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. See glick on a2
John and Jean Glick, with their daughter, Kathy.
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Farm Indiana // august 2013
glick // cont. from a1 John honed his sense of humor growing up on the family farm in Bartholomew County, located at the intersection of County Roads 500E and 900N, just south of the Shelby County line. From a young age, he helped out on the farm. “I drove a tractor when I was 4 years old,” he says. “Farming was a way of life then, not a cash enterprise like it is today,” he goes on to explain. “I remember sitting on a springseat on a horse-drawn wagon, watching the menfolk shuck corn by hand when I was 3 years old. They scooped the corn into corn cribs by hand, too. They didn’t have chemicals for weeding or fertilization. Our weed killer was a hoe.” Farmers “were self-sufficient,” he recalls. “We grew all our own food and raised meat animals. Every farm back then had pigs, cows, chickens and a big garden. The few things we didn’t have, my mom would barter for. She’d trade eggs for butter. About the only things I remember my parents buying when I was a child were sugar, flour and salt.” John has always had a great appreciation for the natural world. His favorite creatures growing up were tumblebugs. He appreciated their industrious, tenacious natures — qualities he is known to share. As a boy, he watched in fascination as tumblebugs rolled tiny balls of manure down dusty, gravel farm roads. Females lay eggs in these tiny balls, and the larvae feed on the manure. “I used to construct gravel ‘dams’ across the road to block their path, just to see if they’d go around them,” says John. “They’d work and work — sometimes for an hour — but they’d eventually find a way around the barrier and get back on track, and off they’d go. “They have GPS,” he says with a chuckle. When John says that tumblebugs are guided by signals from the Milky Way, it Storage bins and electrical boxes await the fall harvest, when they'll be put to use.
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Farm Indiana // august 2013
“I’ve had some boulders thrown in my path, but I’ve always found a way around them.” —john glick
sounds like one of his tall tales. But it turns out that it’s true. Scientists have studied the bugs extensively. After these industrious beetles roll up the manure, they do a “dance” to get navigational bearings from the Milky Way and then push their manure orbs in straight lines — sometimes for miles — before parking them and using the dung as a place to lay their eggs. Like a determined tumblebug, if there’s a roadblock in his life, John will tackle it. “I’ve had some boulders thrown in my path,” he recalls, “but I’ve always found a way around them.” After graduating from Hauser High School in 1958, he served as a tank driver and sharpshooter for the Army, despite being blind in one eye from a childhood fireworks accident. After his military service, John returned home to farm, working alongside his father and uncle. They raised corn, soybeans and wheat on their 550 acres. When farming didn’t bring in enough income to support his family, John branched out into home building and remodeling jobs for a number of years. He also purchased a backhoe and developed an agricultural ditching service, and for several years he worked as a manager for Hope Utilities, overseeing computerization there. He returned to farming full time after his father and uncle retired. “I was a tenant farmer all my life,” he says. “I farmed the family land, but I also rented acreage. One year my nephew Rory and I farmed 2,000 acres singlehandedly.” John was able to get by without hiring a lot of help by adopting no-till farming in the 1980s. “It was new at the time, and older farmers were opposed to it, but it’s much more economical and saves a lot of time,” he explains. “You save on fuel and man hours and the cost of buying tillage tools. The savings convert to a better bottom line.” John and Jean seem as different as night and day. He is an overalls guy, and she is stylish. He is outspoken, often blunt. She is soft-spoken. Despite their differences, they’re best friends and devoted to each other. “I was never the typical farmer’s wife who cooked harvest meals, canned or drove a tractor,” says Jean. “Once John called and needed my immediate help at the farm. A grain leg had stopped up, and soybeans were piling high. When I arrived he said, ‘Start shoveling!’ So, I, in my pearls and pantyhose, did my best, but was very poor help. … We’ve often chuckled about my lack of farming expertise.” Jean calls herself a “town girl.” She taught for the Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp. for many years and later worked as a technical editor for Cummins. She wrote a column for the Hope Star-Journal for years, and in 2003 she published a book, “Holy Smokes, Inspirational Help to Kick the Habit.” “I wrote that to encourage our
See glick on A4
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Farm Indiana // august 2013
Happy Birthday to Us » Farmers are hop-
pretty good about these days. With this
ing for big harvests
month’s issue, we complete our first full
this fall, thanks
year in print. We’ve met many wonder-
to this spring and
ful families along the way. We’ve visited
farms. We’ve attended breakfasts, lunch-
acts of kindness
es, dinners, fairs and conferences. We’ve
delivered to us by
learned a great deal, and we’ve had some
nature. If you ask
fun. I hope you’ve received some enjoy-
me, I think they’re
ment from our work, too.
going to get them. Last year at this
In this issue, we offer you more of the good stuff through interviews with farm
time, we were in the midst of one of the
families like the Glicks, the Hackmans
worst droughts the Midwest had seen
and the Weavers. We give you stories on
in decades. This year, we’re enjoying
the latest technologies available to farm-
blue skies, beautiful weather and near
ers and on soil conservation — both ever-
perfectly timed rain. Stand counts look
changing topics in the agriculture world.
good. All systems are a go. The corn that
And we have dedicated space to images
surrounds my property stands about
captured at this summer’s county fairs.
10-feet tall. It looks healthy and hearty.
we’ve been able to do this past year, and
— it smells terrific. All that is reason
I look forward to sharing many more
enough to celebrate, I’d say, though
years of Farm Indiana with you. As
we best not count our chickens before
always, I welcome your thoughts and
comments. And as for now, I’m ready to
an accomplishment that we around the Farm Indiana offices are feeling
daughter, Kim, to stop smoking,” says Jean. Kim, now 51, lives in Georgia. Kathy, their oldest, 52, lives in Indianapolis. Their youngest child, son Kerry, died unexpectedly of a brain aneurysm at age 41 in 2004. John has always been active in his community, serving in leadership positions on the Hope Town Council, the Hope Economic Development Board, the Volunteer Fire Department and the Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Board. He was also a Republican precinct committeeman for more than 30 years. John freely offers his gift for problem-solving to others. He says he enjoys helping friends and neighbors in need, and he credits his faith in doing so. “God’s always led me,” he says. One person who benefited from his largesse is Hope resident Kathy Walters. Shortly after his son died, John found himself helping Walters, whose husband had also passed away, get her family’s business, Air Support Medical Co., back on sound footing. “My husband died in 2004, and I was trying to keep the family business going,” Walters recalls. “John stepped in and helped out. He made a lot of needed changes at the plant. He has so much common sense and can figure anything out. … With everything going on in my life back then, I don’t think the business would have survived without John’s help.”
I hope you have enjoyed all that
And — if you catch a breeze just right
What I will do instead is celebrate
glick // cont. from a3
celebrate. Where’s the cake?
The experience helped him work through his grief over losing his son, he says. In 2006, health concerns forced John’s retirement from farming, and he and Jean moved to Columbus. It wasn’t easy for him to leave behind the career he loved best. The Glicks still own 270 acres of their original farm property, which is currently being rented. Despite the ups and downs, “I’ve had a lot of fun in my life,” says John. “I believe God created us and gives us everything we need to get by. Because of that, I believe that whatever man can imagine, man can accomplish. I love life, love my neighbors, and I believe in helping everybody that I can.” *FI
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Farm Indiana // august 2013
A6 Soil Conservation A8 Weaver’s Produce A10 Mike Mensendiek
B1 Steve Grubbs B3 Hackman Family B5 Obermeyer Agri Group
B6 Farm Technology Changes B7 Phone Apps for Farmers B8 Quick Bites: Tre Bicchieri & Local Market Roundup B10 Fair Photo Essay
Comments, story ideas and suggestions should be sent to Sherri Lynn Dugger, The Republic, 333 Second St., Columbus, IN 47201, call (812) 379-5608 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For advertising information, call (812) 379-5690.
