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June 3, 2015 - 4:06pm

Kindergarteners visit Grassland Dairy for the annual Kinderfarmin' Days

posted by Traci Turner in agriculture, education, Pavilion.

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Kindergarteners from all over the county took a field trip to Grassland Dairy in Pavilion to learn about milk production and other aspects of farming for the annual Kinderfarmin' Day.

The purpose of the farm tour is to teach children where their food comes from.

"The tour helps to inform kids in the community about agriculture," said Jeff Post, president of the Genesee County Farm Bureau. "They need to understand food doesn't come from the supermarket."

Grassland Dairy is owned and operated by Brent and Polly Tillotson. The Tillotson family milks 190 organic Jersey cows. They provide natural feed for the cows by farming 300 acres of organic land.

More than 400 kindergarteners and 100 teachers, parents and chaperones visited the farm. Children from schools in Batavia, Oakfield, Elba, Pavilion, Alexander and Byron-Bergen participated in the tour. The four suggested learning stations that all of the groups were scheduled for included the milkhouse, milking parlor, comfy cows and cow cuisine. At other stations around the farm children could experience what it's like to milk a cow using a milk simulator, make s'mores using a hi-tech camp stove and pet various farm animals.

Barb Sturm, agriculture in the classroom educator from Cornell Cooperative Extension, visits schools in Genesee County to educate students in agriculture and set up the stations to go along with agricultural lessons she has taught them.

"The learning stations have keywords that align with the Common Core curriculum," Sturm said.

As a part of the Common Core farming unit, Amand Wachter's kindergarten class at Pavilion has been learning about cows, chickens and crops that farm animals eat.

"The tour connects to what we have talked about in class," Wachter said. "Kids can see how to milk a cow and what goes into their food."

Julie Tryon, a mother from Jackson Primary School, went through the barns and stations with her children. Their favorite part about the tour was getting to see the baby calves.

"It's a great opportunity for my kids to learn about agriculture and become familiar with it," Tryon said.  

Kinderfarmin' Day was sponsored by the Genesee County Farm Bureau and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County helped organize it. Some of the other contributors to the event included Upstate Niagara who donated cartons of milk and Cargill Animal Nutrition who donated ice cream for the kids to enjoy.

The dairy days have been going on for more than 30 years and different farms have taken turns hosting the event. For future years, the farm bureau welcomes any farm that would be interested in volunteering to host the event to contact them.

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Photos by Howard Owens.

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