february 2014 | Section A
Hernandia Establo Home of the “Fine Step” Horse By Shawndra Miller | Photos by Josh Marshall
erb Brown murmurs endearments in Spanish to Papi Lupi, the bay horse nosing him. As three geldings and two stud colts make their way past him into the barn on this snowy afternoon, he gestures toward the overhead heaters in each stall. “You can stand under there, and it’s just as warm as can be.” Brown is no fan of winter weather, having been born and raised in Puerto Rico, but his horses don’t seem to mind the snow and cold when he turns them out each morning. Here at Hernandia Stable, the 140-acre Brown County farm he owns with his wife, Nancy, the semiretired attorney dotes on his small herd. In addition to these five, he has three mares housed in a restored 1860s-era barn just up the road. All are Paso Fino horses, a rare breed lauded for endurance, toughness and above all, their “fine step” — which is the English translation of “paso fino.” Each horse has a Spanish name, from the gentle gray mare Pretenciosa de Marquesita (Pretenses of the Marquesa) to the frisky yearling Aviso de Huracan (Hurricane Warning). The name Hernandia’s meaning is twofold: It’s both a conjoining of Herb and Nancy, and a flower that grows wild in Puerto Rico.
It seems a fitting moniker since it was on Puerto Rican soil that Brown first clapped eyes on the breed he came to love. As the grandson of a Nebraskan who moved to the island to be a grapefruit farmer, he lived in the country and was around horses all the time. Paso Finos are more common in that part of the world, and he always admired their elegant way of stepping. But it would be years before he actually owned one. In the meantime he came to the States for his undergrad education, returning to Puerto Rico to earn a law degree. There he met and married the Indianaborn Nancy. She was a flight attendant whose work took her through the San Juan airport where he was working during law school. They settled in San Juan, and he began to practice maritime law. Soon after their marriage in 1971, they fell in love with a Brown County log cabin while visiting her sister and brotherin-law in the area. The 40-acre property was for sale, so they bought it and restored the cabin while maintaining a residence in San Juan. (That
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Herb and Nancy Brown
cabin has since burned down; their current house was designed by a San Juan architect.) The horses are a more recent addition. In 2000, the adjoining property came up for sale. When they bought it, the couple realized that they had two Civil War-era buildings on their hands. The old farmhouse, covered in tar paper and siding, was actually a double log cabin, and a hand-hewn barn stood nearby. The log cabin was the first project, and as soon as it was restored, Brown turned to the barn. Several contractors told him they’d be happy to demolish it and put a new one up, but he finally found an Amish team from Odon that was willing to tackle the job. Where there was dirt floor is now concrete foundation. The crew saved as many of the old frame logs as they could, even using pegs instead of nails to reflect the integrity of the time period. “They even put back the old hay fork, and it still works,” Brown says. See hErnandia Stable on a4
Farm Indiana // february 2014
Credit Where It’s Due editing Farm Indiana, I’ve
hank you.” There. I said it.
regularly received emails,
I’ve thought about writing this editor’s
handwritten notes, cards and
note for quite some time now, but I could
phone calls filled with words
never quite put my finger on how to dive into the subject … into
of praise, kindness and en-
explaining to you, the reader, the gratitude I feel for you. That
couragement. I’ve truly never
said, I think keeping things simple is best.
seen anything like it.
So: Thank you. From the bottom of my farm-loving heart.
I’m humbled by the
Let me explain. I’ve been a working journalist for nearly 20
thoughtful letters I’ve re-
years now, both as a freelance writer and a full-time editor, and
ceived. I’m also thrilled by
the one thing I came to learn during all those years in the busi-
them. You’ve not only written
ness was this: No news is good news.
in to encourage us, but you’ve
Ironic, isn’t it?
also sent along some really
The reason I believed this for so long was because very rarely
terrific story ideas. And there
did I (or any other editors I knew) receive notes of thanks or en-
isn’t an editor in this world
couragement for the work we did. More often than not, we in-
who doesn’t love getting news
stead received letters when readers were angry or felt slighted or
tips about people and events that she might not have otherwise
just plain didn’t like us.
When readers weren’t writing letters of complaint, they were
You make my job easier. You make my job better. You give
usually radio silent. They had nothing to say or write in about at
Farm Indiana a purpose. So with that, I want you to know I’m
all. Which, I must admit, sometimes felt like a blessing. But there
reading your words. I’m holding onto your story ideas. And
were other times when it was too quiet. Eerily quiet. There have
thank you, again and again.
been periods in my life, while editing other publications, when I so rarely heard from readers that I wondered if there was anyone out there reading at all. I felt like a tree in a forest with no one around to hear me fall. And that wasn’t such a great feeling, either. Which is why I feel so much gratitude now. Since I began
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Farm Indiana // february 2014
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Farm Indiana // february 2014
Wood beams filled with soil cover the foundation of the old Mount Liberty post office that used to be located on the property many years ago.
Hernandia Stable // cont. from a1
“They even put back the old hay fork, and it still works.” —Herb Brown
In the meantime he was constructing a new barn with the intention of using it for foaling mares, because he’d decided he wanted to raise Paso Finos. He’d considered quarter horses, appaloosas and other breeds. But Paso Finos quickly came to the top of the list for a trait that was bred into the horse centuries ago. Not only are the compact Paso Finos beautiful and spunky, they don’t trot. “They were bred for use on the old sugar plantations,” he explains. A man could ride one all day and not suffer discomfort. The breed can actually trace its heritage even further back, to Columbus’ second voyage to the New World. In 1493, Columbus brought the ancestors of today’s Paso Fi-
nos to Santo Domingo. Paso Finos are said to be a mix of Andalusians, Barbs and the Spanish Jennet, now extinct. These horses’ proud history, according to Brown’s associate Kay Chiappetta, includes carrying the conquistadors of old through unexplored South and Central America. Chiappetta breeds Paso Finos at Quinta Chiappetta, her horse farm in Shelbyville, Ky., and has known the Browns for years. She has bred his mares and overseen the training of several of his 3-year-olds. She says the easy ride, endurance and ruggedness of these horses made them the perfect mount for the explorers to traverse the mountains and dense jungles of the region. “They have very tough feet, which is important because there weren’t horseshoes then,” she explains. The horses were bred from rough-and-ready stock: Early expeditions from Spain would bring a few mares and several stallions by ship, and when they got close to their destination, the horses would be tossed overboard to swim to shore. After the herd reproduced, the Spaniards would return to round them up and break them to saddle. As a result, today there are far more Paso Finos in countries like the Dominican Republic and Venezuela than here, says Chiappetta. She estimates their U.S. numbers to be around 54,000. Unlike Tennessee Walkers, whose high step is forced through dubious practices like blistering, Paso Fino horses’ four-beat gait comes naturally, in part because they have fewer ribs than other breeds. The smooth ride that was such a boon for plantation owners and explorers is now finding favor with aging baby boomers in search of a pleasure horse.
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Farm Indiana // february 2014
Aside from their unique gait, “they aren’t a huge horse,” says Chiappetta, “and so it’s easier for us older people to get on and off.” They’re also popular as show horses, and Brown has done a bit of that himself, as shown by the ribbons festooning the stall doors. But now he prefers to stay closer to home. In fact, in 2007 he found that his Paso Finos gave him considerably more than a pleasant ride or a ribbon in a show ring. That was the year he had a stroke, and the horses proved pivotal in his recovery. After doing rehab in Indianapolis and Bloomington, he found a therapeutic horseback riding facility in Columbus that showed him his riding days weren’t over. He worked with the therapist there for several weeks doing exercises on horseback. Riding without his feet in the stirrups, twisting and turning in the saddle, and other such movements helped strengthen his core and balance. “I got my confidence back,” he says. Then he returned to riding his own horses, using the same exercises. Chiappetta says Brown’s connection with the horses runs deep. She considers riding just one aspect of the role they played in his healing: Caring for them gave him a renewed sense of purpose. “Herb is just a very, very kind person, and he loves his horses. … The horses have been tremendous therapy for him,” she says. Brown has deep gratitude for his experience with therapeutic horseback riding. This appreciation has led him to dream of offering such services to children and adults at Hernandia at some point in the future. “I hope to one day be able to pass it on,” he says. For right now though, he’s content to enjoy developing his small herd. It’s hard to tell whether he gets more pleasure from trail riding, working with the yearlings or just observing the interaction in the pasture. “They’ll run and chase each other and have a good old time. I enjoy watching them. I could sit out there and watch them for hours,” he says. Despite the cold, here in the presence of his horses Brown seems as contented as the beasts bellying up to the grain. One pocket of his black coat is full of baby carrots that he’ll offer once the munching sounds cease. “They’re members of the family,” he says. “You get really attached to them.” *FI
LEFT: Owner Herb Brown cleans the stables at his Paso Fino stable. Brown says that working with the horses is his physical therapy after suffering a stroke in 2007. ABOVE: The Browns placed a carved stone that reads “Taggart Farm, 1900-2001” on the property as an homage to the family who previously owned the land.
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Farm Indiana // february 2014
Telling a story
Barn quilts put history and heritage in plain view story and photos By Marcia Walker
Marilyn Day says her barn quilt, in the design of the Ohio star, was painted for her by her granddaughter, Courtney Kelley, as a Mother's Day gift. TOP: A barn quilt on the Boling farm north of Salem is meant to look like a windmill. The family decided to put up the quilt, painted by Jane Zatonsky, to break up the white barn after it was re-sided.
