As Harford County farms diversify and their owners try to figure out their future, the county's ag community hopes events like Sunday's annual Farm Visitation Day can keep people interested in the wide world of agriculture.
"This is what we do every day and we are just trying to educate people on agriculture and why we need it," Mike Doran, president of Harford County Farm Bureau, said at the Galbreaths' Hawks Hill Creamery in Street, host to this year's program.
The Galbreath family went into the cheese-and-ice-cream business 10 years ago. Sunday they provided farm-themed kids' games, a farm machinery display and, of course, an ice-cream truck that quickly drew a line of customers.
The county's 4-H members provided some additional farm animals, as Hawks Hill Creamery only has cows, Doran said. The farm also hosted Farm Visitation Day four years ago.
He noted it has been trickier to find farms willing to volunteer for the event, as farmers worry about liability or people potentially seeing something unsightly.
"We are just in debt up to our ears," he said, noting the Farm Bureau members considered displaying the prices on items like a tractor with a grain drill, which cost $300,000, but decided against it.
"It's tough. We have a lot of assets but we are spending a lot of money, too," Doran added.
Some might also think farmers do not care about the environment, but "we are doing our part with nutrient management and best[-practice] management to save the [Chesapeake] Bay," Doran said. "Without the land, we are hurting."
The Galbreaths' farm is a good example of the new paths Harford agriculture is taking.
In 2007, the family sold about 200 cows to pursue agro-tourism, Elizabeth Galbreath, the current Miss Harford County Farm Bureau, explained.
Elizabeth Galbreath said it made sense for the farm to host Farm Visitation Day again because of their experience dealing with a large number of visitors and daily customers.
"I think one of the reasons we have had farm visitation is we focus on agro-tourism all the time," she said. "Our main focus here is for adults and children to understand what a real farm looks like and where their food comes from."
"We are just trying to show them a taste of Maryland agriculture and how farmers actually live and operate," she said.
Kim Galbreath added farmers look out for each other. She was wearing a shirt supporting another farmer whose young child has cancer and had encouraged others at Farm Visitation Day to wear the shirt, too.
Those who came out seemed to be having a good time playing games, posing with farm equipment and showing their children a new part of the county.