Farm Indiana | July 2015

Page 1

JULY 2015

Rural Living & Local Food

Preserving a Legacy Andy Isch returns to his roots


Indiana Grown Commission Jacobs and Brichford Farmstead Cheese Hoosier Hills Food Bank

Rural Living & Local Food

Contents JULY 2015

5 Field Notes Tips and advice

6 Boehmer Peony Farm 12 Jacobs and Brichford


Farmstead Cheese

18 WINE Tour 22 Hoosier Hills Food Bank 26 Isch Farm 30 The National Weather Service

34 Freebird Farm & Homestead

38 Indiana Grown 40 County Fairs 42 From the Field

Columns by growers and information on continuing education classes

50 Local Food

Johnson’s BBQ Shack, Sweet Corn

Ice Cream, Brick House Vinaigrettes


Andy Isch at his farm. Photo by Josh Marshall

Congratulations to all the 4-H’ers for their hard work!

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The Good News

“ ” I “OVER 90 PERCENT of Indiana’s food is sourced from out of state, yet it has the 7th largest market value of crops — with over $7.5 billion in 2012. — Key data findings from the Indiana State Department of Agriculture’s Food Hubs Feasibility Study. Bottom line: Indiana is home to incredible soil, plenty of water and a growing demand for nutritious, local food, but we don’t have enough people producing the foods we want to eat. It’s a good time to get into farming, and food hubs, as well as the Indiana Grown local food initiative being offered by the ISDA, can help.”

I posted the above text to Farm Indiana’s Facebook page back in June, just after sitting down to hear Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Ted McKinney and ISDA Local Food Manager David King discuss findings from their recent food hub study. What I heard that day further confirmed my already strongly held theory: Great things in local food are just on the horizon here in the Hoosier state. I’ve been saying this for years now. And with each new story that we publish in Farm Indiana, my beliefs are bolstered. But it makes me wonder whether it’s time to change my tune. Maybe great things in local food are already happening here. And those things just keep getting better. Consumers are clamoring for organic, sustainably grown foods, and big food corporations are hearing their cries. King spends his days meeting with buyers from big companies, like Wal-Mart, Kroger and Marsh, and he hears the same thing, he says, with each new meeting. These buyers want to sell local food in their stores. The trouble with Indiana? There aren’t enough local food suppliers. There are a number of Hoosiers working to change this. And this transformation, like anything that needs to be done well, will take time and careful planning. But thanks to the ISDA and its Indiana Grown program, which gets its official launch this month (read about it on page 38 of this issue), as well as the work of many others from Purdue Extension (Jodee Ellett, Roy Ballard, Michael O’Donnell and Steve Engleking, I’m looking at all of you), local food in Indiana is finally having its day. As for Farm Indiana, we’ll be here to tell you all about it.

A monthly publication of Home News Enterprises, Farm Indiana offers the local news and views of Indiana’s farming world, including features about local families and their farms, agriculture businesses, equipment and technological advances, educational outreach programs and more. Farm Indiana promotes and celebrates Indiana’s rich history and tradition in farming; serves as a conduit of information among growers, producers, farmers, retailers, farming organizations and local food consumers; educates readers about the nutritional, social and financial importance of local food support and consumption; and highlights Indiana local foods and agritourism.


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Preparing a Bed John and Rebecca Williams of Martinsville have kept a garden for 13 years. John Williams uses a broadfork to prepare his beds for planting. The broadfork is a tool used to manually aerate and break up the soil utilizing a no-till method. He prefers the broadfork over a rototiller because he “can use it even when the ground’s wet,” he says, and because the tool aerates the soil, preserving its structure without killing the worms. John Williams using The tines of the fork, which are approximately 12 his broadfork inches long, loosen and lift the soil, leaving root space for the plants. Williams simply throws the tines into the ground and then rocks the tool back and forth to loosen the earth. He then steps back about four or five inches and repeats the process all the way down his rows. He uses the approximately 28-inch width of his broadfork to define his beds, which end up being about 36 inches wide. Then he increases the root space available to the plants by shoveling 4 to 5 inches of loose soil out of the garden paths to add to the beds. Williams ends up with approximately 15 or 16 inches of soil depth in his beds. The broadfork creates holes so that when “little seedling roots want to grow deep, they can find places to grow deep,” he says. “It allows water to trickle in and to stay.”

