Farm fest spotlights local agriculture

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot
The 27th annual Franklin Fall Farm Fun Fest will be held Saturday, Sept. 23, at Burk-Lea Farms in Greene Township, home to Clinton and Kara Burkholder and their children Andrew and Emma.

One of Franklin County's largest dairy farms will open its doors to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23, for the 27th annual Franklin Fall Farm Fun Fest. The event, being held at Burk-Lea Farms, 3099 Grand Point Road in Greene Township, is a project of the Franklin County Farm Bureau.

Franklin is among the leading counties for agriculture production in Pennsylvania. Agricultural products eclipse $400 million in market value each year. Multiplying farm gate receipts makes agriculture a $1 billion industry in Franklin County.

“Agriculture is the number one industry in Franklin County,” said Micah Meyers, farm bureau president. “It has a huge impact on the local economy from providing jobs, food and stability for local business.

“It's important for people to come to this event because we are getting further and further away from connections to the farm. As time goes on there are less and less farmers, which means more of the public is removed from the farm. The Farm Fest provides the opportunity for the public to come and see the purpose of the corn growing in their back yard, to see the cows up close and to see what farmers are doing to take care of their animals and the environment.”

Burk-Lea Farms is home to Clinton and Kara Burkholder and their children Andrew and Emma, along with 1,400 cows, heifers and calves. Alfalfa, corn, soybeans, wheat and barley are raised on 1,300 acres to feed the animals. The 750 Holstein cows are milked three times a day in a double-14 parlor.

“It used to be that somebody had a grandfather or uncle that had a farm and they had this connection,” said Clinton Burkholder, a third generation farmer. “Now we're two or three generations removed from even knowing anybody on a farm, what goes on and how we care for the land and care for the animals.”

Lots of planning, management and labor at Burk-Lea Farms goes into producing milk for consumers. Visitors will witness an efficiently operated farm that puts a high priority on animal health and well-being, while also focusing on sustainability. Burk-Lea Farms recycles and reuses a number of its resources.

Wagon tours will be offered and visitors will be able to milk a cow by hand, among other activities. Free milk and ice cream will be served. Lunch is available for purchase at the FFA stand.

The Farm Bureau has partnered with nearby Rosenbaum's Landscaping and Nursery to exhibit another segment of Franklin County agriculture. Farm Fest visitors can board a bus at the farm and travel to the nursery for tours of the grounds and a series of demonstrations by nursery staff, who will be teaching visitors how to properly trim shrubs, water perennials and plant seeds.

“We’ve never done anything like this before. But as we promote our retail nursery and expand our business, we felt this was a good way to spread the word and get people to our location,” said Scott Rosenbaum, president and CEO. “It will also allow us to get involved in our Franklin County community.”

Farm fest is free.

For more information, visit the Franklin Fall Farm Fun Fest on Facebook.