‘Breakfast on the Farm’ to give public peek into farmers’ world

Jay Beekman pets one of the Holstein milk cows waiting for a snack on his farm in rural Huntington County. The Beekman family will open up their farm for a free Breakfast on the Farm event on Saturday, June 8.
Jay Beekman pets one of the Holstein milk cows waiting for a snack on his farm in rural Huntington County. The Beekman family will open up their farm for a free Breakfast on the Farm event on Saturday, June 8. Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Farmers are not known for allowing the public to step foot on their property and take a peek at how they do things, but not only will people get a rare glimpse of how a working dairy farm operates, they will also be invited to sit down with a farm family and have a free breakfast while they learn about the inner operations and importance of agriculture.

The event, called “Breakfast on the Farm,” happens Saturday, June 8, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Beekman Farm, located at 11902 N. Meridian Rd., in rural Huntington.

The Beekmans – Jay, his wife Jasmine, and their children Braylon, 10 and Brynnlee, 5, are excited about the educational event, sponsored by the Indiana Farm Bureau and Prairie Farms. They expect between 500 and 700 visitors to converge on their homestead, with 40 helpers and volunteers on hand cooking up pancakes and sausage and eggs, served with yogurt, milk and juice. After breakfast tours will be conducted to showcase what farm life is like in Huntington County.

“We understand that not everybody knows what happens on a farm,” Jasmine Beekman says. “So really, we’re educating and teaching them – where their food comes from and how the culture impacts them. And we also are using it as an opportunity just to kind of thank our neighbors.”
Some of the farm-family-friendly activities planned during the day include a game called “corn box” – a box kids can play in that contains corn kernels harvested from the field.

“It’s sort of like a sandbox, but instead of sand it’s corn that’s been shelled,” Beekman explains.

There will also be a petting zoo featuring new spring calves and a tractor that kids (and adults) can climb up on and explore.

A nutritionist will also be available to talk with farmers and non-farmers alike about animal nutrition. He will answer questions about what goes into the diet of the farm’s dairy cows and the different products used.

In addition, a representative of Veris Technologies from Forefront Ag Solutions will demonstrate field soil mapping using state-of-the-art equipment.

The Beekmans also hope to have a veterinarian on site and display blueprints of a robotic milker the family wants to add in the future.
Jay Beekman says his wife came up with the idea to have an education day several years ago, and this year the timing was right to put her idea into action.

“June is known as Dairy Month so we wanted to put something together for the dairy end of it,” he adds. “And then we thought, this is for the community and we’d kind of like to showcase agriculture in Huntington County and make it a countywide thing, where we’re not just talking about the dairy cows, but we want people to know about what it takes to grow crops and things like that; what kinds of soil types we have in the county. Just what it takes to go from ground to the table.”

Jasmine also wants people to understand the link between farmers and food prices.

“The prices are going up in the grocery stores on milk products,” she says. “We’re not seeing it on the back end.”

The Beekman family has owned the farmstead since 1971 and is into an up-and-coming fifth generation. They work 750 acres in corn, wheat, soybeans, alfalfa and hay. They currently have around 95 milking cows and 130 head of young stock. Jay still lives in the home he grew up in; Jasmine fell in love with the farm life after she married Jay.

“I love doing what I do,” Jay says. “I love working with the cattle every day and growing crops. It’s just something different, and it’s enjoyable work.”

Jasmine says raising kids on the farm gives them something different – an advantage – from other kids in the community.

“Our son complains a lot that he has to come home from school, he gets off the bus, he goes and changes his clothes, and then he comes to the barn,” she notes. “But hopefully when he’s older he sees that he’s working alongside his dad and he’s with his parents every day, doing something that’s enjoyable and it’s really just family time for us. That’s something that Jay has been blessed with and has done with his dad, and his dad is down here almost every day at 75 years old. To be able to work alongside him is awesome.”

The family hopes this year’s event will be the first of many to come.

“Agriculture is unlike any other industry that I’ve ever been a part of,” Jasmine says. “Everybody just kind of comes together and makes things happen. We’ve been really blessed with all the support and interaction with other organizations within the state.”

“We want to tell our story out here,” adds Jay. “We want people to come out who know nothing about agriculture and see where we’re at, and see where we’re hoping to go in the future.”