Hundreds of Vermonters Get a Taste of Dairy Farming at First Annual “Breakfast on the Farm”

By Alison Kosakowsi, VAAFM

Nea-tocht Farm in Ferrisburg, VT Holds First Free Breakfast and Farm Tour

Hundreds of people experienced a day in the life of a dairy farmer and got a delicious meal at Vermont’s first Breakfast on the Farm on Saturday, August 22 at Nea-Tocht Farm in Ferrisburg, VT.

The free, public event included a pancake breakfast served from 9 a.m. to noon, self-guided tours of the dairy farm and a peek into the life and business of dairy farming in Vermont where 63% of the milk in New England is produced, according to USDA data.

The Nea-Tocht Farm is a family farm, owned and operated by Raymond and Linda Vander Wey, their five children and their grandchildren. With the third generation growing up on the farm and taking on more responsibility, they hope to have many more generations to come.  The farm has won many awards for their high quality milk and was honored with the 2000 Dairy Farm of the Year award.  The Vander Wey family houses 500 cows in free stall barns on 800 acres of land.

“The Breakfast on the Farm event gave us the opportunity to show the public how our family farm is traditional in some sense, but also embraces new technologies like our wind turbine and robotic milker,” Raymond Vander Wey said. “The community was excited to learn about our passion for farming, caring for our animals and the land, and our commitment to pass this legacy to the next generation.”

Vermont Breakfast on the Farm is coordinated by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture and its aim is to provide a first-hand look at modern food production and the farm families who work hard to produce a safe, wholesome food supply for Vermont communities and the world through educational stations that highlight how farmers care for the environment, their animals and their community.

“Opportunities such as this help raise awareness for farm practices and build agricultural literacy – an understanding of where our food comes from, and how it is produced,” according to Chuck Ross, Vermont’s Ag Secretary.  “This is one way we can help ensure future generations of Vermonters maintain a connection to the land and an appreciation for the importance of agriculture in our state.”

Educational stations were scattered throughout the farm where visitors could see cows being milked by robots, a smaller robot pushing feed to the cows, the free stall barns where the cows enjoy clean and comfortable places to sleep, farm equipment and irrigated crops. Some visitors even got to watch a baby calf being born. Over 150 volunteers from the community and the Vander Wey family were stationed around the farm to answer visitors’ questions about modern-day farming practices.

“We helped the public understand where their food comes from and a little bit about our story. The backbone of this farm is our family and has been for almost 40 years,” Raymond Vander Wey said.

The lead organizing partner for Vermont Breakfast on the Farm is the Vermont Agency of Agriculture.  Event sponsors include Vermont Feed Dealers, New England Dairy Promotion Board, Poulin Grain, Hall Communications, Farm Credit Northeast Ag Enhancement, and Coop Insurance. 

For more information about the first annual Vermont Breakfast on the Farm, visit www.vermontbreakfastonthefarm.com , email vermontbreakfastonthefarm@gmail.com or call Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets at (802) 828-2430.

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