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march 2014 | Section A

Story by Ryan Trares | Photos by Josh Marshall

The Dougherty brothers balance their careers and the farm

E (From left) George Dougherty, his son, Luke, and his brother, Tom, release grain from the silo to feed the cattle.

very day on the Dougherty beef cattle farm about 100 steers need care. Each animal receives corn from the family’s silo, and troughs are checked to ensure the cattle have plenty of water. Brothers Tom and George Dougherty share in the responsibilities of running the beef cattle operation. They fit the work into their day whenever they can, since both men also have full-time jobs outside the farm. The Dougherty brothers exemplify the challenges of small farmers to continue their agricultural tradition while being able to support their families. Their beef cattle operation has been in existence in Clark Township for almost 60 years, and the family has been involved in agriculture in Johnson County for five generations. But where farming in the past has been able to

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support the entire family, both of the Doughertys have found the need for work elsewhere. “There’s still a place for small operations,” Tom says. “But you have to be efficient and supplement it with non-farm jobs. We’re just part-time farmers.” Their father, Troy Dougherty, bought the farm in 1955. As youngsters, the brothers would help with tending to the cattle and selling the animals. In spring, they assisted with the planting of row crops and then harvested their yield. When Troy retired, the family still felt it was important to keep the farm going, George says. Though they have been committed to the farm throughout their lives, they trained in other careers to help supplement and support their own families. George works as a commercial banking representative for First Merchants

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Farm Indiana // march 2014


Climate Change

ake one look at my Facebook news feed and all you will see are recipes, homesteading tips, gardening advice, agriculture posts and health and wellness news, as well as a little local news thrown in for good measure. I’ve subscribed to so many blogs, Facebook pages and news organizations that I no longer see much of what my actual friends and family post, but instead enjoy a constant flow of information and advice from random (though like-minded) Facebook users from all over the world. This morning, for instance, I clicked on a news update about an organic spinach recall while at the very same moment I sipped on a smoothie I’d made that had the actual recalled spinach in it. I promptly poured the contents of my half-empty glass into the kitchen sink (and I was seeing the world as a half-empty glass at that moment). I grabbed the container of spinach from the refrigerator and tossed it, then traded in my drink for another green snack. I drizzled a little olive oil on half an avocado, sprinkled on some salt and pepper, and called it lunch. Delicious. My mood perked up a little. Pity about that spinach, though. That was a tasty smoothie, minus the whole threat of E. coli thing. Coincidentally: As I just finished typing that last sentence, my husband, who is sitting across the room looking at his Facebook news feed on his phone, announced that Hot Pockets were pulled from store shelves this week for containing “diseased and unsound animals.” And he didn’t even know I was writing about that very topic, of Facebook feeds and up-to-the-minute (and somewhat gross) food news. In the past few weeks, I’ve read stories about Subway calling it quits on putting the chemical azodicarbonamide (apparently also used in yoga mats) in its sandwich bread; I’ve read about Chipotle launching a series of satirical YouTube videos aimed at agriculture; I’ve seen articles about Chick-fil-A switching out artificial dyes and high-fructose corn syrup in its fast food for healthier ingredients; and I learned about Hampton Creek, a San Francisco-based start-up that has raised $23 million to pay for its pursuit, says Geekwire.com,

of producing “affordable and healthy food without pillaging the land.” In essence, the company is doing research and creating foods that could one day make eggs obsolete, and it has big support. There are two points I’m getting at here: First, I am likely obsessed with food. When I’m not reading about it on the Internet, I’m forcing my husband to sit through documentary after documentary on health and wellness, food, agriculture, homesteading and the like. The second, more notable point: The world seems also to be obsessed with food these days, and the times, as Mr. Dylan was fond of saying, they are a-changin’. Consumers are demanding transparency. They want to know where their food is coming from, how it was grown, how it was raised and if it can be accurately described as “food” in the first place. (So much of what we’re served isn’t actually food.) And, it appears, if consumers can’t get a straight answer on what corporations are cooking up, many are going their own road, donning a farmer’s cap and growing their food themselves. The shocker of this whole story is this: Corporations are responding. Business leaders are seeing the trends and making changes based on this new food climate. Little by little, plate by plate, people’s voices are being heard, and not only are they being heard but they’re being listened to. When I think about it, my world-view glass starts to seem half-full again. Even if my spinach smoothie is a goner.


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march 2014

A6 Fishing Section A8 Tips for Catching Indiana's Most Common Fish A9 Fish Recipes A10 Permaculture A12 B&W Agri Products

B1 Brush Creek Stables

A6 B1

B4 Farm Stays B6 Owen Valley Winery B8 Documentaries about Farming B10 Quick Bites

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 farmindiana@hnenewspapers.com. For advertising information, call (812) 379-5690.

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cattle farm // cont. from a1 Bank in Greenwood, while Tom is a financial services operator for Farm Credit Mid America. “Farming is something that has meant a lot to us,” Tom says. “But the off-farm jobs, that really provides our living expenses—health insurance, retirement, things like that.” The brothers have mastered the balance between their careers and the farm. Cattle need to be fed twice a day with corn silage that accumulates in the fall. During the extreme cold this winter, they went through the barn multiple times to make sure the water fountains had not frozen. This spring they plan to plant corn, soybeans and wheat on their 450 acres, in addition to taking care of the livestock. A portion will be set aside for hay, to give the cattle food and bedding throughout the year. Beef cattle operations are slightly less labor-intensive, Tom says. They don’t have to worry about caring for calves or ensuring the dairy cows are healthy. The herd is composed entirely of Holstein steers. The Doughertys took advantage of the large number of dairies in Indiana, which use Holstein heifers for their production. Those dairies have no use for the steers and sell them to beef farmers. Holsteins are as well-known for their beef as Angus and Hereford, Tom says. All they need to do is feed the steers while keeping an eye on their weight

and making sure they don’t come down with any illnesses. “There are always health issues, so we watch for that,” he says. The farm is solely for finishing beef cattle. The Doughertys have no cows, purchasing young cattle when they weigh 600 to 800 pounds. Over the next year, they’ll feed and care for the animals each day. Once the cattle reach a selling size of 1,400 pounds, it’s time to take them to auction. The Doughertys sell their animals through the Johnson County Sales Pavilion. They partner with other small producers throughout the county to help attract bigger buyers and get better prices. As recently as three years ago, the Doughertys had as many as 250 head of cattle on the farm. But the cost of maintaining the herd grew to be prohibitive. “Grain prices got higher, cattle prices got higher, so we had to cut back,” Tom says. The drought in 2012 only exacerbated the problem. Pastures were damaged by the lack of water, and depleted grain stores meant that it was more expensive to feed the animals. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, that led to a decline in the amount of beef available in the market. That impact will be felt more in 2014 before getting better, according to the department’s drought report released last year.

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“A lot of guys sold off their animals, because it was too expensive,” Tom explains. “Then it takes two years or more to build it back up.” While cattle prices are higher, that drives up the cost of beef for the consumer. Fewer people buy then, George says. “It’s nice that beef can get a lot of money, but you have to have someone to buy it,” he says. The unsteady nature of beef farming only emphasizes the importance of diversifying their income. It also puts the future of the farm in question. The Doughertys have been active throughout their lives in 4-H, and their children showed animals at the county fair. But none of their children is involved in the farm now. Now 91, Troy Dougherty still helps on the farm that he maintained his entire life. “He still drives the tractor some in the spring and fall,” Tom says. “Doing it for that long, it’s hard for him not to go out.” *FI

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: George Dougherty controls the rate of the silage to feed cattle. Luke Dougherty with a few of his favorite cows. The Dougherty family: (from left) Troy and his wife, Norma, George and his wife, Carmen, Tom and his wife, Amy; and George and Carmen’s son, Luke.



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Try your luck— and skill—at these

public fishing spots … Lake Monroe, Brown and Monroe counties As the largest lake in Indiana with more than 10,000 acres of water, Lake Monroe holds catfish, striped bass and crappie among other species. Pontoon and fishing boat rentals are offered onsite. 4850 S. State Road 446, Bloomington, (812) 837-9546.

Before you drop a line in Indiana, make sure you do your homework

White River (East Fork), Bartholomew and Jackson counties Fishing here is particularly attractive for catfish and sunfish. Access to the East Fork is gained a quarter mile southeast of the U.S. 31A and State Road 46 intersection in Columbus, (812) 358-4110.

