Many people rarely consider the vital role that local farmers play in their communities. Before food ends up on the table, there are a multitude of steps and processes that take place. Future Farmers of America (FFA) and Midland’s Gerald Laurenz Farms are passionately working to educate communities on these processes and the need for local farming.

This month, Breckenridge’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) and Gerald Laurenz Farms held their thirty-first annual farm tour for Midland Public and Parochial schools. More than 300 children toured the farm and got a first-hand look at how food transfers from farm-to-table during fun workshops and hands-on activities.

Gerald Laurenz Farms sits on 2,000 acres of land in Wheeler, MI, where the family grows a variety of crops, including sugar beets, pickles and beans. Owners Gerald and Carolyn Laurenz started the tours after their oldest son went to college and later returned, sharing what his friends thought about farming.

“Our oldest son’s college friends said, ‘we don’t need farms or farmers, we go to the grocery store to get our food,’” says Gerald Laurenz. “That’s when I saw the need to start teaching people the opposite – that farmers are an absolutely important piece of the puzzle.”

During their visit, students received valuable insight into the agricultural field. “The tour lets the kids know that food comes from a farm and that there are a lot of careers in farming and agriculture,” says Laurenz.

Not only did the fourth-grade students benefit from the tour, but older students from Breckenridge’s FFA were able to grow their skills in areas such as leadership and communication.

“Several of my students take leadership positions in presenting a station, deciding what their presentation topic will be and how they can best present that to the fourth graders,” says Breckenridge teacher and FFA advisor Katie Eisenberger.

DTE hosted a wind turbine station at this year’s event, where students learned about the benefits of renewable energy.

“DTE was eager to support the community, teaching kids how food ends up on their dinner table and helping them understand what the role of a wind turbine can be on a farm.,” said DTE representative Lisa Bower. “It’s not just about producing energy for that farm or that community, but also about looking at more renewable sources and finding sources that are more environmentally friendly.”

Complete with a petting zoo, popcorn and pizza presentations, dairy demonstrations and more, kids had a blast learning about the different aspects of farming.

“We got a letter from a teacher last year that said the kids voted this the best field trip they have,” said Carolyn Laurenz.