how to set up a farm tour



June is National Dairy Month, and there's no better way to celebrate cows, dairy and farming than to visit a farm! 

If you'd like to take a tour of a working farm--and it doesn't have to be a dairy farm!--to discover how turkeys are raised, what milking cows looks like and how much pigs love laying under misters, here are a few pointers to get you started. 



1. Work with a organization to locate a farm to visit. Reach out to your state's pork producer association or to an organization like Midwest Dairy, which functions in multiple states. They can put you in touch with a farmer who is willing to show you how your food is produced so that you don't have to start making cold calls to farmers beginning with the A section of the phone book.


2. Call ahead. While farmers love the old school idea of neighbors popping in unexpectedly for a look around the farm and a glass of lemonade as much as the next guy, they also experience really busy times of the day . . . and year! So whether you're a farmer visiting another farm for the fifth time or a 4-H group wanting to visit a dairy for the first time, unless you want to risk being put to work because you showed up when it's manure hauling time, call a week or two in advance, ask when a good time to schedule a tour might be, pledge to keep the event to an hour and then plan accordingly. {Plus, your mama will be proud of you for doing what's polite.} 


3. Arrive prepared to learn. It's not uncommon for people to have preconceived notions about farming and farmers. (We all wear bib overalls. We speak with a Southern twang. We use spittoons.) But you may just be surprised by what you discover. It turns out everything you read on Buzzfeed about farming isn't necessarily true. (Gasp!) So bring your questions. Don't be afraid to be inquisitive. Now's the time to learn! 


4. Leave your high heels and pearls at home. Working farms are dusty when it's dry, muddy when it's wet and busy all the time. So wear shoes you can rinse off if they get dirty and clothes that a calf can lick and not ruin. 



5. Share what you learned. You'll be getting a first-hand look at how milk is shipped or pork is produced or corn is raised. If you learned something new, tell your friends. If you got to drive a tractor, take a picture. If you discovered that all farmers don't actually look like the American Gothic painting, share your newfound insight.  You may have friends and family who never visit a farm or see how their food is raised, and you can be the person who fills them in on how it's done!  



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