Driftwood State Fishing Area, Johnson and Bartholomew counties by jon shoulders


t seems simple enough. Grab your pole and tackle box, head for the nearest body of water and enjoy a relaxing day trying to reel in some fish. But it’s not actually that simple. The Hoosier state boasts more than 21,000 miles of fishable streams and rivers and 452 natural lakes, so figuring out where and when the catches will come requires a somewhat systematic approach. Ray Rigby, a former tournament fisherman and the founder/event coordinator for Johnson County’s annual Indiana Fishing Expo held each January, stresses the importance of surveying the natural area first, whether angling among small tributaries or expansive lakes. “Most all fish, even catfish that are notoriously bottom-dwellers, look for some form of cover or structure,” he says. “If I’m heading out on

of the White River is a good spot. It doesn’t matter if it’s the East Fork or West Fork, it will usually hold Kentucky spotted bass and smallmouth bass.” Big Blue River and Flat Rock River, which originates in Henry County and flows for 88 miles to form the White River’s East Fork in Columbus, are especially hot spots for bass, bluegill and catfish, and “they’ll hold fish miles and miles away from the main water,” Linville adds. Rigby says it’s often a mistake to rush out the front door with your fishing gear the moment temperatures start to rise each spring, and the reason lies in a phenomenon known as turnover. Typically occurring once in the fall and again in the spring, turnover occurs as waters hit a certain temperature, prompting water at the tops of lakes and rivers to mix with the

“Any tributary of the White River is a good spot. It doesn’t matter if it’s the East Fork or West Fork, it will usually hold Kentucky spotted bass and smallmouth bass.” —guy linville, honey creek tackle

foot, I’m looking for a treetop, shrubs or other anomalies like that sticking out of the water to increase my odds as soon as I walk up. Those are ambush points, where fish hide and feed, and they keep the smaller fish alive and away from the bigger predators.” Rigby adds that cover and structure aren’t necessarily the same thing, and being able to discern between the two is important. “Cover is trees and manmade stuff that’s visible,” he says. “Structure is rock piles, creek channels and natural anomalies. Fishing somewhere that combines cover and structure most times of year is good.” If attention to water topography is important, so is picking an area with a decent track record for catches in the first place. According to Guy Linville, fishing manager at Honey Creek Tackle in Bargersville, “any tributary

bottom and allowing oxygen to be replaced throughout the water system. In the process, fish become scattered and more difficult to locate. “For any fisherman, whether it be a competitive, amateur or a weekend person, the worst time to fish is when the water’s turning over,” Rigby says. Using live baits with brightly colored jigs can be effective when attempting to fish during a turnover period, although some anglers choose to simply wait a week or two

after lakes and rivers have finished mixing. Search online or talk to folks at your local bait shop to find out when turnover is occurring for the season; small, shallow lakes tend to turn over first, deep lakes will turn over last and extremely shallow lakes may not turn over at all because wind keeps the water circulating throughout the year. It’s best to stay away from any extreme temperatures while choosing when to grab your rod and reel, and many species of fish common to local waters tend to become increasingly active during cool and cloudy periods of the day, according to Dave Osborn, Purdue Extension educator. As a result, they feed more aggressively and are more susceptible to being caught. “In the spring and fall, any time of day will be OK since temperatures are cooler,” he says, “but in the summer you want to stay with the early morning and late evening, especially for something like bass where their prime water temperature is around 55 to 75 degrees.” Private farm ponds are especially popular in the spring and fall and can offer just as much action as public lakes and creeks, Osborn says, particularly for bass or panfish, which refers to smaller game fish such as bluegill and crappie that typically do not grow larger than the size of a frying pan. “For every acre of pond size, you want 600 to 800 bluegill and about 15 pounds of bass harvested out every year,” he says. “Many pond owners don’t fish their ponds enough, and as a result their bluegill population doesn’t grow to the bigger sizes that you want. It’s a great excuse to look for a private pond and inquire about fishing there.” Osborn adds that networking and using contacts among family and friends can help facilitate permission to fish in a private body of water. While private ponds don’t require a fishing license, they do require permission from the owner of the pond, and “sharing some of the day’s catch with the landowner can go a long way toward building a relationship and securing future trips to the same spot,” he says. As skill levels progress, however, the true challenges lie in public waters like Lake Monroe or the East Fork stretches of the White River, according to Rigby. “If you want to test your mettle as a bass fisherman, go to Monroe on a Sunday,” he says with a chuckle. “You’ll find out right quick what it’s like to not catch fish.”

Plover Pit and Sandpiper Pit are particularly popular areas in Driftwood for catching bass, bluegill, tiger muskellunge and catfish. Located near Atterbury Fish & Wildlife Area, west of U.S. 31 in Edinburgh and 9.5 miles north of Columbus, (812) 526-2051.

Atterbury Fish & Wildlife Area, Johnson and Bartholomew counties Over 270 acres of available water, including Stone Arch Lake, Beaver Bottom, the 75-acre Pisgah Lake and other smaller ponds. Largemouth bass, catfish, redear and bluegill are the major species of fish present. Located off County Road 650S in Edinburgh, (812) 526-2051.

Crosley Fish and Wildlife Area Jennings County Contains 13 ponds that range from 2 to 14 acres and include seven miles of the Muscatatuck River, where large and smallmouth bass, sunfish and rock bass are prevalent. 2010 S. State Road 3, North Vernon, (812) 346-5596.

Cypress Lake, Jackson County Expect to catch large and smallmouth bass, carp, bluegill, redear and crappie in Cypress Lake’s 21 acres of water. Located near the intersection of State Road 11 and Interstate 65 in Seymour. Contact the Indiana DNR at (317) 232-4200 for more information.

Brush Creek Reservoir, Jennings County Anglers can catch white crappie, bluegill, carp and catfish at Brush Creek’s 150-plus acres of water, located about three miles east of North Vernon and one mile north of U.S. 50. Just east of the Muscatatuck State Development Center. (812) 346-5596.

Yellowwood Lake, Brown County A 133-acre lake known for its largemouth bass and catfish. Three-person rowboat rentals are available. 772 S. Yellowwood Road, Nashville, (812) 988-7945.

Starve-Hollow State Recreation Area, Jackson County Features a 145-acre lake with largemouth bass, sunfish and catfish. Rowboat and canoe rentals available. 4345 S. County Road 275W, (812) 358-3464.

Versailles State Park, Ripley County Paddleboats, rowboats, kayaks and canoes can be rented on-site for the park’s 230-acre lake, where you’ll usually find carp, crappie, catfish and bass. 1387 U.S. 50, Versailles, (812) 689-6424.

Visit www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/ 3591.htm for a comprehensive list and interactive map of Indiana fishing sites.


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Pond Building 101 Fishing Licenses—How and Where

Not in the mood to leave the confines of your property for a worthwhile fishing experience? Natalie Carroll, professor of youth development and agricultural education at Purdue University, offers a few expert insights into building your own pond.

Visit the following websites for more information on fish pond construction and management:

www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/3356.htm www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/ APM/APM_3_W.pdf www.extension.purdue.edu/ extmedia/ID/ID-409-W.pdf

To fish in public lakes, streams, rivers or tributaries in the state of Indiana or its boundary waters, Indiana residents and nonresidents must have a valid fishing license. Exemptions include those under the age of 18, those born before April 1, 1943, and private pond fishing, for which permission must be obtained from the private property owner. Annual fishing licenses are $17, and oneday licenses are $9; funds from the sale of licenses are used to conserve and manage fisheries resources throughout the state. There are typically four free public fishing days when Indiana residents are not required to purchase a fishing license, and this year’s dates are April 19, May 17 and June 7 and 8. More information is available at www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/3598.htm. Annual and one-day fishing licenses can be purchased several different ways:

In person:

Visit any local retailer (visit www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/5338.htm for a complete listing of locations in your area), county clerk or DNR property. Be sure to bring your ID and the required fee.


Resident and non-resident licenses may be purchased 24 hours a day, seven days a week at www.in.gov/ai/appfiles/dnr-license.

By phone:

Call the Indiana DNR Customer Service Center at (317) 232-4200. Two weeks for mail delivery is expected.

By mail:

Checks, money orders and credit card numbers (Visa or MasterCard only) are accepted, made payable to Indiana DNR. Include your name, date of birth, address, Social Security or Indiana driver’s license number, a personal description (height, weight, sex, color of hair and color of eyes) and the type of license you need, and send to: DNR Customer Service Center, 402 W. Washington St., Room W160, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

What are some tips for getting started on constructing a private pond? Locate the pond in a natural depression or ravine to minimize excavation costs and to intercept natural drainage ways. The site should be cleared of all trees and brush. When constructing a pond fed by a watershed, a good rule of thumb is to make sure that water runoff enters and leaves your property at the same points it did before the pond was constructed. Locate the pond in a watershed that will yield the amount of water needed. The soil in the pond area must hold water, so locate the pond in soils that minimize seepage; clay and silty clay loams are best. Avoid areas with sand, gravel and fractured rock, which require pond sealing measures. Contact the local Natural Resources Conservation Service office to obtain information on local soils, regulations, necessary permits and possible financial assistance. Visit www.nrcs.usda.gov or call (317) 290-3200. Which fish work best for private fishing ponds? To raise an annual food crop, channel catfish or common carp are best. For sport, the best all-around stocking combination for Indiana ponds has proven to be largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish. Smallmouth bass, walleye and northern pike can be used if the pond owner is willing to pay for periodic and expensive restocking. Occasionally, redear are substituted for bluegill because they seldom overpopulate. However, redear are caught less frequently and may disappear altogether from small ponds. What other tips are helpful in the building process? Prevent wave erosion with stone or concrete riprap (a foundational wall of stones or chunks of concrete) or adapted grasses on pond banks. A buffer strip of dense grass around the pond will protect the water from soil contamination. A diversity of aquatic plants, both in and around the water, add visual interest and beauty to your property. Submerged evergreen trees can provide habitat to concentrate fish to increase angling success. You can build this habitat by binding evergreen trees together, anchoring them with concrete blocks and placing in 6 to 10 feet of water. A small chemical kit sold by Hach Chemical Co. can be used to check the dissolved oxygen level. Bass, bluegill and channel catfish require more than 5 parts per million (ppm) of oxygen. Oxygen levels below 1 ppm are catastrophic.

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What a Catch Local fishing expert shares tips on how to hook ’em compiled by jon shoulders

“Know your enemy.” Serious fishermen and recreational anglers in the ongoing pursuit of their chosen quarry should heed this simple axiom, attributed to Chinese military general Sun Tzu in his famous ancient treatise “The Art of War.” Consider the following rundown of Indiana’s most commonly caught fish, complete with bait tips from former tournament fisherman Ray Rigby, an avid smallmouth bass angler and the event coordinator for Franklin’s annual Indiana Fishing Expo.


