From the farm to the plate

By Blythe Alspaugh

[email protected]

VERSAILLES — Roughly 700 elementary school students in the region spent their Friday learning all the ins and outs of agriculture as part of the 2022 Versailles Farm Day.

Farm Day was first organized in 1974, for the purpose of educating students in Versailles about the importance of the agriculture industry and how their food makes it to their plate. Over the years, Farm Day expanded its reach to include students from Shelby and Miami counties in expanding their agricultural education. On May 13, roughly 700 students from Versailles Elementary, Ansonia Elementary, Franklin Monroe Elementary, Russia Elementary, Covington Elementary, Holy Angels Elementary schools and some homeschooled students attended the 2022 Farm Day, held at Ryan and Krista Schmitmeyer’s farm in Versailles.

“It has continued (this long) because farmers so graciously donate their property so that we can host the event. They see the importance of teaching people where their food comes from and the importance of the agriculture industry,” Versailles FFA Adviser Dena Wuebker said. “We wouldn’t be able to do this day without (Ryan and Krista) generally hosting this farm. We would not be able to make this work without them doing this.”

In addition to elementary school students expanding their understanding of the farm and how everything works, many Versailles FFA students lead the 14 different educational stations and activities in which the students participated. Students learned everything from how butter is made and where their favorite meats come from, to understanding the different types of honeybees and how they all work together in the hive to produce honey. At one station in particular, students got to milk a cow with advisement from FFA members.

“One of the favorite parts is seeing the enthusiasm in the students. They’re excited to be out at a farm, some of them have a very short period of time left of school. There’s a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of smiles on their faces, and an opportunity to teach them about the importance of the agriculture industry and where their food comes from,” Wuebker said.

The 2022 Farm Day is a return to form for Farm Days of years past; like many programs and events in 2020 canceled due to COVID-19, Farm Day was held virtually to teach students across the region about agriculture despite restrictions on gathering in person. Last year, Farm Day returned to its in-person format for Versailles students. Wuebker said that it was good to be back to the usual format of Farm Day.

“It’s a little busy, we knew going into it that it was going to be pretty busy, but it’s exciting to be back to a normal Farm Day,” Wuebker said.

In addition to enjoying activities such as milking cows and exploring different farming equipment while learning about farm safety, students snacked on french fries after learning all about the potato, cookies and milk while tracing all the ingredients of cookies back to the farm, and ended their day with yogurt while learning how it is made. Reiter Dairy donated the milk for the cookies and milk station, and Dannon Yogurt donated the yogurt.

The 2022 Versailles Farm Day was also made possible by FFA members, individual farms, businesses and organizations that donated equipment, animals, organization and supplies to make the day a success. Such organizations include the Darke and Miami County Farm Bureau, Ohio Pork Producers, Mid East UDIA, Ohio Soybean Association, Ohio Beef Council, Ohio Poultry Association, Jared Coppes and Elizabeth Farver of Darke County Soil & Water, Erika and Jim Grogean, Dannon Yogurt, Reiter Dairy and Keller Feed and Grain.