-site parking two miles away.

By 7 a.m. the morning of the event, the volunteers had completed trial bus runs and rearranged some of the stations around the farm. They also acquired a second generator. The next two hours passed in a flurry of activity as workers set up stations and put up signs directing visitors to the new parking area.

“The resourcefulness and flexibility of a great group of volunteers and outstanding host family was very evident last Friday and Saturday when some quick decisions needed to be made,” said Nancy Thelen, MSU Extension educator. “The host family, every volunteer and Extension staff member worked together to make sure the flow of visitors would be safe and workable. When the last visitor left the farm at 2 p.m., it was remarkable to reflect on all the positive actions from everyone involved.”

Despite the storm and the last-minute parking changes, 2,400 visitors enjoyed the event. The Uphaus family, Nancy Thelen, program coordinator Ashley Kuschel, the planning committee and more than 400 volunteers all demonstrated just how adaptable and innovative they are by making adjustments to run the event without power and in very wet field conditions. This was the final Breakfast on the Farm for 2014, but next year, more farms will open up their doors for our program.

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