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First Ontario “Breakfast on the Farm” a Success

Jun. 22, 2013. New Dundee, ON - For those who conceived of the idea, the day couldn't have been any more successful than it was. And although Breakfast on the Farm was a pilot, based on a similar and successful initiative in Michigan, all indications show that it will be rolled out across Ontario, maybe with a few minor tweaks.

On June 22, Farm & Food Care - an organization which brings together tens of thousands of livestock, crop and horticulture farmers and related businesses, with a mandate to provide credible information on food and farming in Ontario - partnered with Heritage Hill Farms, Egg Farmers of Ontario and Foodland Ontario to host the province's first ever Breakfast on the Farm.

Heritage Hill Farms is a dairy farm owned by the Johnston and Doré families. Besides cattle, however, there were live exhibits of pigs and chickens, tractors and other farm equipment. Prior to the event, fifth generation Ontario farmer Mary Ann Doré said that her family was excited to be hosting the inaugural pilot.

"Breakfast on the Farm will be a great opportunity to show people what agriculture is all about. Not only can visitors enjoy a great breakfast made from Ontario foods, but you can see dairy cows up close in their own environment and talk to many different types of farmers about what they do every day."

It's estimated that there were about 2000 guests, with 1,600 of them having pre-registered for free via the Farm and Food Care Facebook page. The idea was to draw visitors who may not otherwise have the chance to see what goes on behind the scenes in order to get fresh milk, eggs and meat to their homes. And, once on-site, they weren't disappointed. Each visitor to the farm was treated to a complimentary all-Ontario breakfast of pancakes, sausages, eggs and maple syrup, accompanied by apple cider. Each guest was then encouraged to meet the farm family, visit and interact with young calves and cows, handle the milking equipment and learn more about the farm's numerous environmental initiatives. Experts from other commodity groups were also available to chat with guests about poultry, crop and pig farming, as well as apple production, manure management and the responsible use of pesticides.

Among the special guests were Premier (and Minister of Agriculture and Food) Kathleen Wynne; Education Minister Elizabeth Sandals and Government Services Minister John Milloy. Conservatives Michael Harris and Ernie Hardeman also attended to show their support for the initiative.

In talking to media, the Premier said, "I said I would take on this job for a year because I am the premier of one Ontario and there was a notion somehow that there was a rift between rural Ontario and urban Ontario and I think we need to make sure that gap is closed."

The event was made successful by months of delicate planning and by nearly 150 volunteers, who showed up to ensure that all ran smoothly.