Educational event aims to raise awareness of dairy practices, community contributions and family life
Addison VT — Vermont Breakfast on the Farm returned on July 16 after two years of limited activity, welcoming the public to Gosliga Farm in Addison, Vermont. The event was the first physical gathering for the annual event since 2019, with nearly 2,000 visitors enjoying a local Vermont breakfast and then a self-guided tour of the dairy farm located in the Champlain Valley. Since 2014, Vermont Breakfast on the Farm has worked to connect the public with hard-working dairy farming families like the Gosligas – who produce wholesome dairy, care deeply for their cows, and work to protect, maintain and improve the working-landscapes of Vermont.
“It’s great to have ‘Breakfast on the Farm’ back. Vermonters love their farms and their famers,” explained Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Anson Tebbetts. “These listening and learning events connect our hard-working dairy farmers with their neighbors. Thank you to the Gosliga family for opening-up their farm to visitors so hundreds of people could get closer to the land and the cows. We grateful for days like this in the Green Mountains.”
The 2022 Breakfast on the Farm event sold out this year for the first time, with a record number of people expressing interest in enjoying a local Vermont-made breakfast, and then engaging in an educational walk around the farm, learning what makes a Vermont dairy farm tick. Breakfast included parfaits with yogurt, granola, and blueberries in addition to fresh cider donuts, sausage, cheese, and milk.
Thirteen educational stations throughout the farm tour helped visitors to learn about daily life on the farm. Those stations included a look at how calves are raised, what cows eat, as well as how milk is transported from the farm to the store. Guests also saw how farmers safeguard local waters like Lake Champlain through the use of protective cover crops and toured the free-stall-barns where they were able to see everything from cows giving birth to the foam mattresses they sleep on.
The Gosliga Dairy Farm has been part of the Addison, Vermont community for more than 50 years, starting small and building up to a large dairy farm with 800 milking cows and 1,500 total livestock. In 2009, the family was chosen as runner up for Vermont Dairy Farm of the Year, an award recognizing an overall excellence in dairying, including outstanding herd performance and superior milk quality. Farms also are evaluated on crop production and pasture quality, environmental practices, financial management, and involvement in the agricultural community. The Gosligas have always been focused on its public service beyond feeding the community; for many years the family welcomed several city kids through the Fresh Air Fund, providing a country farm experience and creating lasting relationships that hold to this day.
“Our family is lucky enough to work this farm every day. We want to share that love and passion with anyone who wants to come and see it, feel it, and learn it,” said Jeff Gosliga. “My wife Julia and our whole family are thrilled to share our farm with those who attended Breakfast on the Farm today and hope they come away with a feel for why we do this and how much we care about our animals and land. We are proud to be Vermont dairy farmers and hope our kids can continue after us, providing nutritious food for our community, state, and region.”
The 2022 event followed two seasons of virtual farm tours during the coronavirus pandemic. These tours were successful with an average of 1,500 virtual attendees, but the mission of Breakfast on the Farm is always to bring people to the farm and provide an enjoyable, educational dairy farm experience. Laura Hardie, Chair of the Vermont Breakfast on the Farm volunteer committee, said their goal this year was to welcome the public “back to the farm”.
“The pandemic forced the committee to examine how we could continue the important work of educating the public about dairy while still relating the sense of visiting the farm,” said Hardie. “The virtual tours were a wonderful compromise and those who joined them were enthusiastic, but nothing will replace the experience of seeing the animals up close and rubbing a cow’s nose while learning how Vermont dairy families like the Gosligas work to feed us all, care for their animals and protect the environment. We are so glad to be back!”
Breakfast on the Farm is made possible with the help of over 100 volunteers and by the generation donations of agricultural businesses, organizations, and brands including Farm Credit East, Vermont Feed Dealers & Manufacturers Association, and Vermont Dairy Farmers.