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Farm Indiana // august 2013
Local conservationists work to help farmers better understand and care for their soil story By ed wenck
In the midst of the Dust Bowl — when severe dust storms in the 1930s caused major damage to farmland in the Great Plains — the U.S. government created the Soil Erosion Service as a researchdriven response to protecting land during extreme weather, as well as to educate farmers on proper dry land farming practices. That organization eventually morphed into the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which got its new name from the Clinton administration in 1994. According to Jordan Seger, the newly appointed director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture Division of Soil Conservation, those same old challenges remain. “Better understanding how to cushion the blows from extreme weather events like drought and flood is a challenge many in agriculture have recently given a lot of attention to,” he explains. “Our department and the Indiana Conservation Partnership believe building soil health is key to addressing this challenge.” Jennifer Vogel is the district conservationist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Jennings County. In Indiana,
nearly every county has its own office, and the district conservationist provides technical assistance to area landowners. The Jennings County conservationist is a local — you can find her married surname on farms nearby. “I was related to half the county before I got married. Now I’m related to the other half, too,” she says with a laugh. Vogel will travel to a farm or even a homeowner’s backyard to get her eyes on a situation when she’s needed, and she’ll give that landowner the lowdown on exactly what his problem might be and how to rectify it. “If there are erosion issues, sometimes you’ll get a wash, and we’ve got programs to help with that. … The main thing is providing that technical assistance,” she says. The erosion that created the Dust Bowl is just part of what she looks at though. That’s why the name of the department was changed to reflect the broader mission of the Conservation Service, which had to adapt with changing farming techniques. Vogel also offers advice on issues that the farmer might not
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be aware of: “(I talk) to them about their soil health: What kind of tillage system are they using? What kind of crop rotation are they using? What kind of nutrient management are they using? Are they only applying using a grid system? Are they using a blanket application across the field?” Improper methods could lead to more compaction or soil that’s starved of nutrients and, therefore, less yield. Pest management is another concern, she says: “How are they scouting their fields? Are they spraying based on an economic threshold?” Vogel also finds out how the farmer might be interacting with local wildlife. Every backyard gardener knows how much a critter that hops, runs or flies can devour over the course of a season. When it comes to tillage, Vogel — her title is “conservationist,” remember — recommends a no-till system, the eco-friendly style of planting that never involves ripping the earth open. “However, there are instances where a different method abso-
Farm Indiana // august 2013
lutely needs to be used. Mulch tillage is another (technique). … There are a lot of folks (who are) using a ‘minimum-till’ — basically, that’s a single pass that goes across very lightly. Very, very rarely do we have anybody that brings out the plow anymore. And that’s much better for the soil, and it’s a lot more efficient.” No-till farming also releases less carbon back into the atmosphere. Tearing a deep furrow into the land opens the door for natural emissions, and when tilling equipment isn’t being run, emissions from those machines aren’t being pumped into the sky, either. “No till and cover crops have been shown to improve a farm’s bottom line and benefit both water and air quality while building soil health,” says Seger. “Adoption of cover crops is quickly growing, especially in Indiana, but … adoption of no till remains a challenge.” Tom Gasper and his family started experimenting with notill techniques 20 years ago, but he still sought Vogel’s expertise on cover crops. Their meeting of the minds yielded a strategy in which Gasper uses a blend of cereal rye, oats and radishes for cover. While the cover added much-desired organic matter to the top of his fields, Mother Nature caused a bit of an annoyance this year. “With all the rain we’d had, it took us a little longer to plant since (the cover crops) made the soil a little looser and held that moisture,” he explains. The Gasper Farms Partnership (composed of Tom and brothers Dan and Jim along with some other family members) raises corn and soybeans, rotating in a bit of wheat. Ninety to 95 percent of their crops are planted without tilling their Jennings County acreage. When it comes to cover crops, Vogel makes it clear she operates only in an advisory capacity: “We provide … guidance on those things. We don’t dictate anything,” she says. “It’s all voluntary. We don’t charge anything for our services because (we are) a branch of the government, and you pay for that with your taxes. We’ve got a wide variety of cover crops we can recommend, whether they’re trying to provide forage for their livestock, whether they’re trying to improve the organic matter in their soil or use cover crops to reduce or prevent any erosion on their field.” Vogel has found that most farmers have adopted the crop rotation strategies that appeared as another solution to the kind of field decimation so prevalent during the Great Depression. “Very rarely do I run into a producer who wants to run a continuous corn or a continuous soybean crop,” she says. “I know that some of those folks are still out there — because I know that in some of the other counties, I’ve seen that — but for the most part, the majority of the farmers nowadays are doing such good jobs. … They’re really working to make their farms better than how they received them. They understand the importance of rotations not only in regards to breaking pest cycles and working with commodity pricing, but also in
adding diversity and improving that soil health.” As far as the chemicals that growers applies to their fields, Vogel finds that farmers are educating themselves properly when it comes to using those products. “If they’re unsure, they’re working closely with their farm suppliers,” she says. “There are several folks that might not have the time or the money to do that spraying themselves, so they’ll hire that out. Generally, they don’t just call and say, ‘Hey, this field needs done.’ They’ll talk to the supplier about what kinds of pests they’re dealing with, what kind of weed pressure they might be having.” Vogel’s office can act as a third-party consultant to ensure that the right spray is being used for specific issues. Seger believes that Indiana is especially forward-thinking when it comes to soil conservation overall. “Indiana has a unique partnership of local, state and federal conservation entities that leverage resources and share a common goal of promoting con-
servation,” he explains. “This structure is not found in many other states. In many county USDA service centers (in Indiana), local, state and federal partners all work under the same roof.” This is exactly the case in Vogel’s office. “The Indiana Conservation Partnership is always looking for areas to improve,” Seger says. “ICP projects like the Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative (ccsin.iaswcd.org) have established multiyear partnerships with private farmers and university research sites across the state. ICP staff (members) are pulling hundreds of soil, tissue, biomass, moisture, corn stalk and soil health samples from fields representing the wide range of Indiana topography and soil types. These samples will be pulled from these same fields over the next three years with the goal to better understand and quantify how different management practices can help to build soil health and in turn improve farm economics and the environment.” *FI
“Indiana has a unique partnership of local, state and federal conservation entities that leverage resources .... This structure is not found in many other states.” —jordan seger, Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture Division of Soil Conservation
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Community-Minded Jeremy and Christa Weaver find new ways to reach people who want to eat healthily
story By ryan trares photos by josh marshall
or the past 12 summers, the Weaver family has set up its farm stands along State Road 44 to sell produce. Family members stack freshly grown tomatoes, green beans, peppers and cucumbers in piles close to the road between Shelbyville and Franklin. Most of the space is reserved for ears of sweet corn, picked that morning, to entice travelers passing by to stop. In previous years, the Weavers have relied on their customers to come to them. But they now more easily connect with other producers and hungry families in Johnson County through the Internet. Through their business, Weaver’s Produce, Jeremy and Christa Weaver have started their own community-supported agriculture initiative. In addition to selling at farm stands and farmers markets, the couple is offering customers the chance to go online, order the produce they want from the available stock and pick up their packages once each week. The aim is to take the guesswork out of shopping for farm-fresh produce, while ensuring a steady commitment of sales throughout the year. “It’s the supermarket, one-stop-shopping mentality,” Jeremy says. “You’re trying to cater to them (customers) (and) make us as easily accessible as possible.” On a rapidly warming summer morning, employees at Weaver’s Produce go to work collecting the day’s load of fruits and vegetables. Christa helps stake and twine tomato plants as they grow taller. Jeremy checks for weeds, digging and pulling at the soil to keep undesirable plants from stealing nutrients from their prized crops. Even the youngest Weaver, 2-year-old Ella, helps. “She’s my strawberry-picker,” Jeremy says. “She can get right between the rows and get them, though she eats a lot more than she picks.” Jeremy and Christa are both lifelong residents of the Needham area. Christa was raised on land straddling the Johnson and Shelby county lines. Her family has been farming that land since 1826. “We have the original sheepskin deed to the farm, signed by John Quincy Adams,” Christa says. “So we’ve been here for a while.” When Jeremy joined the family in 2001, he started helping his father-in-law, John Carson, to raise thousands of acres of corn and soybeans. Jeremy still works with Carson on the family farm in Needham, where he and Christa also live. Jeremy also uses a small chunk of acreage to
Jeremy Weaver stands with his wife, Christa, daughter, Ella, mother-in-law, Bev Carson, and father-in-law, Kevin Carson.
