Farm Factor consisted of a four-course meal with each course served at a different Ross County farm.
The first hint that Ross County Farm Bureau's "Farm Factor" would be a success came weeks before the July 22 event. Members of the community kept calling in to the county Farm Bureau office and two Nationwide offices, asking when tickets would go on sale for the progressive dinner being held on four area farms.
"This is such good family fun. I love all the food and information about farms and animals. I didn't know pigs could run 11 mph and chickens 9 mph. It's so interesting," said Melinda Blaney, who brought her two grandchildren to the event.
Farm Factor consisted of a four-course meal with each course served at a different Ross County farm. All of the food came from the host farm or a nearby local farmer, and the farm owners were available to talk about all aspects of their operation, including how they grow the food, take care of the animals and even what the production cost per acre is for various crops. The event cost $5 for children, $10 for Farm Bureau members and $15 for nonmembers. More than 200 Farm Bureau members, nonmembers and volunteers attended Farm Factor.
The event had staggered start times so the farms wouldn't become too crowded. Participants were so eager to start off with the appetizers at Hirsch Fruit Farm that many showed up before their scheduled 2:30 p.m. start, the beginning of the event. They munched on cheese, fruit and vegetables at tables set up inside Hirsch farm's cooler room, which contains dozens of empty crates for storing the fruit. Each farm had signs with interesting facts about the farm and food so participants could learn more about agriculture. At the last stop, participants had a chance to share what they learned from the signs for a chance to win several prizes.
"We were interested in seeing different farms and trying some new things. We wanted the kids to try some of the local foods," said Brian Beery, who was at Hirsch's farm with his wife Sadie and three young daughters.
The second stop was at Harp's Black River Farm. Young and old sat next to each other in a barn filled with dozens of tractors as they ate soup and salad.
"The Farm Bureau committee did a great job getting everything ready. It's been fun talking with people," said Tom Harp, who raises beef and sheep on the farm.
Jones' Family Farm hosted the main course, which consisted of beef, pork, chicken, green beans and sweet corn. Nationwide, Ohio Farm Bureau membership and Animals for Life Foundation had booths set up with information and free giveaways. Children were particularly interested in the popcorn and peacock feathers that were shared.
For those with a sweet tooth, Mike Putnam's Dairy Farm was the perfect choice to finish the meal. Participants enjoyed ice cream and sharing their experience with Farm Bureau and other agriculture members.
"This is such a great event and if Farm Bureau keeps doing events like this, I might join," said Blaney, who attended the event so her grandchildren could fulfill a requirement for 4-H. "This has been awesome. I would do this every year."
Amy Beth Graves is a freelance writer from Franklin County.