By virtue of its abundance in Indiana waters, bluegill makes a great quarry for beginners. Most lakes with clear water will likely hold some bluegill—as for its fellow members of the sunfish family, try for crappie near brush, fallen trees or grass beds, and look for redear in clear lakes with aquatic vegetation. “Bluegill and crappie are two of the best eating fish that you will find, and typically where you find one you will

find many, so making a meal out of it shouldn’t be a problem,” says Scott Wiseman, secretary and treasurer of the Indiana Catfish Association, a nonprofit recreational club that conducts several catfish fishing tournaments every year. “Mill Race Park in Columbus is a hidden gem that few people really fish, but (there are some) nice crappie and bluegill in them.” Rigby’s bait tip: “Bluegills tend to like worms or bee moths. Live baits work almost year-round, and also grubs and small hair jigs.”


Taking the Bait

Get equipped at the following retailers: Bailey’s Bait and Tackle 6677 E. State Road 46, Nashville (812) 988-0585 Honey Creek Tackle 2380 Indiana 135, Bargersville (317) 422-0102 www.honeycreektackle.com The Outdoorsman Sport Shop 1010 S. State Road 135, Greenwood (317) 881-7446 Westside Bait & Tackle 1507 W. Vermont St., Indianapolis (317) 636-6236 www.westsidebaitshop.com Cornerstone Home Center 7742 S. Nineveh Road, Nineveh (317) 933-5916 Bob’s Bait & Tackle 592 W. Center Cross St., Edinburgh (812) 526-9590

Catfish tend to favor deeper water, although they will travel to shallow spots for feeding. “The dog days of summer usually means catfishing at night,” Wiseman says. “Look for fish behind riffles in the river. They are there for two reasons: oxygen and food. Baitfish will hold close to riffles in the current, and the catfish will be right behind them looking for an easy meal. The White River from Columbus south holds a lot of nice catfish. Look for them around structure — logs, rocks, etc.” Rigby’s bait tip: “Try smaller fish, liver or other live baits.”


According to Rigby, smallmouth bass is “the ultimate fighting fish in fresh water” for sport fishermen. Lake Monroe is one of the more favorable spots in central and southern Indiana for largemouth bass. “May and June are good months for bass before they spawn,” Wiseman says. “They have a voracious appetite and will hit just about anything put in front of their nose.” White River is also known as a great smallmouth bass fishery with many reports of fish exceeding 4 pounds coming out of it every year. Rigby’s bait tip: “For smallmouth bass, use quarter ounce to 5/16 ounce jigs or tubes with insert heads in them. For water between 50 and 55 degrees, switch to jerkbaits or slow-moving spinnerbaits. When the water hits 60 or 65, try buzzbaits and topwater baits. Try a variety of baits for largemouth bass, particularly jigs.”


Owing to their ability to tolerate a variety of environmental conditions, carp can be found in rivers, streams, natural lakes and some farm ponds throughout the state. “Monroe has a big population of carp that are mostly smaller, but you can catch a ton in a day,” Wiseman says. “Bischoff Reservoir in Morris, outside of Batesville, has some big carp in it. Also, the city park in Greensburg has some monsters in it as well.” Look for slow-flowing or standing water with soft bottom sediments; a typical carp feeding method is to disturb bottom material and pick up the food items that are dislodged. Rigby’s bait tip: “Use whole corn kernels combined with a small hook.”


Stick with large, clear lakes with gravel, rock or sand bottoms when angling for walleye. Since they school together, it’s possible to catch several in a single area after hooking one. Improve your chances by casting during low-light or night hours. Try Lake Monroe, Brookville Lake in Franklin County or venture to Eagle Creek Reservoir in Marion County. “Be careful, because they have really sharp teeth and they’re not afraid to use them,” Rigby says. Rigby’s bait tip: “Use jigging spoons, either by themselves or tipped with minnows or nightcrawlers.”

Visit www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/3599.htm for a comprehensive list of Indiana fish species and identifiers. Learn about equipment regulations as well as catch size and daily bag limits at www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/files/fw-2012FG.pdf.

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Farm Indiana // march 2014

Pan-Fried Smallmouth Bass and Grits


Provided by 18 On the Square, 18 Public Square, Shelbyville, (317) 398-7373

Provided by Richard’s Kitchen, 229 S. Main St., Franklin, (317) 738-5451

with Salt Pork Red Eye Gravy

To prepare bass: 2 fillets smallmouth bass (or comparable fish), scaled and boned with skin on 1 cup flour 1 cup cornmeal 1 pinch each salt, pepper and paprika ½ to ¾ cup canola oil for frying Mix flour, cornmeal and spices in a large bowl. Place bass fillets skin side down in breading. Lightly season fillets with salt, then flip and coat other side. Preheat cast iron skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add oil and heat for 15 to 25 seconds. Shake excess breading off fillets and place in skillet, skin side up. Fry on first side for about two minutes, adjusting heat if cooking quickly. Flip and cook on other side for another two or so minutes. Remove from grease. Set fillets on a plate lined with paper towels or a wire rack over a pan in warm oven. When frying fish in a shallow pan, temperature control is vital to a crisp, golden brown fillet. Optimal frying temperature is 360 degrees.

1 pound catfish fillet (or other white fish with firm flesh) cut into ½-inch pieces 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest ½ cup fresh lemon juice 1 teaspoon grated lime zest ½ cup fresh lime juice 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 cup seeded and diced ripe tomato ½ cup finely diced red onion 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves 1 tablespoon oregano leaves 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, deveined and minced 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon sugar 1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced

To prepare gravy: 6 ounces salt pork, diced ½ cup onion, julienned ½ cup bell pepper, julienned 1 teaspoon butter 1 tablespoon flour ½ cup brewed coffee ½ teaspoon tomato paste Salt and pepper, to taste In small sauce pot, melt butter and add pork, onions and peppers. Lightly caramelize the onions over medium heat. Add in flour and stir until all oil is absorbed and reduce heat. Add coffee and tomato paste. Stir continuously until fully thickened, then remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste.

Once you’ve caught it, it’s time to eat it. Here, two recipes for getting the most out of your haul.

To prepare grits: 2/3 cup grits 2 cups milk, plus more if needed 2 tablespoons butter 2 dashes hot sauce Salt and pepper, to taste In small sauce pot, heat milk, butter and hot sauce over medium low heat until it starts to steam. Whisk in a little salt and pepper and reduce heat to low. Whisk in grits and stir continuously for one minute. You should stir your grits every two minutes for approximately 20 to 30 minutes or until you have reached desired texture, adding more milk as you go. The consistency of creamy grits is that of a thick fluid porridge. Adjust seasonings at the end with salt and pepper, and why not another dab of butter, too! Cooking good grits means 30 minutes of work, and all the while you are thinking low and slow (low heat and slow cooking).

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In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the fish with the lemon and lime zests and juices. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of four hours and a maximum of 18 hours, turning every once in a while to mix (the fish is “cooked” by the acid in the citrus juices). Thirty minutes before serving, drain the fish and discard the liquid. Put the fish in a large mixing bowl and add the olive oil, tomato, red onion, garlic, cilantro, oregano, jalapeno, salt, sugar and avocado. Mix gently. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Serves 6 to 8. Scoop-style corn chips are recommended to accompany dish. *FI



Farm Indiana // march 2014

Permaculture-minded farmers seek ways to leave the land better than how they found it by robin winzenread fritz

A backyard garden teeming with vegetables, a pasture full of grazing cattle and a clothesline dripping with fresh laundry may not seem to be closely connected. But to proponents of permaculture, they are very much linked and are just a few practical ways individuals can work to protect and enrich the environment while at the same time feeding families, feeding friends and — from a commercial agricultural perspective — feeding the world. “Permaculture really steps back and looks at our relationship as humans to the entire planet,” says Bill Wilson, co-founder of Midwest Permaculture, “and not just presently, but from different time periods and different cultures.


non-renewable fuel at one end to simply incorporating recycling or composting into one’s routine at the other. The degree to which one practices it is a matter of choice, but regardless of the extremes, the end results can be both practical and cost-efficient.

1. the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient.

Examples of permaculture in practice range from situating buildings to make the best use of sunlight and shade, and using landscaping to channel prevailing winds toward windmills, to using animals such as cows, pigs and chickens to both fertilize and till land as well as eat from it, and adding solar panels to buildings for clean energy. Harvesting rainwater for drought protection, composting, mulching, organic gardening, canning and preserving are other examples of sustainable practices that can help individuals become self-reliant. Individually, these skills and techniques aren’t themselves considered to be permaculture. Rather, permaculture is an overarching way of thinking and living, which combines these different processes, skills and techniques — and many more — in ways that promote the ongoing ethical care, treatment and use of one’s natural resources in the process of becoming self-reliant and environmentally conscious. “There are a lot of young people who

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culture, ecology, landscape geography and communities, and it inspired him to seek a way to combine a working knowledge of these topics into a cohesive whole. Working with Mollison, Holmgren developed his thesis into a book, “Permaculture One,” which was published in 1978 and which outlines the basic principles of permaculture. These principles include catching and storing energy, using and valuing renewable resources, obtaining a yield, and producing no waste, for starters. “It kind of dawned on them that really what they were observing was a healthy, functioning natural system that didn’t really need any inputs,” says Brent Ladd, director of education for the Center for Science of Information at Purdue University, of Mollison and Holmgren’s agricultural experiment in the 1970s. “Well, they asked, why did that work in nature? And what they were trying to do to produce food on the land, why was that having so many problems? What he (Mollison) did for a number of years was try to learn and observe principles that he saw that worked in nature and asked what if we tried to design an agriculture system that, maybe it’s not producing the same things in nature, it’s instead producing things we humans can eat and materials that we can build homes from and those kinds of things. “He tried to take that perspective and asked, would that be as sustainable a way of doing this and storing water on the land and trying to increase soil health and look at it as a system long term,” Ladd adds. “And they were successful, not on an incredibly large scale, but on about a hundred acres where they took and they tried to build a system. In about 10 years they saw that, once you get these relationships built between different elements, wow, things really start to take off.” Practicing permaculture can take many forms, from abdicating all use of

