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Fun on the Farm opens county’s barn doors to the community


At the top of New York’s Canandaigua Lake, only 5 miles from the shore, is a 500-cow dairy called Fa-Ba Farms, and in 2022, they opened their doors to their community.

Fa-Ba Farms was the host farm of a bi-annual event that Ontario County, New York, holds called Fun on the Farm. It’s a day where the community is invited to the farm to learn about their local farmers and agriculture. This year, it was held Sept. 24.

But this isn’t any old open house and wagon ride — Fun on the Farm has consistently brought in around 4,000 community members, has been hosted by nine different farms, and has been running since 1991!

Fun on the Farm is held at a different dairy farm each time, but it’s not just about dairy. Local 4-Hers bring their animals so that the community can learn about beef cows, poultry, pigs, and other livestock. There are also lots of free samples and activities that show the community just how much Ontario County farmers contribute to their daily menu. At Fun on the Farm you can try local apples, apple cider, grapes, grape juice, cheese, milk, ice cream, and even enjoy a game of cabbage bowling — yeah, real bowling, but with cabbages!

And yet the most appealing part about Fun on the Farm is that everything is free.

Julie and Pete Maslyn of Farmington, New York, have been co-chairs of the event since 1995, and they will tell you that Fun on the Farm is all about education. The Maslyns, both born and raised dairy farmers, have devoted themselves to educating their community about agriculture. (Full disclosure, they are also my parents.)

“Fun on the Farm has a primary goal of educating our non agricultural neighbors, but the benefits that the agricultural community reaps from interacting with our neighbors this way, and joining with our Agricultural Community to plan and execute such a big undertaking are priceless,” Julie Maslyn said. She will tell you that the people here really enjoy learning about agriculture around them, and they want to be able to eat local foods and buy local products.

Fun on the Farm is a one-day event — it’s just one Saturday every other year, but the Friday before Fun on the Farm, area schools are invited for a preview. This year Julie Maslyn said that nearly 1,000 students and teachers came to get a wagon ride, go through some educational stations, and (of course) get a free ice cream cone.

Fun on the Farm is a success story about how a county in the Finger Lakes is able to teach its community about agriculture, but you should note that it can be replicated anywhere. Sharing messages and pictures on social media is a great way to reach an audience, but letting people come to a farm to see, smell, and take in everything that goes on will leave a lasting impression on them.

If you are looking to start up a community farm day, you need to keep in mind that it’s not a solo effort. The Maslyns say that without the many volunteers and donations, none of this would be possible. They are thankful to have donations from local farmers and processors, and that so many farmers, 4-Hers, FFA members and others volunteer to help out. In fact, they had about 400 volunteers this year!

Julie Maslyn says that if you want to have a community farm event in your county, you need to know who and what your community wants to see. Let your farming community know how successful this event could be; if it is important to them they will help.

Fun on the Farm has been a success for over 30 years because of the determination of the committee and volunteers who put it on. If you want your community to support local agriculture, you might just need to show them how. So gather up your farming community, open the barn doors and create an immersive and educational experience for your community by letting them have fun on the farm!

Elizabeth Maslyn is a born and raised dairy farmer from Upstate New York. Her passion for agriculture has driven her to share the stories of farmers with all consumers, and promote agriculture in everything she does. She works hard to increase food literacy in her community, and wants to share the stories of her local farmers.

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