grow produce to supplement his family’s income. Carson initially gave the Weavers one acre of ground to grow sweet corn. Growing produce ranging from strawberries and beets to zucchini and potatoes, in addition to the corn, the Weavers now plant more than 20 acres of vegetables on the land, which they rent from Carson. Anything that the Weavers don’t grow, they work with other small farms in the state to get. “I source from guys who grow the same way I do,” Jeremy explains. “We’re not organic, but we try to use the minimum amount of chemicals and spray as little as possible.” The operation has been successful in recent years, with the produce sold at farmers markets and along the roads serving to supplement the income that comes from their larger farm operation. But last year’s drought and unusually hot summer revealed ways the family can improve the buying experience for their customers. “For someone to stop at our stand when it’s 105 degrees and stand there picking out produce, it’s a little tough for people to do that,” Jeremy says. “If I can have them choose from everything we sell beforehand, I can have their produce for them at one location.” Prior to starting their own initiative, Jeremy and Christa had watched the rise of popularity in community-supported agriculture over the past decade. Nearly 300 Indiana farms participate in the practice, which asks customers and clients
Weaver’s Produce Owners: Jeremy and Christa Weaver Where: Needham Founded: 1998; working land established by Christa Weaver’s family in 1826. What: Sweet corn, tomatoes, green beans, carrots, onions, potatoes, lettuce, peppers, cucumbers, celery, zucchini, beets, turnips, cabbage, eggplant, squash, strawberries, peaches, watermelon, cantaloupe, pumpkins and gourds. Stands: 3080 N. Morton St., Franklin; 816 E. Broadway St., Shelbyville. Farmers markets: 8 to 11 a.m. Saturdays through Oct. 5, downtown Franklin; 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays and 8 to 11 a.m. Saturdays through Oct. 5, downtown Shelbyville Community-supported agriculture: Weaver’s Produce will be accepting shares throughout the summer for its fruits and vegetables, as well as meat and dairy products. Cost is $30 per week for a full share, and $15 per week for a half share. To sign up, go to weaversproduce.com/CSA.
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Farm Indiana // august 2013
Weaver walks among the green beans planted at Weaver's Produce farm in Needham.
to pay a flat weekly rate to own a full share ($30 each week) or a half share ($15 each week). The amount of produce customers receive depends on the share they purchase. The Weavers teamed with a software operator, FarmiGo, to organize and track their online sales. Every Wednesday, customers can go online to see what is available. Then, on the following Tuesday, Jeremy and other employees pick the produce, package it and deliver it for pickup, either at their farm stands in Shelbyville and Franklin or at the Weaver farm in Needham. The couple also stops at the Franklin Active Adults Center as a part of their regular delivery route, so they can give area seniors an easier way to get fresh food, Jeremy explains. “We’re trying to get like-minded people who want to eat healthy,” he says. “We’re looking into teaming up with local fitness centers … as well.” While venturing into community-supported agriculture, the Weavers are also bringing in other technological advances to help bring the farm business into the 21st century. They have started accepting credit cards, using iPad-based programs to swipe cards right at the stand. The programs also allow them to take food assistance cards such as the SNAP service and Women, Infants, Children program. “We’re hoping to reach an entirely new generation with this,” Jeremy says. “And it’s going to make it easier for us. Record-keeping will be much more streamlined. I can check during the day if we have enough produce and adjust what goes where based on the sales.” For a traditional farming family, the high-tech concepts can seem foreign. But the Weavers have decided to give it a try this year to see what the results are. “I guess we’ll know this year if it’s expanding things or just keeping up with the times. I don’t know if it’ll be better or not,” Christa says. *FI
Farm Indiana // august 2013
Mike Mensendiek has made a name for himself as a busy auctioneer
story By jon shoulders photos by josh marshall ABOVE: Mike Mensendiek makes one last call for a bid before declaring an item sold.
American writer and novelist Alex Haley once said, “Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.” Mike Mensendiek is a true testament to this pearl of wisdom. While growing up on a farm in rural Bartholomew County, Mensendiek often spent time playing cards with his family. Noticing the dynamic way in which the youngster would auction off his cards during rounds of Michigan rummy, Mensendiek’s grandmother proffered some good advice. “She said ‘You should be an auctioneer,’” recalls Mensendiek, now 45. “I was about 12 years old at the time, and I guess I always kept it in the back of my head.” With 24 years in the auction business now on his resume, he runs Mensendiek’s Auction Service, where he juggles a busy schedule of on-site farm and estate auctions while hosting a consignment auction at his event center in Jonesville every second or
third Sunday of each month. During each event, three auctions take place simultaneously. Just outside the main building, farm equipment, cars and garage items go up for sale, while inside, folks bid on antiques, collectibles, specialty items and common household goods. Items are paraded on and off the stage quickly, and sales often happen every 20 to 30 seconds, with Mensendiek’s rapid-fire bid calling leading the proceedings. Because Mensendiek grew up on a farm, auctioning off farm equipment has “become my forte,” he explains. “If someone retires from farming and doesn’t need their equipment and tools, they contact us to liquidate everything.” Once a year, on the first Saturday in April, he holds a farm machinery and equipment auction at his parents’ house in Jonesville, an idea his father had 24 years ago to help spread the word about the new auctioneer in town. The annual farm sale has grown from 150 buyers to hosting approximately 1,000 buyers at this year’s event. Mensendiek attributes the growth in the auction’s popularity to his building a steady local presence and to the impact of the Internet. Mensendiek regularly updates photos of upcoming sale items on the Web, which he says has helped the turnouts greatly. “People even bring their laptops to the auctions; they look on eBay during a sale to see what items go for,” he explains. A first-generation auctioneer, Mensendiek wasted no time getting started in the business. While taking pre-licensing courses at the Indiana College of Auctioneers in Columbus and working at a tool and die shop to save money, the then-21year-old quickly joined the Indiana Auctioneers Association (IAA) where he would later serve as president in 2010. Every week, he took the time to attend local auctions where he would diligently take mental notes on the surroundings, the types of items for sale and most importantly, the bid calling process. Shortly after passing the state licensing exam, his calendar slowly began to fill up with on-site auctions, a service that
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Farm Indiana // august 2013
LEFT: A 1916 newspaper clipping hangs in the Mensendiek's Auction Service building. BELOW: Jayne Hege spends a Sunday afternoon bidding. BOTTOM: Mike, with his mother, Imogene, who works as his cashier.
remains his company’s specialty to this day. Mensendiek says the IAA is an invaluable resource for new auctioneers. “If you’re just starting out, by joining the association you can go to the meetings and find other auctioneers in the state of Indiana outside of your local area who might need help,” he explains. Jack Christy, president of Christy’s of Indiana Auction Gallery on Indy’s southside, is one such contact Mensendiek made in his early days. For the past six years, Mensendiek has helped run Christy’s Wednesday auctions. “Mike is a natural leader in our industry,” Christy says. “He is very knowledgeable about current prices and trends in the marketplace. He seems to be able to get more monies for the consigner or estate than any of the auctioneers on our team.” Mensendiek also serves as an instructor at the Reppert School of Auctioneering, a nationally recognized auction education provider located at the Christy’s facility. The Reppert School offers pre-licensing and continuing education courses. Mensendiek’s wife, Myra, and their three children, Nathan, 19, Emma, 14, and Anna, 11, help out at his auction site and occasionally with item pickups. The kids haven’t yet expressed an interest in following in dad’s career footsteps, but he says that could change over time. “I think it’s because they see all the stress of setting up the auctions and my time on the road,” he says. “I put 25,000 to 30,000 miles a year on my truck running around the surrounding counties doing pickups and on-site sales. You have to have a passion for the auctions themselves to be up for doing all the work that goes along with it.” When it comes to the linguistic art of bid calling, for Mensendiek it boils down to a combination of product knowl-
edge and constant practice — a combination that won him the IAA Bid Calling Championship in 2002. He says attending auctions on a regular basis to observe and network is beneficial both for those new to the game and for seasoned veterans. The devotion to his craft doesn’t end when he steps off the selling block, either — even while taking a walk or riding alone in his truck, he prefers to practice the subtleties of his on-stage chanting instead of more common pastimes like whistling or singing. “The thing I enjoy the most, that I got into this business for, is the bid calling itself,” he says. “When I take that auction block and start selling, that’s when the stress kind of goes away.” *FI
For more information on Mensendiek’s Auction Service, visit www.auctionsandrealestate.com.