It looks at what it means to be in a relationship with the surface of the planet. “It’s about energy, it’s about food, it’s about buildings, it’s about water,” continued Wilson. “Permaculture is about relationship. Our relationship to everything.” Permaculture — a mingling of the words “permanent” and “culture” — developed in Australia in the mid1970s through the collective association of Bill Mollison, a lecturer at the University of Tasmania, and a student, David Holmgren, who was interested in finding ways to increase food production within the constraints of two Australian realities — dry lands and limited water. Holmgren’s research for his eventual thesis delved into agri-

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Farm Indiana // march 2014

The Energy of Agriculture


>> cont. from a10

Cheap energy in the form of oil over the last century has enabled farmers throughout the world to increase food production on a staggering scale. According to Brent Ladd, director of education for the Center for Science of Information at Purdue University, this huge increase in food production is one of the major success stories of humanity. But, he’s quick to add, it does come with a cost. “We’ve had the closest thing to a free lunch that humans in history have ever experienced, but in a way, it’s like we’ve not really had to pay that price yet,” Ladd says. “But that first law of thermodynamics says it takes energy to get energy, and it’s always a little bit of a negative in the long run.” If you look at the two laws of thermodynamics, he explains, sunlight is the basis for all energy. “Even the coal that we burn for electricity and the fuel that we run tractors off of, that all came from sunlight energy to grow the plants, and you can’t get something from nothing,” he says. “It takes energy to make it.” The second law of thermodynamics, he explains, is that you can’t break even. “It’s a horrible, horrible realization,” Ladd adds, “that you can’t break even on this deal. … Whenever you convert energy from one form to another, there’s a loss. That happens when you burn diesel to move 80,000 pounds of mulch or dust 80 acres for bugs, there is a loss of energy.” Contending with a declining supply of nonrenewable energy concerned Bill Mollison, a lecturer at the University of Tasmania, and a student, David Holmgren — the originators of permaculture — and it contributed to one of permaculture’s principles of catching and storing energy with a particular emphasis on renewable forms of energy, such as sunlight, wind and water flow. “Rather than look at pure bushels per acre,” says Ladd of Mollison and Holmgren, “they started to look at the energy that goes in and exits a system. They started to look at energy as the currency rather than bushels per acre. It really goes back to strong science that, again, says, hey, there are no free lunches, folks. You can’t keep borrowing from Peter to pay Paul forever because somebody’s going to cash in eventually and you’re going to be up the creek. “People are beginning to ask, well, what happens if we don’t have anything to replace that energy with?” Ladd says. “Because at some point there is going to be purely an economic threshold which we’ll reach, and maybe that’s not going to be in 50 years, but, boy, wouldn’t it be good if we could work toward a system that wouldn’t rely so much on these kinds of inputs? Maybe in 50 years we can gradually shift over.”

are interested in permaculture,” says Ladd, who has taught a course on the subject at Purdue University, “because they’re concerned about their future. They kind of see that, well, it’s very difficult for a young person, if they’re interested in food production, to get into it and doing it directly because land prices are fairly expensive. Even from my perspective, my plan when I first came to Purdue to get my bachelor’s degree was I wanted to continue the farm and go that route. “But you simply get squeezed out,” continues Ladd, “and so I had to go in a different direction. And I see a lot of young people looking for other options. This (permaculture) is a very appealing one, especially on a smaller scale, because it’s just more doable for most people to start up. “It’s a very different paradigm between having one small family running a thousand acres — they’re able to do that because of those inputs — whereas permaculture tends to look at smaller scales,” he adds. “There are some really good examples in the Midwest — 100 or 200 acre farms — that are based on a permaculture model, and there are certainly many more that are more like 10 or 20 or 30 acres that are producing a multitude of different products and adding value to those products and are truly sustaining a family.” In his book, “Permaculture One,” Holmgren defines permaculture as “consciously designed landscapes, which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fibre (sic) and

energy for the provision of local needs.” At permaculture’s core is the notion that individuals can create sustainable cultures for themselves by applying this collective knowledge of ecology, agriculture and landscape geography to their individual situations in an effort to use the least amount of land, energy and repetitive labor to provide for their own needs. “What he was talking about,” says Ladd, “was, can we create something that would result in the food and the shelter and the materials we need to sustain future generations?” To Ladd, that gets to the heart of a potential quandary facing large commercial agriculture today. “From a commercial agriculture perspective, the goal tends to be maximum production given a certain input, that being pretty much the sole criteria — can we produce as much food as possible,” Ladd says. “And that gets boiled down pretty simply — basically a couple of different crops, tending to be mono-culture, and if there’s a rotation it’s corn and soybeans and maybe wheat. Or we also see a lot of the corn, soybeans and house rotation, too, with the subdivisions that go in. “The criteria with commercial is maximum production,” Ladd continues. “It’s almost like the analogy of an Indy race car. We can get those cars to go 230 miles an hour, and they’re very thrilling and it’s at maximum speed, but the question is, can that be sustained? Can the driver corner with that and maneuver? Not very well. It can’t be sustained over a very long period of time. In today’s world, Ladd explains, technology-driven, production-minded farmers are starting to ask if sustainability is the only thing that matters. “Can the soil be sustained?” he says. “What about the quality of the water and the well water of my community and things like that? Are we going to be able to continue to mine the miner-

als that we have to continue to find and haul and put on the land to be productive as well as the nutrients we have to haul in to be productive?” Bill Wilson, who also serves as a lead certified instructor for classes offered by Midwest Permaculture, also noted that most large-scale farming is focused more on annual production — growing crops like corn and soybeans, which need to be replanted every year — instead of perennial production, which focuses on plants such as fruit and nut trees that, once established, can produce over a number of years. The downside to that focus on annual production, Wilson indicates, is the need to till the soil in some fashion for planting on an annual or semi-annual basis, which invariably leads to lost topsoil. According to Wilson, topsoil is the No. 1 exported item from the United States, albeit, unintentionally. “As we turn the topsoil, every time we expose it, we are leaving it vulnerable to any kind of wind or rain erosion, and we’re also destroying the texture and the quality of the soil,” says Wilson. “We’re turning it into this very fine stuff that washes and blows away. You can go to the mouth of the Mississippi River and scoop up a gallon of water and put it in a centrifuge and measure the suspended solids. The amount of topsoil that goes out of the Mississippi is a truckload of topsoil every three to 10 seconds, depending on the time of year. We lose more topsoil in terms of tons per year than we ship corn.” “Instead,” says Wilson, “let’s build topsoil. All we’re doing is asking the question how do you farm in such a way that you build topsoil? You can farm any way you want — it doesn’t matter how you farm — but the energy equation needs to be on the positive side. “If you want to till every year and lose topsoil, that’s fine,” adds Wilson, “so long as you’re building topsoil faster than you’re losing it, then that would be considered a permaculture model.” *FI

Today I discovered I am a .


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Farm Indiana // march 2014

Father and son work together to serve a growing market Story By Barney Quick Photos by Josh Marshall


hroughout generations of doing business, B&W Agri Products has assembled a customer base built on trust. Mike Wessel, who founded B&W with a partner, Nick Bode, in 1976, previously worked at Seymour’s John Deere dealership. But when new owners at John Deere indicated they weren’t interested in promoting the line of units for storing and drying grain anymore, Wessel saw an opportunity. He and Bode struck out on their own to supply this market. When Bode developed health issues, Wessel bought out his half of the new business.

B&W Agri Products

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Mike, left, and Eric Wessel stand at a recently completed storage bin site for a local farmer. BELOW: Eric Wessel, left, talks with B&W employees. RIGHT: A worker strips wire.

Wessel continued to run the business on his own for years. Mike’s son, Eric, was born during this period, and by 2002, Eric had acquired substantial experience working on assembly crews that built grain bins at job sites for his dad’s company. It was that same year that Eric had to develop administrative skills quite suddenly, too. “I was 52,” says Mike. “I had to have a quadruple bypass. Eric had everything thrown at him at once.” “You grow up real fast,” recalls Eric. Currently, Eric handles most management functions for the company. Mike does handle accounting and payroll, although he prefers joining the assembly crews when he can. Mike’s “recovery time” from such physical activity, however, “is considerably longer than it once was,” he says. B&W presently employs seven full-time staff members. It adds part-time workers — often college students — over the summer as needed. The business serves as a vendor for the Brock, Superb, Shivvers, Honeyville Metal and Lambton lines of grain bins, and the Valley brand of irrigation systems. The Wessels just added irrigation to their offerings in 2013. “Our customers requested it,” says Mike. He notes that having the irrigation systems line provides steady work for the crew during the down months between Thanksgiving and March. B&W offers turnkey services, so it oversees well-drilling, concrete pouring, bringing in electricity and running water lines — directly after a close consultation with the customer. “I find out what his (the customer’s) five-year strategic plan is,” says Eric. “If he’s thinking about buying some additional land, that affects my end. I may offer quotes on two or three different options.” Eric and Mike both note the increase in scale of just about everything in farming in recent decades. “We haven’t sold a 10,000-bushel bin in years,” says Mike. “They’re all 40,000 bushels now.” Eric observes that “the younger guys are more apt to tear out

an old system and put in something more efficient.” Technology has evolved over time as well. There are now mobile device apps for turning irrigation systems on and off and regulating spray volume in particular parts of a field. With information about soil type and related factors, some apps can provide a farmer a prescription for an area in a given growing season. “You can be a lot more efficient about water use now,” says Eric. While corn is the main crop stored in the units that B&W sells, others have entered the picture. “Soybeans used to go straight to the elevator,” says Mike. “When lines started getting longer, we started selling more bins for soybeans. They’re often somewhat wet, and farmers wanted to dry on-site and minimize loss.” There is also the matter of the recent hot, dry summers, best exemplified by the drought and heat wave of 2012. It changed a lot of farmers’ thinking about when to harvest. “We used to see harvesting of corn and beans in October. Now we’re seeing them start in August, which shortens the time we have for getting our jobs done.” The B&W staff avails itself of the training offered by the companies it represents. “You have to go to the service schools and sales schools,” says Eric, “and that’s good because everything changes so much. We want to keep our guys certified, so we can be of maximum service.” The company has been in its present location since 1995. “When we moved in, we wondered how we’d ever use all this space,” says Mike. “Now, our challenge is finding room for everything.” The company performs most of its own maintenance on its fleet of boom trucks, activity that occupies a lot of space. The Wessels say that trust rooted in deep-seated family bonds is the key to their success. Eric is dealing with peers whose grandparents and great-grandparents dealt with Mike’s father. Still they note that each generation of Wessel has had to prove itself to its contemporaries in the customer base. “If a guy calls and says, ‘I need a new dryer, he often doesn’t even ask the price,” says Eric. “That comes from earning trust.” *FI

