March 22 • 02:47 AM

'Farms Feed Us' site features area family

Chance at $5,000 grocery gift cards offered to online visitors

November 25, 2009
TRI-CITY AREA — Pay an online visit to the farmers across Michigan who put food on our tables and get entered to win a year's worth of free groceries.

A coalition of agriculture groups have banded together to create the Farmers Feed Us program and Web site. With the help of local farmers, including the Schapman family of Bruce Township, Farmers Feed US is spreading the word about the safe and nutritious food Michigan's agriculture industry produces and is rewarding visitors with a generous sweepstakes contest.

In February, three $5,000 grocery gift cards will be given to visitors who register at

Bret Schapman and family at Ingleside Farms, just south of Almont, offer virtual tourists a look into their beef operation.

Bret Schapman tells the family farm’s story on
Bret and brothers, Todd and Jereme, operate their 2,400 head cattle farm in partnership with their dad, Rick and grandmother Joann Higby. Ingleside was established in 1950 by the boys' grandfather and Joann's husband, Elmore Higby. They also cultivate 2,100 acres of corn, 250 acres of soybeans and 150 acres of both wheat and hay.

In a video clip and written material on the Web site, Bret explains how important the care of their animals and the environment is to the family.

"Their health and general well-being is tied directly to us, so it's our goal to make sure we have the healthiest animals that we possibly can," Bret said.

"We have a large responsibility to care for and improve the environment that we live in. We share that environment with not only our neighbors but also our business partners, the cattle."

Bret also shares special memories of growing up on the farm and what it's like to now share that experience with the next generation of Schapmans.

"I hope to provide for our family not only in the present but also give the opportunity for them to plant and produce for future generations. I want my children to be able to have the same breathtaking experiences that have been afforded me," Bret said.

"The future of the farm is very important to me and my brothers."

Bret and his wife, Laura are parents to Avis, 4 and Cooper, 2. The youngsters appear with Bret in the online video.

Todd and his wife, Mandy have five children—Savanah, Clayton, Colby, Elly and Logan. Jereme and wife, Liz have two children—Drew and Rachel.

Bret's mom, Connie, said the film and photography crew visited the farm in October. The family is happy to be involved in the program that's trying to educate consumers and get them interested in food production, Connie said.

The Schapmans are one of ten farm families who tell their stories and represent a range of commodities on the Farmers Feed US site. Visitors can also learn about fruit, dairy, hog, egg, soybean, corn, sheep and vegetable production.

Contest rules state that Michigan residents 18 years and older may enter up to ten times (one with each featured farmer) per person, per email address, per day during the promotion period which lasts until Feb. 12.

Industry groups that made Farmers Feed Us possible are the Michigan Ag Council, Michigan Farm Bureau, Michigan Beef Industry Commission, Michigan Pork Producers Association, Corn Marketing Program of Michigan, Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee, Michigan Apple Committee, Dairy Farms of America, Michigan Milk Producers Association, United Dairy Industry of Michigan, Michigan Allied Poultry Industries, GreenStone Farm Credit Services, West Michigan Ag Alliance, Hamilton Farm Bureau.

Maria Brown joined the Tri-City Times staff in 2003, the same year she earned a bachelor's degree in English from Calvin College. Born and raised in Imlay City, she now resides north of Capac where she enjoys working on the farm, gardening and reading.
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