Free breakfast event scheduled for August

MECOSTA COUNTY — On Saturday, Aug. 16, people will have the opportunity to see where their food comes from during the annual Michigan State University’s “Breakfast on the Farm” event.

Breakfast on the Farm is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at De Grins Oer Dairy, at 2386 Adams Road, in Blanchard.

The free pancake breakfast featuring Michigan products is available to some 3,000 people with tickets.

The food and the farm tour are free, but a ticket is required for breakfast, said Ashley Kuschel, the Michigan State University Extension Breakfast on the Farm program coordinator.

“The tickets help us plan on how much food to serve,” Kuschel said. “Tickets are available until the day of the event.”

More than 50,000 people have attended the breakfast event since it began in 2009. This year marks the first time "Breakfast on the Farm" has happened at a Mecosta County farm.

“It is the first time visiting a modern farm for nearly 45 percent of the people who attend,” Kuschel said.

Attendees will have the opportunity to take self-guided tours to see how the farm’s cows are milked and housed, as well as the daily practices that go into running a dairy farm.

The farm was established in 1999 and is owned and operated by Tjerk and Ramona Okkema and their children, Dirk-Thomas, Cora and Evelyn.

“We are hoping for favorable weather,” said Ramona Okkema. “The goal is to introduce the non-farming public to the life of farming, and give them an opportunity to learn where their food comes from before it arrives on grocery shelves.”

Okkema’s farm is Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program-verified, which is an innovative, proactive, and voluntary program that helps farms of all sizes and all commodities voluntarily prevent or minimize agricultural pollution risks. The farm currently houses approximately 700 head of cattle and farms 900 acres of alfalfa and corn.

The dairy cows are the stars of the farm and the “girl's” hooves are maintained every six weeks, Ramona added.

“We will demonstrate the hoof trimmer,” Ramona said. “Ladies like to get their nails done and our four legged ladies get the opportunity to get theirs done that day,” she said.

The equipment used to farm the acreage will also be on display for people to learn about and view.

“We have educational stations set up through out the farm to explain the processes and procedures the Okkemas use on their farm,” Kuschel said. “The family farm also features a small flock of Suffolk sheep and they will educate people about other aspects of Michigan agriculture.”

Besides the breakfast and education stations there will be wagon rides and children will have the chance to participate in fun, educational activities.

“There will be plenty of fun activities designed for kids,” Ramona said. “It will be a fun morning to spend with your family.”

For more information about the event and where tickets are available, go to