How can farmers spread their message to those who've never been blessed to know how a farm operates or even what one looks like?
Agritourism is all about bringing visitors to the farm and educating them by using engaging, fun activities. These activities could be you-pick-em berry farms, guest ranches, Christmas tree farms, pumpkin patches, wineries and farm tours.
One place that in my opinion that is knocking it outta the ballpark by educating thousands of people every year about farming is Fair Oaks Farms. Fair Oaks is a family owned farm located in Northwestern Indiana. They welcome visitors hoping to find relief from asphalt and city life and dazzle them with engaging activities that also educate them about farming! Because contrary to what you may think, not everything you read online about farming and food is true!
Fair Oaks offers it's guests many opportunities to soak up agriculture. One of the first things you do upon arriving is listen to a quick introduction about the farm. Fair Oaks originally started just with dairy cattle. 36,000 of them to be more exact! The Dairy Adventure introduces visitors to what goes on behind the scenes of a dairy farm through a bus tour. You learn about what cows eat, how much milk the provide a day, how they are cared for and also get to seem them milked on the large rotary or carousel. Using modern farming techniques the dairy farms can milk 72 cows every 8 minutes!
Visitors can also explore Mooville, an outdoor adventure area with farm themed activities for the youngsters or the young at heart. Many people think the highlight of farm is the Birthing Barn, where you have the opportunity to see a baby calf be born!
Just last summer, Fair Oaks added Pig Adventure to their already impressive agritourism experience. The pig farm is the only production facility in the country that allows visitors inside! You have the opportunity to see three different aspects of raising pigs: Growing, Breeding/Gestation and Farrowing. Through the technology implemented at Fair Oaks odor is kept to a minimum, but they also remind you... "If you smell some, remember it's still a farm!"
You may remember my first Ag Chat was all about how electric cooperatives turn cow poop into electricity, well the farms at Fair Oaks are no different! The manure is recycled in a digester, the gas is collected and used as electricity to run the farms. The farms are truly "Powered by Poo"!
Fair Oaks Farms is like no other place! If you're ever in the vicinity you should definitely stop in and check it out. You won't be disappointed, especially if you purchase some of their delicious cheeses or amazing ice cream made in house at the cheese factory!
It's no secret that I have a soft spot for anyone that helps spread the message of agriculture to those who are outside of the farming community! I believe that it's terribly important for people to understand the passion that goes into farming and raising livestock. It's not a cake walk. Believe me. There are sleepless nights spent worrying about the weather, the markets, that sick calf and how in the world will I be able to get up tomorrow and do it all over again?
So what is it that keeps farmers growing healthy and wholesome food for consumers?
It's truly a passion. A love for the land and the lifestyle.
Linking up with Nicole for this week's Country Fair Blog Party.