What’s it like to have 2,000 consumers show up for breakfast at your farm?
It’s not that big of a deal if you’re organized and have plenty of volunteers, says cash cropper and dairy farmer Evert Veldhuizen. He and his brother, Jan, hosted the latest Ontario ‘Breakfast on the Farm’ event Saturday morning at their Veldale Farms near Woodstock.
The event is designed to give consumers an opportunity to tour a farm, enjoy breakfast, meet a farmer and learn a little about how their food is produced, explains Sue McLarty, special event manager for Farm & Food Care, which quarterbacked the event with the help of 150 volunteers. In this video report, Real Agriculture’s Bernard Tobin tours the farm and speaks with McLarty, Veldhuizen and some of the volunteers who made it all happen.
The first Breakfast on the Farm took place near New Dundee, Ontario three years ago. Veldale Farms is now the fifth farm to play host to the event.
“It really is a consumer event,” explains McLarty. “We have a lot of farmers who volunteer. They’re thrilled to come and talk about what they do and the consumers are really thrilled to come and see a real farm and talk to a farmer. A lot of them don’t know a farmer or have never been on a farm.”
Veldhuizen says it’s important for farmers to open up their barns to the public and educate consumers. “There’s always a lot of chatter about agriculture and what we do … this a great way to tell our story.”
Tobin talked with volunteer Wendell Schumm, who works for Wallenstein Feed and hosts his own blog. He says it’s also important for people who work in agribusiness to support farmers and help answer the growing numbers of questions consumers have about their food. Schumm talked with a parade of people who wanted to know about everything from what cows eat to the safety of GMOs.
Bruce County farmer Les Nichols travelled with two carloads of volunteers to Veldale Farms. “We need to tell the real story of farming,” he says. “Certainly getting out on a farm and seeing what really happens and the people and equipment involved is just fantastic.”
Nichols says his group was also doing some intelligence gathering as they hope to host a Breakfast on the Farm in the next year or two.