Farm Fest tonight includes music, food

VERONA — Almost 1,000 students were expected to participate in Farm Fest today at Brabant Farms, 6166 Happy Valley Road.

The educational event is open to the public from 4:30 until 9 tonight. The easiest access is from Route 46 southwest of Rome onto Collins Road (a left if coming from Rome), then turning right onto Happy Valley Road. A $1 donation is appreciated.

Students from a host of schools from Rome, Canastota, Vernon-Verona-Sherrill, McConnellsville and Camden walked around the farm, learning at 23 stations with topics that included milking cows, veterinary science, growing vegetables, bees, chickens, horses and pigs. There are also hayrides.

The goal is to teach the public about agriculture by giving the public a first-hand look inside a working Oneida County dairy farm.

Food is available, with a chicken barbecue by the Vernon-Verona-Sherrill FFA and hamburgers and hot dogs from the 4-H Steuben Cattle Club.

There will be music from The Nancy Kenyon band from 5:30 to 9 p.m.

Brabant Farms was awarded the 2010 New York Agricultural Society’s Agricultural Education Award. The award was presented to Farm Fest based on the event’s ability to share valuable information on local agriculture to diverse segments of the community.

The farm is owned by the van Lieshout family and is named after a province in Holland, from which Henry and Johanna van Lieshout emigrated in 1954. The family moved to the farm from Maryland in 1968. The couple and their five sons run the farm with seven full- and seven part-time employees, some of whom are also family. They milk 620 Holstein cows; three times a day and producing an average of 6,000 gallons of milk a day. The family farms 1,300 acres of land.

The event is co-sponsored by Oneida County farmers, Oneida County Farm Bureau, Oneida County Dairy Promotion and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County.