A hunger for food is something that will always be a part of our ever-growing society, but what is recently being added to the appetite of many consumers is a hunger of knowledge concerning where their food is coming from.
The Ross County Farm Bureau is satisfying both cravings with their yearly Farm Factor event, a four-course progressive meal served on four different farms in the county.
“This was a wild thought one night at a board meeting,” said Mark Crosier, President of the Ross County Farm Bureau. “Everyone unanimously agreed that we could pull something like this off and after some trial and error the first year, we have a really great event that we are quite proud of.”
This year’s event traversed over 50 miles of county roads that showcased the hills, fields and quaintness that makes the journey enjoyable.
The first stop was Paint Creek Whitetails in Bainbridge. While guests nibbled on the first course, made up of fruit and vegetable plates, they learned about a part of agriculture that is rarely talked about, deer breeding and marketing. The tour included a walk-through of the fawn barn, where deer just over two months old are bottle fed three times a day, the deer handling facilities and a discussion of their breeding program that has been noted as one of the best in the country.
From there, the tour headed to the Williams Farm in South Salem. Guests were greeted by farm equipment as they entered the property and a herd of black Angus cattle as they wandered around before sitting down to soup and salad, the second course.
After that stop it was on to Ratliff Farms, located in Greenfield, for course No. 3. The main course included baked steak, ham loaf, chicken and noodles, green beans, sweet corn and a roll. As an added bonus, participants of Farm Factor also had the opportunity to witness the farm, which was purchased in 1892, receive the Century Farm Award from the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Owners Ron and Nancy Ratliff accepted the honor, along with their son, Lamar and grandson, Grant, who is the 6th generation to farm the grounds around the 89-acre homestead.
The fourth and final stop and course, dessert, was served up at Weaver Farms, back in Bainbridge. New farm equipment and humongous grain handling facilities melded with old-time live music and a hit and miss engine churning away as it produced homemade ice cream.
At all four stops, members of the Ross County Farm Bureau and representatives of the farms visited were on hand to answer any questions that guests may have had. Some of those questions were about the operation, the equipment or the practices used in agriculture.
“From what we can gauge, we think that guests at this year’s event were about a 50-50 mix of ag people and non-ag people,” Crosier said. “The goal is to relay what agriculture is all about and how the farm world lives. We aren’t really all that different from our urban neighbors, as we too have great families and strong values, but we just like to work crazier hours and do stranger things than most folks.”
The 3rd Annual Farm Factor hosted over 400 guests and the Ross County Farm Bureau is already making plans for another tour of county farms and fantastic meals in 2015.
PHOTO GALLERY FROM THE 2014 ROSS COUNTY FARM BUREAU FARM FACTOR