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ike many people, Seymour’s Kay Fox has a bucket list. For Fox, a resident artist at the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts near Seymour, one of her dreams is to establish a barn quilt trail in Jackson County. “It’s one of the things I keep in the back of my mind,” she says. Barn quilts are painted wooden panels, often 4-by-4 feet or 8-by8 feet in size. The designs on the quilts might feature family crests, honor the history of fabric quilts or speak to the family’s Indiana heritage or traditions. Not always displayed on barns, however, the colorful murals also can be found on garages, sheds, fences, homes and even public buildings. Both Washington County’s Jane Zatonsky, a fabric quilter who has branched out into painting barn quilts, and Cindy Claycamp, a registered national quilt appraiser from Jackson County, explain that barn quilts are a relatively new concept. Though the origin of fabric quilts dates back hundreds of years, barn quilts are said to have originated in Ohio in the early 1900s. Donna Sue Groves is credited with creating the concept because she wanted to spruce up a plain gray tobacco barn on her family’s farm. Marshall County, in northern Indiana, lays claim to having the first barn quilt trail in Indiana. That trail began in 2009 and has grown to include approximately 59 locations throughout the county. The project was initially funded by a grant from the community foundation in Marshall County, according to Cori Humes, executive director of the Marshall County Convention and Visitors Bureau. There are other Indiana counties working on barn quilt trails as well, including Jefferson County, which borders the Ohio River and includes the river town of Madison. Other states, including West Virginia, Minnesota, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Iowa, also boast barn quilt trails. Zatonsky, also a retired tool designer, started painting barn quilts almost by accident,
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Farm Indiana // february 2014
when she was approached by a member of her quilt guild to paint one. Zatonsky says most of her customers have come to her with specific requests for designs, usually “something they really like,” she says. “That makes it neat.” Zatonsky has painted about two dozen barn quilts over the last four or five years. One is displayed at Gastoff, a tourist attraction in Montgomery County. “I just think they look so pretty and dress a barn up,” she says. “They (the quilts) represent the person who ordered them, their personal likes.”
Sharing the passion Fox regularly teaches painting classes at Southern Indiana Center for the Arts. Her tiny studio is located on the second floor of the center, a historic house that dates to 1851 and is owned by rock musician John Mellencamp. Two barn quilts, stored during the winter months to protect them from the weather, are displayed outside on the property’s big barn during the summer. To date, the center has offered one class on painting barn quilts, though Fox hopes more will have interest in learning the folk art craft. At the inaugural class held in 2012, food and friendship were as much a part of the experience as working on the quilts. “Everybody brought a dish, and we shared stories,” Fox recalls. Claycamp was a student in that first class. Although Claycamp’s passion is fabric quilts, she now enjoys creating barn quilts as well. “Barn quilts bring warm, fuzzy feelings to people. … Seeing a barn quilt on a barn, it has a homey feel to it,” Claycamp says. The first barn quilt she painted featured a pattern known as the Indiana puzzle or snail’s trail, a design that became popular in fabric quilts around the 1920s and ’30s. Claycamp intends to paint another barn quilt soon, she says; her second one will feature a corn and bean pattern in recognition of the area’s agricultural heritage. She and her husband, Paul Claycamp, are farmers. Claycamp also believes barn quilts are a way for people to connect with the art of quilting who might not have patience to make a fabric quilt. “The neat thing about barn quilts is it brings people together who appreciate quilting but don’t have the patience to sit at a sewing machine,” she says. “It’s a way to pick up the artistic value and transfer it to another medium.” Fox paints barn quilts on commission and is hoping to organize another class at the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts. “I just love barn quilts,” she says. “They all tell a story.”*FI
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TOP: Kay Fox, at the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts, displays a barn quilt. BOTTOM: A barn quilt owned by Luella Purkhiser and painted by Jane Zatonsky. Purkhiser said the design is called "Versailles," and she picked it for the colors. LEFT: A quilt painted by Kay Fox. Photo courtesy of Kay Fox.
Farm Indiana // february 2014
Extension Homemaker Clubs provide a chance for socialization and learning
Clubs in Bartholomew County, as elsewhere, have changed with the times, reflecting women’s evolving roles in home and society. And though homemaker clubs in Indiana reached their zenith of membership in the 1950s, the overall organization still has a strong presence in the state. It now encompasses both rural and urban women, and even men. Membership is open to anyone. Some newer clubs are organized around a single interest, such as photography or quilting. Local Purdue Extension agent Harriet Armstrong, who oversees clubs in Bartholomew County, says about half of today’s 30 Bartholomew County homemaker groups are “town clubs.” But one thing hasn’t changed: the commitment of members to their basic mission, which is “to strengthen families through continuing education, leadership development and volunteer community support.” And, just as in the beginning, strong friendships remain an integral part of club membership. The oldest active homemaker group in Bartholomew County is the Sandcreek Township Extension Homemaker Club, a rural club. It was initially formed as a home study group of farm wives in 1912, predating the official organization. Sandcreek joined the state organization in 1934, and the women recently celebrated their centennial. Current member Sandra Fleetwood’s great-grandmother, Alice Davis, was a charter member of the club. Sandra’s daughter, Marci McCauley, 39, joined the group last fall, making her a fifth-generation family member. Sandra, 66, was a newlywed when she joined 44 years ago. She treasures her time with her Sandcreek friends. At a recent gathering at Zaharakos for the group’s Christmas meeting, Sandra commented on her many years in the club. “In 44 years, I’ve learned a lot,” she says. “And I’m still learning. Our values never change. Our clubs are the backbone of home and family.” Since the early days, monthly meetings of homemaker clubs have been hosted in members’ homes and follow a structured format. Officers keep things Home Demonstration Clubs, and they received their running smoothly, and a monthly lesson is still the current designation — Extension Homemaker Clubs centerpiece of each gathering. In the old days, les— in 1966. Purdue, through its statewide county exsons tended toward the practical, such as how to tension offices, still oversees and supports the clubs. launder sheets to keep them sparkling white or how Throughout the early years, homemaker clubs to butcher chickens. gave rural women opportunities to increase their Sandcreek member, Kathleen Hendricks, 87, a forskill levels for tasks of everyday living. Lessons mer county extension agent herself, remembers the were offered on subjects such as nutrition and food days when teachers were sent from Purdue University preparation, housekeeping and child-rearing. But to teach lessons. “I recall years ago, a young woman the greatest benefit for these women — long isolated came to Columbus by train to do canning demonfrom their peers — was finally getting an opportunistrations for clubs in the county,” says Hendricks. ty to gather with other women like themselves on a “Today, we don’t do as many ‘how-to’ lessons.” regular basis. “Going to club” forged lifelong friendFellow member Nancy Fodrea, 76, nods in agreeships. It’s not unusual today to ment. “These days, most of what we find women in Bartholomew need is available ready-made,” says County who are fifth- and sixthFodrea. “There’s no need to learn Interested in joining a generation family members of how to make things like we used homemaker club? the same Bartholomew County to do.” Contact your county’s Extension Homemaker Club, Current president of the SandPurdue Extension office or who have been members of a to get more information. creek group, Martha Gordon, club for 50 or 60 years. 63, says lessons have changed to
By sharon mangas photos by josh marshall
Lorna Meyer, Lesa Kerkhof, Erin Engleau, Lisa Price, Amanda Kerkhof, Brooke Mouser, Alicia Froedge
n the early 20th century, life for women — both on and off the farm — was changing rapidly. Mechanization and electrification, products of industrialization, were transforming the world, including life at home. Well pumps were giving way to indoor plumbing. Kerosene lamps and the ice box were nearly obsolete. Dependable refrigeration was changing the face of food preservation. Keeping a house was getting easier back then, but geographic isolation made it difficult for rural women to gain access to information. Farm wives in the early 1900s generally managed their homes using methods handed down by their mothers and grandmothers. To get new home management information out to rural women, Indiana Extension Homemaker Clubs were organized by Purdue University in 1913. These homemaker clubs, located in every county, offered continuing education and new socialization opportunities to women living in remote areas. They were first called Home Economics Clubs, later renamed
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Farm Indiana // february 2014
“In 44 years, I’ve learned a lot. And I’m still learning. Our values never change. Our clubs are the backbone of home and family.” —sandra fleetwood
meet the times. “Lessons today focus more on selfimprovement and relationship issues,” says Gordon. Current lesson plans offered by the Indiana Extension Homemakers Association (IEHA) include topics like “Technology and You” and “Leave your Excuses at the Door.” “We always learn something at our meetings, but we have fun.” Everyone chuckles when Martha recounts the time an anticipated lesson on “Caring for Your Loved Ones” turned out to be how to choose a family grave plot. Norma Jean Burns, 89, of Columbus, is a charter member of a “town club,” O.N.O. (Our Night Out), which formed in the spring of 1947. She’s been a member for nearly 67 years. The original group was composed of newly married stay-at-home moms, most of whom lived near the original Columbus High School when it was located downtown. Their husbands had just returned from service in World War II. Burns fondly recalls the early days. “It was our one night a month away from home,” she says. “We met in the evenings back then, and our husbands watched the children for us on club night.” O.N.O. had 20 active members for many years and today still draws eight to 12 members for monthly lunches at a local restaurant. “Those of us who are able to, get together,” Burns says. “We still have a few charter members attending, though our group withdrew from active membership some time ago. We didn’t feel the need for lessons anymore. These days, we just want to enjoy each other’s company.” When asked about favorite lessons from the past, Burns smiles. “I learned how to work on plumbing and how to do electrical work from club lessons. Like many women my age, I didn’t have the opportunity to go to college. The lessons I learned in my homemakers club were my higher education.” The future looks bright for home extension clubs in the area. Bartholomew County’s newest Extension Homemaker Club, New Design, was organized in 2011 by current club President Lesa Kerkhof, 29. It’s composed of a group of young rural moms in their late 20s and early 30s. “When I married into a farm family a few years ago,” says Kerkhof, “I learned about Extension Homemaker Clubs from my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. They were both long-standing members of clubs and loved being in them. I decided I wanted that experience, too.” Kerkhof began calling other young mothers in her area and before long had a core group of young women interested in starting a club. New Design averages eight members. At a gathering late last fall at Kerkhof ’s farmhouse, the atmosphere was lively. There were lots of babies in arms, and in every nook and cranny, toddlers and young children were busy at play. Despite a few minor squabbles, the kids were having fun. When pizza was served, several children at a small table returned grace before digging in. Demonstrations of faith are a frequent and common denominator at most Extension Homemaker Clubs. Unlike club members in the old days, nearly all the members of New Design work at jobs outside their homes. But just as the women in O.N.O. used
ABOVE: Members of the New Design Extension Homemaker Club look through their lesson books. AT TOP: The club meets at the home of Lesa Kerkhof. LEFT: Sandcreek Township Extension Homemaker Club members: (front row from left) Jean Percifield, Nancy Fodrea, Kathleen Hendricks and Karen Busch; (back row from left) Sandra Fleetwood, Jo Ramey, Martha Gordon, Pat Clark and Marci McCauley.
