It can be hard to relay the message of agriculture to consumers. One producer who is also a dietician is using her passion for both the farm and food to tackle misconceptions in a very unique way.
The Kuehnert Dairy Farm in Fort Wayne, Indiana is filled with guests, questions and chatter from young milk drinkers. It’s the way producer Sarah Kuehnert prefers it.
“The biggest thing is building a relationship with people,” said Kuehnert. “Let people come out and see what you do.”
She strives to share the family’s 300-head Holstein dairy with consumers who want to visit.
“I try to develop that relationship with them and understand what their needs are and in return, they trust me or take what I have to say to heart,” said Kuehnert. “It may not change their mind, but it will open their mind to why I do what I do or why I believe what I believe.”
This producer has a niche. Kuehnert is also a dietician who mixes together messages about farm life and nutrition.
“I can talk more in common terms as to what dairy products does to our bodies, what people can do if they’re lactose intolerant or if they have milk allergies,” said Kuehnert.
In addition to hosting tours, the dairy puts on a fall festival every year.
“This year, the theme for our festival is Star Wars,” said Kuehnert. “The corn maize this year Darth Vader is holding milk and the slogan is ‘Use the force of milk.’”
Kuehnert tries to make it more than just fun and games. Visitors have a chance to see all of the farm.
“We have a complete farm tour of the entire farm and we hide nothing,” said Kuehnert.
It’s not easy opening the doors of the farm and early on, Kuehnert brought in people from the community to practice.
“I want to know what you see. I want to know how it makes you feel,” said Kuehnert.
It’s advice on starting the conversation as she encourages other producers to follow.
“It’s just having an open mind and being open to having that conversation with someone when the opportunity arises,” said Kuehnert.