Kinnard Farms hopes to highlight sustainability at Kewaunee County Breakfast on the Farm
CASCO – Lee Kinnard hopes the thousands of people expected to come to breakfast at his mega-dairy farm Sunday not only enjoy a big, hearty meal and have fun but also learn about the farm's efforts to be sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Kinnard Farms, the concentrated animal feeding operation, or CAFO, which Lee co-owns with his brother, Rod, and Rod's wife, Maureen, has been in the news quite a bit recently. Mainly, it's been about an upcoming Wisconsin Supreme Court decision on regulating CAFOs that involves Kinnard's planned herd expansion, as well as longstanding manure runoff and water quality issues in the county.
But as Kinnard Farms prepares to host the Kewaunee County Dairy Promotion's Breakfast on the Farm, Lee Kinnard said he welcomes guests to take a tour of the place, check out the displays in the event's education tent and appreciate the practices the farm has implemented to milk and care for its more than 8,000 cows.
"I can't wait to open our doors to the public. I think they'll very quickly understand what we do," Kinnard said. "That's a really important part (of hosting the breakfast). We've been called one of the most innovative dairies in the United States, and I think this is an opportunity for people to see a lot of our practices in play."
Kinnard said the Dairy Promotion is focusing on sustainability as a theme for this year's breakfast, and he's proud of the work the farm has accomplished in that direction. He noted it earned a U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award from the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy in 2017 and is a founding member of Peninsula Pride Farms, a collection of local farms and businesses working on solutions to protect the water and environment.
"We're pretty much recognized as one of the leaders in (sustainable dairy farming)," Kinnard said. "There are some really cool things in the education tent that people don't normally get to see."
Among the technologies in use that Kinnard mentioned are a one-of-a-kind sand cleaning and recycling system that uses recycled wastewater (a model of the system will be in the education tent); satellite mapping to determine areas where the soil is too shallow to safely apply fertilizers; and cover crop planting designed to minimize soil runoff and promote soil health.
Of course, Breakfast on the Farm offers more than opportunities to tour the farm and learn about dairy farming — like breakfast. The dairy-oriented brunch is highlighted by “the biggest omelette you have ever seen," according to the Dairy Promotion, several kinds of cheese, ice cream and strawberry sundaes.
The day kicks off with a Polka Mass before the breakfast — "Truthfully, I'm a little young to be a Polka Mass fan, but I love 'em," Kinnard said — and provides guests with things to do such as wagon rides, checking out an antique tractor show, and playing games. Among the children's activities are a petting zoo, and Kinnard said some calves might be available for selfies with the children.
"I'm looking forward to the kids interacting with the cows," Kinnard said.
Kinnard Farms was started by Lee and Rod's parents, Alvin and Milly Kinnard, with 80 acres of land, 14 cows and seven heifers in 1948. Under Rod and Lee's guidance, the farm became a corporation and gradually expanded to 10,750 acres, with more than 8,000 cows on-site and 7,000 heifers in Colorado, according to the farm's website. Another of Alvin and Milly's children and her husband, Jackie and David Stewart, are full-time employees in the farm's marketing and business work.
Breakfast on the Farm is hosted by a different farm each year, and while Kinnard has volunteered for previous breakfasts, this marks the first time Kinnard Farms has hosted the event. He said he's ready to show his guests a good time and how the farm works.
"Well, I'm really, really excited," Kinnard said. "We're going to do an awful lot of tours here. I'm looking forward to having retired farmers here; I love seeing those folks come through. The one remark I hear is, 'Man, I wish I'd thought of that 50 years ago.' I'm just looking forward to seeing a whole lot of friends and neighbors."
The Kewaunee County Dairy Promotion holds its annual Breakfast on the Farm from 8 a.m. to noon Sunday at Kinnard Farms, N8200 Tamarack Road, Casco. The brunch features what the promotion calls “the biggest omelette you have ever seen,” fresh rolls and butter, a variety of cheeses, milk, pizza, deep-fried cheese curds and mozzarella sticks, yogurt samples and strawberry sundaes. Along with the dairy brunch, the event also has tours of the farm; horse- and tractor-drawn wagon rides; an antique tractor show; petting zoo (children might be able to takes selfies with calves); games; and live music. A Polka Mass will be held before the breakfast, at 7 a.m.
Tickets are $7 for ages 12 and older, $3 ages 4-11, and are available at the door or in advance at Bank of Luxemburg locations in Kewaunee and Door counties, Dairyland Veterinary Services in Casco, Ebert Enterprises in Algoma, Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy in Kewaunee or Rio Creek Feed Mill in Luxemburg and Rio Creek.
For more information, go to dairypromo.com.
Contact Christopher Clough at 920-741-7952, 920-562-8900 or [email protected].
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Kinnard Farms hopes to highlight sustainability at Kewaunee County Breakfast on the Farm