to do, they usually leave the kids home with their husbands to get a well-deserved evening out. Friendships and fun are a big part of being in an Extension Homemaker Club, but as their mission states, they believe in service to others, and they take that duty seriously. Giving to their communities and the wider world is part of the members’ core values. Every club gets involved with charitable projects. Many clubs create “Puppy Pillows” for pediatric patients, which is a statewide initiative. Groups also have their own projects. The women in O.N.O make donations to Love Chapel, and the Sandcreek club always gives to the Cheer Fund and Salvation Army Angel Tree during the holidays. Last November, New Design members made plans to help a seriously ill young woman in their neighborhood by taking meals to her and running errands. A new state project, compiling an oral history to honor the 100th anniversary of Extension Homemaker Clubs in Indiana, is underway. Susanne
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Riehle, a member of Club 24 in Columbus, and vice president of the Bartholomew County Extension Homemakers Executive Board, is spearheading the effort in Bartholomew County. “The idea is to get members of clubs to talk about their lives growing up in this area,” Riehle says. “The focus is rural family life — although if the topic drifts, that’s OK.” Currently, 15 people have given their histories or agreed to participate. According to Riehle, a previous oral history of the IEHA, honoring 75 years, was published in the late 1980s and remains the most requested of all oral history collections at the Indiana Historical Society in Indianapolis. As they start their second century of good works in Indiana, Extension Homemaker Clubs, both rural and urban, savor their past for inspiration and history, but they enjoy the present and look forward to a vibrant future. They’ll keep learning new skills and forging new friendships, taking themselves and their families into the 21st century and beyond. *FI
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Farm Indiana // february 2014
Strength in Numbers (from left) Gordon Elsbury, with Betsy and Howard Downey
Gordon Elsbury shows the growth progress of a pansy plant. RIGHT: Warmth, sunshine and humidity help plants grow in one of several greenhouses at Elsbury’s Family Greenhouse.
Duck Creek Gardens and Elsbury’s Family Greenhouse bring synergy to their growing businesses By Paige Harden | Photos by Josh marshall
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In early 2013, lifelong Hope residents Betsy and Howard Downey felt a push to buy a property adjacent to their farmland. On the 25 acres of land, a business — known as Elsbury’s Greenhouse — had thrived for nearly three decades. By 2013, however, the greenhouse business, once owned and operated by Gordon Elsbury, wasn’t being used as a retail location by its current owners, and the greenhouses and retail building on the property were falling into disrepair. “Elsbury’s has always been such an important part of our community,” Betsy says. “We didn’t want to watch it fall apart.” The time was right to buy the property, says Betsy, who was a nurse for 32 years. One of the couple’s first decisions after making the purchase was to call Elsbury’s founder. “We knew we wanted Gordon involved right from the beginning,” she says. “He has so much great business experience, and he knows what has worked and what hasn’t. He also has a lot of knowledge about greenhouse management.”
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Gordon, now 70, had opened Elsbury’s Greenhouse in 1973. At the time, he still had a full-time job as a Bartholomew County 4-H educator. The business quickly grew, however, and in its best year sold 55,000 mums and 28,000 poinsettias. During its prime, Elsbury’s sold more than 1,000 choices of annuals, approximately 250 varieties of herbs and 500 perennial selections. People visited Elsbury’s from all over Indiana and even from around the country. But in 2010, hard times forced Gordon out of the business. He sold his property and figured his greenhouse business days were over. Until the Downeys contacted him. “I was really happy when Howard and Betsy called,” Gordon says. “They have given me a wonderful opportunity. It’s kind of like starting over.” The property, on State Road 9 in Hope, is now home to two businesses. Howard, 57, and Betsy, 56, run Duck Creek Gardens. They rent the greenhouses on the property to Gordon, so that he can operate Elsbury’s Family Greenhouse. The two families hosted a grand opening celebration nearly a year
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Farm Indiana // february 2014
Duck Creek Gardens Owners: Betsy and Howard Downey Business focus: Pick-your-own berries,
freezer beef and produce Location: 5073 N. State Road 9, Hope Contact information: (812) 546-2076 Year business purchased: January 2013 Children: Sons, John and Patrick
ago, on March 11, 2013. Gordon’s focus this time around is on poinsettias, spring plants, mums, herbs and perennials. To determine where to place their attention, Howard and Betsy examined the area to see what products were in demand and which were not being provided. They settled on an assortment of vegetables, such as tomatoes, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, assorted peppers, Brussels sprouts and locally grown freezer beef. The beef is raised by Howard’s brother, Wayne Downey, whose Down E Farms is within a couple of
miles of Elsbury’s. Customers can order beef by the package or by the quarter, half or whole. The cows are fed grass and grain, and no hormones or antibiotics are used to raise them. Betsy says the freezer beef portion of the business has already been a success. In the first four months they sold $3,000 worth of beef, and “beef sales continue to grow,” Betsy says. “We have people who drive from Shelbyville just to buy beef.” For now, the retail businesses are closed from January through March, but the owners hope eventually
Elsbury’s Family Greenhouse Owners: Gordon and Nancy Elsbury
Business Focus: Poinsettias, spring plants,
mums, herbs and perennials Location: 5073 N. State Road 9, Hope Contact information: (812) 546-2076 History: Gordon owned and operated Elsbury’s Greenhouse from 1973 to 2010. Recognition: Gordon was named the 1994 Indiana Grower of the Year by the Indiana Flower Grower Association. Family: Children, Ann and David Elsbury; grandchildren, Austin, Evan and Ben
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Farm Indiana // february 2014
to be able to keep the location open year-round. While the walk-in operations are closed, however, customers can still purchase beef by calling the main office number (812-546-2076) to place orders throughout the year. Betsy plans to sell farm fresh chicken eggs this spring, and in the fields surrounding the greenhouses, the Downeys have planted strawberries, raspberries, black raspberries and blackberries. They plan to develop a “you-pick” program, so customers can walk through the fields and pick their own berries. “Howard and I have always grown berries,” Betsy says. “As we looked at the community and what was not available, we thought that you-pick berries would be really popular.” While they have grown berries at their home for more than 20 years, Betsy says growing in mass quantities has its challenges. “We’re learning how to grow on a bigger scale for mass production,” she explains. “There’s a big difference from growing them in your backyard.” The Downeys have spent some time this past year going to conferences and seminars to learn about topics such as disease prevention and weed control. As a whole, business ownership has brought many lessons. “We’re going slow and learning from our mistakes,” Betsy says. Gordon says greenhouse management is complex. “There is so much involved that most people do not understand,” he explains. ”So much about inside growing is about the climate. There is just so much you have to understand about each crop. You can significantly manipulate crops through temperature and daylight.” Gordon has enjoyed helping the Downeys learn
We’re Telling the stories of
Local Farmers, Farm Families & Agricultural Businesses
august 2013 | section a
John Glick is known around Bartholomew County as both a farmer and a friend
story By sharon mangas photos By josh marshall
etired farmer and former longtime resident of Hope, John Glick, 73, has a sense of humor that’s legend in the area. Country magazine named him “America’s Number One Country Character” in 1991 — thanks to a nomination submitted by his wife, Jean, 72, who has been married to him since 1959. The title went to John because of his penchant for playing practical jokes on Hope locals, neighbors and even family members. Nephew Rory Glick, a Columbus funeral director, once farmed with John and knows his uncle well. “Uncle John loves life, loves to be around people … and he loves to tease,” Rory says. John and Jean Glick, with their
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Farm Indiana // february 2014
Betsy Downey and Gordon Elsbury
about the greenhouse business. “The Downeys are good people,” he says. “Over the years, we have helped each other out a lot. You know, ‘what is mine is yours’ kind of thing. They have always been good neighbors.” All told, Gordon, Betsy and Howard are optimistic about their new partnership. “We have good synergy,” Gordon says. “One could probably stand on its own, but together maybe we can make each other stronger.” *FI Buttercrunch lettuce
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Farm Indiana // february 2014
Help is on the Way
Local veterinarians help both new and experienced farmers care for their herds By Jeff Tryon | Photos by Josh Marshall
In the past 30 years, the number of practicing large-animal veterinarians has dwindled, thanks to the consolidation of large farms. The trend, says Dr. Rob Jackman of Jackman Animal Clinic in Milroy, has been toward “having fewer farmers but larger herds.” Which hasn’t exactly been bad for business. “Here lately, agriculture has been very promising and very rewarding economically,” explains Jackman, who grew up in the Jackman Animal Clinic operated by his father, Dr. Bob Jackman, in Milroy in southern Rush County. After attending veterinary school at Purdue University, he joined his father’s practice at the clinic in the 1990s. Business has been brisk, he says, because though the number of farms has decreased, the number of animals that need to be cared for hasn’t. And over the years, many livestock veterinarians saw the decrease in farms and got out of the large-animal business altogether, leaving more work for the few who were left behind. Dr. Steve Newton of Hope Animal Clinic began his career in 1985. Newton says he was one of those vets who decided to switch his area of focus to small-animal care. “We’ve really not been doing much livestock now for seven or eight years,” he says. “We kind of got out of that business, like a lot of large-animal vets did.” Veterinarians who are still working with local farms, however, have a clear view of the ever-changing landscape of the agricultural industry. And though Newton changed his specialization, the veterinarian and hobby farmer still sees plenty of ups and downs in the industry. Lately, some vets, like Newton, have noticed another new trend: Small farms and hobby farmers have begun to pop up all over Indiana. Many of these farms are being started by Hoosiers new to agriculture, some without even having grown up on a farm. For these green farmers, when their animals are sick, they need someone to call. Here, we spoke to Jackman, Newton and Dr. Larry Rueff, who started his veterinary practice in 1979 and formed Swine Veterinary Services in 1984 to work solely with pig farms, to find out a little about their day-to-day duties, as well as what they see on the agricultural horizon.
