Featured Farmer - Ode Family, Brandon
For many families, backyard barbecues and neighborhood get togethers are an important summertime tradition. One South Dakota dairy farm family has taken that tradition to another level … and it is one of the many reasons they were honored in December 2014 with the first Agvocate of the Year award from Ag United for South Dakota.
The Bob and Marilyn Ode family owns and operates Royalwood Dairy, a fourth generation dairy farm near Brandon. Brothers Doug and Gregg work together to manage the 270 cow dairy farm and raise corn and alfalfa crops. Doug has two sons, Ryan and Erik, who are both students at South Dakota State University. Gregg and his wife, Jane, have two children, Alex is a graduate of South Dakota State University working at the new Bel Brands plant in Brookings and Elisabeth is a graduate of South Dakota State University working at Lawrence & Schiller advertising in Sioux Falls.
In 2008, they hosted the first Breakfast on the Farm open house to celebrate June Dairy Month. The family-friendly farm tour was such a success in sharing information about the farm with neighbors and community members that the Odes have continued it every year. They work with Midwest Dairy Association, Ag United, and other local ag organizations, volunteers, and businesses to make each year’s event possible. Check out photos from the 2014 Open House here.
"The open house has become a great family tradition for us. We enjoy opening our farm to the public and sharing our story,” said Gregg Ode. “It is a fun way for families to see animals and learn how the milk they buy at a grocery store makes it to their tables.”
Just a few minutes from Sioux Falls, the free event has expanded with new activities each year. More than a thousand people enjoy a pancake breakfast and tour the farm. Kids can participate in an activities area, learn about the importance of wholesome dairy products in a healthy diet, and even pet a baby calf. Children’s entertainer Phil Baker has performed at several open houses and the ‘hood magazine has hosted “Make and Take” craft projects at the event.
“Thousands of Sioux Falls area residents know the Ode family for their annual ‘Breakfast on the Farm’ open house each June, however they are advocates for agriculture year round,” said Steve Dick, Executive Director of Ag United. “We appreciate their willingness to open their farm to the public and share their dairy farm’s story with consumers.”
The Ode family is always willing to open their farm for a tour, visit and elementary classroom, or answer questions about modern dairy practices. The groups range from schoolchildren to church groups to senior citizens, and have included classes from South Dakota State and delegations from Mexico. Doug and Gregg visit local schools to share about their farm during National Ag Week.
They are also active in local and agriculture organizations. Gregg serves on the Brandon Valley School Board, and Doug is on the Brandon Lutheran Church Board as well as South Dakota Dairy Producers, Midwest Dairy Association South Dakota division, and South Dakota Holstein Breeders Association.
Doug Ode knows that they are in a unique position to be a working dairy farm so close to a city like Sioux Falls.
“We’re very conscious that people are always around and watching what we do, but we haven’t had any problems,” he said. “The open house is a great way to have people come out and see for themselves how we operate and answer any questions they may have.”