For anyone who has a question about the origins of their food, Brenda Hastings is holding nothing back.
“I want people to see what we do on our farm, observe how our cows live, smell and touch what they eat, and learn how milk quality and technology has changed over the years. I want people to get to know our family so they feel comfortable asking questions,” she said.
To that end, her family has opened up its Geauga County dairy farm for people to explore their food and have a good time in the process.
While the family has added some accommodations for visitors, the destination is still every bit a working farm, milking 600 cows three times a day as well as raising their offspring and a variety of crops.
“People seem to be curious about farms and food production. In recent years, there has been lots of attention paid to animal agriculture in the form of movies, books, TV news coverage and social media,” Hastings said. “I think it’s great for people to visit a working farm so they can see for themselves and ask the farmer questions.”
The tours seem like a natural fit for Hastings, who has documented the ins and outs of her family’s daily work on her blog—The Dairy Mom. With photographs and personal accounts, she has celebrated farm life, explained day-to-day decisions and tackled a number of consumer questions.
It’s that type of openness that the Hastings attempt to live out in their community, priding themselves on being good neighbors.
“Making our farm available to tour groups is another way we connect with our community. Many of our visitors are from Geauga County or surrounding counties,” she said. “We’ve only lived in this area for eight years, but people have made us feel at home and we value being part of such a wonderful community.”
While the family is celebrating a community connection to agriculture, she notes her farm is just one example of a variety of approaches to putting food on the table.
“There is no one-size-fits-all,” she said. “Production methods vary from operation to operation and that’s OK. There are many ways to produce healthy and quality food.”
At the end of the day, she hopes people feel good about her family’s values about farming, the way they care for animals, the quality of the product they sell and their desire to provide opportunities for future generations.
And, as Hastings said, “It’s lots of fun to visit a working farm.”