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Local farmer tries to educate more consumers on food production

dairy worker

Steed's Dairy Farm is opening the gates to show local consumers where food comes from and what it costs to get it to you. (March 25, 2011 / WRDW-TV)

News 12 This Morning at 6 o'clock / Friday, March 25, 2011

GROVETOWN, Ga --- As the cost of food continues to rise, some consumers are asking just how far their food travels, and at what cost.
One dairy farm in Columbia County is opening their gates to you to raise more awareness about food production.

The sights and sounds at Steed's Dairy Farm are rare in a world full of computers, smart phones, and advanced technology. Farmer Jim Steed wants to remind his visitors this is where it all starts. "A lot of kids just think their food comes from the grocery store. Just magically appears on the shelf, but it doesn't," Steed said.

His ten-acre dairy farm is one of the last dairy farms in Columbia County. Steed loves showing adults and kids how a farm operates. The educational farming experience includes a tour of the farm, a petting zoo, and demonstrations.

When students come for a tour they find out about the milking process. They are able to see how the milk is collected from the cow and they learn about how it ends up on their breakfast table.
Dr. Tommie Shepherd , an Argi-Business Economist with the University of Georgia, says, "It's excellent education for young children who have really gotten away with where their food is produced, and where it comes from."

For visitors, it's a way to reconnect with the land, but the tours also give Steed the opportunity to stay in business and promote locally grown products.

"It has less of a carbon footprint," explained Steed. "Now milk, by the time it gets to the stores, it's probably a week old. That's why shelf life is slowly going down."

High gas prices and greater food demand across the world are making food prices at the store soar. Now some consumers are turning to local farms like Steed's dairy.

"It supports local economies in the sense that it keeps the suppliers in business. Supports the local feed store, the local vet, there's a trickle effect for the entire economy," added Dr. Shepherd.

Steed says the tours and other forms of argi-tourism allow small farmers to compete with large companies that have dominated the market. He also plans on starting a farmer's market to include other small farmers in the area.

Steed's dairy farm tours meet the Georgia Performance Standards for public schools. If you are interested in a field trip for your students you can sign up at this website or by calling Steed's Dairy Farm at (706) 855-2948.

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