Dr. Rob Jackman
Large-animal vets are declining in numbers. Why do you think this is?
on a farm and raised livestock growing up. I just
consistently immunized and vaccinated with all the
had a great desire to keep going with it. It’s been
different types of vaccines we have. Sometimes the
Jackman: “The biggest thing is there are just
a pretty rewarding career. It took a lot of long,
smaller herds aren’t as adequately immunized.”
fewer independent farmers; the overall number
hard hours to accomplish it. I tell people I was
Rueff: “I think anytime people are new to the
of animals stays about the same, but there are
glad to go through it once, but I’d have to think
industry, it’s important that they have had a lot of
fewer and fewer herds. So there’s not quite as
long and hard before I’d go through it again.”
experience. … If they don’t have some experience
many (vets) needed as 30 or 40 years ago.” Rueff: “I think that a lot of times people are
more interested in small animal. They see that as maybe a better lifestyle, but we
What are some mistakes you see new farmers make? Jackman: “Typically, the larger herds are maybe more
think our lifestyle is pretty good, too.”
What made you decide to be a vet? Rueff: “I don’t know. I just kind of liked it when
the local vet came to our farm. It was always interesting, the things he did. I respected that and thought that looked like a pretty good career. Even though it’s changed a lot, and I’m not doing anything like the type of work I was doing all those years ago, it still worked out fine.” Jackman: “I’ve been around it all my life. I lived
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before they start out, they are potentially going to have some very costly mistakes, too costly for somebody just starting out.”
Farm Indiana // february 2014
Dr. Larry Rueff
Dr. Steve Newton
What are some health problems in livestock that require homesteaders and farmers to call a veterinarian? Jackman: “For quite a few years, the big push has
been for herd health and working on whole herd status; having adequate vaccination programs set in place. Unfortunately, when you get large numbers of animals together, the risk is there for sharing those bugs, diseases and viruses. A good vaccination program is ultimate in herd health of all species.” Newton: “Depending on what kind of operation
you’ve got, if you’re just a small guy that’s got a few head, you’d want a vet that would help to teach you some of these things. The days of vets stopping out there and taking care of every little thing are obviously gone. You’d want somebody who was educational and could help you put systems into place that would help you out. It’s been that way for a long time, but I think now even more so.” Rueff: “A lot of the things the veterinarian used to
do 30 years ago, we teach the producers how to do themselves, which helps to keep them from having to call us all the time. They want to call when they see something fairly abnormal from their day-to-
producer to call you than to let something go
health of the new animals is equal to or superior to
that could turn into something more serious.”
the animals that they already have. When the health
What kinds of things can vets teach farmers to do on their own?
Jackman: “We have a cow-calf farm with about 30
physically doing that, we do less and less of that.
head of cows, and we’ve got a feed operation
We’re consulting with them and telling them which
with about 1,000 pigs on feed. My children
specific type of vaccine to give and the timing of
are also involved in livestock showing, and we
it and developing those herd health plans. We
show cattle and hogs throughout the year.”
do training in how to give them. Some of those
Newton: “I’ve always enjoyed livestock, and so
vaccines are given in different routes, sometimes
we’ve got a few cows at my place at home. My
they’re taken orally, sometimes nasally and
daughter has had a few sheep projects; we keep
sometimes they’re injectable types of vaccines.”
a few of those. I am your perfect hobby farmer; I’ve got a job to do that makes my living, and
How often do vets make house calls these days?
I enjoy livestock, so I keep a few around.”
Jackman: “I’m there at least three or four times a
year, and (with) some herds I’m there monthly. With some herds I’m there every other week. As a general rule, vets are doing farm visits and
Rueff: “We’ve got a dog that we actually found in a
ditch several years ago and brought her home, and she’s been great. She healed up well, and she’s been a great dog. We were very lucky to find her.” *FI
consultation three or four times a year.”
What is the best way to ensure the health of your animals? Rueff: “The biggest factor is when they bring new
going on. Generally speaking, it’s better for the
animals onto the farm that they make sure that the
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>> Meg Leader named ISDA program manager Earlier this year, the Indiana State Department of Agriculture named Meg Leader as the new program manager for agriculture and environmental affairs. Prior to joining ISDA, Leader served as the conservation director of the Vermillion County Soil and Water Conservation District. Trained as a civil engineer, Leader graduated from Syracuse University and has worked on conservation projects throughout California and the East Coast, including wetland replication in New England and storm-water runoff design in Los Angeles County, before finding her way to Indiana. “The Division of Soil Conservation is pleased to welcome Meg Leader as our agriculture and environmental affairs program manager,” DSC Director Jordan Seger said in a press release. “Her extensive knowledge of conservation efforts throughout the United States, and experience with Indiana’s Soil and Water Conservation Districts, will serve our program participants well.” Soil conservation is considered crucial to the continued viability of agriculture, the press release went on to state. The department’s Division of Soil Conservation works with land owners and farmers throughout the state, offering voluntary conservation programs aimed at establishing best management practices and benefiting bottom lines. Leader, originally from a farm in upstate New York, currently resides in Terre Haute with her husband.
>> New ISDA director in office Ted McKinney took his position as the new director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. He was appointed by Gov. Mike Pence effective Jan. 7. “Ted McKinney is a well-respected industry leader with decades of experience in Hoosier agriculture,” said Pence in a press release. “As Indiana strives to grow and be innovative in agriculture, I am confident that Ted’s background, knowledge and passion for the industry will increase Indiana’s competitiveness and serve Hoosiers well.” McKinney grew up on a family farm in Tipton County and graduated with a degree in agricultural economics from Purdue University. He went on to work for Elanco Products Co., DowElanco and Dow AgroSciences. Most recently he served as director of global corporate affairs for Elanco Animal Health, a division of Eli Lilly and Co. McKinney has held leadership positions in the Indiana FFA, the Indiana 4-H Foundation and the Purdue Agricultural Alumni Trust Fund. He led the effort to recruit the National FFA Center and national FFA conventions to Indianapolis. Photos courtesy of ISDA
>> National FFA Week Thousands of America’s future farmers will converge — clad in those familiar blue corduroy jackets — in Indianapolis from Feb. 15 to 22 for National FFA Week, a convention dedicated to bringing FFA members, alumni and sponsors together to advocate for agricultural education and the organization. A variety of events will take place throughout the week, including teacher appreciation breakfasts, “Ag Olympics” competitions and service projects for current FFA members. For more information, visit www.ffa.org or FFA’s Facebook page. >> SUBMIT YOUR FARM NEWS TO US! Email briefs to email@example.com.
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february 2014 | Section B
A Sunny Future
Rob and Doris Morris have brought agriculture back to their family’s land By Ryan Trares | Photos by Josh Marshall
eminders of the past permeate an aging barn on the Morris family farm. The thick beams that support the structure were hand-cut more than 100 years ago from beech trees growing on the property. Rusted saws, drills and other tools hang on the wall, next to stalls that once housed 50 dairy cattle.
Less than 30 yards away, the future of the farm has emerged. The Morrises are the owners of Sunny Lawn Farms, a greenhouse and bedding
plant operation they began in 2001 that grows thousands of fresh petunias, begonias, lilies and freesias for distribution to local florists. Though their new agricultural focus differs from the dairy operation that was once housed there, every seed grown in the Morris family’s greenhouses connects back to a century’s worth of tradition. “It’s
The large red barn located on the Morris property was restored in 2001 with new metal siding. An Amish team completed the work, along with repairing the barn’s roof, the lean-to located on the back of the barn, and the installation of new doors. ABOVE: White plastic netting is used to support freesia plants.
the same place,” says Doris. “We have the same barn, live in the same house. We’ve just brought it along through the years.”
