The Neuharth family entertained and taught about 50 visitors on Friday, and another 85 on Saturday about farming, during their annual Prairie Paradise Farms’ Family Fun Days.
On the first day, they hosted youth and Stanley County GOLD program leadership. On the second day, they hosted various families who came out on their own.
“We learned about some of the grains we grow on our farm and created a Ziploc bag of mixed grain to take home for bird feed,” Crystal Neuharth said. “We also potted a plant to take home and discussed the importance of living roots and stimulating plants — getting them to regrow — and caring for them. Then we spent time with the chicken and goats — learning how to care for them and where our food comes from.”
Family Farm Day started in 2019, but the pandemic canceled 2020’s event.
Both days had favorable weather. Crystal did the main greeting, using one of her favorite quotes, ‘Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all’ by Aristotle.
“Being able to experience farm life and be hands-on is a very memorable way to learn,” she said.
The Neuharth family holds this event to share aspects of agriculture and the importance it has to everyone. They hope people see why Levi, Crystal, and their three children are in love with what they do on their farm.
After introducing their family, the Neuharths introduced the various leaders of the four learning stations, which the crowd divided up to rotate through.
For one station, Farmers Union brought out their safety trailer and did two different areas of safety. They used a hydraulic four-wheeler that helped teach the kids ATV safety, and in the trailer, they had a short video about general safety on the farm.
“Having safety as one of the stations is a very important aspect of keeping everyone safe while they visit farms and just in general,” Crystal said. “Safety can often be easily overlooked. Safety isn’t expensive; it’s priceless.”
A second station was run by Ruth Beck, with the South Dakota No-Till Association. Beck’s ‘edible lesson’ was making Soil Layer Pudding Cups. Beck taught the kids about the organisms that live in the soil and the layers and structure that make up the soil.
Andy Oxford, a local Natural Resources Conservation Service soil scientist, demonstrated water infiltration using a tabletop display. He educated the families on the importance of water quality and keeping living soil healthy and alive.
The South Dakota Soil Health Coalition helped the families pot a plant to take home. While doing this, they learned about how living roots feed the soil. Plants feed the soil, and the soil feeds the plants. Living plants also mean that plants are capturing energy from the sun and moving it into the soil. Visitors also learned how livestock and wildlife bite off the plant when they graze, which stimulates the plant to regrow.
The afternoon focused on the farm’s animals. At the chicken station, kids and other family members fed the chickens and gathered eggs. The wide variety of breeds have free-range around the farmyard.
“One adult was able to gather eggs for their very first time,” Crystal said.
At the dairy goat station, visitors first watched how to milk goats, then took a shot at it. And people got the chance to pet baby goats and played with the older ones.
Crystal said she heard some repeated comments from various people throughout the day. The chickens reminded some about their childhood of being chased by ornery roosters and gathering eggs with their grandparents. The safety trailer reminded some folks of near-accidents they had experienced and were glad that kids could learn about safety at a young age.