Fortifying Soil

ANNE MASCHMEYER, beautification director of Downtown Indy, comes from a long line of gardeners. Four generations ago, her great-grandfather, William Maschmeyer, was a German immigrant who settled on the southside of Indianapolis and grew vegetables to be sold at the downtown Indianapolis City Market. Each generation after has had a hand in raising vegetables, flowers and trees. Anne says that her father, James Maschmeyer, would spread whole leaves over his garden bed and till them in. She continues to use leaves to fortify the soil. “To improve my garden beds, I place a few leaves left from fall in the planting holes,” she says.

Staking Tomatoes

Daniel Graber of Graber’s Produce in Odon knows all about staking tomatoes. On the farm, the Grabers grow between 500 and 600 tomato plants each year. Graber purchased discarded 5/8 -inch steel oil well pump rod years ago and cut the rod into 6-foot lengths. To stake his tomatoes, he drives one rod into the ground for every three tomato plants, leaving approximately 5 feet between stakes with tomato plants set 18 to 20 inches apart between them. He then ties baling twine off on the first rod and runs the string along the plants and down to the next rod, where he makes one loop around the rod before continuing on. Then he runs the string back along the other side of the plants, tying it off back at the original rod. This process is repeated throughout the season as the plants need further support. Each set of rods will have approximately six pieces of twine to support the plants. FARM INDIANA // JULY 2015





Carrie and Bill Boehmer’s peony farm boasts more than 100 years of history BY CATHERINE WHITTIER PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOSH MARSHALL Carrie Boehmer



The Boehmer and Bryan families work to remove thorns and bundle freshly picked peonies.


NINETEEN YEARS AGO when Carrie Boehmer and her husband, Bill, purchased their grand old farmhouse on the southside of Indianapolis, they never would have guessed they would own a peony farm. The house, which sits on a little less than half an acre, looked like a good place to raise a family, and that it has been. The Boehmers now have seven daughters, one son and a cat, who have filled the home with happy memories. Outside, the family tends to a couple dozen chickens and a large vegetable garden, which runs along a back fence. In a lot just west of the house, some 600 peony plants grow in rows, producing thousands of flowers every year. The Boehmer home, which was built in 1875, fits on the map like a piece in a



complex puzzle. Historic homes and garden plots are mixed up with a variety of businesses on subdivided land in the area that was once home to a large settlement of German immigrant farmers and gardeners. At its peak in the 1940s, the area offered the “largest concentration of greenhouses in the country,” according to the Indiana Historical Society. The farms provided vegetables to the community year-round. Today, vehicles rumble past the Boehmer house as they make their way to nearby apartments, gas stations and local businesses, which have replaced much of the farmland. But inside the house, all the hustle and bustle fade away. The Boehmer home was once the centerpiece of William and Louisa Maschmeyer’s

Carrie Boehmer holds a sign believed to be from the 1950s that once welcomed visitors to the property. Above, the Boehmer family home.

40-acre homestead. The couple built the house and raised 12 children who would help them tend to the fruits and vegetables they grew and sold at the downtown Indianapolis City Market. Four generations later, William and Louisa’s great-granddaughter, Anne Maschmeyer, reflects on her days growing up on the land. She explains that her grandfather, Edward Maschmeyer, and her father, James Maschmeyer, also built their homes on her great-grandfather’s property. Edward began growing trees and shrubs, establishing what would later become known as the largest tree nursery in the state. It was during this time that the first pink peonies were planted on the Maschmeyer land. Anne remembers fields of peonies, which she and her older sis-

ter, Elsa, helped to “cut and bunch to be put in cold storage and sold on Decoration Day.” As Anne’s grandfather aged, her father took over the nursery and peony business, always aware that when his father passed away, the houses and land would be sold according to the estate plan. When that day came, everything was indeed sold, with one exception — the Maschmeyers retained the less than one acre of land next to the original house, where the peonies and vegetables grew. This is where the Boehmers enter the story. As the Maschmeyers continued to grow vegetables and tend the peonies on the small plot of land, they built a friendship with the Boehmers, who had moved to the old family home. It wasn’t long before

