Designed to acknowledge county Farm Bureaus’ efforts in advocating for agriculture and engaging members, MFB’s Champions of Excellence recognition is awarded annually in two categories, Involvement and Grassroots.
Let’s meet a pair of neighboring county Farm Bureaus that demonstrate excellence championing their respective farm sectors along the Lake Michigan shoreline.
Centered around MFB’s FARM Science Lab visiting a local school, the Mason County Farm Bureau invited the wider community to an evening of fun, food and ag education for youngsters and adults alike. With MFB’s mobile classroom as its centerpiece, Family Agriculture Night was open to Mason County Central students and their families.
The goal of opening eyes and minds beyond the student population was handily achieved as some 250 attendees took home a new perspective on not only where their food comes from, but the deeper knowledge that a lot of it comes from their own neighborhood. Parents saw for themselves the hands-on STEM lessons the FARM Science Lab brings to town — lessons the auxiliary participants then linked to the diverse local farm sector.
Representatives from stakeholder groups representing dairy, blueberries, equine, apiary, conservation and more, manned booths and spoke with attendees about their involvement with agriculture.
To encourage at-home conversations about food production, every student who visited the FARM Science Lab that week left with an ag bag including biodegradable flower pots, soil pods, seed packets and other promotional items donated by participating commodity groups.
A 10-person committee of Mason County Farm Bureau members shepherded the project from start to finish. Beyond arranging for the FARM Science Lab visit itself, organizers connected with partners, filled goody bags, promoted the event ahead of time, supplied equipment and livestock for a mini petting zoo, and staffed concessions.
In an unanticipated bonus, 20 non-members and 40 previously uninvolved members sprang into action to assist the core planning team — a real coup for Mason County’s increasingly dynamic Farm Bureau.
Smack in the middle of the Lower Peninsula’s gold coast, Oceana County celebrates the area’s diverse and prosperous farm sector at an annual Agriculture & Natural Resources Banquet, for which Oceana County Farm Bureau partners with MSU Extension and Oceana Conservation District.
Between the three co-sponsoring groups, virtually every local farmer is invited to join the celebration of Oceana County agriculture. Each group showcases their role in supporting local agriculture, complementing each other and painting a comprehensive picture of the industry’s reach into the local economy and culture.
Also open to non-farmers, Oceana’s Ag Banquet showcases the industry from every angle: production, processing, environmental stewardship and the roles each plays in supporting the regional economy.
Notably, even relatively uninvolved members prioritize attending the Ag Banquet, generally the first such event every spring and as such an honorary launch of each new growing season. After a long western Michigan winter, attendees catch up with neighbors and peers to share plans and celebrate another new year.
This year’s banquet saw more than 120 attendees enjoying food, fellowship and learning about the programs and initiatives all three partner organizations offer.
In addition to recognizing local growers, the banquet is a fitting venue for presenting a Friend of the Ag Industry award to a deserving local making a positive impact on Oceana County agriculture. In a similar vein, the Oceana Conservation District recognizes its Conservationist of the Year and recipients of its MAEAP award.
A pre-banquet reception features appetizers fashioned from locally grown ingredients, and attendees are challenged to take in all that local farmers glean from Oceana’s sandy hills, especially the region’s trademark fruit and vegetable production.
Oceana County Farm Bureau’s contributions, rooted in its Promotion & Education committee, include logistical oversight and sponsor solicitation. MFB’s District Director, himself a local fruit grower, serves as master of ceremonies, introducing county Farm Bureau leaders to share the local organization’s recent and ongoing accomplishments.
One more dose of Excellent Champions remains, so keep your eyes on Farm Gate!