I am really excited about the farm tour that is being held on Saturday, Oct. 13, throughout Warren County. Farms will be open for touring from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. People are always saying that you should know where your food comes from. This tour provides that opportunity.
The farms on the tour have been planning for visitors for weeks. They are hoping for one of those fabulous fall days that we all treasure. Even if the weather is not ideal, the tour will be held, so carry an umbrella just in case.
The farm tour is a project of the Future of Ag Committee under the auspices of Penn State Cooperative Extension. This year's tour features new sites as well as returning favorites. Brochures for your self-guided tour are available in Sheffield, Russell, Youngsville, Warren, Tidioute, and Sugar Grove at local businesses, post offices, and libraries.
Ann R. Swanson
Pack the car and take a journey into the country to see how food is produced on a daily basis. Children love animals. The tour will provide ample opportunity to see all types of animals.
If you cannot find a brochure, go to the website www.warrenag.org. There is a complete list of happenings there, along with directions. The tour is not just for children, although the children should have received some information about it in school. Anyone with an interest in how his or her food gets from the farm to the table is welcome.
What will you see? I know that not all things that are going on are listed, so be prepared to spend time to see it all. I will be at the Meldick Farms site helping out. That is the farm that my husband and his father ran for years. The farm has been retrofitted from a dairy farm to a meat producing farm by my son and his family.
There will be hay rides on the hour to see the animals out on pasture. One of the newest things in this area is the introduction of the Texas Longhorn breed of cattle. Rest assured you will see those. You will also be treated to samples from the new "chuck wagon." The boys are planning some activities for the children as well.
Barry's Barnyard in Sugar Grove is another family owned farm. This farm is a regular at the Warren Farmers' Market. Approximately 2,000 broiler chickens will be raised this season. The family will be on hand to explain the operation.
The Wenzel Farm in Warren is another farm with a lengthy family history. You will be able to visit the old barn. You will also learn about forest-management practices that are in place.
At the Kevin and Laura Long Farm in Lander you will be able to learn more about the dairy industry. You will see milking equipment as well as learn about the storage of the product. The Warren County Dairy Princess will be on hand as an added bonus.
Roger and Jackie Sherwood of Sugar Grove started their farm from the ground up. They will show you what they have done with their 166 acres of farmland. Roger is in the process of creating a wetland preserve.
Judy and Gary Yaegle own and operate Fox Run Stables. Their business includes boarding horses as well as giving riding lessons. At 11 a.m. there will be a horse-jumping exhibition. At 1 p.m. Judy will give information about the different breeds of horses.
This certainly is an event that you and your family will not want to miss. There are a myriad of educational opportunities for all. Remember that some of the best learning does not take place in the classroom. A hands-on opportunity creates a memorable experience.
You might ask, "Why do farmers want to spend a day on a farm tour?" It is just part of the business of connecting consumers with the food they purchase. If you know the family that produces the food you may feel better about eating it.
If you are looking for a "bargain," you are not going to find it unless the bargain you are looking for is the best food around. Although the cost of locally produced food is greater than the mass produced type, the benefits are well known. It is not just organic or natural, these terms seem to have become buzz words lately in most of the food advertisements. I know that no matter what the large producers say, they cannot do it as well as the smaller family farms.
I can only say, "way to go." The locally produced food must have made a difference to the big guys or they would not have jumped on the bandwagon. Every time someone says it cannot be done, there is someone around to prove than it can be done.
I have the greatest respect for all of these farmers as well as the rest of the farmers throughout this area. I buy fresh and local every chance I get.
The farmers who produce the food also eat it. They are not about to feed their families anything that is inferior in any way.
Be sure to bring some cash and/or your checkbook with you because you will be able to purchase some of the products along the way.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa.