4-H’ers learn where milk and beef come from

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 1, 2014

This past week, Rowan County youth had a chance to meet some local farmers and gain a better understanding of where their food comes from through Cooperative Extension’s 4-H Summer Fun program.
Farm to Fork was a 4-H program that provided educational opportunities for youth during the summer months. Cooperative Extension agents that helped coordinate the Farm to Fork program were Thomas Cobb (livestock, dairy and field crops), Sara Drake (4-H), Toi Degree (family and consumer science) and Danelle Cutting (horticulture, field crops and local foods).
The Farm to Fork 4-H Summer Fun adventure began on Wednesday at the Salisbury Farmers’ Market, where the youth talked with vendors to learn how their vegetables and other products were produced. They were given a chance to buy some local products and participate in a scavenger hunt during the farmers’ market tour. The following day, Sloop Dairy and Mark Mauldin’s beef farm were visited.
At Sloop Dairy, milk was the main topic. We wanted to know the process of getting it from the cow to the store. Ryan Sloop milks brown Swiss cattle with his pasture-based grazing system. He discussed breeds of dairy cattle that were more common to help the children become familiar with the dairy industry. The children were able to tour the milking facilities and see the calves and milk cows at the dairy. Ice cream was given out to show the children what some of the milk is processed into.
Mauldin’s farm was a shift from the dairy industry to beef. Here, the youth learned about different breeds of beef cattle, including the Santa Gertrudis breed that Mauldin raises. During the tour, they had a hay ride and saw how the farm operates. They also learned the importance of good cow and pasture management.
On the last day, the group used the knowledge gained from the previous two days and made homemade pizza and ice cream from local ingredients. They made their own pizza dough and sauce and even chose their own pizza toppings that they prepared themselves. The week was a great learning experience, and the youth really seemed to enjoy the activities and the farms.
For more information, contact Rowan County Cooperative Extension at 704-216-8970, or check out the website http://rowan.ces.ncsu.edu/ for articles and upcoming events.
Michael Everhart is an N.C. State University student intern assisting Cooperative Extension agents with educational programs and activities this summer.