When you hear “Earth Fest”, do you think Farm Bureau and Agriculture?
Well, you should, according to Bradd Vickers President of Chenango County Farm Bureau in NY. At this year’s Earth Fest at Rogers Environmental Education Center in Sherburne, NY, operated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), there were many exhibits and on-going presentations. There was a Maypole for the kids (as the event was held on May first), hybrid cars, free trees to take home and plant, build your own bird house, and a butterfly display.
Vickers believes that Farm Bureau should be at these community events because Earth Day and the environment are not a once-a-year event for farmers and ranchers; it’s a full-time job. This is an opportunity to get right in the middle of attendees and tell your own farm environmentalist story, and explain farmland stewardship. By putting a face with agriculture, it adds credibility to what farmers are doing. Farmers need consumer and community support in order to sustain the Ag industry. An event like this can even provide customers and gain new Farm Bureau members.
Vickers describes the event this way: “The first year we sort of invited ourselves and got some funny looks. With a little work and practicing our communication skills, we became one of the expected exhibitors listed on the promotional flyer, along with Finger Lakes Hiking Club, County SPCA, Environmental Management Council, and NYSERDA Energy Bicycle to name a few.
“Chenango County Farm Bureau brought one of their 12 national AFBF (CAE) County Activities of Excellence winning programs called “Fields for Feed, Fuel, Fire and Fries”. This project shows the cycle of how oil seed crops grow in the field, how the oil is processed and extracted to provide food grade oil for frying foods, and how the waste product (WVO/waste vegetable oil) is turned into a Biodiesel fuel. The remainder of the seeds are pelletized into a supplemental feed for animals, and the stalks/stems of the crop are produced into pellets for heating homes.” (You can find more information about this on the Chenango County Farm Bureau website.)
The Farm Bureau also had on display a mini-model operating biodiesel processor made and operated by CCFB board member Giff Foster. Giff believes if you can make chocolate milk you can make biodiesel fuel. Many people, including kids, were amazed how simple the process was and how farmers could grow oil seed crops and work them into a crop rotation cycle. Vickers had his diesel Jeep Liberty nearby with a sign that read “1300 miles per acre” just to drive the point home that you didn’t make any changes to the engine just the fuel. Explaining how you could lower the on farm cost of production and livestock feed as well as providing lower cost home heating oil, noting this was a part of the FB “25 x’25 policy.”
Vickers said that energy issues were the talk of the day and the audience ranged from doctors to kids. “We did demos and gave out lots of informational flyers. The next time you hear about an Earth Fest, I encourage you to get your Farm Bureau involved in this community event.”
(The 25x’25 Vision: By 2025, America’s farms, forests and ranches will provide 25 percent of the total energy consumed in the United States, while continuing to produce safe, abundant, and affordable food, feed and fiber.)