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august 2013 | Section B
Steve Grubbs and his sister, Barbara Livesey.
Steve Grubbs keeps bees and grows garlic on his Brown County property story By jeff tryon photos by josh marshall
Garlic hangs in the kitchen waiting to be used. Grubbs says storing garlic this way is better than in a refrigerator.
Steve Grubbs always liked garlic, but his life changed in 1991 when he rolled into the little western town of Alamosa, Colo., and met up with a guy who called himself the “Garlic King.” Now Grubbs devotes a considerable amount of his time and attention to the propagation of this ancient and mystical bulb on his Brown County farmstead. One early October day, Grubbs says, he stopped at a farmers market in the small south-central Colorado city on the edge of the San Luis Valley, where he encountered the self-professed king. “I started talking to the Garlic King and telling him how much I loved garlic,” Grubbs says. “And he says, ‘If you want to grow garlic, take these bulbs home, and as soon as you get home, plant them.’” “I thought, ‘Now?’ It was October 10th.” Grubbs was surprised to learn he could plant the bulbs in the fall, that they would freeze over the winter and still grow the following March. “Like a lot of bulbs, it favors the cool soils,” he explains. Grubbs says he still propagates that first variety he received in Colorado, but since he neglected to ask its name, he just refers to it as “Alamosa.” After planting those first bulbs, Grubbs made contact with a garlic grower in central Oregon, who offered a catalog of 40 or 50 varieties of garlic. From that catalog, Grubbs randomly selected a dozen or so to plant. Of the 12 types of garlic he still propagates, eight
of them are from that original source, he says. He now grows about 40 or 50 bulbs each of those 12 varieties, a crop of about 600 or 700 bulbs a year. “Garlic is so forgiving, but it does have its tolerances, depending on where it’s from,” he says. “I had some that were susceptible to worms, disease or rot or mold, or wouldn’t store very long,” he explains. Grubbs says he normally plants garlic cloves during the last half of October and harvests bulbs at the end of June. If he leaves the bulbs in the ground, instead of harvesting them for a season, he says, multiple plants will sprout the following year. At harvest time, he carefully digs out the bulb before it completely dries out and while there is still a little green in the top leaves, trying to leave the roots intact. He bundles the bulbs and hangs them from the rafters of the porch to dry and cure for about five weeks. “I’m really particular about how I cure it, because that’s going to affect the storability,” he says. “If I can get a good cure on it, I’ll be able to store it for almost a full annual cycle.” Once the bundles have dried out, Grubbs brushes them clean and removes any loose sheathing while trying to maintain as many layers of the natural packaging as possible. The softneck varieties, which offer smaller bulbs and grow faster than their hardneck cousins, get braided
See grubbs on b2
Grubbs' Brown County home
Farm Indiana // august 2013
1. Bees enter and leave one of the seven colonies Grubbs maintains on his property. 2. Grubbs crosses the bridge to his sister's house next door, where she moved after she retired and returned to Indiana from New York. 3. Honey and eggs, displayed with evening primrose and larkspur flowers. 4. Clothes dry on the line.
grubbs // cont. from b1 together for storing. The hardneck garlic, usually hardier, is rebundled in batches of 10 and then suspended in a dark hall closet to store for longer time periods. Grubbs says he’s more of a hobbyist than a farmer. “I’ve never really done it for the money; it’s all for fun,” he explains. “I enjoy sharing it with people. I have an extended family, and everybody eats garlic, so I’m responsible for keeping everyone healthy.” The aromatic bulb has been used for medicinal purposes for 4,000 years in China and at least since the pyramids were built in Egypt. Hippocrates and Galen both mention using garlic to help with parasites, respiratory problems and poor digestion. Greek and Roman soldiers used it for its anti-bacterial properties, and garlic was used as an antiseptic and to prevent gangrene as late as World War II. Because garlic is high in vitamin C, it is effective against scurvy, and it also enhances the body’s absorption of thiamin, reducing the occurrence of the disease beriberi. “I consider it a general tonic,” Grubbs says. “The more garlic the better. It’s a blood conditioner, blood tonic, antioxidant, and it’s really great for the cardiovascular system. Being a root crop, there are micro-nutrients, trace elements and minerals in it that are not always available in store-bought foods.” But mainly, Grubbs likes to eat it,
whether in the form of an egg poached with freshly minced garlic for breakfast, salads laced with the tasty nuggets for lunch, or a chicken roasted with “as many cloves as I can stuff into it” for dinner. With a heavily urban background (he grew up on the eastside of Indianapolis and worked as an urban planner before moving to Brown County), Grubbs says he returned to the land gradually. “Like a lot of folks from my generation, we weren’t but one or two generations off of the farm,” he says. “I had a grandmother who still lived on the remnant of a farm, and we’d go out every Sunday, and I just loved being in the creek and hanging out with horses and cattle.” Grubbs, who says he never lost his love of being outdoors, enjoyed his work with inner city neighborhoods, “but I never could get it out of me, my love of the outdoors and wanting to have a lifestyle that’s a little more embracing of the outdoors,” he says. He and his wife, Vera, eventually bought a piece of land in Brown County in the 1970s. One of the first projects he undertook when they moved to the property was raising honey bees, and these days he still keeps about 10 hives. For over 20 years Grubbs has maintained the observation hive at the Nature Center in Brown County State Park, which
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he sets up every spring by getting a queen and “a couple of frames of bees and brood” from a strong colony and carefully introducing them to the double-sided glass enclosure where generations of children have gotten their first peek inside a real bee hive.
a red-gold, what I get off this early season stuff,” he says. “That’s why I call my honey ‘Heartwood Honey.’” He says the bees work on quite a range of different plants, depending on the times of year. They mostly do their work in the
“I’ve never really done it for the money; it’s all for fun. I enjoy sharing it (garlic) with people.” —steve grubbs
The honey that Grubbs’ bees produce has a distinctive quality caused by where the bees find their raw materials. “The majority of the landscape is forest,” he says of his property. “Probably the bulk of the nectar flow that I get is in April, May and June, and that coincides with the heavy forest bloom, and most particularly, the tulip poplar.” These trees usually bloom — producing enormous flowers with large amounts of nectar — for about three weeks. “It’s high times for them (the bees),” he says. Grubbs says the tree-based honey tends to be a little darker than the common golden-colored clover honey. “It’s almost
meadows. “There are a lot of upland meadows and pastures where wildflowers grow,” he says. “So there’s a whole succession of plants going throughout the year. The bees collect every drop right up and through the red asters that bloom at the very end of October. Then they winter over in their hives. “The whole idea is they’re always working on a surplus,” Grubbs says. “My job as a beekeeper is to try to give them the best conditions possible so that they’ll produce a huge surplus, and I’ll take some of it. But I have to look after the needs of the bees, and a strong colony is going to need probably 30 or 40 pounds (of honey) for the winter.” *FI
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Farm Indiana // august 2013
Fruits of their Labor Watermelons remain constant focus for the Hackman family Story and photos by Marcia Walker
(from left) Mick Hackman, Daphne Waskom, Brady Waskom, Caden Waskom (in front), Gary Hackman and Cathy Hackman.