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march 2014 | Section B

Life at Brush Creek Stables is the only one Kristen Eckelman-Garrett wants to know

In Her Blood

Story by marcia walker | photos by josh marshall


risten Eckelman-Garrett was about 9 years old when her late father, Tim Eckelman, promised to buy her a pony. The family was moving into the old farmhouse that had been her grandparents’ home on the east side of Columbus. The Eckelmans raised produce on the 60acre farm, at one time supplying most of the tomatoes for the local Jay-C stores. It’s where her father was raised. Garrett’s dad never made good on his promise … in a sense. “There was no pony,” she recalls. “He got me a horse. Then he got the fever (for having more horses), and suddenly we had 15 (horses) in two years.” Some 20 years later now, Garrett has 13 horses of her own that live on the farm, and she cares for about two dozen others as the owner and operator of Brush Creek Stables, which offers boarding and training services, along with private lessons. Garrett’s students include older women who are fulfilling lifelong dreams, young people preparing for rodeo competitions and youths working with horses as 4-H projects for local county fairs. The number of students varies but averages around five to 10. The boarding part of the business began in 2000. Several of the horses have come from as far as Great Britain, shipped over when their owners moved to the community to work at Cummins Inc. in Columbus, she says. Brush Creek Stables is mostly a one-woman operation, although a hired hand helps clean the stalls.

Kristen Eckelman-Garrett. Photo by Marcia Walker

Garrett’s work ethic was established early during her childhood; helping out on the farm was expected, a regular part of the day-to-day routine. “That was our first real job,” Garrett says, referring to herself, her older sister, Amber, and late brother, Joshua. “Dad started us out with a 5-acre patch of sweet corn, and we had to get up and pick it.” The Eckelmans would haul a wagon full of sweet corn to town to sell, timing their arrival to coincide when Cummins workers were heading home at the end of their days. “It was a good, healthy upbringing,” she says of her childhood. Garrett explains that the transition into training and then boarding horses was gradual. She began competing in rodeos and rode at every opportunity when she was younger. She once mentioned to her dad that it would be nice to be able to ride inside during inclement weather. “The next thing I knew, we were slapping together a huge barn,” she says. “Before we knew it, it was doubled in size.” Garrett picked up experience giving lessons as a teenager, initially helping Dena Hensler, who owns a business called The Woods where she gives group lessons and offers riding camps. Hensler needed an extra hand with some of her students, and Garrett stepped in to provide that help. “She would call me up and ask me to help with the kids she didn’t have time with,” Garrett recalls. Hensler and her husband, Mike, are involved with the Southern Indiana Junior Rodeo Association, which offers programs that are educational, fun and family-oriented, qualities Garrett tries to

>> See brush creek on B2


Farm Indiana // march 2014

brush creek // cont. from B1

“I just love this place. The smell of it, the soil, the dirt.”

—Kristen eckelman-garrett

instill in her program at Brush Creek. “It’s just a really nicely run program,” Garrett says. “It’s an awesome program, and that’s what I strive for around here. … It’s not just saddle and ride. I want them (the students) to know everything about them (the horses) from the ground up.” Garrett also credits her farrier, John Littlejohn and his wife, Judy, with helping shape the course of her life. “He does all the footwork on the horses,” Garrett explains. “He’s really been influential in my life; he and his wife have helped me out a lot.” Bound to the Land Garrett has lived away from Columbus, but not for long. At one time, she thought she wanted to be a vet; her love of all animals earned her the nickname “Dr. Doolittle.” But she settled for a degree in agriculture education from Purdue University instead.

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Farm Indiana // march 2014

LEFT: A hired hand at the stables helps care for the horses. BELOW: Antique farm relics and modern children’s toys dot the front barn and greet visitors.

After college, Garrett lived in Hawaii for four months, living her dream of giving trail rides in the mountains. Her decision to move to the island surprised her parents, because their daughter was always such a homebody. But her father encouraged her to follow the dream. “He said, ‘Go, go try something you want to do, go with it; you have the opportunity, take it,’” Garrett recalls. That year, in 2006, her parents flew her home for Christmas. Garrett says she had a premonition that she wouldn’t be going back to the island again. Two days after arriving home, her father died of a massive heart attack in the family home. Garrett says that painful event reaffirmed her belief that the farm was where she was meant to be.

“I just love this place,” Garrett says. “The smell of it, the soil, the dirt.” Denise Eckelman, Garrett’s mother, still lives on the farm. Eckelman says a reason her daughter is bound so tightly to the place is because of the tragedies, like her father’s death, that have taken place there. Garrett’s father’s 2-year-old brother had previously passed away on the property when he was run over by a plow; Garrett’s brother, Joshua, also died in the woods there, from a hunting accident. “You want to stay here because you are close to the people you lost,” Eckelman says. “It makes it like they’re here with us. Kristen always feels that draw to the farm.”

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In the Future Garrett’s plans include becoming more involved with the family business, Eckelman Septic Sewer and Drain, a company that was established by her father. “I’d like to be involved with all of it,” she says. Her father tried to farm and run the company at the same time, eventually focusing solely on the excavating business. But Garrett clings to the memories of the days devoted to farming, of riding in the combine with her dad and taking dinner to him in the field. Garrett turns 30 this year, and she and her husband, Travis, are hoping to add another child to their family. Her husband’s 14-year-old daughter, Mady, who at one time was taking lessons from Garrett, is to credit for having played matchmaker for her former teacher and her dad. The couple eventually married on the farm in 2013, standing inside a crop circle that had been carved out of the cornfield. “Travis and I dubbed it our field of dreams,” Garrett says. The guests sat on hay bales, the wedding party wore cowboy boots and the reception was held in the horse barn. At one point during the event, Garrett, in her wedding dress, took a spin around the area on her late father’s horse. The wedding is just one more cherished memory of the farm, one more tie that binds Garrett to the homeplace. “I kind of feel like this place runs through my blood,” she says. “I feel like I breathe it. It draws me back. I don’t know why.” *FI



Farm Indiana // march 2014

compiled by ashley petry photos courtesy of venues

Farm Stays Take a break from city life and experience country life firsthand

In the years before the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette built a fake farm village in her backyard, complete with a flock of sheep—perfumed, of course—that she sometimes pretended to tend. Fortunately, travelers no longer have to resort to such tricks if they want to spend a day (and even a night) on a working farm. After a long, gloomy winter, a farm stay seems like the perfect way to reconnect with the bounty of nature. Here are six Indiana options to try.


Mary Rose Herb Farm and Retreat 23112 Cattail Road, Bristow (812) 357-2699 www.maryroseherbfarm.com

Michaela Farm 3127 Indiana 229, Batesville (812) 933-0661 oldenburgfranciscans.org/farm.asp

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On a budget? Although space is limited, you may be able to snag a spot in the Volunteer in Residence Program at Michaela Farm, which is operated by the Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg. Volunteers can stay for up to two weeks, working at least five hours a day on the farm in exchange for free lodging. The Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg, has farmed the property since 1854, but production decreased in the 1970s and 1980s before stopping entirely in 1987. In 1991, the Sisters revived the farm, a 300-acre property that encompasses peaceful pastures, woodlands and prairies. With the help of volunteers, they now tend multiple herb, flower and vegetable gardens; in addition, more than 200 chickens and 70 beefalo currently call Michaela Farm home. “We grow things as naturally as possible, so people who volunteer with us learn about the ways we produce and manage a garden without harmful chemicals and synthetic fertilizers,” says Becky Miller, head gardener. “They get a better idea of how a farm works as a complete ecosystem.”

Founded in 1999, the Mary Rose Herb Farm and Retreat offers a unique lodging option: yurts. The free-standing circular buildings, which are made of insulated canvas and wood frames, let guests fall asleep to the sounds of nature. Even better, the roofs can be opened for an unparalleled view of the stars. Owners Dick Betz and Rosa Lee Sheard had scaled back the herb-farming aspect of the business in recent years, primarily for health reasons (which caused them to close the inn for a few months this winter). Sheard passed away on Jan. 31 of this year, but Betz planned to continue the business and reopened on March 1. Stick around for a few days to explore other southern Indiana agritourism destinations, such as Capriole Farmstead Goat Cheese (Greenville) and Huber’s Orchard, Winery and Vineyards (Starlight).