A Farming Tradition Begins The farm, spread over 80 acres east of Franklin, was originally founded by Doris Morris’ grandfather, Ennis Reynolds, in the early 1900s. Reynolds had married the daughter of a local landowner whose property extend-
Sunny Lawn Farms Address 1852 N. County Road 500E, Franklin Owners Doris and Rob Morris Children Son, J.D., and daughter, Roxi What A year-round greenhouse and garden center
selling bedding plants as well as cut flowers — lilies, orchids and freesias — to wholesale florists for weddings and special events. Hours 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9
a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Founded 1909 by Doris’ grandfather, Ennis Reynolds. Significance The former dairy farm has stayed
in the family for four generations. Doris’ father, David Reynolds, grew up on the farm, and when he married Carolyn Wright, they moved to a home adjacent to the farm. Rob and Doris bought the farm in 1988.
ed through much of Franklin and Needham townships. He and his bride, Roxy, were given a piece of land to farm as part of their wedding gift. Reynolds named his business Sunny Lawn Farms and started selling milk to local distributors. The family kept chickens, goats and beef cattle in the fields around the house. They grew corn, tomatoes and other produce in a garden. Everything the family needed to survive came from the farm. Reynolds had a barn constructed for $2,200 in 1911 to house dairy cows, and original parts of the structure are still in place. The building remains an important part of the family’s history, Doris says. Wooden pegs hold together the rough-sawn beams, and a sunken cement pit where the cows were tethered to be milked is still standing. The Morrises have replaced the rotting exterior wooden planks, instead putting up bright red metal siding to help protect the historic building. Her father, David Reynolds, grew up on the farm, and he remembers coming out in the early dawn to feed the dairy cows, milk the herds and clean out the stalls. During the summer, he helps his daughter in the greenhouses, relishing the fact that the family’s tradition has been maintained. “The fact that (Doris) has brought back agriculture to this land is almost overwhelming,” he says.
Farm Indiana // february 2014
Doris Morris holds photos showing the barn before repair work started in the spring of 2001.
A Greenhouse Operation Grows Stepping through the swinging glass door of a greenhouse, Doris is met with a balmy warmth suitable for growing plants, despite the bitter winter chill outside. Long-leafed freesias sprout through a gridwork of string, which supports the plants as they grow larger. She walks from plant to plant, checking on their progress. The freesias have been growing since before Christmas. “Once we get through the holidays, we’re right in the thick of it,” she explains. “It ramps up right away. The rule is to get everything ready in time for Valentine’s Day.” From that time on, the family’s three greenhouses will erupt in color throughout the rest of the year. Rows of yellow, pink and white lilies are harvested throughout the winter, spring and summer. Delicate pastel orchids and fiery red begonias catch the attention of customers as soon as they walk through the door. Doris’ flowers are used in floral arrangements sold from retail shops, but mostly they’re used for weddings. She also sells landscaping plants and pottings for commer-
Doris and Rob Morris
cial customers around the area.
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Beds of plants are separated into categories. Annuals such as geraniums and pansies are set up in one section of a greenhouse, while vegetables take up rows of tables in another. During the winter, Doris handles most of the care for the plants. Rob oversees the mechanics, ensuring that the furnace, heaters and distriThis past year, she provided all of the plants for downtown Franklin during the summer months. A separate section of the greenhouse houses her cut-flower crop, which she sells directly to a wholesaler in Indianapolis. “You have to be diverse,” she explains. “These days, that’s what it’s all about. If you don’t stay on top of it and go with what’s popular, people aren’t going to stay interested.” Doris grew up around the corner from the farm. As a little girl, she would cut
bution systems are all working. They have a heated bench that warms the soil underneath the plants, adding to the plants’ protection during colder months. But even though they have the tools and machines to ensure a balmy growing environment, they don’t always need them, even in the winter. “A good, clear day, you don’t even need the heaters,” Rob says.
through fields, past the faded red barn and into her grandparents’ kitchen for regular
Starting in early spring, Doris needs extra help at Sunny Lawn Farms, and the
visits there. After her grandmother died in 1988, she and Rob purchased the property
couple’s two children, 22-year-old J.D. and 20-year-old Roxi, help plant seeds. Doris’
to keep it in the family.
parents also help with arranging plants and transplanting bulbs. Other relatives have
Rob works full time as an engineer for Cummins. Doris stayed home to raise the couple’s two children, J.D. and Roxi, but once they were old enough, she wanted a part-time job. She started growing bedding plants, such as lilies and freesias, and she convinced her husband to build her the first of their now trio of greenhouses in September
helped as well. As the greenhouse business has grown, so have the opportunities to bring more people to the farm. Doris now offers educational workshops, teaching customers to create their own water gardens or planters. Some of the most popular workshops have focused on “fairy gardens” — ferns
2000. What started as a few flats of plants has blossomed into an operation that sells
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Farm Indiana // february 2014
families wanting an easy start in gardening. “Most of the plants we use are either slow-growing, easily trimmed or manageable indoors,” Doris says. “It’s really fun to see kids and moms, or kids and their grandparents come to work on them together.” Despite the commitment to agriculture on Sunny Lawn Farms, the homestead is much different from what Doris’ grandfather established in the early 1900s. But the fact that the Sunny Lawn name lives on is something her whole family takes pride in, she explains. “I get comfort knowing that my grandfather was working this exact same place,” Doris says. “It gives me a strong sense of belonging.” *FI
“You have to be diverse. These days, that’s what it’s all about. If you don’t stay on top of it and go with what’s popular, people aren’t going to stay interested.” —doris morris
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Farm Indiana // february 2014
Regional conferences and shows help farmers get a handle on their changing industry By Paige Harden
With harvest complete, winter is the perfect time for farmers to leave the farm to continue their education. Indiana county Purdue Extension offices host numerous educational seminars every year, and regional conferences provide a networking opportunity for agriculture producers. Here, a look at two of February’s biggest events.
National Farm Machinery Show and Championship Tractor Pull. Photo courtesy of Kentucky State Fair Board
National Farm Machinery Show » Browse more than 1.2 million square feet of indoor exhibit space with approximately 850 agriculture vendor displays at the 49th annual National Farm Machinery Show and Championship Tractor Pull, which takes place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 12 to 15 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville. Ryne Dunkelberger, communications manager for the show, says that each year more than 300,000 people attend. “We really have something for everyone, whether you manage a large farming operation or have a small garden in your backyard,” Dunkelberger says. “Our vendors represent every segment of agriculture, from equipment, to irrigation, to crop specialists and more. And almost every exhibitor that will be here is bringing something new to the table for the upcoming farming season.” In addition to visiting exhibitor booths, attendees also will have the opportunity to attend agriculture seminars with topics including the future of agriculture, robotic engineering, herbicides and pesticides, technology and innovations and agronomy. There also will be a live recording of the show “U.S. Farm Report” hosted by John Phipps. The national tele vision show airs weekly on RFD-TV, a 24-hour cable network focused on agriculture, equine and rural living. Dunkelberger says hundreds of children attend the show each year, including 4-H and FFA members. “It’s neat to watch the 4-H and FFA members because they are learning about the industry so they can begin their agriculture
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Farm Indiana // february 2014
careers,” he says. “It’s also fun to see the younger kids’ eyes light up when they stand next to a tractor tire that is as tall as they are.” One of the biggest attractions of the event is the Championship Tractor Pull. “It is the oldest, continuously run tractor pull in the country,” Dunkelberger says. “The tickets are an extremely hot item. You will see tractors that look like they just came off of the farm, and you will see modified tractors that don’t even look like a tractor anymore. The pull is a really fun event to watch.” Dunkelberger says the pull is not associated with any other pulls throughout the country, and participants are selected by a committee. “This is an invitation-only pull,” he says. “That means we get the best of the best here.”
Additional Upcoming Ag Events
For more information about the National Farm Machinery Show and Championship Tractor Pull, call (502) 367-5004 or visit www.farmmachineryshow.org.
Women in Agriculture » Another February conference is in response to a growing trend that has more women getting involved in agriculture. The 13th annual Midwest Women in Agriculture conference is scheduled for Feb. 19 and 20 at the Sheraton Louisville Riverside Hotel in Jeffersonville. Keynote speakers for the conference include Julie Clark, a professional speaker, author, success coach and founder of The Inspirational Coffee Club; Jason Henderson, the associate dean of the Purdue College of Agriculture and director of Purdue Extension; and Katie Stam Irk, Miss America 2009. Raised on a dairy farm in southern Indiana, Stam Irk was the first Miss America from Indiana in the 88-year history of the pageant. Conference topics include saving for retirement, expanding the customer base, property taxes and farmland assessment, financial success, health care options and more. Anna Morrow, event committee member and Franklin County Purdue Extension educator, says the conference provides a critical networking opportunity for women. “I think spending time with other women who are going through the same issues as you helps build crucial connections for women,” Morrow says. “I think women feel more relaxed in this type of environment and feel comfortable asking experts the tough questions.”
The Midwest Women in Agriculture conference registration fee is $150. For more information, visit www.agriculture.purdue.edu/wia. Morrow says the number of women-managed farms is growing across the country. “Women are so important in agriculture,” she says. “Not only are they doing the physical work on farms, but they are often the ones who hold the family together. Women are typically the ones who deal with the numerous emotional issues involved with family farms. This conference is one way we are making sure that women have the resources they need.” Morrow says the conference applies to all women in agriculture, no matter their age or area of agricultural involvement. “We really have something for all women,” she says. “The mission of the conference is to meet the needs of women in agriculture by addressing the personal, family and farm issues that affect their lives, their families and their farm business.”
Selling Products to Larger Buyers Webinar:
Starting a Farm Webinar: A beginning
A good relationship between buyer and
farmer must find financing, lease or buy
seller is crucial. Farmers must learn how
land, coordinate equipment, establish
to create the right sales agreement. This
a website and so much more, all while
webinar will also teach producers how
growing crops or raising livestock. This
to protect the farm business if things go
webinar will help beginning farmers
wrong. Date: 6 p.m. Feb. 10. Information:
understand the fundamental issues that
demand attention while the farm gets started. Date: 6 p.m. Feb. 25. Information:
The Indiana Small Farm Conference:
Scheduled for Feb. 21 and 22 at the Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds in
Adding Value to Farm Products Webinar:
Danville, the Indiana Small Farm Conference
Although starting a processing operation,
is now in its second year and will feature
improving packaging and developing
national topic experts on issues related
new products are great ways to make
to agriculture management, production,
the farm more profitable, these activities
processing and marketing. Speakers include
have a huge impact on legal parameters.