our generations of Hackmans scramble into the family’s pickup for the ride to the watermelon and pumpkin fields that stretch behind their home. They are heading out to check the progress of their crops. The youngest, Caden, is 6; the oldest, Marvin, who is better known as Mick, is 85. Regardless of age, all have roles to play in the family’s farming operation, spread out over the sandy soils of Driftwood Township in southern Jackson County. Mick has turned much of the work over to his son and daughter-in-law, Gary, 60, and Cathy, 57. But when it comes time to plant in the spring or harvest in the fall, all hands are needed, and it’s Mick’s job to drive the tractor. In the spring, Mick’s 10-year-old great-grandson, Brady, rides on the back of the tractor, placing the watermelon plants in the plant setter. It’s a task he describes as fun. But Brady admits his other job — stringing the vines — isn’t as fun. Watermelons are planted on black plastic, which holds heat and promotes faster growth. Brady’s task is to walk the rows, corralling the sprawling vines with a hoe and gently coaxing them back onto that plastic. His grandfather, Gary, is meticulous about how the fields are maintained and how the plants are handled. The vines have to be moved gently with the leaves facing down. Gary’s grandson, Caden, also has a role pulling weeds. Like most Indiana farmers, the Hackmans do grow corn and soybeans, 100 acres of each. But this stretch of sandy, well-drained soil between Brownstown and the Muscatatuck River, bisected by State Road 135, is known for watermelons, and those, along with pumpkins, are what the Hackmans grow best. They dedicate 15 acres to each. “We don’t farm that much or grow that many compared to some of the other growers, but I think Gary has farming in his blood,” Cathy says of her husband. “Gary doesn’t want to put out more than what he can handle or what the family can do.”
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Farm Indiana // august 2013
The family has grown melons for the wholesale market for generations. Some of the ground the Hackmans farm today was farmed by Mick’s father and grandfather; Mick’s father’s primary focus was cantaloupes. “At one time, there were 37 growers in Jackson County, growers of melons,” Mick says, adding that he and the local Purdue Extension agent at the time sat down one day and counted them. “Today there are just seven or eight.” Gary cites several reasons for the decline in melon growers, including difficulty in finding help. He says with school starting earlier, younger workers may not be available, and some growers are now hiring migrant workers. The Hackmans, however, still rely on family, hiring some neighborhood kids to help, as well. Mick says in his grandfather’s day, melons were hauled in wagons pulled by horses and mules, and delivered to the railroad depot in Vallonia, where they were loaded by hand onto railroad cars and shipped to market. “Horses and mules and steel-wheeled wagons,” Mick says. “Can you imagine how much work (that would be) loading melons on those railroad cars?” These days, Gary hauls the melons in a truck to his customers, many in the Cincinnati area. And the melons are no longer loose; instead they are packed into bins, which can be loaded and unloaded with a forklift. The Hackmans supply markets between Brownstown and Newport, Ky.
Caden Waskom, 6, pulls weeds from watermelon vines.
Gary is in the fields almost every day. Every eight to 10 days, the plants are sprayed with a fungicide, a new practice since the days Mick tended the vines. Gary also plants strips of rye between the rows; the rye acts as a wind break for the young plants. Once the plants start vining together, he plows the rye under. “Gary’s out there continuously,” Cathy says. “Every day he’s out there doing something with the melons and the same with the jack-o’-lanterns.” During harvest, Gary’s day frequently begins at 3 a.m. “He’ll get up, take a load to Cincinnati, come back and pick and load again,” says Cathy, who works part time at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour. Both Mick and Gary, and even Daphne (Hackman) Waskom, wife to Andy Waskom, mom to Caden and Brady, and granddaughter and daughter to Mick and Gary, respectively, remember the days when they would haul melons to Cincinnati and set up shop in a parking lot, selling directly out of the back of the truck. Sometimes they would spend the night. “The guys who owned stores would come around in their station wagons and get what they needed for the day,” Gary says. Daphne, now 37, has already seen her share of changes in farming. She remembers planting seeds by hand for several years, before the decision was made to start the plants in the greenhouse. She also remembers those years before the plant setter, when the young plants were set out by hand. Then, someone, often Daphne, had to walk the rows, thinning out the hills. The Hackmans grow two varieties of seedless watermelon and one variety with seeds. The plants are started in the greenhouse around April 10 and about four weeks later, are ready for planting. They are planted in rows about 8 feet apart. Picking begins in mid-July and continues into the fall. “We normally pick to October,” Gary says.
While the number of growers in the area has dwindled, many of those still in business have gotten bigger. There have been changes on the consumer end as well. Gary says many of the big chain stores want melons of consistent shape and size, which means some growers pick their melons before they are ready. But not the Hackmans. “We pick them when they are ripe,” Cathy says, joking that even after 39 years of being married to a farmer, she still can’t determine when a melon is ripe. Pumpkin seeds are planted directly in the field using a corn planter that Gary adapted for use. He says growing pumpkins is easier in that the season is shorter; the seeds go in about June 15. An acre can produce 2,000 melons or pumpkins. “Some years more, some years less, depending on the weather,” Gary says. Although primarily a wholesale business, the Hackmans do sell at a small roadside stand at Mick’s house, not far from Starve Hollow Lake, and from a wagon parked in front of Gary and Cathy’s home. They have many repeat customers. “We have people from all over stop here and get them,” she says. Last year brought the drought. Gary says rain last August arrived in time to help the pumpkins and melons, but the drought reduced the corn crop by about a third. This year is shaping up to be a good one. “Right now, there’s potential, with some more timely rain and weather,” Gary says. In addition to challenges handed out by Mother Nature, growers have to contend with rules and regulations handed down by the federal government. Some will be costly to implement, and that will make it even more difficult for smaller growers to compete. But Gary shows no signs of giving up or even slowing down. “Gary’s never thought of doing anything else,” Cathy says. “When I say, ‘When are you going to retire?’ he says: ‘As long as I am able, and there’s still a place to sell them, that’s what I want to do.’ ” *FI
Mick Hackman Gary and Cathy Hackman Family helpers: Daphne, Brady and Caden Waskom 4337 W. County Road 600S, Vallonia 100 acres of soybeans, 100 acres of corn, 15 acres of pumpkins, 15 acres of watermelon
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Farm Indiana // august 2013
Story by Barney Quick | Photos by Josh Marshall
LEFT: Nick Obermeyer, left, and Bill Obermeyer. ABOVE: Installation designs are printed in-house.
