Have you ever wondered where your food comes from?
That question sparked the Breakfast on the Farm event, an opportunity for people to reconnect with agriculture.
The annual event is held at a new farm each year and often exhibits a wide range of farming equipment, educational booths, animals and games. The big draw is the breakfast. Shortly after the sun comes up people arrive in mass to chow down on pancakes and sausages skillfully prepared by a volunteer staff made-up primarily of farmers.
Darren Newville, one of the main organizers for the event, has been pivotal in facilitating Breakfast on the Farm in Otter Tail County. His job consists of leading meetings and coordinating volunteers. On the morning of the big breakfast he was helping everyone setup for the hungry crowd. “The main thing is getting people that aren't involved with agriculture out to the farm,” Newville said.
Newville was expecting around 1,000 people to visit the Ogroske Farm north of Perham Saturday morning, Aug. 3. Breakfast on the Farm started as a simple educational event but quickly grew into a large agriculture exhibition and feed, bringing in dozens of sponsors and volunteers. The event is free to the public but organizers were asking for a free will donation. All donations get reinvested back into the groups that support the event like 4-H.
The Ogroske Farm is a sprawling plot of land dotted with various buildings, crops, and flowers. The early morning sunlight bathed the farm in an amber glow while wafts of sizzling batter filled the air. The middle of the farm was equipped with picnic tables, each one with its own stick of butter and syrup. A little rain did kick up but luckily the tables were covered by several awnings. People huddled underneath as they enjoyed their breakfast.
Edwin Keil, a crop farmer in the Perham area, worked the grill, swiftly preparing food for the ever growing line just outside the small building. Keil has been volunteering for three years. His farming experience spans almost two decades.
“We’ve become so removed from the farm,” Keil said during a short break from flipping pancakes. He praised the sheer amount of people willing to give up their Saturday to come out and volunteer.
The other side of the farm was devoted to education and kids. Katherine Ternus was in charge of the bubble stand, clever game where kids stands on a cinder block in the middle of a small pool. At their feet bathing in bubble solution is a hula-hoop. Ternus would take the hoop and pull it upward engulfing the child in a large bubble. Ternus spent the morning entertaining children. This is her third year volunteering and her favorite part of the breakfast is seeing all the people come together, especially farmers and consumers.
Just a few feet away, Alyssa Hartmann was spinning the wheel and spitting out facts. This is her first year volunteering and she was managing the fact wheel. She and her cohorts were given information about various farm animals. When kids spin the wheel, they have to answer a question about the animal they land on. Her favorite part of this particular job was observing kids learn new things. Every activity had an element of agriculture education. Additionally, there were several other vendors and booths presenting elements of farming.
The sun made its way into the sky and the rain clouds slightly dispersed. Debbie Janzen sat down to enjoy her breakfast surrounded by family and friends. She was sitting with friends visiting the United States through a CAEP agriculture exchange program. Students from Rwanda, Haiti and Vietnam visited the Ogroske farm for a morning of good food and vital farming experience.
“Without the farmer, we don't eat,” said Janzen before taking a bite of a fluffy pancake.
“People are disconnected from agriculture, 50 to 60 years ago you knew someone or were related to someone on the farm. We don’t have that anymore. More people have moved to town, they don’t have that connection to the farm. I think it's really good for people to go out and see a farm and see where their food comes from,” Newville said.
Breakfast on the Farm is a complex event that requires a slew of volunteers and sponsors. Planning for this event usually begins in January. Every year they change locations in an effort to introduce new people to an agricultural way of life. For more information and updates check the East Otter Tail Breakfast on the Farm Facebook page.