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Urban, meet Rural. Now let’s eat!

Published on

Cathy Dobson

Who knew that a full 50% of the City of Sarnia is agricultural land?

Or that 100 farmers work nearly 19,000 acres literally next door to the urban centre.

“That’s unique for larger cities. It kinda blows your socks off,” says Sarnia planning manager Kevin Edwards. “The urban-rural mix really makes our city a cool place to be.”

That got Tracy Ranick of the Sarnia Lambton Business Development Corporation thinking.

“We need a community event to celebrate the role that farming has in Sarnia,” she said. “All these farms generate a lot of jobs and produce a lot of our food.”

Despite the proximity, many urban Sarnians have never been to a working farm.

That’s how the first Breakfast on the Farm came about last year. It fed 500 citizens who also toured Kevin and Melissa Forbes’ dairy farm.

Forbesvue is about six minutes east of Modeland Road, which is the natural dividing line between urban and rural Sarnia.

The Forbes agreed to host Breakfast on the Farm again this year on June 20. This time, 750 are invited.

“This is something we have to do,” says Kevin, a third generation farmer at the corner of Confederation and Waterworks Road.

“It’s really easy for consumers to get incorrect information about farming practices. It’s important for them to come out and see first-hand where their food comes from.”

Besides, to know their city, Sarnians should know something about agriculture.

“Our city is unlike any other city in Ontario because of the size and magnitude of the farms here,” Kevin said. That makes the 25-minute walking tour as critical for visitors as the full farm breakfast.

Kevin, Melissa, their family and other farming experts will conduct the tours through the barns at Forbesvue, explaining what it’s like on a modern dairy farm with 175 milking cows.

“They’ll see what we do to ensure cow comfort,” said Kevin, a past president of the Lambton Federation of Agriculture.

“And they’ll learn that calving hutches are not at all inhumane,” added Melissa. “A lot of people don’t realize the technology and research that goes into dairy farming.”

The Forbes also farm about 650 acres, producing cash crops like corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa.

Food for Breakfast on the Farm is donated by local producers. Even the pancake mix is milled locally.

All 750 tickets for this year’s Breakfast on the Farm were scooped up within hours. There’s already a waiting list of about 70, says Ranick.

To be added to the list, search for Breakfast on the Farm Lambton on


* Of the 100 farms in Sarnia, 68 are grain, 25 are livestock and seven are specialty crop farms.

* 18,968 acres of Sarnia are in crops or grazed by livestock

* Forbesvue, owned by Kevin and Melissa Forbes, is one of three dairy farms in the city

* Sarnia’s farms had gross sales of $22.1 million in 2011.

Source:  City of Sarnia Planning Department


Do you know of something happening in our community that is culturally significant? Contact Cathy Dobson at [email protected] or 226-932-0985.

A dairy cow at Forbesvue Farm tucks into her own breakfast. Glenn Ogilvie
A dairy cow at Forbesvue Farm tucks into her own breakfast.
Glenn Ogilvie

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