Connecting people to where their food comes from has become a more difficult task as many consumers are several generations removed from agriculture. Social media and the Internet have helped minimize that disconnect, but it still is not the same as seeing production agriculture first-hand.
Showing off current farming practices has been the bread and butter for business at Fair Oaks Farms, a major agri-tourism draw for visitors who are not familiar with agriculture. Since 2004, the Fair Oaks, Indiana farm has held tours at one of its 11 dairies and helped educate over 400,000 guests per year at The Dairy Adventure.
Just this past year the farm stepped into the pork world with the addition of The Pig Adventure, and so far it has been a huge success.
click image to zoomThis visual display depicts how farming has evolved and explains how modern practices ensure a safer environment for pigs and people. The Pig Adventure opened this past summer and for the month of July, Fair Oaks Farms saw 18,475 visitors to the agri-tourism portion, with many of those guests coming specifically to see The Pig Adventure.
Leah Lentini, assistant manager of The Pig Adventure, shares that people who visit the facility will see three different barns. These barns include the farrowing barn, the breeding/gestation barn and the gilt developer unit.
While there, guests see the process of raising pigs including day-to-day farm activities like farrowing, artificial insemination, teeth clipping, tattooing and vaccinating.
The facility houses 2,700 sows that can be viewed from the second floor via many different glass viewing areas. In all, the farm is expected to produce 80- 90,000 piglets per year.
Fun and Learning
click image to zoomVisitors can view sows and pigs in the farrowing barn. Besides seeing live animals, visitors can also learn about the pork industry through a series of videos and interactive activities throughout The Pig Adventure. For instance, upon entering the facility, guests are greeted by a tour guide who is actually on a video monitor and walks them through the process of raising pigs.
Once on the live tour, guests can see workers at the farm ultrasounding sows for pregnancy and then they can try their hand at it on a plastic pig.
“I had one girl find 26 piglets and there are only 27 switches,” says Lentini.
After doing the ultrasound, a printout can be made for visitors to show off their newfound skill to friends and family.
Other activities include scrubbing up and disinfecting in a digital shower, comparing a visitor’s size with a projected pig and learning myth-busting facts from the Talking Hogwash video series.