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Left, Tessa Boehmer, 8, Daniel Bryan, 11, Peggy Bryan, Carrie Boehmer, Elizabeth Boehmer, 13, Abigail Boehmer, 4 (front), Serena Boehmer, 16, Jonathan Boehmer, 12, Noelle Bryan, 9, Alaina Boehmer, 13, Alisa Boehmer, 6 (front), Marissa Boehmer, 22

they were all working together to grow vegetables and peonies in what had become their community garden. “We were happy gardeners together,” Maschmeyer remembers as she describes how the little Boehmer children would pile into the wheelbarrow to take rides down the lane in the garden. Around 2009, Maschmeyer decided to sell the plot of land to the Boehmers. The peonies were a lot to take care of, and it just wasn’t the same for Anne without her sister, Elsa, who had recently died, helping her. “We (she and Elsa) always knew we would sell to the Boehmers,” Maschmeyer explains. The Boehmers were “such good stewards of the land,” she says, that “it was meant to be.” James Maschmeyer had taught Carrie the art of growing and harvesting the flowers. But it wasn’t until the first year that she owned the lot that she learned all the secrets. Maschmeyer spent a season teaching Carrie everything she knew, and the two of them, along with the Boehmer

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children, worked for many hours together in the gardens. Initially, “it was very overwhelming. It was a lot of work, more than I ever could have imagined,” Carrie recalls. When she shared her exhaustion with her friend, Peggy Bryan, at church, Bryan agreed to bring her seven children over to help. And so began a five-year relationship — Carrie and Peggy and some combination of the 15 children between them — tending the rows of peonies. The group shares not only the money earned through the crop, but also the friendship and fun that are a result of their time together. The children, who are homeschooled on a schedule that allows them to be free at peony time, “love it because it’s kind of the social event of the year, where people are coming over continuously,” Carrie says. When it comes to peonies, “different times of the year brings different chores,” she explains. “Keeping the weeds down is a big deal. When you have hundreds of plants, the weeds are terrible.” After Carrie and Peggy have cut the flow-

ers early in the morning, the smallest children carry them to the middle children who sort them. Carrie’s 16-year-old daughter, Serena, is the “head sorter” who rarely makes a mistake. “There’s a lot of colors. You wouldn’t think it’s so hard, but as they all come in, it can be difficult to sort them and keep all the kinds straight,” explains Carrie. The stems are then bunched into groups of 10, placed in a small amount of cold water and transported to cold storage as soon as possible. Growing peonies has become part of the family identity for the Boehmers, as it was for the Maschmeyers. The family sold approximately 4,000 peonies in 2014, and, for Carrie, growing peonies is not about earning money, as much as it is about having something unique that the family can do together. Her children have learned how to work hard and earn money. “Really, a lot of them are experts and know more about peonies than most people would ever even realize there is to know,” she says. For more information about the Boehmer peony farm, email

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Large c​heese​ wheels​ awaiting sale​at the Jacobs and Brichford​Farmstead creamery. Opposite page, Matthew Brichford travels the back roads of Connersville between the creamery and the pasture.

Connersville’s Jacobs and Brichford Farmstead Cheese earns acclaim for its artisan products. By Robin Winzenread Fritz Photography by Josh Marshall



T TRAVELING ON STATE ROAD 1 through the rambling Whitewater Valley south of Connersville, it’s fairly easy to miss the nondescript building housing Jacobs and Brichford Farmstead Cheese. No signs mark the location, and even the cows that produce the milk aren’t pastured on the premises. But when you step inside the white and stainless-steel interior, it’s clear. This isn’t a barn. It’s a creamery, and stacked high upon the shelves in the aging room lay dozens of 25- to 30-pound wheels of awarding-winning artisan, farmstead cheeses that find their ways onto plates from Oregon to New York. “We have a waiting list for the first month or so’s production,” says Matthew Brichford, co-founder and cheese master, of his Ameribella cheese, a buttery yellow, semisoft cheese made with raw milk from his specially bred, grass-fed cows. “It’s a washed rind cheese,” he says looking over the day’s batch, “so every day it gets wiped with a brine. The salt helps kills bacteria, and it also flavors it, and it just keeps the surface of the cheese moist. “We usually make two cheeses at a time,” continues Brichford, glancing at dozens of plastic molds holding future wheels of Everton, a Gruyere-style cheese with a firmer, but still creamy texture. “Gruyere is like a sophisticated cousin of Swiss. It’s cooked to a higher temperature so it doesn’t have the holes in it, and it’s drier than Swiss. Swiss has kind of a brassy flavor. This is more muted.” Muted or not, that hasn’t stopped Brichford’s American version of Gruyere from 14