Obermeyer Agri Group strives for full partnership with customers Obermeyer Agri Group can provide turnkey grain storage and drying systems for farms, but its people are also a storehouse of knowledge, which they happily pass on to customers. The breadth of that knowledge includes technology, safety and project management. For instance, the company holds training classes for customers each year just before harvest time. “We test-fire a new grain dryer and conduct beginning, intermediate and advanced classes on how to operate it,” says Nick Obermeyer, vice president. “The technology keeps advancing, so we want customers to understand the latest developments.” Grain dryers and temperature cables are wireless now, he explains, so farmers can check grain bin temperature from anywhere in the world with a smartphone or tablet. That’s just one example of the partnership approach the company takes to customer service. It can provide particular pieces of equipment or services, but where it really shines is managing turnkey projects, handling everything from conception to completion. Obermeyer staff will design a system, create presentations and use those to allow customers to consider their options. Then the group supplies the soil boring and foundation specs, concrete, steel, welding, fabrication, electrical and crane work. Ongoing service after installation is part of the package as well. Another example of the partnership ethos
is the company’s biannual newsletter. It keeps customers apprised of what’s happening with the company, as well as new products developed by its vendors. It also includes safety tips and news pertaining to U.S. Department of Agriculture programs. Company President Bill Obermeyer began his involvement with grain systems shortly after high school in 1970, going to work for a corn crib dealer from whom his father had bought a crib. He says the changes in that field over the last 40-plus years have been substantial. “Back then, we dug all the footers by hand,” he recalls. “We’ve gone from a shovel and a two-man transit to an excavator with a one-man total station.” He says cranes have become so commonplace that the boom truck his crew used to use regularly has become “an afterthought.” The scale of grain storage keeps expanding, too. “We used to do many jobs in three to seven days, but now we often set up a job site trailer for several months,” Bill explains. “In the 1970s, the average size of a bin was 6,000 to 8,000 bushels. Now we routinely sell 50,000-bushel bins. Back then, you could only put 2,500 pounds on the roof of a bin. Now it’s 130,000. That just blows my mind.” The company moved into its current facility in Greensburg in 2008. The open area at the entrance has old barn siding for walls and is decorated with antique grain equipment. One piece of note is a 1905 wooden grain leg. “I originally thought about putting the latest products in there and making it kind of a showroom, but I like antiques,” Bill says. His son, Nick, graduated from the University of Southern Indiana in 2008 with a
degree in business. After a few years in construction equipment sales, he moved back to the business in early 2010 and became vice president in 2013. The company employs more than 30 fulltime workers. Three of them handle administrative matters, and the rest apply a variety of skills on crews at job sites. (Many days during the peak season, the crews expand to upward of 75 men and women.) Due to the acquisition of ever-larger equipment, the group gets into some projects beyond its traditional scope. “Recently, we’ve been setting transformers for REMC and setting signs for Green Sign Company,” says Nick. “That doesn’t really have anything to do with ag, but we have the cranes.” Obermeyer has installed hopper tanks for barley, as well as flex augur tanks, for some central Indiana beer brewers. Recently, the University of Kentucky’s feed mill south of Lexington experienced a devastating fire. “It was a total loss,” says Bill. “Within 24 hours, we had four guys and two cranes there, tearing the rest of it down.” “Each job is so different,” says Nick. “We get into redesigns and building around existing structures.” Safety is highly valued by the company. It holds weekly safety training sessions for all employees. “We just had 15 guys get qualified by Accredited Safety Solutions in hand signals and rigging,” says Bill. He and Nick have taken rescue-tube training at Purdue University. “I’ve put on presentations about it for 4-H groups,” he adds. Decatur County farmer Larry Pumphrey has used Obermeyer extensively. “They’ve
put in grain dryers, bins, you name it,” he says. “They’re confident, professional people.” Pumphrey has taken the harvest-time training the company offers. “We couldn’t operate our dryers without those classes.” Vallonia farmer Wayne Burcham has used Obermeyer’s services for over a decade. “You talk to them over the phone, and the next morning someone is at your door,” he says. He recalls a time when he confided to an Obermeyer crew that he was afraid of heights and how they gave him a 130-foot ride in a cage to the top of the structure they were working on. “That was tremendous. I had 400 percent faith in the crane operator.” Nick derives a great deal of satisfaction from the multigenerational relationships he encounters. “We’re working for a guy in Morristown whose dad dealt with my dad years ago, and now the sons are collaborating,” he says. Cultivating a reputation for integrity is another important element in the group’s growth. “We have customers who have given us the codes and keys to their buildings and equipment,” says Bill. “A customer called me the other day and said, ‘I know you’re really busy right now, but I have a job I need done, and I’d rather have you do it than call someone else.’ You don’t build that kind of trust in a short time.” *FI
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Farm Indiana // august 2013
It’s not your father’s farm anymore —and that’s good for the farmer, the environment and the world’s growing population
By dick isenhour
ohnny Park is no superhero, but farmers may soon think he is. Park is president and CEO of Spensa Technologies Inc., a Purdue Research Park-based company that is developing the Z-Trap, an insect trapping device that automatically detects the number of insects in a crop and sends the data wirelessly to a farmer’s computer or mobile phone. Park believes the integrated pest management tool, one of a number of emerging technologies that will be a boon to farming operations, is an ecological approach to managing pests in agricultural crops. “The main goal is to reduce the amount of pesticide applications by providing precise information as to when, where and how much pesticide should be applied, while keeping pest damage to a minimum,” says Park, who also is a Purdue research assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering. “Z-Traps automate the critical, but laborintensive task of monitoring pest populations, which makes it a cost-effective integrated pest management solution. It also provides unprecedented real-time, high-resolution insect population information.” Spensa’s efforts to commercialize the new technology recently were bolstered by grants totaling $250,000 from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The money will be used to investigate methods to reduce Z-Trap’s power consumption and enhance its ability to monitor multiple insect species. “Our goal is to operate Z-Traps for at least six months using a battery pack that is half the size of the one currently used,” Park explains. “The challenge is to reduce power consumption without sacrificing the robustness and accuracy of counting the number of target insects.” Spensa’s work on Z-Traps comes on the heels of its recent launch of MyTraps.com, an online data application that helps growers and pesticide consultants electronically track the number of insects in their crop fields so they can better control crop damage and improve their use of pesticides. “Crop growers in the U.S. lost $20 billion to insect damage and spent $4.5 billion on insecticides in 2010,” Park says. “Insect population data is fundamental to any pest-management program. Most of the time, data is collected on sheets of paper by walking around the fields and checking insect traps. MyTraps.com provides tools to make the insect data collection
easier and to make better pest-management decisions.” Once someone subscribes to MyTraps.com, he can input insect data, and the online software program will create insect population line graphs so farmers can target their insecticide use to where it’s needed, thus reducing usage in areas where insect populations are not high. “Another important feature,” Park adds, “is that the program provides aerial field images taken from satellite cameras and places the insect data over the image of the fields so growers can see the insect population data on photographs of the fields.” The innovations Spensa is developing in its West Lafayette facility are examples of technology that is changing the landscape of agriculture throughout the world. Indeed, the advancement of technology is helping farmers operate more efficiently and increase the production level despite decreases in their ranks and the acreage they farm. In Indiana, for example, the amount of land devoted to agricultural purposes has declined from about 19.7 million acres in 1950 to slightly more than 14 million acres today, according to figures from the USDA. Although the quantity of land available for farming has decreased, the size of farming operations has risen. And despite the conversion of farmland to residential and commercial uses, productivity levels likewise have increased. The reason: technology. Technologies credited with making farming more efficient and productive include GPS (global positioning systems); biotechnology; growth of the Internet and its uses; improvements in the accuracy of weather satellites; the cellphone; field mapping; and the use of software in grid soil sampling, which divides farmland into grids and quickly provides soil information for each grid for use in determining fertilizer and nutrient applications as well as tracking productivity. “Technology is increasingly allowing us to do two things,” notes Michael Boehlje, professor of agriculture at Purdue University. “First, it allows us to be more accurate in our production practices and get even more output from the limited resources that we’re using. Second, it does this automatically, without human intervention.” The words are not lost on Rob Richards, a fourth generation farmer and general manager of Indy Farms in Johnson County.
