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Hands-on Milking Adventure

It was a fun-filled day of farming for Grade 4 students from Wilmot Township.

On Sept. 13, over 300 students attended Green Acre Farms in New Hamburg, as part of the New Hamburg Fall Fair, where they were ready to see agriculture, up close and personal.

“The Fair always holds an educational day and for the last two years, it’s been brought outside and hosted by the Wagler Family at Green Acre Farms,” said Shelley Kuepfer, event organizer and member of the Waterloo Dairy Producer Committee.

“It’s all connected to the curriculum at school and also gives kids hands-on opportunities to see exactly where their milk comes from.”

The Dairy Farm milks about 160 cows and has a crop of over 1200 acres along with two chicken farms.

“There’s five of us here helping run the farm,” says Dave Wagler. “My dad, my uncle, brother, cousin and me.”

“I grew up doing chores, but I became a partner in 2005.”

For Wagler, it’s all about having the kids on the farm, allowing them to experience it, hands-on.

“Nothing compares to them coming to the farm, milking and playing with the calves,” Wagler said.

His father, Gary couldn’t agree more.

“Kids today are so far removed from agriculture. This gives them a good hands-on experience,” he said.

About 15-20 volunteers came out to make the day a success.

“Dave is also a  member of the Waterloo Dairy Producer Committee and we really wanted to get kids out onto the farm, so our committee talked with the New Hamburg Fall Fair Committee and we decided to do this – and there is no cost to the schools,” Kuepfer said. “While at the farm, the kids travel through six different stations.”

Students learn about taking care of calves and veterinary care.

There was also a snack station available for those feeling peckish. Local business donated snacks and a dietitian was also on hand to talk about healthy food options.

The milking station was a popular stop, with students eager to try their hand at milking.

Dave Wagler’s brother Andrew was in the milking parlor as a group of students from Baden Elementary School made their way inside.

Andrew Wagler in the Milking Parlour, PHOTO: Barbara Geernaert

“We milk our cows twice a day, at 5 am and then again at about 4 pm,” he said. “And we are always looking for more help milking at 5 am,” he says with a bright smile.

Students lined up at the ready, waiting to feel the suction of the milking machine before milking.

Waterloo Regional Police also made an appearance and talked to the students about internet safety.

For Dave Wagler, it’s also about showing kids about the technology on the farm. An r2d2 robot makes its way across the barn and pushed feed closer to the cows. Students each took a turn at maneuvering the robot and were able to control its next move.

“I love farming. I’m my own boss. I love cows and I love being outdoors. And there have been so many changes in the farming industry. It’s really evolved,” Wagler says.

“Kids have the opportunity to see this, to see that they can program robots and see the computers that are used. Technology does exist in farming today.”

But for Wagler, the heart of farming is the opportunity for his young visitors to see how their food ends up at their table.

“They can see what farming entails and what a farmer has to do, day to day. And it’s so important that they can see where their milk comes from and where their eggs come from,” he said.

“It’s great to have them here so they can learn and see what farming is all about.”

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