Farm Indiana // march 2014


Wild Winds Buffalo Preserve 6975 N. Ray Road, Fremont (260) 495-0137 www.wildwindsbuffalo.com

For a (temporary) home where the buffalo roam, steer your wagon toward the Wild Winds Buffalo Preserve. Founded in 1992 by a retired dental surgeon, the 400acre preserve has a herd of more than 250 buffalo, plus a handful of horses. Start with the guided tour, conducted in open-air trucks or on horseback, to get close enough to touch (and even feed) these historic animals. Wild Winds also has an onsite café and gift shop. But you only get the full Wild Winds experience if you stay overnight. Book a room in the five-bedroom bed and breakfast, where meals often include a generous portion of bison sausage, or stay in one of the outdoor tepees nearby. Even better, get an adventurous glimpse of the buffalo by moonlight by reserving one of the safari tents, which are set on raised wooden platforms out amongst the buffalo.

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Tyner Pond Farm

7408 E. Road 200S, Greenfield (317) 442-2679 www.tynerpondfarm.com

Located in the heart of Amish Country, the Mirror Lake Bed and Breakfast is a perfect home base for exploring Indiana’s farming heritage. Guests stay in a tranquil, private lakeside cottage and enjoy the bounty of a farm breakfast, often accompanied by a soundtrack of clopping horse hooves. But the real highlight is the “Farm to Farm” tour package. Guests start their day right on the Mirror Lake farm, learning about grain and cattle farming. Owner Kathy Fought says guests are also welcome to help with the horse chores or, during harvest season, to hitch a ride on the combine. Next, Fought sends guests on a customized itinerary of tours at nearby farms, which specialize in products ranging from bison to alpacas to maple syrup. Bonus: She also provides a packed picnic lunch, which includes foods from the same farms her guests have chosen to visit.

After your blockbuster technology startup is acquired for $2.5 billion, what’s left to do? For Chris Baggott, one of the founders of Indy-based ExactTarget, the answer was clear: Buy a farm. With fellow farmer Mark Farrell, Baggott now owns Tyner Pond Farm in Greenfield. It’s named for Elijah Tyner, a pioneer who established the farm in 1820, just four years after Indiana achieved statehood. Tyner Pond Farm offers daily tours of its sustainable operation, which specializes in pasture-raised beef, chicken and pork. “We have no secrets at the farm,” says business manager Chandra Chaves. “We’re very open about how we run things.” The farm’s four-bedroom farmhouse, which sleeps nine, is available for rent year-round. The fridge and freezer can be stocked, on request, with Tyner Pond Farm products, or guests can pick up supplies at the farm store, located just a few steps away. Fishing in the stocked lake is another fun option. “It’s a good gathering place for families,” Chaves says. “And it’s peace and quiet in a beautiful setting.”


White Violet Center for Eco-Justice

1 Sisters of Providence Road, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods; (812) 535-2930 spsmw.org/white-violet-center-for-eco-justice

The White Violet Center for Eco-Justice is a mission of the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, but you don’t have to be Catholic—or even religious—to participate in the center’s Private Earth Retreats. Although the center was created to demonstrate the Sisters’ belief in the interconnectedness of all creation, many people come here just to get some peace and quiet, perhaps by tending the organic vegetable garden, caring for the growing alpaca herd or making some fiber art. Although the center offers several lodging options, including dorm-style residence halls, the best bet is to reserve a private cottage. One is sustainably insulated with hay bales, and two are made of recycled materials, but all come with modern, fully equipped kitchens and bathrooms. If a solitary retreat isn’t your style, try planning your visit around one of the many educational workshops the center offers. Topics include fiber arts, such as spinning and weaving, as well as caring for fruit trees, fermenting vegetables (think sauerkraut) and celebrating Earth Day in style. *FI


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Farm Indiana // march 2014

Tony Leaderbrand

Wine Sellers

Story By Shawndra Miller Photos by Josh Marshall

When it comes to running a winery, the Leaderbrand family appreciates the value of hard work … and solar power ack in 2004, when Indianapolis resident Tony Leaderbrand and his wife and parents acquired the land that was to become Owen Valley Winery, one of the first items on the to-do list was to plant 250 persimmon trees. Tony had the idea that persimmon wine would have a distinctly southern Indiana appeal — a bouquet that would pair perfectly with the vineyard’s rural Owen County locale. Three and a half acres of grapevines planted that same year have yielded many a bottle of wine since then. The Steuben grapes shine in a sweet wine called Valley Blush, the Traminette in the semi-sweet Harvest Moon. And the ensuing years have seen steady growth for the winery operated by Tony and his wife, Jo Anna, along with his parents, Preston and Bonnie Leaderbrand. But persimmon trees take longer than grapevines to mature. Decades longer. “I’ll probably never see them in production,” he says, “because persimmon trees grow really slow. It’s a really dense wood, and it takes many years for them to get to an age to produce.” So in the meantime, every fall he places an ad in the paper offering to buy persimmons from local folks. By bucket and shoebox, people from all over the region bring in their fruit, which the winery buys by the pound. Toward the end of last year’s season, one of the elderly women who’d brought him several shoe boxes of persimmons told him: “This is the last you’ll see of me. I got enough to replace the tires on my car.”

Tony, the son of a coal miner, worked his way up at Roche Diagnostics without benefit of a college degree. He’s proud of his blue-collar roots and the values of hard work and thrift modeled by his parents. So the memory of this exchange takes on a special significance. He still gets a charge out of talking about that “little old lady” and her shoe boxes full of native fruit. “How cool is that?” he says. “There is nothing cooler than that. I had no idea that we would be able to do that for the public. I had no idea that it would mean so, so much.” To the Leaderbrands, keeping money circulating in the local economy is not the icing on the cake. It’s practically the whole banquet. Though they do bottle wines from California grapes, roughly 70 percent of the fruit used in their product comes from local sources. (They round out their persimmon needs by buying in quantity from Aleta Crowe, a Green County farmer.) And it isn’t just the wine. They serve Rice’s Quality Farm Meats at their tastings, offer locally roasted coffee beans from Dragonfly Farms, and sell Nate’s Candy Jar sweets in their shop. From May through October, local musicians are lined up to perform every second Saturday on the deck. And the walls of the tasting room feature a rotating display of artwork from the Owen County Art Guild. Aleta Crowe says all this magnifies the winery’s community impact. “Tony’s obviously very locally minded and concerned about being good to the people who are his neighbors and friends and acquaintances,” she says. The impact extends well beyond this one establishment. As the vineyard developed, Tony perceived a gap in local tourism efforts. “I kept getting this vibe that there’s no effort around trying to bring everyone together and do this task collectively,” he remembers. So in 2012 he hosted a meeting of area mom-and-pop busi-


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nesses to talk about the possibilities. The response was overwhelming: “We just packed the place,” he recalls. A hospitality initiative called Tour Owen Valley arose out of that meeting. Now everyone works together on cross-promotion of Owen County’s attractions. Whenever a local business hosts a special event, the restaurants and art guild and small shops are invited to participate. A retiree has begun printing a newsletter called Tour Owen Valley Times that tells the story of the county’s heritage, culture and natural beauty. Spencer resident Angie Lawson says Tony was “pretty fundamental” in drawing the group together. She believes Owen Valley Winery has put the county on the map in the viticultural arena. She’s Owen County’s chief deputy auditor and first got to know the family when Preston initially came into the auditor’s office to discuss plans to build a winery. About the Leaderbrands, she says, “They’re good people, and they really care about the community. Tony doesn’t actually live down here but probably spends 95 percent of his time here.” For his part, Tony insists, “It’s not about a winery. It’s about changing a community. It’s been about evolving a community into being more sustainable.” That evolution started with ensuring the business itself was sustainable. The family worked steadily over several years to lay the groundwork for a tourism destination that now is one of the anchors of the local economy. They took their time and built the business thoughtfully. The two-year search for just the right spot began when Preston and Bonnie came out of early retirement. As Tony tells it, after a lifetime of hard work, they found retirement a bit dull. So they talked to him about starting a new venture, and Tony suggested viticulture, thinking of the California wineries he and Jo Anna had enjoyed touring. Eventually, the Leaderbrands found the pristine piece of land in rural Owen County that they would shape into a vineyard. Starting in 2004 they began slowly transforming the barn on the property into a production facility and tasting room that draws growing numbers of visitors every year. The family’s work ethic served them well. By doing the work themselves, they were able to avoid taking on any debt. “We own everything a hundred percent,” he says. They further saved money by repurposing salvaged materials in the construction. Much of the structure and framing wood came from a construction company’s castoffs. They incorporated French doors from a hospital remodeling. The bar top was made from a piece of oak that Tony’s grandfather, a lifelong tinkerer and collector, had kept for some unknown purpose. Even the bathroom has a story: “I stopped at a church yard sale to purchase a toilet, and all I had was a check to pay,” Tony says. “So he asked for both of us to pray for the young men’s program at the center (instead of) money. So we did.” At the time he was still at Roche, but every spare moment was spent with his dad, framing, wiring and plumbing the place. “Weekends I’d go down and swing hammers,” he remembers. Many of his corporate friends and colleagues helped out, seeming to live vicariously through his dream. His two sons, Connor and


