In a continued effort to encourage dialogue in rural communities, four Wisconsin dairy farm families are opening their dairies to the public August 22-25. The goal for each evening is that Wisconsin farm and non-farm neighbors will discover, together, how all can thrive and be stronger by partnering with one another.
These ACE (Agricultural Community Engagement®) On-the-Farm Twilight Meetings are free and include a farm tour, ice cream social and a question-and-answer-style discussion in a casual setting. Each meeting is open to community members, educators, leaders, local and state elected officials, conservation officials, and dairy and livestock producers. At all four dairies, the farm tour begins at 6 p.m., with ice cream served at 7 p.m., followed by the facilitated Q&A session to end by 8:30 p.m.
The dates and locations for each event:
Merry-Water Farms, N1240 Hillside Rd, Lake Geneva, WI (Walworth County). This family farm manages 1,600 cows and 750 acres. Walter and Mary York started the farm in the 1950’s and currently partner with sons Keith and Ken, and nephew John Tueting. In 1993 Merry-Water Farms expanded to 400 cows. They grew again in 2001 to 1,000 cows with a new parlor and barn.
Ruedinger Farms, W7222 Cemetery Rd., Van Dyne, WI (Fond du Lac County). John and Karen Ruedinger began dairying full time in 1977 with 50 cows and 300 acres in partnership with John’s parents Paul and Delores.
In 1996, they became Ruedinger Farms, Inc. and started expanding. Today, daughter Jamie and her husband David Zappa are partners in the business as the fourth generation and the dairy has 1,400 cows and 1,550 rented and owned acres of corn and alfalfa. The focus at Ruedinger Farms is to manage the business as a team, working to accomplish the same progressive business goals.
Maple Ridge Dairy, EP4231 March Rapids Ave., Stratford, WI (Marathon County). Maple Ridge Dairy is a partnership between Ken and Phil Hein and Brian Forrest, who joined the management team in 2012.
This 1,800 cow dairy employs 28 full-time and 6 part-time employees, and rents 3,800 acres of crop land, most of which is worked by custom operators. Calves are raised in hutches and then moved to group pens until 6 months old. Calf growers raise the young stock and they’re brought back two months before calving.
Alfalawn Farm, LLC, W2850 State Rd. 72, Menomonie, WI (Dunn County). Alfalawn is owned and operated by Randy, David and Dale Styer. This farm has been operated by family since the 1860's and currently houses 2,250 cows with young stock. They farm 3,200 acres of land, consisting of corn, alfalfa, some soybeans and cover crops in the fall.
The Styers are strong proponents of conservation and have practiced no-till farming for 20 years. They incorporated many energy- and water-saving features into a recent modernization project that features a 2,000 cow cross-vent barn, a 60-stall rotary parlor, heifer facilities with a starter barn, robotic feeders, and a free stall barn for the young stock.
The ACE On-the-Farm Twilight Meetings are offered through a partnership between Professional Dairy Producers (PDPW), the Wisconsin Towns Association, and the Wisconsin Counties Association. There is no charge to attend the ACE On-the-Farm Twilight Meetings.
For planning purposes, contact Wisconsin Towns Association to register by calling 715-526-3157 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Professional Dairy Producers® (PDPW) is the nation’s largest dairy producer-led, grassroots organization of its kind, focusing on education, networking and professional development to share ideas, solutions, resources, and experiences that help dairy producers succeed.”