What Does it Take to Feed 3,000 People on Your Farm?
The summer of 2014 will go down as one I won’t forget. With the winter that proved to be the worst in record books, our kids got out of school late on June 17. We took a quick vacation and came back to only three weeks left before hosting Breakfast on the Farm, a large-scale on-farm event to give consumers and farm neighbors a first-hand look at farming and food production practices.
What does it take to host such an event? In December 2013, we were asked to submit an application to host. In January 2014, we were notified we had been selected, and by February were already meeting with the committee we had chosen. Our committee was comprised of family, business professionals and members of the community. We met once a month to discuss what had been done for the month and what needed to be done by the next month. We worked like a well-oiled machine bouncing ideas off each other and splitting up the workload. We truly had a wonderful group of people that we worked with. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.
Then, like I said, we came back from vacation and for three weeks scurried around cleaning, pruning, mowing, painting and any other project we could find to make our farm look pristine. We got to the night before when we were hosting our volunteers at the farm for their orientation and none of us could believe the time had gone so fast. We had over 300 volunteers who donated their time on Saturday to help us. Groups, families, individuals and members of the community who thought this was such a neat idea came out to help.
Saturday came and we had people at our house at 6 a.m. for me to start shuttling over to the farm. We had family and friends park at our house, which is next to the farm, to free up parking we had provided for the community. At 7:30 am, we started making the coffee and preparing the pancakes to feed the volunteers first. The most stressful part of the event for me was when the health department lady came to inspect our food preparation. You are at their mercy until they bless you with the paper that says “ok.” Then she decided to tour the farm, which I felt we made her comfortable enough to be there and she wanted to see more.
I personally mixed most of the pancake batter and helped in the kitchen. My husband ran around all day tending to needs that arose. Other family members chose different ways to help, talking to visitors or assisting people.
By 9:00, we opened the food line to the community. People were asked to sign our banner that now hangs in our barn. Within no time, there was a line all the way down the driveway and across the road. We couldn’t believe it. The line stretched at least 3-400 yards. People waited in line with no complaints for up to an hour just to eat on the farm. It was truly an unbelievable sight. At some point, the line got so long the welcome table greeters suggested people go on the farm tour first and then come back for breakfast.
Running out of pancake batter twice, we served 3,300 people and estimate even more than that were there; some had just chosen not to eat. We have definitely set the Michigan record with the most Breakfast on the Farm visitors, but our mission was to just share with people what we are so blessed to have.
Some of the comments we received were:
– “It was so fun, educational and well planned! Thank you.”
– “I had a lot of fun volunteering for the event and helping you share your wonderful farm with the public. What a great way to educate others about today’s farms!”
– “Thank you Crandall Dairy Farm for the wonderful Breakfast on the Farm event! Beautiful cows, beautiful farm, great family!”
These are just some of the many comments that came back to us. It was a wonderful day, great experience and a pleasure to open our doors to the public to let them see what a current dairy farm looks like in operation. Many people are anticipating that we will host again and I speak for all of us when I say “We will not be hosting again, but do wish the success of the Breakfast on the Farm to continue.”
So what does it take to feed 3,000 people?
– 2 cases of butter pats
– 5 cases of coffee
– 15 cases of blueberries
– 3 cases of coffee creamer
– 10 cases of pancake batter
– 5 cases of syrup
– 22 bags of ice
– 48 cases of milk
– 25 cases of yogurt
– 21 cases of ice cream
– 3000 bottles of water
– 1, 500 apple slices
– 30 cases of sausage
And one five-generation farm family that loves dairy enough to open its farm to whoever would like to learn more.