Sunday, October 08, 2000

Farm tour makes a point

Suburban visitors can see, touch a rural way of life

By Randy McNutt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LIBERTY TOWNSHIP — The farm is an endangered species in parts of southern Butler County.

        But from 1-6 p.m. Oct. 14-15, city people will be able to touch it — and smell it.

[photo] Keeping cows well-fed is crucial for Bethann and Bob Niederman of Liberty Township. Their dairy farm will be part of Butler County's “Welcome to the Farm 2000” tour next weekend.
(Michael Snyder photo)
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        Butler County's “Welcome to the Farm 2000” tour of four family farms, a nursery and a woods involve host farm families who want to show city people what farm life is like, mostly in Liberty and Lemon townships.

        “A lot of people don't know where our food and fiber come from,” said Bethann Niederman of the 463-acre Niederman Dairy Farm in Liberty Township. “The tour is not pet-the-animal time. It's to educate the public.

        “Generations ago, families always had a grandparent who lived on a farm, so everybody had a connection to the farm in some way. This isn't so anymore. For most people, the significance of the farm has faded from daily life. But if there's no farmer, there's no food.”

        The free farm tour, which started in 1976, hasn't been held since 1998. Visitors will drive on their own from farm to farm to see dairy cows, cattle, sheep and sheep dogs. Wool will be spun and honey produced.

        The tour will feature Maryhaven Farm, 4851 Cincinnati-Dayton Road; The Brock Farm, 381 Macready Ave., Monroe; Garver Farm, 6716 Hamilton-Lebanon Road, Lemon Township; Niederman Farm, 5110 W. LeSourdsville-West Chester Road, Liberty Township; William F. and Cora Dudley Woods, 5591 Hankins Road, Liberty Township; and Kern Nursery and Landscaping, 6099 Millikin Road, Liberty Township.

        The Garver farm, 1,300 acres, is the home of the family's fourth generation, as is the Niederman farm. The Garvers have diversified from a grain and hog operation to raising young female swine called gilts on contract as breeding stock for other hog farms.

        The 90-acre Brock Farm is unusual in that it's inside the city of Monroe.

        “Their border collies are a sight to behold,” said Steve Bartels, Butler County extension agent. “You will see dog demonstrations on the half hour. They will work the flock of sheep through several maneuvers.”

        The Kern family started farming in 1921. David and Katie Kern moved into the nursery in 1968. It now comprises 95 acres.

        John and Grace Vogelsang and family bought 100-acre Maryhaven in 1963. A few years ago they started raising black Angus. They will demonstrate hay-baling equipment, corn pickers and other equipment.

        “As Butler County becomes more and more urban,” Mr. Bartels said, “it is increasingly important to learn about family farms and the issues they face each day. As our children grow, they need to know that food is produced by local farmers.”

        For more information, call 887-3722 or write to Tour Committee, P.O. Box 958, Hamilton, Ohio 45012.

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