It’s been 10 years since Farm & Food Care Ontario hosted its first Breakfast on the Farm.
Over the past decade, an estimated 30,000 people have attended the events at farms across Ontario with many visiting a farm for the first time to learn about where their food comes from and how it’s produced.
On Aug. 26, the organization will host its second event for 2023. This time, Breakfast on the Farm heads to Ripplebrook Farm in Napanee, Ont., where the MacLean family milk 130 cows three times daily in a modern free-stall dairy barn. The farm is also home to show-winning quarter horses. Crops on the farm are grown on over 900 acres and include alfalfa, barley, wheat, corn and soybeans.
Farm & Food Care Ontario executive director Kelly Daynard says typical visitors are urban consumers from the local host area but she often encounters visitors who have driven hours to visit the event. “These are by and large urban consumers who may never have been on a farm. And that’s the beautiful part of these events.”
In this interview with RealAgriculture’s Bernard Tobin, Daynard shares how events like Breakfast on the Farm play a vital role in helping an increasingly urban population better understand modern agriculture.
“Regardless of whether you’re a cucumber grower or a dairy farmer, we have amazing stories to tell. And people have an awful lot of questions about where their food comes from,” says Daynard. “Most Canadians now don’t know a farmer so when they potentially read something scary in the news or on the internet I think it’s really important to open the doors and engage with these people and just show them the great stories that we have to tell.” (Story continues after the interview.)
But the events couldn’t happen without support from the farm community and agribusiness. Daynard notes that the Breakfast on the Farm concept was developed by a group in Michigan, and after visiting the event and seeing its success, Farm & Food Care rolled it out in Ontario. It costs about $50,000 to put on the event and nothing happens without a huge team of volunteers.
At a recent breakfast in Huron County, “we had about 130 volunteers show up that day to put on the blue volunteer shirt and operate one of the stations, whether it was parking, whether it was serving food, or whether it was answering questions about that combine, or sprayer or beef cow,” says Daynard. “And then there’s the donations that come in from local associations and agribusinesses — we couldn’t do it without them.”
Daynard also notes how the breakfasts give farmers a unique opportunity to engage with consumers. She recalls one farmer who quizzed visitors on the cost of a combine. “Guesses were ranging from $5,000 to $30,000 and when he explained that it was a million dollar piece of equipment, people were just absolutely dazzled by that. They don’t have a sense of the scope.”
Click here for more information on the Aug. 26 Breakfast on the Farm at Ripplebrook Farm.