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Closing up or opening up…

Leontien VandeLaar Published on 23 September 2010


Leontien VandeLaar is a member of the Proud to Dairy network. Her family's farm, Four Leaf Clover Dairy, was recently a stop on the Indiana Soybean Alliance Tour. Read her thoughts on the tour and the importance of opening up her operation to the public.



Closing up or opening up, that is the big decision dairy farmers all around America have to make. And it is a very tough decision.

The reasons being three factors: 1. Animal rights activists who paint a different picture then what the reality sometimes is, 2. Only 2 percent of all Americans are involved in the agricultural industry, and 3. One farmer doing something wrong gets way more attention than 10 farmers trying to do the right thing.

We at Four Leaf Clover Dairy decided to open up our dairy for the general public. This meant showing the world what and why we do things. The social media, tours and articles are great, but it is also taking a risk, the risk of being targeted by people who think differently, are too uneducated or to un/misinformed to take a reasonable stance in modern day dairy farming.

We at Four Leaf Clover Dairy figured it is more important to show and educate people than to shy away and let people guess on what happens behind our gates.

So when the Indiana Soybean Alliance asked us to host two tours on September 8th and 9th, we were honored and very happy that an organization with their magnitude was willing to take the risk and open up four large farms: hogs, fish, poultry and dairy to the general public.


We felt the tour was a huge success!

We had a mixed crowd of people and that made the questions very diverse. We tried to show everything, from front to back, and everything in between. Overall people were very interested on how and why we do certain things and they could see the results of the decisions we make every day.

The best comment we got from one of the people visiting, was after we sat down to eat lunch in front of the dairy between the buildings, was that sitting here, seeing the cows and feeling the atmosphere was better than sitting home in their own back yard.

We know that by taking the risk and doing all the work that it takes to show people what you do is a lot to ask for, but people need to know where their food comes from. And who can tell the best story but us? PD

From left to right: Leontien's parents, Wim and Maria; brother Jan-Willem; Leontien; and husband Bastiaan Oostdijck. Photo courtesy Leontien VandeLaar.

Check out more updates from Leontien:

• Follow her on Twitter at @4leafclovercow
See the video featuring Leontien and Four Leaf Clover Dairy
• View her Proud to Dairy profile and read recent blog posts: