Brookfield, VT – On Saturday, July 27th, more than 1,200 visitors gathered at the Sprague Ranch in Brookfield. The central Vermont dairy farm was packed as guests enjoyed a Vermont-inspired pancake breakfast and took a self-guided tour of the 600 cow dairy farm. In its fifth year, Vermont Breakfast on the Farm aims to connect the public with hard-working dairy farming families like the Sprague’s – who have been producing wholesome dairy, caring for their cows, and protecting and maintaining the working-landscapes of Vermont, for more than 150 years.
“One hundred fifty years of dairy farming in Central Vermont is certainly a mark to celebrate. Our dairy farming community plays such an important role in the state’s economy and heritage,” explained Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Anson Tebbetts. “For the visitors today to get the opportunity to see this farm, to see how the Sprague’s care for their cows and land, and to see how the farm has evolved over the last hundred years is an amazing opportunity.”
Eleven educational stations throughout the farm tour helped visitors learn about daily life on the farm. Those stations included a look at sustainable technologies and practices including the Sprague’s no-till cropping methods which reduce soil disruption when planting fields. Guests also saw calves – the next generation of Sprague milking cows, their free stall barn which allows cows to move, eat, drink, socialize and sleep as they see fit. A family friendly scavenger hunt throughout the tour created extra chances for education as well.
The Sprague family has been farming in the Brookfield area since the 1700’s. The farm, as it’s known today, was founded in 1864. Over the next 100 years, the farm developed its own bottling plant (the first in the area), started their own milk delivery route, and expanded.
“We know how important it is to connect with our community and people from across this state and region,” said Keith and Chelsea Sprague, owners and operators of Sprague Ranch. “We feel honored to have hosted Vermont Breakfast on the Farm and to share this farm’s deep and rich history with everyone who has attended.”
Today, Sprague Ranch is owned and operated by fifth generation dairy farmers Keith and Chelsea Sprague. The farm now milks 600 cows housed in a free stall barn that was built in 2000. The Sprague’s now ship their milk directly to Booth Brothers Dairy in Barre, VT – where it’s bottled and delivered to stores across the Green Mountain State. The farm crops 1,200 acres of corn and hay, all done using no-till methods.
More than 100 volunteers from across Vermont, many with experience in the dairy industry, joined the Sprague family and their employees to help answer visitor questions about modern dairy farming.
Sprague Ranch hosted the final Vermont Breakfast on the Farm event of 2019. Another breakfast and farm tour was held in June at Maxwell’s Neighborhood Farm in Newport which drew over 1,000 visitors. This was the fifth year for the popular agritourism event.
Vermont Breakfast on the Farm’s 2020 host farms and dates will be announced later this year.
Vermont Breakfast on the Farm is coordinated by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture and the agricultural business community. Breakfast on the Farm provides a first-hand look at modern agriculture and the farm families who work hard to produce safe, wholesome food for Vermont communities and the world. Vermont Breakfast on the Farm was also held at two Vermont dairy farms in 2018 which drew a combined 3,500 visitors. Although this is a free event, tickets must be reserved in advance at www.VermontBreakfastOnTheFarm.com.
Vermont Breakfast on the Farm is made possible by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets and the agricultural business community including Booth Brothers, Celebration Rentals, New England Dairy Promotion Board, Poulin Grain, and the Vermont Feed Dealers & Manufacturers Association.
For more information, visit www.VermontBreakfastonTheFarm.com.
About the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets (VAAFM):
VAAFM facilitates, supports and encourages the growth and viability of agriculture in Vermont while protecting the working landscape, human health, animal health, plant health, consumers and the environment. www.Agriculture.Vermont.Gov and www.VermontDairy.com