Extension educators and specialists from
Employment laws, liability potential, state/
Purdue University, agricultural industry
federal regulations and tax factors all
professionals and small-farm owners. New
change when a farm begins to process
to the conference this year are two pre-
product. Date: 6 p.m. March 10. Information:
conference workshops: growing organic
and dairy meat processing. The preconference workshops will feature a tour of Trader’s Point Creamery in Zionsville and Moody’s Meats and Processing in Ladoga. Participants will hear from the owners on topics such as production, processing and direct marketing to consumers. For more information, including how to register for the conference and pre-conference workshops, visit the Purdue Small Farms and Sustainable Agriculture Extension
Food Safety Liability and Regulations Webinar: Farm liability for food safety goes beyond the Food Safety Modernization Act. Learn all the latest on how farms can comply with the FSMA as it goes into effect and how farmers can protect their operations from liability in general. Date: 6 p.m. March 25. Information: www. farmcommons.org/webinars. *FI
Team website, www.ag.purdue.edu/ smallfarms, or call (888) 398-4636.
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Rhonda Brown, riding her horse, Cash, and Ann Bastin. BELOW, LEFT: Quadrille competition at Kentucky Horse Park, November 2011. BELOW, RIGHT: Bastin’s racehorse Ms. Smitty’s 2013 Champion Older Mare Indiana Sired award.
Farm Indiana // february 2014
‘Who Gets To Do This?’
Two Johnson County friends count life’s blessings—on horseback By Sherri Lynn Dugger photos by josh marshall & courtesy of ann bastin and rhonda brown
From Pepto to Proud
hey regularly break into song—more specifically, into the theme song from the 1960s sitcom, “Bonanza.” They giggle, share inside jokes and finish one another’s sentences with ease. They are friends who some might say are having the times of their lives these days.
And, if you ask them, Rhonda Brown and Ann Bastin will likely agree. After all, the
Johnson County horse owners and friends are self-proclaimed “bad a** cowgirls.” They have “big girl playhouses” (their RVs), which they often take on weekend camping trips with their other horse-loving friends. And, back at home, they each have barns filled with treasured equines. Life for Brown and Bastin is good. Really good.
Though they didn’t meet until much later, Brown, now 52, and 49-year-old Bastin each grew up with a love for horses. Brown recalls two Shetland ponies that lived across the road from her family’s home, and she spent all of her free time as a young girl “at the fence line feeding them grass,” she says. When she wasn’t outside with the horses, Brown was inside “drawing them,” she adds. “All I did was draw horse after horse after horse. It (the love for horses) was just there. You’re either crazy about them or you’re not.” As for Bastin, someday owning her own horse was long on her bucket list. “I’ve always loved horses,” she says. “I always wanted to have them. It was always on my list: I was going to have five acres and a horse.” Brown bought her first horse—Jenny, a Tennessee Walker mare—approximately 25 years ago. It was also around the same time that Brown and Bastin first crossed paths. In a tiny hair salon owned by Brown’s
SEND US YOUR UPCOMING AGRICULTURE EVENTS:
mother on Indy’s eastside, Bastin was a customer of Brown’s mother. There, she says, she would admire Brown, also a stylist at the salon, from afar. “I knew she had horses,” Bastin recalls. “I was so jealous.” Bastin wasn’t able to cash in on her dream until about 10 years later in September 2000, when she bought Buddy Bastin, an American quarter horse, who she said was “the best horse in the entire world.” Since those first purchases, the two have bought, raised and even bred more of the animals. Bastin now has eight horses in her barn, including a race horse named Ms. Smitty who has acquired a great deal of fame around Indiana. Ms. Smitty has her own fan club, which congregates on Facebook and in the winner’s circle after her racing successes. Brown has three horses — or two-and-a-half, she says, if you consider one of her horses is a miniature horse named Augustus. One of Bastin’s, Einstein, is also a miniature. Brown and Bastin reconnected around 2007 when Bastin called upon
Be sure to include a contact, the date, location and other important information. Email info to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ms. Smitty stands on Bastin’s property before leaving for Florida for training. INSET: Bastin and Brown, with Blu Moon and Cash, at JW Jones campground and trail in Gosport, fall 2011.
Farm Indiana // february 2014
Brown, who by then worked as a stylist out of her home, to do her hair. That year, they got to know each other better, occasionally going on rides and to training clinics together. Since those first rides, the pair, along with other women riders in their growing group of friends, has increased their outings to as many as 24 events each year — basically whenever they can fit the rides into their busy schedules. Over the years the two have become great friends. “We encourage one another if something comes up to unnerve us,” Brown says. Both Brown and Bastin admit to lacking confidence with their horses at times. As a new horse owner, Brown says she “read every little thing I could read about horses. There’s such as a thing as knowing too much. You scare yourself to death. You know every little thing that could go wrong. I got to that point. I read so much that anything the horse did had me worried.” And there were times when things did go wrong. Horses became sick with colic and had to be put down. Early on, Brown actually jumped from one of her mares who took off in a panic. The ground, she found, “was unforgiving,” and she came away from that ride with her confidence in riding considerably shaken. On other group rides, deer have jumped in front of their horses; foxes and wild turkeys have rattled the animals, and Brown says her riding horse, Cash, is definitely not a fan of gunfire. “We had a really good run up a mountain of a hill full speed to retreat from it (the unexpected gunfire),” she recalls. All in all, however, having horses has been a growing experience for both of the women. “It is a bit of an ego boost,” Brown says, “to take off on a wonderful, huge animal that trusts us.” “It (having horses) is a pride thing, a feel-good thing,” Bastin adds. “I was a city girl. I’d never even driven a truck, let alone hauling a horse trailer or back-
ing one up. I always picked her (Rhonda) up (to go on rides), then she got her own 24-foot RV, a big girl playhouse we call it. Then in another six months or so, she got a horse trailer, and she’s pulling her own horse like it’s no big deal. Now you talk about bad a**. That’s where you feel so good about this.” “It is a good feeling,” Brown concurs. “And it does translate into everyday life. I went from drinking Pepto (Bismol, for a nervous stomach) to hooking up and hauling my trailer to several campsites in southern Indiana. Ann has helped me to realize I can do all these things from haul my own trailer with horses to campsites, do quadrilles and parades and ride for hours in our state forests away from our busy lives, rather than stay in my own pasture riding.” “I may have a lot of confidence in myself, but when it comes to being confident on the back of a beast of burden like that (a horse), well, I value my brittle bones,” Bastin says. “Rhonda was very calm and very assuring and a wonderful friend to talk me off the ledge many, many times. She … helped me keep faith both in myself and, most importantly, in my horse.”
Recharging Their Batteries Typical days for the women involve working — Brown is an at-home stylist; Bastin is a managing director at YourEncore Inc. in Indianapolis — as well as taking care of their horses and tending to their families. Twice a day — rain or shine or freezing subzero temperatures aside — the women, often with the help of their husbands (Brown is married to Randy Brown; Bastin’s husband is Terry Bastin), feed the horses, giving them fresh water, hay and grain. They clean their stalls and, depending on the weather, allow the horses some time to graze. Brown has two sons, both of whom have married and now own homes in Indianapolis; her first granddaughter is due in May. Bastin and her husband have six children, all also grown, as well as seven grandchildren. Life can seem hectic for the women, but that doesn’t keep them from making
Rhonda Brown, left, and Ann Bastin
“I’ve always loved horses. I always wanted to have them. It was always on my list: I was going to have five acres and a horse.” —Ann Bastin
time for their horses. Brown and Bastin regularly participate in riding clinics to learn to better handle their horses; they credit instructor Michaella Walker for much of their training. They also participate in parades and charity rides to raise funds for local nonprofit organizations. In 2011, they put together a four-member team to participate in a drill team competition at Kentucky Horse Park. Then there are the day trips to Brown County for trail rides and weekend camping trips to Hoosier National
Farm Indiana // february 2014
Bastin, right, with Brown.
Forest and Deam Lake in southern Indiana. “On our trail rides we discuss how beautiful our horses are or how funny their personalities are,” Brown says. “We talk about our lives and our families’ lives, their ups and downs, twists and turns.” Bastin acts as organizer for the girls’ getaways, and she says she plans as many trips as possible so that the women can relax and recharge. On the trips “we can drown our sorrows and really and truly refresh our batteries,” Bastin says. “We are wives, mothers, grandmothers and grandmothers-to-be. We have parents who are aging, have aged, have illnesses, parents we have buried; we have siblings and their aging issues, and some with cancer who have died. We have children and their issues,
and we have full-time jobs.” Their trail rides give the women a chance to unwind and to appreciate all that they have in their lives. “We enjoy this sport of riding, of being out in nature with our horses and enjoying the cadence of their journey through the woods and over mud and stones and brush and logs,” Bastin says. “And all the while we are breathing fresh air. … We watch for new flowers, mushrooms, plants.” “Our number one phrase when we get out riding is: ‘Who gets to do this?’” Brown says. “How lucky are we?” Bastin asks. “We never forget how lucky we are that we get to do this.” The women take special care to prepare and enjoy “gourmet” meals while they’re camping. “We have nice meals every single time, breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Bastin says. “We just eat good. We have microwaves. We have campfires. We have refrigerators and freezers.” “We don’t rough it,” Brown explains. “All of that, at the end of the day, planning our meals and having our beer and having our special coffee,” Bastin says, “that is where we breathe and recharge so that when we come back, we can deal with our lives.” After their meals, the friends relax by the campfire, having positioned their seats just so as to enjoy the view of their beloved horses nearby. “We sit in our lawn chairs, and we’re not looking at the ocean,” Bastin says. “We’re sitting there looking at our horses.” “And we’re in heaven,” Brown says. *FI
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Farm Indiana // february 2014
Seeds of Thought Greenhouse experts offer advice for growing indoors By Shawndra Miller
aising plants in a greenhouse holds certain appeal for hobbyist and commercial growers alike. Whether used LEFT: Mike and Mitzie Salem of Good Nature Farm.
as an early start and late finish for produce, a setup for bedding plants
Photo by marcia walker
or a haven for specimen plants year-round, a greenhouse can be ideal. Free-standing, season-extending structures range from the high-end glazed window variety to a simple while many young plants are only happy within a nar-
hoop house made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pip-
row temperature range.
ing and plastic sheeting, with gradations in between.
