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Volunteers cooked up pancakes and sausage at the first annual EOT Breakfast on the Farm in 2017. (File photo)

From farm to table: Dombecks of Perham to host second annual Breakfast on the Farm

PERHAM, Minn. - Like a lot of farmers, the East Otter Tail County Breakfast On the Farm Committee would like to come up with a bigger crop this summer.

No, they are not after corn, soybeans or wheat; they are after people both young and old.

As American society pushes its way into the 21st Century there is a growing imbalance in the number of farmers and non-farmers. The Breakfast On the Farm project is designed to bridge the growing gap of knowledge between the two groups and improve communications.

Mike and Sandy Dombeck are hosting the second annual EOT event Saturday, Aug. 4, on their farm 2 ¾ miles northwest of Perham. Sandy grew up on their 140-acre farm at 44734 410th Ave. The Dombeck's moved back to it after 40 years of dairy farming near Wadena, Minn.

Sandy has run into folks who have some erroneous (and funny) ideas about where their food comes from.

"So many people think that they get their milk from the store and chocolate milk comes from a brown cow," she laughed. "It's good to just have the education and it's good to give some kids an opportunity to get up close and see where their food comes from. It's a good education both ways."

The breakfast which visitors will be served this year will consist of pancakes, sausages and cheesy potatoes along with milk, juice and coffee. There is no set fee for the breakfast. Good will donations at the site take care of the bills. Last year's whopping crowd of 970 visitors raised $3,400. The local FFA and 4-H Clubs saw a good share of the cash.

Alisyn Keil, another member of the planning committee, said some of the livestock on the farm will include cows, horses, sheep, pigs and perhaps some chickens. The East Otter Tail County Fair is lending the EOT Committee some pens for their four-legged visitors.

The variety of machinery is intended to show people how farm equipment has changed.

"We'll have farm equipment there, some old stuff and some newer stuff, just so you can see the evolution of farming equipment how technology is a huge, huge thing with agriculture now."

Irrigation people will be on hand to help answer one of the questions Keil has heard a lot of people ask, "Why do you see irrigators going when it is raining?"

Crop spraying is a concern for many uneducated in the ways of modern farming but Mike takes a farmer's point of view on the practice.

"Without it, there would be a lot of people going hungry," Mike said. "You have to protect the crops. Pretty much of what we do does not apply to humans. It's all EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)-protected as far as what can be done and what can't be done."

As the years have gone by Mike has seen farming practices change, and he anticipates the evolution will continue as the decades of the 21st Century roll by.

"We have to learn what works and what doesn't," Mike said.

While the plan in future years is to hold the popular event at different farms all over East Otter Tail County, the Perham community is ideal for bringing urban dwellers to the farm. Not only is Perham a strong agricultural community, the surrounding lakes have many city visitors around during the summer months who might only see farms a distance as they drive to and from the lakes.

Sandy's husband, Mike, is already preparing the farm for the 7 a.m. to noon event. He has 3 ½ acres set aside for parking. There will also be ground available for the livestock that will be brought in, the demonstrations of both old and new farm equipment and the education booths where information can be exchanged. Mike plans to let Sandy take care of grass.

"There are quite a bit of things to do, but we've got to do it," said Mike, who is anticipating a lot of help from a lot of different people. Last year's event on August and Betty Ziegler's near Perham saw 70 volunteers turn out, from the age of 9 and up. "You have to clear out some sheds so you have some place to serve people." For more information visit the eotbreakfastonthefarm.com.