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Cody, now 17 and 21 respectively, also had a hand in the project. In June 2011 they were finally ready to open their doors with cooperage (wine storage) of 1,700 gallons. By 2013, Tony decided it was time for his tenure at Roche to end. At that time, their cooperage was up to 12,000 gallons, with a loyal customer base and a steady stream of out-of-towners. Angie Lawson is one of the winery’s regulars. “In spring and summer,” she says, “it’s a blast. We go out after work and spend a couple hours with friends having a glass of wine (and) listening to music.” Behind the scenes, the pruning and harvesting duties are shared among the family, and they’ve been known to invite customers like Angie to help with bottling. (Once a state representative stopped by for some glad-handing on a day when Tony was working alone on crushing two tons of zinfandel grapes. “I had no idea who he was,” Tony remembers, and recounts how he handed the politician a shovel, putting him to work despite his suit and tie.) Beyond the teamwork, each partner has a niche. Preston

takes responsibility for infrastructure and grounds management, and Bonnie manages events and décor. Tony (unofficial title: “chief executive wino”) does bookkeeping, permitting and various HR and operations tasks. Jo Anna, meanwhile, is the sophisticated palate behind the wines bottled at Owen Valley. While continuing to work in a demanding role operating an adult day care, she spends her extra time ensuring that only top-notch quality products are sold. From the assertive bourbon barrel-aged Persimmon Bold to the Valley Red made with Indiana Concord grapes, from the traditional Syrah to the fruity plum wine, there’s a lot to love about the result. “It’s good stuff,” says Angie. “I haven’t found any I didn’t like.” Last year was a particularly busy year: Cook Group invited the family to open a second tasting room at the restored historic Tivoli Theatre in downtown Spencer. The winery was also requested to be on the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail, an honor extended to six other winemakers in south central Indiana. And in September, Mann Plumbing MPI Solar of Bloomington designed and installed a solar photovoltaic (PV) system, with 34 panels atop the winery’s machine shed. Renewable Energy for America Program, managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Office, awarded the winery a grant for $10,000 to help offset the $40,000 price tag. The remainder of the funding came from Preston. “One of the things my dad had always wanted to do (was to) get off the grid,” Tony explains. So he loaned the business $30,000 toward that goal. Now some 65 percent of the facility’s energy needs are met by this installation, and the winery is leading the way among its peers in this commitment to renewable energy. “We are the only winery in the Midwest that is running on solar,” Tony says. The projected return on investment is 15 years. But it’s as much about education as it is the money, says Tony. Their mission is to distinguish the winery by these efforts and to make the process of switching to renewable energy as transparent as possible.

Solar energy makes them stand out, but even more so, says Angie, “I think it’s their passion for what they’re doing.” The clientele responds to that. Tony says his customers, whether regulars or just passing through, are invariably “the nicest people.” He attributes that to the fact that he’s marketing an agricultural product. The people who seek out a small vintner like Owen Valley Winery are looking for an experience not unlike a farmers market. He also feels that many folks in the community are pleased with Owen Valley’s success precisely because it’s not what many think of when they think “winery.” It’s not a hoity-toity place at all. He has found the community’s embrace to be one of the most rewarding aspects of the business. “It’s like a personal achievement for so many people, because we are blue-collar workers at our core,” he explains. “We’re country.” “I think the people in our arena root us on, they push us up, support us. I can’t tell you how good that feels.” *FI

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* For commercial use only. Customer participation subject to credit qualification and approval by CNH Capital America LLC or CNH Capital Canada Ltd. See your Case IH dealer for details and eligibility requirements. Down payment may be required. Offer good through March 31, 2014. Not all customers or applicants may qualify for this rate or term. CNH Capital America LLC or CNH Capital Canada Ltd. standard terms and conditions will apply. Canada Example: The interest rate will be 1.90% per annum for 36 months. Total contract term is 36 months: Based on a retail contract date of January 15, 2014 with a suggested retail price on a 25 foot True-Tandem 330 Turbo of C$62,316.40, customer provides down payment of C$12,466.40 and finances the balance of C$49,850.00 at 1.90% per annum for 36 months. There will be 2 equal annual installments of C$17,252.07 each, the first due on January 15, 2015 and 1 final installment of C$17,252.05 due on January 15, 2017. The total amount payable will be C$64,222.59 which includes finance charges of C$1,906.19.Taxes, freight, set-up, delivery, additional options or attachments not included in suggested retail price. Offer subject to change or cancellation without notice. CNH Capital and Case IH are registered trademarks of CNH America LLC. www.caseih.com

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Farm Indiana // march 2014

Indiana-made documentaries celebrate local growers By Jim Poyser

Executive director of Earth Charter Indiana, a presenting partner of Going Green Fest and the Eco-Film Fest


wo new documentaries about small-scale farming form a yin-yang couplet of rural and urban perspectives. “Down to Earth,” made by students at Ball State University, focuses on one farmer, whose organic practices invite both challenges and rewards. The other film, “FarmCity,” trains its eye on the urban farming movement in Indianapolis. Both films will be on view on the giant IMAX screen in the Indiana State Museum on March 14 as part of the ISM’s Going Green Festival. Subtitled, “Small farm issues in a big farm world,” “Down to Earth” is an entertaining and educational work, primarily focused on one small east central Indiana farmer, Kyle Becker, his wife, Emily, and their two small children. It’s a production of the Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry and Ball State University. In the prologue of the film, Kyle Becker points out he’s been actively working on a farm since he was 7 years old. “Everybody, in my opinion, has the job they were meant to do,” he says, “and as far as I’m concerned, this is what I’m meant to do. “I’m going to get up every day and try to be sure that I get to do it tomorrow,” he adds. We see that work ethic in action as Becker begins his day at 4:48 a.m., loading up the trailer to set up his booth at a local farmers market. Becker refers to his farmers market stints as his “therapy for six hours on Saturday morning. You get away from cows and the farm and see regular people.” The farmers market puts Becker directly in front of his customers, key to the survival and flourishing of the small-scale farm operation. “Having customers that care,” says Becker, “is one of the biggest reasons we do this. It’s a whole lot more rewarding. A growing number of people want to have a voice in how their food is produced. They value having a relationship with the farmer.” A farmers market creates such a relationship, but as another small farmer featured in the film points out, it also creates a multitude of relationships as farmers, merchants and customers all converge to create a vibrant community of folks who prefer getting their products Eco-Film Fest locally. “Down to Earth” is replete As part of the with information, such as the Going Green Festival statistic that, on average, food Date: 7 p.m. March 14 products travel 1,500 miles Location: Indiana State from producer to consumer, Museum/IMAX, increasing fuel use and thus pollution. 650 W. Washington St., The Beckers, who both graduIndianapolis ated from Purdue University, have Tickets: $9.50 a diversity of animals on their farm: cattle, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, lambs, goats and rabbits. “Down to Earth” focuses on the Beckers but manages in its under 40-minute running time to interview a number of local small-scale farmers, along with officials and local customers. It even features interviews with organic farming heroes Will Allen (Growing Power) and Joel Salatin (Polyface Farms). “We fear food now,” says the never shy Salatin, adding, “We don’t want unpronounceable food.” But once consumers begin to educate themselves, he notes, they can move “from fear to faith.” Farmers like the Beckers are engaged in developing trust between farmers and their customers, between farmers and their animals and between farmers and their plants. As the primary writer on the documentary, Ball State junior Sara Dreibelbis says that much of the information she came across in preparing for the project “seemed very negative and pessimistic. The future of agriculture seemed grim and unsustainable as I read more and more about the economic and ecological effects of corporate and industrial agriculture.” Dreibelbis, majoring in journalism and telecommunications, experienced something very different when she came to the Beckers’ farm. “Being on the farm calmed those fears and gave me powerful hope,” she says. “I saw firsthand that there are farmers and producers out there who truly care about the food they raise and the people it feeds. The Beckers’ enthusiasm for constantly improving their operation and their obvious passion for growing healthy food in a sustainable way was so uplifting. “I saw that there is definitely room for improvement in our nation’s agriculture,” she says, “but also that there are people

Kyle Becker

Students from Ball State University made the film "Down to Earth." Photos by Dan Edwards.

doing amazing work to make those improvements and to better their communities through sustainable, responsible agriculture.” For BSU student Garret Brubaker, one of the directors of photography for “Down To Earth,” the project “opened my eyes up to how real food should end up on your table. Spending time on this beautiful farm and then learning how the majority of food in America is produced made me want to change my grocery habits immediately. I realized, through this project, just how important food is to our country, and our film is about trying to show that importance of food — and how it’s produced — to as many people as we can.” Kyle Becker admits: “You’ve got to be just a little bit nuts” to be a farmer on the scale he’s working the land. His ultimate goal is to leave that land better than when he found it. As “Down to Earth” makes clear, this is anything but nuts; it’s a great way to feed a population and restore our relationship to the land. The “Down To Earth” film is part of a larger project that engages Ball State students in community outreach. To learn more, go to downtoearthfarming.org. To learn more about the Beckers’ farm, visit beckerfarmsin.com.

Straightening the Kankakee A third Indiana-made documentary rounds out the lineup for the Eco-Film Fest. “Everglades of the North: The Story of the Grand Kankakee Marsh” combines interviews, historic images and brief re-creations as it details the draining of a million acres of marshland and the “straightening” of the Kankakee River. The documentary, by Pat Wisniewski, Brian Kallies, Tom Desch and Jeff Manes, shows the destruction wrought by the pro-consumption, anti-nature mindset and what people are doing now to try to restore at least a portion of this magnificent habitat.