Common choices for heating include propane, por-
Depending on the grower’s needs, a solarium attached to a home is an attractive option because it can serve the
table electric heaters and hurricane lanterns. Though a
dual purpose of both growing and living space.
heat source can cost as much as the structure itself, de-
Regardless of which type they choose, newcomers
pendable heating is a key investment. A backup genera-
to the world of hothouse growing often envision such a
tor and temperature alarms make for an even safer bet. Ventilation must also be a priority, says Salem. That’s
structure as a solution to many typical cultivation concerns. After all, the plants are protected from the ele-
and disease.” That’s because they typically house large
because even on the coldest days, an airtight green-
ments, ensconced in a climate-controlled environment.
groupings of one type of plant. Coupling a monocul-
house can reach 90 degrees if the sun is beating down.
What could be better?
ture situation with an environment that never gets cold
That spells disaster for the plants.
But the reality is typically more complex than beginners imagine, says Mike Salem of Freetown’s Good Nature Farm. He and his wife, Mitzie, specialize in
enough to kill off pests, it’s easy to see why a resident population might take hold. As far as siting, generally the roofline should run east
It’s a common scenario for startup growers or hobbyists, he says: “On a nice day in spring, you get ready to leave the house for your day job. You get the green-
greenhouse-grown bedding plants, perennials, annuals,
to west to capture the most light. If the structure is an ad-
house all buttoned up, nice and tight. But if no one’s
vegetable starts and hanging baskets, over three-fourths
dition to a home, south-facing is best. In either case, there
there to open the door at 1 (p.m.) or so, you’re going to
of which they start from seed.
may be trees or other buildings that block the sun.
There’s a lot to factor in when considering a green-
But once location is determined, Salem says tempera-
Some greenhouses have an auto-venting system
house: site, size, heating and ventilation. And that’s
ture control is the thing that requires closest monitoring.
with a sensor for determining when the temperature
not even taking into account the nuts and bolts of the
It’s also the hardest thing to get right. “Greenhouses are
climbs. While Salem thinks these mechanisms are ter-
growing medium, irrigation, fertilization and even pest/
great at gathering heat during the day but great at losing
rific (though expensive), anything with moving parts is
heat during the night,” he explains. In winter and early
likely to pose a problem eventually. The same goes for
spring, the nights are cold but days are often sunny. So
exhaust fans. “You’ve just got to be handy,” he stresses.
the thermometer inside the structure can fluctuate wildly,
The chief advantage of a mechanical ventilation system
“Retailers thrive on that ‘easy’ idea,” says Salem. But a greenhouse is actually a “wonderful place for insects
Getting Started » To purchase readymade greenhouses or kits: FarmTek (farmtek.com) and Harnois (harnois.com) are two reputable online sources. » To build a hoop house: Building a hoop house with a 2-by-4 base and PVC piping is a fairly simple prospect. Be sure to get actual greenhouse plastic, which is very heavy and infraredtreated so it won’t break down in sunlight as fast as regular clear plastic. » To cut costs: Stout recommends talking with local greenhouse growers to find out if they plan to switch out their plastic. If you are installing a 10-foot greenhouse, and your contact is pulling hundreds of feet of plastic because of a few tears, you’re sure to find a decent swatch of the material that you can use for a couple of years. » When to enlist a professional: If you need a greenhouse strong enough for snow load, you may require a professional’s design assessment. Alternatively, you must be available to rake snow off the structure (or only use it later in the season when snows are less frequent).
Farm Indiana // february 2014
“You’ve just got to be handy.” —Mike salem
is greater control over growing conditions. If a greenhouse is intended for year-round use, the equipment must be powerful enough to manage venti-
and enable the greenhouse to be used into the summer months as well.
lating during the hottest months of the year.
Despite the apparent finicky nature of greenhouse-
Less controlled but cheaper is a passive ventilation system. This type of setup typically relies on air move-
grown plants, one Johnson County farmer says he has found a way around these narrow temperature controls.
ment created by a series of vents along the roof and
Randy Stout, of Stout’s Melody Acres near Franklin,
walls. As the greenhouse heats, the warmer air rises to
says he rarely heats his 17,000 square feet of greenhouse
escape through the roofline vents, creating a vacuum
space, where he and his wife, Linda, raise vegetable starts
that pulls cooler air into the structure through the vents
and annual flowers for sale at farmers markets. The six
located near the ground. Another passive option in-
greenhouses also hold 40,000 tomato plants, 60,000 pep-
Linda Stout plants seeds in the basement of her Franklin home, which is used as a small nursery until the weather is warm enough to move plants into the greenhouse at Stout's Melody Acres. TOP: Rance Stout transplants seedlings into larger flats. LEFT: Randy Stout hefts a bag of soil. Photos by Josh Marshall.
per plants and other seedlings. Some are grown to maturity right there in the greenhouse, while others are planted out on the farm that’s been in the Stout family since 1918. Stout explains that when they started, they kept the greenhouse thermostat at 65 degrees at night. “We started running the math, and we couldn’t justify the heating cost for these plants,” he says. “The markup wasn’t there for us.” He began playing with the heat, and by trial and error found that he could get away with temps much lower than commonly recommended. He schedules two extra weeks for his early crops to make up for the slower growth rates. The couple gets the seed beds off to a good start by propagating indoors where it’s warm. Once sprouted, the seedlings are moved to the greenhouse. Stout finds that heat is only necessary when bedding plants are in the greenhouse — and even then, he aims for a frigid 40 degrees. “All the literature will tell you that you’ll have tall, leggy, spindly plants because of such cool conditions,” he says. “I think it’s because of our organic fertilization program that we have such healthy plants.” On the cooling side, he keeps the exhaust fans switched off until the internal temperature reaches 90 degrees in early spring when nights are cool. “Since we’re not heating as much at night,” he notes, “we want to store heat during the day.” In his operation, it’s not temperature control but fertilization and irrigation that are most closely monitored. In the early days of Melody Acres, all plants received regular doses of commercial fertilizers. But Stout ended up burning tender plants, and he found that going organic greatly simplified his program. He uses fish
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Farm Indiana // february 2014
emulsion in water, feeding each plant every time it gets a drink — which only happens “right at the point where it starts to wilt,” an exacting skill. “With organic fertilizers, you don’t have to worry about the roots or foliage on these little plants burning,” he says. “You can use the same fertilizer on the entire greenhouse.” As a bonus, he finds he doesn’t have to spray for insects or fungus in the greenhouse, because “a healthy plant will fight these off naturally.” But even before they hit the greenhouse, the plants must be germinated carefully. Growers can get plants off to a good start by using a sterile, light mix and planting only in new or sanitized containers. While some flowers require light to germinate, other seeds require darkness. Some do best with presoaking. Most prefer 70 to 75 degrees for germination, which is why the Stouts do this fastidious work indoors — even heated greenhouses dip below that during the cold
Marigolds begin to grow.
