Greener acres

Blount County Farm Tour teaches students basics of agriculture

So, which cows make chocolate milk?

That was one of the questions asked by the students attending the Blount County Farm Tour on Tuesday, Sept. 21, at the farm of Dr. Dick and Martha Daugherty. More than 450 fourth grade students toured as farmers, veterinarians and teachers pushed home the lesson that food may come from a grocery store, but that’s not where it started.

The fifth annual Blount County Farm Tour is sponsored by Farm Bureau Women of Blount County. Dr. Daugherty is a veterinarian who also raises beef cattle. Leading the event for the Farm Bureau Women was Faye Rule, Agriculture in the Classroom chair.

“We do a lot of things related to (agriculture) in the classroom, and this is just one of them,” Rule said. “Our emphasis is to get the story to students about where food and fiber come from. They get it at Food City and Kroger but where does it start?”

Including the students, Rule said about 680 people were on site during the Farm Day. Students came from home school, from Walland, Eagleton, Rockford, John Sevier and Lanier elementary schools, from New Horizon Montessori School and from Maryville Christian School.

Rule said it is always fun to listen as the children tour the farm and learn about different aspects of farming and food production. “One child asked which cow gives chocolate milk. Why do sows just have one pig and what’s the difference in a sow and boar,” she said. “We try with beef to explain what byproducts are, such as gelatin and the hides being using in belts and shoes. Our volunteers do a good job of explaining it.”

The children aren’t the only ones learning. “One lady had never seen baby pigs, and she was born on farm, but they didn’t have swine. We’re educating adults as well as students because a lot of grandparents and parents come,” she said. “It is a good educational tool.”

Rule said there were 38 teachers and teacher’s assistants as well as 44 people who manned the different stations. “It was a pretty day and a good crew,” she said.

Dr. Daugherty worked the veterinarian’s station while former Blount County Mayor Jerry Cunningham and his wife, Janis, used their Belgium horses to show how a horse-drawn lawn mower works. Staff from Ritchie Tractor explained farm safety, Erik Henry with Blount County Soil Conservation had a station where he talked about different types of soil, and Albert and Betty Coning talked about growing fruits and vegetables.

Rule said there was also a farrier on site to talk about horses and shoes, and there was a station on grains and another on bees. In addition, John Wilson manned a booth dealing with bio fuels, Rule explained.

Rule said that in explaining grains, volunteers talk about all the uses for soy beans and corn and wheat. “We’re just letting students know what is raised on farms, how it is used and where they get their food,” she said.

Rule thanked all the volunteers who helped make the event happen, including students at William Blount and Heritage high schools. For every group of 20 to 25 elementary students, there were two high school students escorting them from station to station. “We couldn’t do it if we didn’t have (Future Farmers of America) students,” she said.

Rule said companies also donated items the Farm Bureau Women put into goodie bags for the teachers and students. Companies like Cabot Cheese gave miniature cheese blocks and Mayfield’s Dairy gave mini ice cream sandwiches. “The kids are always ready for those,” she said. “Agriculture teachers John Waters from Heritage and Billy Coning from William Blount are good to help us. They’ve been very supportive of what we do.”

Rule said each year the Farm Bureau Women evaluate, try to improve and always work to do a little more. “It is a big undertaking. The women spearhead it, but the Farm Bureau Board backs us and all the Farm Bureau agents are there,” she said. “We want to thank all the schools who participated, and we want more next year. This helps to educate our children.”

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