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Farm Indiana // march 2014

‘FarmCity’: an urban exploration


Aster Bekele

s one urban farmer, Aster Bekele of Felege Hiywot Center, states at the beginning of this new documentary, “God created this beautiful earth. It’s balanced. We are messing it up. … Let’s learn to balance it; let’s restore it back, which in turn will restore our souls to our bodies.” Filmmaker J.D. Schuyler must have known he struck gold when he elicited that quote from Bekele, a well-known figure in the local urban farming movement in Indianapolis. And, yes, he harvests much wisdom in “FarmCity,” which at press time was still being edited. It will, he assures us, clock in at around 25 minutes by its completion. Schuyler’s goal in making this documentary was to examine “the complicated relationship between the health of a city and its food system ... (to explore) what needs to happen to build a healthier city.” He does so by interviewing a wide swath of stakeholders, from a single mom feeding her three children, to health experts, community organizers, an urban farmer and a grocery store owner. The single mom featured in “FarmCity,” Katherine Boyles, not only takes us shopping, but she shows us how to save money by purchasing locally sourced foods. Schuyler invites us inside her home as well, where she involves her three children in preparing the day’s meals. “I want them to be open to basically any food,” says Boyles, “and to be aware of how healthy the food that they’re eating is — not just how good it tastes or how quick it is.” She pauses, laughing, “I guess I’m doing a pretty good job.” As Sandy Cummings from the Marion County Health Department puts it, we have a “culture of less-than-healthy food choices. We need to change that culture so that healthy food is more the norm.” Cummings points out that in Marion County about two-thirds of residents are overweight or obese. Thirty-three percent, she notes, are obese or morbidly obese. An essential key to solving this problem, she says, is to increase access to fruits and vegetables: “We need to make the healthy choice the easy choice.” “FarmCity,” sponsored by Eskenazi Health, explores issues of poverty and food deserts, along with the inefficiency of a food system that rewards long-distance foods over locally grown. Isaiah Kuperstein, owner of Double 8 Foods, brings nuance to the narrative by pointing out that a grocery store “can offer the products, but we can’t put something in there on a steady basis until we know for sure people are going to buy it. … It’s not like they are knocking on our doors right now saying, ‘Give us organic!’ I suspect that topic might be much more commonly looked at in suburban areas … but that could change.”

Filmmaker Schuyler is a native Hoosier and grew up gardening. He’s co-founder of Craftedspoon (craftedspoon. com), an online project utilizing video to promote local food initiatives. “FarmCity” was the next step on his journey to cover food as a social justice issue. “Indianapolis’ health is a complex issue to discuss,” Schuyler says. “Policy and economics have a strong influence on what is broken in our food system, yet I believe education is the tool that will help address the city’s health issues. Through education, I believe we can empower residents to take more active roles in their own health and in return influence the city’s health for the better.” “FarmCity” contributes to that education by giving voice to agency officials, business owners and community activists. Like “Down to Earth,” it focuses on the necessity of healthy relationships in building healthy communities. As for Aster Bekele, she started her Felege Hiywot Center in Indianapolis to “teach the youth how to love science. … We have dietitians from Community Hospital that are here with us, every day. They connect all of this to health.” As “FarmCity” makes clear with inspiring footage, Felege Hiywot grows a lot of food, where children help tend and harvest the food, as well as turn it into healthy meals. In the process, Bekele wants to connect kids to understanding how growing food connects to the science of the body and how it functions, “all the way to the kitchen and to the table. “My passion,” she concludes, “is that no child should be afraid of science.” *FI

Filmmaker J.D. Schuyler

You determine your needs. We’ll supply the seed money. Jason Schroer 812.418.5213

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Farm Indiana // march 2014


By Clint Smith

Lauren Day is waiting out these last weeks of winter with warm thoughts of spring … and strawberries. Lauren Day is a high school relations specialist and demonstration chef with the Chef’s Academy of Indianapolis. And though the school is based in Indianapolis, Day makes rounds all over the state to speak with young, aspiring chefs and would-be bakers at career centers and high schools. It’s easy to relate to these youthful cooks because Day remembers when she, too, was young and eager to learn. “I have always loved being in the kitchen,” she explains, “and my parents were very supportive of my interests.” She recalls writing recipes on note cards as an elementary student in her hometown of Crawfordsville. Day laughs now at the memory of her attempts to make bread and cookies. “Basically the products tasted awful, but my family ate them anyway,” she says. From there, her skills in the kitchen grew more refined; and while still in elementary school she began decorating cakes. “My dad bought me all the tools I needed and I begin to experiment,” she says. “I taught myself by reading books and watching tutorials online.” By her middle school years, Day was making a name for herself in her small town. “I started taking orders from friends and family,” she says, selling her first wedding cake when she was just 12 years old. “Once I was in high school, my business really took off, and I was busy filling orders every weekend,” she says. Today, she continues her moonlighting catering business, creating custom cakes and pastries from home. In addition to her community outreach responsibilities with the Chef’s Academy, Day teaches cooking classes at the Nestle Inn Bed and Breakfast (nestleindy.com) in downtown Indy, tutoring groups in a mix of baking basics and advanced concepts — chocolate, pies, miniature desserts. Though peak season for strawberries is still off in the distance, Day shares a recipe to keep readers inspired for the coming season. For this “Indiana-friendly” recipe, Day recommends using a homemade pie crust, but says there’s absolutely nothing wrong with store-bought crusts. And she encourages the use of fresh basil from, ideally, a local garden. Photos courtesy of Lauren Day



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Strawberry Basil Hand Pies 2 pints of fresh, Indiana strawberries ¾ cup of granulated sugar (may need more or less depending on the sweetness of the strawberries), plus more for finishing pies Juice from 1 fresh lemon Several sprigs of fresh basil 1 pie crust, rolled out thin and cut into 7-inch circles As needed, egg wash (one egg whipped with a dash of milk or cream) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large saucepan, gently cook strawberries with ¾ cup of sugar. Add in lemon juice and fresh basil. Continue cooking until fruit mixture reaches a jam-like consistency. Remove from heat. Place individual pie doughs on a floured surface. Spoon fruit mixture into the center of each circle, then brush the perimeter with egg wash. Fold one side over to make a half-moon shape and seal the edges. Place each “pocket” on a parchment-lined baking sheet, brushing the exterior with additional egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Using a paring knife, make small slits on top of the crusts to allow venting. Bake pies at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes. (Time will vary, depending on the oven.) *FI

Farm Indiana // march 2014

Get Growing Joe Ramey knows the cyclic rhythms of this region, the seasonal cadence of seeds and soil. But, for Ramey, it’s not enough to simply know for himself. He has to teach these lessons to a younger generation, because he also knows the potential existing along the landscape of eager young minds. This is Ramey’s 26th year as a horticulture and landscaping instructor at Central Nine Career Center in Greenwood, and even before becoming a teacher, he was a student himself at the facility. It would suffice to say that he has a tip or two to pass along to produceproducing readers eager to get back into the garden. “For cool-season vegetables, start seeds indoors to establish a start on the plants for the upcoming growing season,” says Ramey. “To test the germination rate of seeds from years past, plant 10 seeds in a controlled area.” This could be a tray, a small container or a bowl. “Keep seeds warm and moist. Seventy percent or higher germination rate is better,” he explains. Ramey says that “starting seeds indoors for warm-season plants is always a great idea. It helps to get a head start on vegetables or flowers.” Keep the soil warm and moist to promote sprouting. “Once the sprouts have formed, hardening off (a process of getting plants used to colder or outside temperatures) needs to occur before plants are transplanted into the desired planting bed,” he says. Ramey explains that about a week or so before transplanting the seedlings into their future home, place the plants outside during the day. “Starting out, only keep the plants outside, under shelter, for a few hours,” he says. Gradually increase the length of time they are outside each day by a couple of hours, and don’t forget to bring the plants in at night. At home in his spare time, Ramey has been working on preparing the hay fields for some new guests on his property: several miniature cows. The cows — which, by comparison to a traditional bovine, come in at a diminutive 30 inches tall — are a novelty for Ramey and his family. He intends to keep some but is more inclined to sell, either for show or beef. “The meat cells are smaller,” explains Ramey, “which is supposed to yield more tender meat.” —Clint Smith


Dave and Lynn Rodgers

Food from the Boot Southside market brings Italian delicacies to Johnson County By Clint Smith


nce in a while, a small business emerges with the sort of personality that provides the perfect pairing for a community’s unique profile. R Italian Market, 954 N. State Road 135, opened in the fall of 2012 and has been steadily holding to its promise: to preserve heritage with food and tradition. Dave and Lynn Rodgers (the “R” in R Italian Market is a wink at the couple’s last name) have capitalized on a much-needed niche in the area. With Johnson County host to several tiendas, Indian markets and Asian groceries, the Rodgerses have utilized their combined culinary backgrounds (Dave worked in hospital food service for decades, and Lynn was a sales specialist with a knack for Italian products) to add yet another resource for those seeking unique cuisine. The curved, glass showcase at the front of the market serves as a study in authentic, Italian delicacies with salamis, pastas, homemade (or “fatto in casa”) entrees, olives, cheesecakes, cannolis and an array of hard-to-find cheeses and other treats rare to the area. Dave orders in items from all over the country. The fresh-baked bread, which warmly permeates the modest market, is delivered from Tribeca Bakery in New Jersey.

In addition to the products available for stop-in shopping, R Italian Market also offers pick-up catering. Rodgers happily encourages customers to “try before they buy.” Just step up to the glass showcase and make a request.

Penne Pasta with Pistachio Sauce Provided by R Italian Market

1 pound penne rigate ¾ cup shelled pistachio nuts 5 tablespoons melted butter ½ teaspoon chopped garlic 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon salt 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 1 cup heavy cream ½ cup grated Parmesan-Reggiano Bring a large pot of water to boil, add salt and pasta. While pasta is cooking, make the sauce: Rinse pistachio nuts with cold water and towel dry to remove excess salt. In a sauté pan, sauté pistachios for a few minutes with 1 tablespoon butter. Transfer to a food processor and pulse to a fine chop. Add the remaining butter, garlic, oil, salt and lemon juice. Pulse once. Transfer pistachio mixture back to sauté pan. On low heat, add heavy cream and parmesan. Immediately add the drained pasta to the hot sauce. (Add a couple spoonfuls of pasta water if sauce is too thick.)

Photos courtesy of R Italian Market


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Profile for HNE Media Magazines

Farm Indiana  

March 2014 Issue

Farm Indiana  

March 2014 Issue


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