Sunday, July 20, 2014

I met a farmer tour

        This last June I had the chance to participate in an I met a farmer tour that our county Farm Bureau hosted. The tour consisted of visits to 4 different ag production sites. The invited guests were local community members who may not be exposed to agriculture through their every day life. 
       The tour started off with a stop at a local dairy farm. The young lady who lived on the farm took us on a tour of her milking parlor. She demonstrated how to milk a cow and provided some education on milk production. The tour participants were able to touch the animals and interact with them. A lesson was also given on the feed rations for a dairy cow. Examples of the different feed componits were passed around for every one to smell and feel. The final portion of the tour took us through the milk room where the milk is stored until transport off the farm. Here it was explained the many actions taken to keep the milk supply clean and free from any contamination.
      The next stop was a large beef feed lot. We were unable to get off the bus at this site due to recent rains and therefor saw the facility as we drove through it on the bus. Due to this I didn't get any pictures of this tour. (By the way the above picture is of a dairy cow, not beef. Big difference.) Our tour guide here was a young man who is the youngest of a three generation family that owns and operates their farm. Such things as housing of animals, waste control, and feed were discussed. There were many excellent questions asked by tour participants and I feel we all left with some gained knowledge about beef production.
      Stop number three was to a large hog feed mill. There were no animals on the site but we got a full tour of how the feed ration is mixed and delivered to the different barns the animals are housed in. This facility was also owned and operated by one local family. The husband, wife, and all three of their grown children have different rolls in the operation of the farm. The feed mill was quite large and highly technical with many computerized and automated processes. The facility was very impressive and modern. 
   Along on the tour were many farmers who were available to answer individual questions and engage tour participants in deeper conversations about agriculture as was appropriate. Above my husband Paul is talking to a community member who had some further questions. 
     The last stop was on a grain farm. Here participants were shown some traditional farming equipment and some used for organic farming. The purpose and use of each different machine was explained. Some had fun sitting in the cab and seeing how technical the tractors are with GPS and various other monitors. The main message here was that grain farming is focusing on precision farming to optimize crop production and control the amount of fertilizer or chemicals used. 
      The tour finished with a wonderful supper on the farm and some good conversation. I feel that it was an enjoyable and educational day for all those participating. In fact I had a Dr who was on the tour stop me a week or so later to say how much he enjoyed the tour. I reminded him that it is an annual event so he can spread the work and help encourage others to attend next year. He said he will definitely do that. 
       There is no better way to educate someone about something new than to let them see, touch, and interact with it. These community members can now tell others about their new knowledge in agriculture and have experiences they can talk about. Being open and telling our story is so key. 

1 comment:

  1. What a fantastic idea! Just a few weeks ago, I worked to coordinate a local foods/farms tour in our community and it was such a hit. And we are actually planning a commercial ag tour for the fall!