By Brandy Harrison
TECUMSEH — When Brian Hyland invited 2,000 people over for breakfast, he was ready to field questions about pretty much everything he does on his Tecumseh farm, from using genetically-modified seeds and why pesticides are used to husbandry practices used to raise beef and veal cattle.
“People go on the Internet and read this and that is going to kill you — there is all kinds of misinformation out there. If I want to do something about that, I have to have those conversations,” says the crop, beef, and veal farmer, who stresses the best management practices behind what they do and the checks and balances in the Canadian food system to instill confidence in consumers.
But on this day there were no hard questions. He recalls being asked: “What time do you get up in the morning?” “How much does your equipment cost?” and “Who do you farm with?”
Hyland, who runs Hylander Farms with his wife, Rina, his son, Matthew, and his parents, Walter and Muriel, has hosted farm tours before but as the destination for the annual Breakfast on the Farm, he had a bit of extra help.
Organized by Farm & Food Care Ontario, the event went off without a hitch, thanks to 150 volunteers, including agribusinesses, farm organizations, 20 local farmers, and about 50 to 60 members of the Essex Rotary Club, who served the 2,000 meals.
It took more than a few days to get the farm shipshape, says Hyland, who went the extra mile and shipped off older machinery and planted wild grass to make a pond more frog and turtle friendly. “Now we won’t have to do anything for the next 10 years,” he jokes.
There was also a bonus. The farm’s beef sausages were a hit and Hyland, eager to tell consumers about the quality and consistency that comes from feeding a grass and corn diet to reach a max weight of 1,200 to 1,300 lb., may end up with a few more customers.
“It was a very soft sell. If you had 2,000 people in front of you, what would you do? There were a lot of business cards handed out. We’ll see what happens.”