nights of winter and early spring. Seedlings are generally started four to 12 weeks before the last spring frost. The exact timing depending on factors like cold-hardiness, number of days until seedlings emerge and time from germination to bloom. For example, marigold seeds germinate quickly, and it takes about 10 weeks from germination date to get them to the bloom stage. To have marigolds in time for an April 21 sale, Stout says, you simply back up by 10 weeks and plant around Feb. 10. Meanwhile the seeds of certain other plants, such as coleus, take two to three weeks to sprout, so that must be factored into the equation. Regardless of the formula, successive sowings will enable a continuous stock of plants to sell or plant. At Good Nature Farm, early March is when the Salems begin sowing their seeds. To avoid chilling them during irrigation, Salem has developed a system for watering the flats. “In March the water’s really cold out of the tap, so we make a little bath for our seedlings.” Trays of water are exposed to the sun to warm them up, and the seedlings are given subterranean water, nothing overhead. This practice also protects against “damping off,”
Melody Acres Photo by Josh Marshall
which the small plants are susceptible to in cool, damp conditions. It’s a fungal issue that can cause the overnight collapse of entire flats of seedlings. When it happens, there’s nothing to do but start over. No matter what techniques are used within the greenhouse, one key thing must not be overlooked for those expecting to sell their product. “Figure out your market,” says Salem. That will determine what size greenhouse is required and what to grow within its walls. With all these considerations it’s no wonder he advises consulting with an expert before either building or buying a greenhouse. For reference he recommends the Ball RedBook, Volumes 1 and 2, an industry standard since 1932, now in its 18th edition. The Purdue Extension Service can connect new growers with a horticulturalist, but he also advises connecting with someone in the industry. “The best thing you can do is make friends with someone’s that successful,” he says. “Come talk to me or come talk to someone who’s been doing this for a while. *FI
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Farm Indiana // february 2014
New virus linked to
bee colony collapse DISORDER
By Geoffrey Mohan Los Angeles Times (MCT)
rapidly mutating virus has leaped from plants to honeybees, where it is reproducing and contributing to the collapse of colonies vital to the multibillion-dollar agricultural industry, according to a new study. Tobacco ringspot virus, a pollen-borne pathogen that causes blight in soy crops, was found during routine screening of commercial honeybees at a U.S. Department of Agriculture laboratory, where further study revealed the RNA virus was replicating inside its Apis mellifera hosts and spreading to mites that travel from bee to bee, according to the study published online in the journal mBio. The discovery is the first report of honeybees becoming infected by a pollen-born RNA virus that spread systematically through the bees and hives. Traces of the virus were detected in every part of the bee examined, except its eyes, according to the study. Commercially cultivated bees pollinate about 90 crops worldwide, a service valued at $14 billion annually. But those colonies have been collapsing, and scientists have attributed that devastation to a deadly cocktail of pathogens, as well as pesticides and beekeeping practices that stress the insect’s immune system. In California, the $3 billion almond industry spends $239 million annually to rent more than 1 million beehives, and that cost is escalating. Only about 5 percent of plant viruses are known to be transmitted by pollen, and fewer still have been known to jump from the plant kingdom to insects. That adds a complex layer to the forces driving colony collapse disorder, scientists warned. The tobacco ringspot virus acts as a “quasi-species,” replicating in a way that creates ample mutations that subvert the host’s immune response. That phenomenon is believed to be the driving factor of recurring viral infections of avian and swine influenza and of the persistence of HIV, the study noted. “They have a high mutation rate,” said Yan Ping Chen, a bee pathologist at the USDA Agricultural Research Service laboratory in Maryland and lead author of the study. “Because of their genetic diversity, we see a lot of host jumping.” The virus’ relative role in the demise of colonies has not been measured. It would be difficult to separate it from a cocktail of
pathogens and stresses negatively affecting bees, Chen said. “I want to be cautious,” Chen said. “The cause of colony collapse disorder remains unclear. But we do have evidence that TRSV along with other viruses that we screen on a regular basis are associated with lower rates of over-winter survival.” Indeed, the new virus, along with the welldocumented Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus, was correlated with colonies deemed “weak” due to a variety of stresses. It also showed a similar seasonal fluctuation — infection rates rose to a 22.5 percent high in winter, according to the study. Varroa mites, a “vampire” parasite, also were found to carry the virus but were not infected, leading researchers to conclude that they aided the spread of the virus within the colony. Whether the mites are more than a mechanical spreader of the virus, however, remains to be studied. Researchers also are uncertain about whether the infection persists without bees picking up more virus from visited plants, and whether the infected bees can spread the virus to otherwise healthy plants. “I’d be hesitant to proclaim that this virus is the cause of colony collapse, but it certainly shows the degree of our lack of understanding of the complexity of bee pathogen interactions,” said Randy Oliver, a biologist and beekeeper who has done similar research but was not involved in the study. Activists have raised concern about a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, which have been banned in Europe. A study last year linked the pesticide class with suppressed immune response and increased reproduction of viruses in bees. Another study found 35 pesticides and fungicides, some at lethal levels, in the pollen collected from bees servicing major food crops in five states, including California. But that study found neonicotinoids only on pollen from a single apple orchard. A separate study last year found that bees fed with high-fructose corn syrup, instead of surviving winter on their own honey, were
more susceptible to microbial pathogens and to the effects of pesticides. USDA and the Environmental Protection Agency scientists charged with reviewing the scientific literature last year found that pesticides, pathogens and nutritional deficits, some caused by a lack of natural forage, were the major contributing factors behind colony collapse disorder. *FI
“I’d be hesitant to proclaim that this virus is the cause of colony collapse, but it certainly shows the degree of our lack of understanding of the complexity of bee pathogen interactions.” —Randy Oliver
Mark Smith of Smith's Beekeeping in Edinburgh tends to his hives.
Farm Indiana // february 2014
By Clint Smith
By Clint Smith
Linda Van De Wege
A new Columbus bakery proves necessity is the mother of kitchen invention
or Linda Van De Wege, owner and operator of Free To Be Naturalee Bakery, the choice to transition to a gluten-free diet was, as it is for so many, a matter of necessity. Fourteen years ago, Van De Wege was faced with a life-threatening infection, rendering her with an immunodeficiency disorder. To help with her medical condition, she switched to a gluten-free diet but quickly found the products she tried she didn’t like very much. The solution to Van De Wege’s dilemma was simple: She started creating her own recipes specialized for her new health regimen. The resultant compilation of breads, desserts and other baked goods became the gluten-free foundation of the menu offerings at Free To Be Naturalee Bakery. Located at 903 Washington St. in Columbus, the bakery, which opened for business in September, specializes in an array of gluten-free products that offer new, health-minded twists on traditional bakery staples. Van De Wege, who says she owes her fromscratch cooking methodology to her mother, had moved with her husband, Larry, to Columbus four years ago. Soon after, the couple began attending the Columbus Farmers Market and selling her homemade creations there. “We … thought going into the farmers market here might be fun and help us get to know the people in our new community a little better,” Van De Wege says. About five months ago, she opened the retail bakery, inviting customers to enjoy familiar offerings they had come to recognize
from visits to the market. Van De Wege provides three basic breads and also lists sandwich buns, raisin bread, pumpernickel and artisan breads on her bakery checklist. But that’s just for starters. The bakery also offers English muffins, bagels and various quick breads (cornbread muffins, buttermilk biscuits, scones). There are also desserts: cakes, cobblers, muffins, bread puddings, pies, artisan pastries, cookies and brownies. “We have our own special mix of flours for our breads and pastries, which include some seeds and wild rice that we mill ourselves,” says Van De Wege. “Most of the things we sell in the bakery include ingredients not always available in most kitchens.” With a menu offering 34 varieties of granola, including key lime, chocolate peanut butter cup and Michigan cherry cocoa, she enjoys the challenge of creating new flavors of granola, and she looks to her family for inspiration. “My grandkids … love to give me ideas to see if I can create one for them,” she says. And Van De Wege plans to incorporate inspiration from her own childhood into the routine at her bakery. She recalls a bakery where she grew up in Grandville, Mich., which offered a “bread order” day. “Now that the New Year has arrived we plan to start a ‘bread order day,’” she says. On this day, bread order members will receive a discount for having a consistent order that can be picked up on a special day of the week. In addition to dietary quality, she prides herself on offering variety. If you don’t imme-
diately see something you’re looking for in the store, no problem: “We have the ability to create usually whatever (customers) ask for,” says Van De Wege, who’s also working to narrow down particular items in an effort to provide steady product lines for the walk-in store.
Free To Be Naturalee
Fluffy Fruit Pancakes Recipe provided by Linda Van De Wege
Combine and set aside: 1 cup brown rice flour ½ cup tapioca flour ½ cup teff or buckwheat flour 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal 2 teaspoons baking powder ½ teaspoon baking soda 1/3 teaspoon salt Whisk the following ingredients together: 1¼ cups buttermilk ½ cup crushed pineapple with juice (or more buttermilk) 2 eggs 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 2 tablespoons honey 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla Whisk dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. (Van De Wege suggests that for the best texture, let the batter rest in refrigerator overnight.) Fold in ½ cup chopped nuts and ½ cup blueberries (fresh or frozen). Over medium-low to medium heat, add butter to a skillet, thoroughly coating the bottom with hot fat. Pour batter into medium-size medallions, allowing each side to cook until both sides are golden brown. (You can also use an electric griddle, following the same cooking procedure.) *FI
Photos courtesy of Free to Be Naturalee
Farm Indiana // february 2014
Sundry Farm: Keeping Warm with Plans for Spring Sure, February is still well within the frigid marrow of winter, but for vigilant Hoosier gardeners, now is the time to set their sights on the eventual thaw. The stew-
Tips for This Year’s Garden When planning your garden this year, Bobbi Boos offers these suggestions:
ards of Sundry Farm, a family-owned and operated organic farm in Owen County, are busy with prepara-
To weather the temperatures:
tion and planning this time each year.
“We’ve had great luck with
“In February, we regroup, look at our seed sup-
kale and Swiss chard both for
ply, determine a plan for next year’s garden, includ-
wintering over and for tolerat-
ing rotation of plant families,” says Bobbi Boos of
ing the summer heat,” she says.
Sundry Farm. “(Then we) decide what seeds, soil
“In both extremes, growth slows
amendments and supplies we need.” Boos also points out that now is an ideal period to examine your tool inventory and scrutinize any needs
Rainbow Swiss Chard
way down, but the plants hang in there and thrive again as the temps normalize.”
for repair, such as oiling wooden handles, tuning-up tillers and sharpening blades. As an added bonus: Taking stock of supplies is not only a necessity, but it can also provide a mental pick-me-up when skies are gray and temperatures are below freezing. “Looking through
Grow something different: For an unconventional addition to your garden, Boos suggests peanuts. “I’ve not tried them,” she
the seeds is always a nice dream in these tem-
admits, “but I hear they
peratures,” says Boos. “The
used to be a commodity crop in
spring will come, and new
Indiana. I know some small local growers
have had good crops with them.”
abound again.” For perfect peppers: “We all know they take a long time to germinate and like soil temps of 70 degrees,” she says. “To speed up the germination time and get a head start on peppers, try soaking them for eight hours or so in a weak black tea solution. It softens the seed casing and lets the water soak in better.”
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4814 W Old State Road 46 Greensburg, IN 812-663-4020 • 800-241-4020 www.obermeyeragrigroup.com
4814 W Old State Road 46, Greensburg, IN 812-663-4020 • 800-241-4020 www.obermeyeragrigroup.com