TEMPLE TERRACE — A few years ago Dale McClellan, chairman of M&B Products, a family-owned and operated business, came up with a unique idea.
He wanted to host a night of community fun at the company's farm in Temple Terrace as a way to promote the industry and give back to the city where his business at 8601 Harney Road handles a number of agricultural tasks including processing milk from its dairy farm in Lecanto for multiple forms and flavors of milk and yogurt.
McClellan later pitched his idea to City of Temple Terrace administrators, saying he intended for it to be a fun-filled family-friendly affair aimed at sowing some seeds of knowledge into the minds of today's kids, many of whom have no earthly idea where their food and drinks come from other than the grocery store.
City officials readily bought into the idea, especially considering that profits from the event would be used to benefit the community's youth recreation programs.
His vision for the annual event morphed into the inaugural Farm Night BBQ in 2016 and saw hundreds of kids frolicking throughout the farm making butter, planting seeds and taking part in hayrides. At the same time their parents listened to live bands, enjoyed slow-smoke barbecue and enjoyed a bonfire.
To his amazement and utter delight, the vision came into fruition much sooner than he planned.
"I envisioned that maybe five of 10 years down the road," said McClellan said.
Last year's affair, which drew close to 650 people, also included a blacksmith, a cracker whip/roping demonstration and several other group activities.
Judi Whitson, executive director of the Hillsborough County Farm Bureau and head of Hillsborough County Ag-Venture, was on hand to not only teach kids how to churn butter and plant vegetable seeds, but also how to make ice cream in a zip-lock bag.
"My mission is to educate people on where our food comes from with a goal of helping them eat more nutritionally," said Whitson, who also holds the title of 2016 Florida Agriculture Woman of the Year.
Elizabeth Leib, founder and director of Greco Middle School's Farm2School program, also was there with students to engage young attendees in some simple gardening projects.
"We want kids to know how fun it is to be outdoors gardening and farming," she said.
Whitson and Leib will be back with even more learning activities for kids at this year's Farm Night BBQ, co-hosted by the Temple Terrace Masonic Lodge, and slated to run from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday (Feb. 24).
Fresh From Florida, an arm of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is the title sponsor and Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam will likely make an appearance.
Undoubtedly the highlight of the evening will be performances by the famed Bellamy Brothers, known for their popular hit Let Your Love Flow.
"Never in a million years did I expect to have the Bellamy Brothers playing at our second event, and never in a million years did I think Fresh From Florida and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services would be our title sponsor," Dale McClellan said.
"And I certainly didn't think there was a possibility for the commissioner of agriculture Adam Putnam to attend," he added. "I'm shocked, amazed and thankful. I can't wait."
Contact Joyce McKenzie at [email protected]