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B7 “With the population of the world growing and the tillable acreage — as well as the number of farmers — decreasing, we continually look for ways to produce more with less, and technology helps us do that,” Richards says. “It’s important for farmers to keep up on the latest in agricultural technology because it brings about production efficiency, cost efficiency, safety and improved crop planting.” With 12 full-time and three part-time employees, Indy Farms works more than 15,000 acres with its arsenal of 10 tractors, six planters, three combines, two sprayers and an
Phone It In From applying pesticides to keeping track of market prices, there’s an app for that by Jim mayfield
assortment of tillage tools. All of its tractors are equipped with on-board computers, and all tractor operators carry iPads for input tracking, scouting and harvest tracking. In addition to GPS, technologies that Indy Farms relies on include auto-steering tractors; auto-swath and auto-shut-off technology, which controls the rate at which seed is sown and fertilizer or insecticides are applied in a safer and more efficient manner; and synchronization of vehicles working a field. Like the Richards family, it’s estimated that about 80 percent of farmers in south central Indiana use some sort of technology for planting and harvesting, applications and soil sampling. “GPS and GIS (Global Information System) are being utilized for various agricultural methods to gain maximum efficiency,” says Mike Hughes, district conservationist for the USDA in Greensburg. “A whole host of technologies are being utilized at various adoption rates. These technologies aid in better profit margins while reducing the environmental footprint, which is a major goal in agriculture.” *FI
ow that a good part of the population is tied at the hip to virtually everyone and everything via mobile phone, texting and the worldwide Web, it’s not surprising that a farmer in the tractor cab can also access everything from mixing ratios to a forum discussion on soybean prices with a farmer in Illinois. For a growing and ardent number, the days of running a finger across columns in the research catalog or keeping track of input costs in the ledger book at the kitchen table are nearly gone. As in most other business sectors, mobile phone apps have sprouted and are taking hold in the agriculture industry. “Now, 75 percent of our customers have some form of (mobile) device,” said Lawrence Leeman, Smith Implements of Greenfield trainer. And that’s a good thing since Leeman is at the fore of Smith’s John Deere technology products department. Products and perceptions have changed a bit since automation, GPS and technology-driven farming emerged as a small sprout in a big field. When GPS-automated navigation systems first came to market, Leeman said, he couldn’t give the units away. Not until farmers saw one of the handouts being used and came to realize how much more precise and efficient their big machines could be. These days, however, the sell is a bit easier. Attitudes have changed, the technology has proven itself and the platforms — whether they be phones, pads, tablets or Android- through Windows-driven devices — are waiting like freshly plowed fields for the deluge of apps flooding the market. And young, tech-savvy farmers are jumping in with both feet. “I’m using mine constantly,” said Jonathan Lawler, of Lawler Farms in
Hancock County. Lawler, who runs an Old MacDonaldstyle natural farm with corn, vegetables, poultry and livestock, has to keep a lot of balls in the air, and having information at his fingertips — or more accurately, clipped to his hip — makes life a whole lot easier, he said. With an Android device, Lawler can manage, discover, record and calculate a day’s worth of activities from watering crops to keeping track of market prices. One spray app calculates mixing ratios for organic fertilizer based on tank size and area, keeps track of how long he’s been in the field and records input amounts and costs. Another program on his smartphone keeps track of his watering schedule and notifies him with an alarm when it’s time to get more water on the crop. “It keeps me on my toes,” he said, which is a good thing when you’re managing a variety of sectors, crops and animals. “I’ll know precisely how much water my tomatoes get, and it allows me to make the adjustments that I need to make,” he said. “I love that.” Many applications are primarily static digital catalogs and reference sources that identify weeds, provide a variety of information that would in the predigital age have been found on flip charts, wall posters and wallet cards or allow the farmer to enter notes, service logs, spray records and take pictures. “It’s like having a library on your hip,” Leeman said. Other apps are distinctly more dynamic, allowing producers and growers to upload specific information about their fields and operations for a unique report or prognosis on yield, fertilizer recommendations or pest counts; keep track of cash grain prices and manage firm offers on the fly; or log into social networks for opinions and discussions. Like phone and tablet apps for other business sectors, developers continue bringing new solutions to the market with many available at minimal or little cost. The Pro Dairy Event, for example, is sold by Small Farm Apps Ltd. for $10.99 on Apple’s App Store and allows producers to track and receive alerts for medication, hoof pairing and vet calls. “There’s a lot more coming as well,” said Chris Baggott, owner of Tyner Pond Farm in Hancock County. Baggott, who grazes natural, grassfed cattle, said he’s working on an app
that will allow producers to simply take a picture of the pasture grass to determine nutritional value there and then calculate paddock size based upon how much nutrition is in the field. For the small farmer, apps tied to social networking are essential in today’s market. “As a small farmer, I have to be a direct marketer, sell directly to my customer and keep them informed,” he said. While traveling earlier this month, Baggott received pictures of a chicken dish a customer prepared with his naturally raised poultry. Those pictures immediately were uploaded to Facebook, blogs and other marketing tools Baggott uses to maintain the farm’s visibility. On the larger side of things, Leeman can access a farmer’s John Deere equipment in real time and send an alert or shoot a software upgrade or setup solution directly to the machine. “A lot of times we can identify issues before the customer knows about them,” Leeman said. “About 95 percent of all problems are setup issues.” Deere’s JDLink telematic system allows real time equipment monitoring and problem solving and also enables the machine’s display screen in the cab to be viewed elsewhere from a mobile device. With that capability, a farmer employing a driver unfamiliar with a particular piece of equipment would be able to see whether the operation needs tweaking. “You can address a whole host of issues from population to speed and spacing,” Leeman said. On the ground, the company’s Mobile Farm Manager allows growers to use their iPhone or iPad GPS to track their position in the field, develop soil sampling grids, access maps and reports from remote locations and upload all information to a desktop. Even the dealerships are developing apps to stay ahead of the curve, Leeman said. These days, an implement dealer with a new piece of equipment on the lot better have an app that beams that news to infinity and beyond rather than wait for a window shopping farmer to drive by. Chances are there’s a Shelby County soybean grower who’s already dialed into a dealership’s inventory app just waiting for a ping when that Farm King grain auger arrives. “Everybody’s making their own apps,” Leeman said. *FI
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Farm Indiana // august 2013
In downtown Columbus, Tre Bicchieri infuses Italian favorites with loads of local flavor Story by Caroline Mosey // Photos by Joel Philippsen
There’s a certain finesse to Italian cooking. Maybe it’s knowing when the pasta is perfectly al dente. Maybe it’s having a hand skilled at finding the ripest tomatoes, or a nose that can sense when homemade bread is perfectly baked. Whatever the recipe for finesse claims to be, the family behind Tre Bicchieri seems to have it figured out. When the Italian restaurant Divino closed in downtown Columbus, the DeClue family saw it as a golden opportunity. “My dad, Kim DeClue, always wanted to own a restaurant, and he wanted to keep downtown vibrant,” explains Kelly Glick, now part owner of Tre Bicchieri,
A towering dish of lasagna at Tre Bicchieri. RIGHT: Seafood Diablo
If you can’t make it to the market downtown on Saturday mornings, stop by Fair Oaks Mall for a selection of fresh, local goods. The Columbus City Farmers Market takes place in the parking lot at the mall and offers a wealth of farm produce, plants, homebaked items, flowers, local honey, maple syrup and locally raised shrimp. Fair Oaks Mall parking lot, facing 25th Street, Columbus. Summer market takes place from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Saturday through Sept. 28.
Market Watch The Hoosier state offers plenty of spots to buy fresh food compiled by teresa nicodemus
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, approximately 175 farmers markets can be found throughout Indiana, which means you won’t have to travel far to experience Hoosier offerings that are homegrown, fresh from the farm or crafted by local artisans. “The number of farmers markets in Indiana has increased exponentially over the last 10 years,” says Jennifer Dennis, associate professor and horticulture marketing specialist at Purdue University. “The state of Indiana is identified as the fastest-growing state for increasing numbers of farmers markets since last year.” Take a road trip through small-town Indiana this summer and make one of these markets your next stop.
Columbus Farmers Market
Franklin Farmers Market
Have a fresh crepe stuffed with blueberries or strawberries, enjoy a bottle of wine from Brown County’s Salt Creek Winery and taste some of the Hackman family’s sweet corn at the Columbus Farmers Market, which Jim Dietz, market organizer, describes as “just a good friendly place to be.” An average of 75 to 80 vendors arrive early each Saturday to set up shop, with at least 15 vendors selling fresh-baked breads and sweet rolls to satisfy your breakfast desires, Dietz says. The market has “become quite the gathering spot,” he explains. “People stay a long time, sitting at tables with umbrellas, relaxing. Some bring their own chairs and find a quiet place to enjoy the sights.” If you miss the Saturday event, no worries: A midweek market is also held in downtown Columbus on Fourth Street between Washington and Jackson streets, and it averages approximately 20 vendors each week, Dietz says.
On the corner of Jefferson and Jackson streets, the Franklin Farmers Market comes alive with 38 local vendors selling products ranging from produce, flowers and hot pepper sauces to lawn décor, syrups, hand soaps, handmade dog biscuits and more. (Your dog is invited to come along to enjoy this open air market, too.) Arrive on Saturday mornings to meet vendors like Angela Abney from Bargersville, a young entrepreneur, Purdue University student and owner of Red Barn Meats, LLC. “Our farmers market started in 2011 with four to five vendors,” says Megan Hart, executive director of Discover Downtown Franklin. “We’ve doubled in size every year.” Hart estimates that approximately 300 visitors come to the market each week. “It’s a great community event,” she says.
Cummins parking lot, 501 Brown St., Columbus, (812) 378-2622. Market takes place from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Saturday, through Sept. 21. Midweek market takes place from 4 to 7 p.m., every Wednesday through September.
