Two hundred years ago, the state of Indiana was established. Then, as it is today, the dairy industry was a vital component to the state. To celebrate this bicentennial, the state organized a torch relay to zig-zag across the 36,418 square miles of Indiana, unify communities and create “One Indiana.”
The relay stopped in all 92 Indiana counties, covering 3,200 miles in five weeks, highlighting various aspects of Indiana’s culture and heritage— including dairy—along the way.
“Odds are that the first settlers in Indiana had cows and if not the first, definitely the second!” commented Indiana Director of Agriculture, Ted McKinney during a torch lighting ceremony at Mybrook Farms. “It is only fitting dairy would be part of this celebration of Indiana’s history.”
The torch began its journey in Corydon, Indiana on Sept. 9 where the first State Capitol was located and ended on the State Grounds in Indianapolis on Oct. 15. Representing Elkhart County and the dairy industry, one of the stops on the torch relay was MyBrook Farms, an MMPA member farm. The ceremony on Oct. 4 included a torch lighting, breakfast, farm tour and milk toast.
“We planned for about 200 people not knowing what to expect from this whole thing, but had even more people attend. It was standing room only for the ceremony and milk toast,” said Mike Oesch of Mybrook Farms. “It was great to see the support of the community for such a unique celebration.”
To precede the torch relay, Northern Indiana dairy farmers and industry leaders created the Northern Indiana Dairy Trail, another bicentennial event. Eleven farms hosted open houses with farm tours, education booths and free dairy products for their communities as part of the Dairy Trail. These open houses were held over a span of two Saturdays in June to promote June Dairy Month.
Knollbrook Dairy in Goshen, Indiana, and Perkins Twin Creek Dairy in Stroh, Indiana, represented MMPA on the trail. Together, the two farms helped reach approximately 3,000 people by communicating how modern dairy farming focuses on animal care, environmental stewardship and quality milk and products.
Host farms participated in creating educational videos promoted via three social media platforms. Topics highlighted in the clips were cow care,modern technology, “love of farming” and “Why should I visit the Northern Indiana Dairy Trail?” In all, the videos reached 30,700 views on Facebook.
“[Consumers] need a little more education and a little more opportunity to identify how cows are being taken care of, how they are actually getting milked and how much care and concern goes into the welfare of the animals,” Cynthia Adams of Knollbrook Dairy said in one of the promotional videos.
The Northern Indiana Dairy Trail also promoted the Great American Milk Drive. The purpose for the Great American Milk Drive is to raise awareness about the need for milk in food banks across Indiana. “If people ate as good as cows eat, it would be a healthier world,” said Kirk Perkins of Perkins Twin Creek Dairy.
Feedback from the Northern Indiana Dairy Trail yielded positive comments from participants on their trust in Indiana dairy farmers for animal care and the environment. The event
committee will pursue continuing the trail next summer.
For more information, visit DairyTrail.com. Indiana farms interested in hosting a tour next summer should contact Jackie Barber, Producer Relations Coordinator at American Dairy Association of Indiana at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of the Michigan Milk Messenger.