Thirty Gratiot County Farm Bureau members toured Zeeland Farm Services (ZFS) in Ithaca Sept. 1 to kick off the new membership year.
Young Farmer Chair Tricia McDonald and P&E Chair Stacey Cary-Jenkins teamed up to organize the event. McDonald called Cary-Jenkins, asking if she would like to help plan a tour of the ZFS facility for the members.
“It was one of the easiest events to plan,” said Cary-Jenkins. “I called Gary Brower, assistant manager of marketing and communications for ZFS, and told him we’d like to tour the Ithaca facility.
“He said ‘Sure, and how about lunch too?’”
“Members responded instantly to the invite,” McDonald said, adding that several members ended up on a waiting list because the facility can only safely host 30 people per tour.
Upon their arrival, members were greeted by several ZFS staffers. While Farm Bureau members enjoyed lunch, Plant Manager Nate Donahey gave an overview covering how the facility came about. He then spent about an hour showing members around the facility and answering questions. All members left the facility with appreciation gifts from ZFS.
Gratiot County Farm Bureau members — many of whom grow and sell soybeans to this location — enjoyed seeing the behind-the-scenes process, including the control room that houses the “brains” of it all.
“The process used to extract oil from soybeans is much more complex than what I expected,” said Farm Bureau member and soybean grower Kyle Crumbaugh.
Young Farmer Dylan Arnett didn’t expect to learn that “All the emissions from the dryer have to be put back into the bin and not just shot out into the air.”
“It was interesting seeing how massive the inside storage is for soy meal,” said Gratiot member Todd Beougher, who also sells beans to the facility. “My favorite part was seeing the rest of the plant. Hauling in, all we see are the scales and pit.”