78 S. Jackson St., Franklin, (317) 346-1258. Summer market takes place from 8 to 11 a.m. every Saturday through the first Saturday in October.
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Farm Indiana // august 2013
which opened in the same space in 2006. With the closing of
much-beloved tiramisu. “It’s the all-year-long favorite dessert,
Divino, “Dad felt there was an opportunity for us to open our
no contest,” says Glick. “My mom, Elaine, is our pastry chef, and
version of an Italian restaurant and provide another great local
some of the recipes she uses are very old family favorites.”
It’s been seven years since Tre Bicchieri was born, and with
Owned jointly by Kim and Elaine DeClue along with Kelly
time come reflection and perspective. “The best part is having
and son-in-law, Trevor Glick, the small brick storefront on Wash-
a business we’re all proud of,” Glick says. “It’s putting all of our
ington Street has made a name for itself over the years as a qual-
hard work and effort into something worthwhile, and having
ity fine-dining option with plenty to offer. The space is intimate;
people tell us how much they love it.
about 15 tables and booths are arranged between the cream-
“It makes it all worth it.” *FI
colored walls. A full bar occupies a back corner, and a handful of tables dot the brick patio for outdoor dining in warmer seasons. Those warmer seasons also usher in changes to an alreadyvaried menu, which showcases the fresh flavors of local and regional ingredients. “We love using local product,” says Glick. “We try and use as much as we can.” Hackman’s Farm Market,
> > Tre Bicchieri
425 Washington St., Columbus, (812) 372-1962, www.trebicchieri-columbus.com
Graziella Bush, Brothers Beef, The Savory Swine, Dag’s Ice Cream and Crownlinks Coffee have all found a place on the menu, not to mention a variety of local craft beers on tap. In addition to purchasing locally grown ingredients, the owners harvest from their own herb and vegetable garden offsite. “The back alley behind our restaurant also hosts another herb garden we plant, grow and use,” says Glick. “All of our basil is grown by us, and we make so much pesto in the summer that we’re able to freeze it and use it all year long.” Every meal starts with homemade bread. For appetizers and entrees, expect to find more traditional Italian dishes mixed in with some surprises. Bruschetta spiked with capers, chicken scallopini, osso buco and meaty lasagna hold court next to grilled lamb lollipops and seared scallops. “We pride ourselves on making everything in-house,” Glick says. “All of our sauces, dressings, desserts, ravioli and bread are made in-house.” In the summer, customer favorites easily rally around the seasonal bounty. The Caprese salad features robust local heirloom tomatoes, creamy house-made mozzarella, basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. For a fresh-from-the-garden flavor, choose any dish that incorporates pesto. Try it tossed with tri-colored cheese tortellini, tucked inside an eggplant Parmesan panini or spooned over the decadent chicken Florentine conchiglioni. For a sweet finale, panna cotta and spumoni are available, along with the
Greensburg/Decatur County Farmers Market In the heart of downtown Greensburg, the Greensburg/Decatur County Farmers Market draws a regular crowd … and for good reason. Tables overflow with baked goods, plants, flowers, eggs, meats, jams and jellies from approximately 24 local vendors each week. Every second Friday of the month, guests are treated to live music and movies are shown on a big outdoor screen. “The farmers market has turned into a whole community and family event,” says Bryan Robbins, market manager. “We invite people to come and eat at a downtown restaurant and stay for the movies.” Plus, do a little shopping. “You are getting your grocery shopping done for the week, and you don’t even realize it,” Robbins says. “You are having so much fun socializing and exploring the market and the town.” 150 Courthouse Square, Greensburg, (812) 593-4207. Summer market is from 2 to 6 p.m. every Friday through October; winter market takes place 9 a.m. to noon, every second Saturday from November through March. Winter market is held indoors in Greensburg City Hall, 314 W. Washington St., Greensburg.
Basil grows in the Glick garden.
Greenwood Farmers Market
Jennings County Farmers Market
Find a variety of nontraditional meats, like duck, rabbit and pheasant, at the Greenwood Farmers Market on the southside of Indianapolis, as well as your choice of farm fresh chicken eggs, duck eggs and more. If you want to talk to a farmer one-on-one, chances are good you can do that, too. “You can talk to the person who grew the food you are buying,” says Jeff Allen, market manager. “They actually planted the seeds, raised the animal for butchering and did the work.” July and August are busy months for the market — at least 30 or 40 vendors are on-hand each week. If you have a minute, say hello to Dennis Montgomery, known around the market as the “Pepper Guy,” who sells hot peppers that took root in his backyard greenhouse, or Glenn Haveman, who offers fruit, herbs and bedding plants grown on his farm.
Each week, approximately 30 vendors set up shop in North Vernon’s Jennings County City Park. Here, farmers, like Darla Ortman of Ortman Natural Beef or Diana Armand, who grows pumpkins in Westport, talk with visitors milling around their tables. The farmers tell stories of how they started in the business or how their sweet corn grew this year. The Jennings market is strictly a farmers market, says Clarence Wullenweber, market master; no crafts, resale items or baked goods are allowed for sale. “Each farmer at our market agrees to a set of rules,” Wullenweber explains. “Every farmer must raise 100 percent of what they sell, and it must be fresh picked the day before or the day of the market.”
Greenwood United Methodist Church parking lot, 525 N. Madison Ave., Greenwood, (317) 8857665. Market takes place from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday through the end of October; midweek markets take place every Wednesday from 2:30 to 5 p.m. through October.
Jennings County City Park, Shelter 2, 604 N. State St., North Vernon, (812) 873-6218. Summer market takes place from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday through the last weekend in October; winter market is open 10 a.m. to noon, every Saturday from the end of October to the end of April.
Downtown Seymour Farmers Market Feast your eyes on the many breads, fruit pies and cakes available at the Downtown Seymour Farmers Market, a project of the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce that is now in its 20th year. Situated in the city parking lot at Walnut Street and St. Louis Avenue, this openair market offers sweet treats from area bakers and locally grown produce from small local farmers and large commercial growers alike. Buying fresh foods from the Seymour market not only means you are getting fresher, more nutritious foods, manager Richard Beckort explains, but “buying from local farmers also promotes the economy in Seymour and Jackson County.” The market features 10 to 15 vendors at peak times on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday mornings. Three or four vendors are available during off-peak times, Beckort explains. City parking lot at Walnut Street and St. Louis Avenue, Seymour, (812) 358-6101. Market is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week, through Oct. 1.
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Farm Indiana // august 2013
A Fair to Remember The lights, the rides, the games, the sweet treats and competitions â€Ś. We saw it all at this summerâ€™s county fairs, and we wanted to share the sights with you. Here, some of our best shots from the Bartholomew, Johnson and Jackson County Fairs. Enjoy.
Bartholomew County Fair
Johnson County Fair
Jackson County Fair
1. A colorful sunset at Bartholomew County Fair. 2. Locals arrive and park at the fairgrounds. 3. Eric Franco and his daughter, Aglaen, 2, watch her two brothers on a ride. 4. Opening night on the midway. 5. Corn cobs. 6. Vicki Johnson's zinnia entry in the horticulture competition. 7. Ashlee Sebree competes in the Johnson County Fair Queen Contest. 8. Noah Pastor, 16, and Ally Coomer, 17, share an elephant ear. 9. Elijah Henderson, 12, washes his Angus steer in preparation for the "Born and Raised in Johnson County" competition.
Farm Indiana // august 2013
10. A frog from the frog jumping competition. 11. Reflections in the side of a food stand. 12. Sugar and cinnamon are sprinkled onto an elephant ear. 13. Riders enjoy the "Sizzler," more commonly known as the "Scrambler."
14. Norm Gibson enjoys ice cream and music. 15. Andy Hagedorn (guitar) and Dave Hartung (drums) play on the free stage at the Jackson County Fair. 16. Ellie Maynard, 2, looks at sheep. 17. Brayden Reed, 6, tries to win a fish. 18. Quentin Stout helps Nikki Mollis shear a sheep for a competition.
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