Stakenas Farms hosting Breakfast on the Farm Saturday, July 11.

July 8, 2015
From left: Bill, Ed and Carl Stakenas.

From left: Bill, Ed and Carl Stakenas.

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief.

SHERMAN TOWNSHIP — There’s just something about having a meal on a farm. I was lucky to be able to catch lunch when I visited Stakenas Farms on Tuesday. As I rolled up to the barn I was greeted by Bill Stakenas and his son-in-law Seth Earl. Ed “Duke” Stakenas, the family patriarch, was cooking hamburgers on the grill as the farm workers, many of them Ed’s grandsons, sat at the picnic table for lunch. “We eat a lot of beef here,” Bill says as he grabs a bun, his dad slapping a freshly grilled patty on it. The Stakenas family is hoping to share a similar experience with the public on Saturday, July 11, as it hosts Breakfast on the Farm, an event coordinated by Michigan State University’s Extension Services. 

The Stakenas family is deeply rooted in Mason County’s agricultural community. The current family farm, which is based where Sherman, Free Soil, Victory and Grant townships intersect, has existed since 1920. The farming tradition began in 1917 when Ed’s parents, William and Anna, began farming on North Amber Road just south of Fountain Road in Victory Township after they immigrated from Lithuania. “That land just wasn’t really good for farming, so they moved to this location,” Bill says. William and Anna raised about 20 head of dairy cows.

“My parents, Bill and Clara, joined the operation in the early 1950s and my dad expanded the farm considerably, especially in the ’60s and ’70s,” Bill says. 

Bill and his brother, Carl, were the only two of six siblings who decided to continue the farming tradition in Mason County. “Carl and I expanded the farm even more. We needed to make it a business that could support they families who are part of the operation.” Today, their adult children, the fourth generation, are also part of the operation along with Bill’s wife, Terri, and Carl’s wife, Kay. Bill’s son Kyle and Carl’s son Martin are also actively part of the farm. 

The farm now covers over 1,500 acres with over 500 cows. 

Clara passed away in April of 2014 but Ed continues to be an active part of the operation when he is home from Florida. All six of their children and members of their families will be at Breakfast on the Farm on Saturday.

The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The farm is located at the intersection of U.S. 31 and Townline Road. Attendees will travel west on Townline Road where they will then park at the Farmview Resort, which is owned by the Stakenas family. The breakfast, served by the Western Michigan Old Engine Club, will take place at the resort, which itself was once a working farm. The public will then have the opportunity to be transported across the street to view Stakenas Farms’ working dairy cow operation. There will also be several other agricultural displays and activities for visitors of all ages.

As of Tuesday, 2,300 tickets had been distributed to the public.

Ed "Duke" Stakenas grills up burgers for the farm hands during lunch.

Ed “Duke” Stakenas grills up burgers for the farm hands during lunch.

“Almost this entire breakfast will come from local or Michigan agricultural products,” said Seth Earl, who is on the organizing committee; Seth, besides being Bill and Terry’s daughter, Lyndsay, works in the agricultural business as the conservationist for Mason-Lake Conservation District.

The sausage will come from Sanders Meats in Custer; the milk is from Michigan cows, there will also be yogurt from Yoplait in Reed City (which is where Stakenas Farms sells its milk to). The breakfast will also feature Michigan apples and apple juice from Riverton Township’s Indian Summer. The maple syrup will come from the Bates Farm in Victory Township and Kistlercrest Farms of Summit Township.

In addition to cooking, the Western Michigan Old Engine Club will have several antique tractors on display. Other farm equipment used on the farm, along with new equipment, will also be on display. Transportation back and forth will be provided by the Buckley Old Engine Show and Springdale Farms. There will be 18 educational stations to teach the public about the agriculture industry. 

“People need to see where their food comes from,” said Bill Stakenas of Stakenas Farms. “Most of society these days does not have any interaction directly with agriculture.”

stakenas farms 5One of the highlights of the farm tour will be Stakenas’ state-of-the-art waste containment system. The system uses recycled water to flush the floor of the barn from one end to the other without any mechanized labor. The water then goes through a spillway where sediment falls out. It is then pumped to a lagoon where it can be used over again. The sediment is absorbed into sand which is used in other areas of the farm.

“We take great pride at this farm to be friendly to the environment,” Stakenas said. “We live in this community too. We knew several years ago that we needed to address the issue with waste. Our farm drains into watersheds that enter nearby rivers and lakes. Our family uses those lakes too. Now the water is contained and re-used on the farm. No water used in the system comes directly from the well.”

Breakfast on the Farm is free, but tickets are required to eat breakfast. Tickets are available from the following businesses:

  • Baldwin: Blarney Castle EZ Mart, Blarney Castle Marathon, and the MSU Extension office.
  • Custer: Sanders Meats.
  • Free Soil: Ertes EZ Mart.
  • Hart: Blarney Castle BP Gas, Blarney Castle Mobil EZ Mart-Expressway, MSU Extension, and West Shore Bank.
  • Irons: Blarney Castle.
  • Ludington: Airport Shell gas station, Blarney Castle EZ Mart, Briggs Hardware, Larson Energy, Mason County District Library, Smith & Eddy Insurance, Snyder’s Shoes, West Shore Bank branches.
  • Manistee: Ace Hardware, Blarney Castle Gas on Cypress Street, Blarney Castle Gas in MSU Extension office, Smith & Eddy Insurance, Snyder’s Shoes, West Shore Bank branches.
  • Pentwater: Snug Harbor Marina.
  • Scottville: Blarney Castle BP Gas, Blarney Castle Propane, Mason/Lake Conservation District, Mason County District Library, the MSU Extension office, Scottville Shell, Smith & Eddy Insurance, and West Shore Bank.

Eats & Drinks

Eats & Drinks