A farm day for the whole family

Scroll down to see more photos from the Family Farm Field Day.

MOUNT HOPE, Ohio — It was a hot and humid day at the Hershberger Farm in Holmes County, but that didn’t stop the nearly 4,000 who made the trip for the annual Family Farm Field Day July 17.

Whether it was networking with other farmers, listening to expert speakers, checking out the new products on display or giving the kids a chance to learn and play in a farm setting, it seemed everyone at this one-day event found something of interest.

Getting ideas

Don Cawdy, a crop farmer from Ohio’s Delaware County, represented one of a growing number of “English,” or non-Amish, to attend. Cawdy said there’s plenty he and others can learn from the Amish — who made up most of the crowd — and have a good handle on efficient farm practices.

“These guys know how to be efficient,” Cawdy said, as he looked over a wind turbine and solar system. He hopes to install such systems on his own farm.

It was the sixth year for the field day, which was held in a large, secluded hay field on David and Emily Hershberger’s Legend Hollow farm, along Township Road 613. The Hershbergers farm organically and milk 40 Jersey cows on 90 acres.

Soil health

Housed in large fair-style tents, professionals spent the day interacting with producers and educating them on the most recent trends.

In the “keynote” tent, soil scientist Dr. Arden Anderson discussed the relationship between healthy soils and healthy humans.

“Most people really don’t understand that correlation between what goes on in the soil and what goes on in the doctor’s office,” he said, attributing many of today’s diseases and health issues to improper nutrition.

“The underlying issue relative to all medical issues is that we have to change what goes on at the farm in order to really address public health,” he said.

Anderson reminded farmers of their important role in feeding the world, and of the importance nutrition plays in everyone’s diet.

“In your hands you hold the well-being of your fellow human beings,” he said. “And you do that via the nutrition you put into the food.”

Statistically, he said studies show nutrient quality in food has decreased over the past six or seven decades, anywhere from 15 percent to 63 percent. Anderson said nutrients are the primary reason people eat, and the quality of food determines what kinds, and in what quantities people eat.

Social time

Despite a hot day, ice cream was made on location and multiple water troughs were filled with ice-cold water and soda. All food and drink were by donation, with many producers using the meal time to further their conversations.

Leah Miller, director of Small Farm Institute, said the event “helps build community,” noting some visitors came from nearby states, as well.

“It just strikes a chord with everyone, the activities we have going on,” she said.

Lloyd Miller, another organizer, said the committee looks for experienced speakers — those who have “callouses” on their hands, and “cow manure” on their boots.

Other topics during the day included tall grazing, mechanical weed control, farming for future generations, adding dollars to the milk check and the many features of good horsemanship.

Family focus

In its sixth year, the event seeks to “provide an educational format for grass-based agriculture” that supports low energy and nonindustrial practices, encouraging family lifestyles and economical, healthy living.

“Family” was a major focus, as children viewed insects under microscopes provided by Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center graduate students, and took part in various fair-like games.

Hands-on learning

Located almost in the center of the plot was a large, plastic Holstein dairy cow. Children crowded around the cow, pouring water into a whole atop her rump, and squeezing rubberized teats to collect the water below. No one was kicked, despite having twice as many hands milking her than she had teats.

Lloyd Miller said the free event is a good way to help producers “have the confidence to do” some of the things they’ve been considering, but haven’t yet put into action.

About the Author

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties. More Stories by Chris Kick

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