Thursday, September 9, 2010

2010 Jackson County Family Farmfest

Jackson County Agriculture Council is proud to welcome you back to Family Farmfest 2010! Every year, Farmfest rotates around Jackson County visiting locally owned farms to educate the community on everything agriculture. This year, four sites in southwestern Jackson County will be hosting free public tours of their facilities. Gather your family and come visit Gwinn's Tree Farm, Hanover Horton Historical Society, Na-Lar Farms and Thorne's Sheep Farm. Enjoy the opportunity to learn about small family farms, Christmas tree, dairy and sheep farming, as well as the rich history of the Hanover-Horton area!

Click read more to learn more about each site or to download a brochure and map. 
Gwinn's Tree Farm
4226 Farwell Lake Rd
.  click for map

There are Christmas trees covering every inch of land that Gwinn’s Tree Farm resides on. Since 1996 Mike Gwinn has operated one of the largest Christmas tree farms in the region. Today he grows over 170 acres of scotch pines, white pines, spruces, douglas furs, fraiser furs, concolors, and canaans. The majority of his operation is wholesale but he opens the choose and cut side of the business during the holidays. 

Visiting Gwinn’s will allow guests to take a wagon ride around the farm while being educated on tree farming and processing. A personal demonstration of tree shaking and bailing will be a unique experience to most. Did you know that one acre of Christmas trees provides enough oxygen for 18 people a year? Gwinn would like to enlighten people on how live trees are the “green” choice. Walk away from Gwinn’s with knowledge of modern day tree farming as well as a four year old transplant! 

Hanover-Horton Historical Society
105 Fairview St.  click for map

Immerse yourself into the past at the Hanover-Horton Area Historical Society. The historical society, which was once the Hanover High School building, preserves American history by sharing rich heritage through interesting exhibits and events. The Historical Society was established in 1977 and charged with protecting and maintaining an organ collection donated to the community by Lee Conklin. Today, over 100 working reed organs are on display; recognizing the Historical Society as one of the largest collections of it’s kind in the United States. 

In addition to the organ collection, the museum houses local artifacts and information. An old classroom has been restored and now represents a circa 1900 classroom. As you make your way upstairs you will find another classroom that has been made into a replication of a typical turn of the century home interior. In the future, the museum plans to add a genealogical and a research library. 

The historical society purchased 82 acres of farmland in 2000; they now grow corn, soybeans, and wheat. The historical society plans to demonstrate old-time farming techniques, saw mill demonstrations, and allow visitors to walk Meg’s Woodland. Come venture through a corn maize, milk a wooden cow, enjoy a wagon ride around the property, and let the little ones test their skills at the kiddie tractor pull.

Na-Lar Farms
5818 Hanover Rd.  click for map

At Na-Lar farms a substantial amount of time and energy goes into feeding the herd, milking the cows, fixing the fences, and harvesting the corn. Na-Lar farm was established in 1977 by Nadine and Larry Alexander. Today the farm is owned and operated by Jeff Alexander with the help of his three sons Andrew, Adam, and Jared. The Alexander family is proud to say they are a third generation dairy farm, home to one of Michigan’s top producing herds. The family operation consists of approximately 500 acres and 250 Holstein cows. Corn, soybeans, hay, and wheat are grown in order to feed and bed the heard. 

A visit to Na-Lar farms gives the public the opportunity to see newborn calves and mature milking cows. An explanation of the milking process, animal nutrition, and animal care will be greatly emphasized at the site. Promotional and educational material will be available at no cost to the public. Don’t forget your camera as there will be an opportunity for guests to take a milk mustache photo to put in a “got milk” picture frame!

Thorne's Sheep Farm
10090 Hanover Rd.  click for map

Just two miles west of Hanover one may spot 1,000 head of grazing sheep. Dale Thorne a graduate of Iowa State University began his career as a feed salesman. Fifteen years later he started farming his father’s land while raising 160 sows farrow to finish. In 1998, the Thorne’s switched to sheep due to a drop in hog prices. At the time, they were raising 2,400 ewes. Today the farm is operated by Dale and his son Luke and consists of 1,000 ewes, 450 acres of hay, and 140 acres of soybeans. 

The Thorne family takes great pride in the care that they provide for their livestock and being stewards to the land and the community in which they farm. In later years they hope to get back to 1,500 ewes while adding additional row crops. 

At this Farmfest site you will get a glimpse of the financial risk involved in farming along with how hard farmers work to maintain their land and health of their animals. Sheep will be sheared, dogs will be herding, and samples of lamb will be served! With a growing population it is crucial for our farmers to carry forward with technology in order to increase production. Come check out some of the new innovations that are involved in sheep and hay production.

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