The dairy’s cows are a crossbreed of Jersey, Normande and Tarentaise.

drawing acclaim. His Everton cheese earned a Good Foods Award in 2014 while his Ameribella earned the same honor this year. Brichford enters his cheeses in three to four contests a year with a two-fold purpose. “The whole thing about being in contests is to get noticed,” he explains. “That’s one thing that we’ve found. And you need to enter competitions in order to get criticism about your cheese.” Turning close to 2,000 pounds of fresh milk a day into cheese is rewarding to Brichford, but running a creamery was not his

“It’s work, building everything you do, designing a cheese plant, making the cheese, and marketing the cheese is a whole other career, but I’ve always been a big cheese fan.” —MATTHEW BRICHFORD

first agricultural career choice. Life with his wife and partner, Leslie Jacobs, first began on the Hoosier Homestead family farm in 1981 raising beef cattle and planting row crops. For the first 10 to 12 years, he raised Galloway beef cattle while farming crops on roughly 350 acres. But crop farming lacked appeal to Brichford, and in 1995 he decided to expand to include a dairy. Initially that dairy housed a cross of Jersey, Normande and Tarentaise cows who were fed both grass and grain, but Brichford eventually

Matthew Brichford. Below, racks of cheese midway through the aging process.

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switched to grass only with an eye toward producing a better product. “I’ve always been grass-based, but I also used to be grain, and I quit that probably about 10 years ago. The health of the animal is quite a bit better,” says Brichford regarding the switch. “It means lower production, but the health of the animal is better. And it imparts a flavor to the milk that, if it’s done right, makes a big difference in the cheese. “I like grass farming,” he says, regarding the 440 acres he currently keeps in pasture for his herd. “I’m a grass farmer first. When

it comes to grass-fed, that’s where it’s at. That’s what it’s all about, sustainable agriculture. And it generates a lot of sales.” But it hasn’t always been that way. Though Brichford set out to offer a better product with his dairy, he says he was never rewarded for selling grass-fed only milk, and he was killing himself in the process. His dairy operation had expanded, but lack of dependable help led to long hours, and his days off were few and far between. “I’ve always been seasonal, which means we start milking in March and quit in DeFARM INDIANA // JULY 2015


The radiant heating manifold and plumbing used at Jacobs and Brichford Farmstead creamery.



cember,” Brichford says, “and we would milk twice a day. I got up to 240 head, and we ran into labor problems. I have a good parlor and we can milk a lot of cows through it — if you have good help — but it’s difficult to find dairy help around here. Trying to find any farm help is a real challenge. “I can milk 16 at a time,” Brichford continues, “so we were milking 240 a day, twice a day and I was doing most of the milking myself and farming. … “I was just working too many hours. That last year I hired 19 people, and none of them lasted more than three days until the last two, and they were only part-timers. They came out and did my evening milking, and that probably kept me from falling over dead that year. So I sold down to 50 cows and kept shipping to the co-op and started building the creamery.” That was in 2007, and for the next four years, Brichford researched the fine art of making cheese while planning and building his cheese plant. From the beginning, he set out to do it right, taking classes on cheese making and working with the Indiana

Board of Health to build a clean facility in which to craft his farmstead, artisan cheeses, all while continuing to manage his smaller dairy. “We have a real clean plant,” says Brichford of his creamery, which opened in 2012. Cleanliness is of upmost importance for any creamery, but he is especially careful as he makes all of his cheese from raw, unpasteurized milk. Indiana allows the sale of cheese made from raw milk provided the product is aged under the right conditions for at least 60 days before it’s sold to the public. Waiting for 60 days allows any lethal pathogens to develop and be discovered through testing, which Brichford does regularly in his on-site laboratory. “You can kill people and make them sick for the rest of their lives with that stuff,” says Brichford of food-borne pathogens such as listeria, “so you have to be very careful.” His cheeses are classified as both artisan and farmstead because they are not only made in an open vat by hand — earning the artisan label — but also are made from milk

Plastic square molds allow the whey to drain, leaving cheese curds that will be washed in brine daily as they age.

produced by his cows on his land, earning the farmstead designation as well. Jacobs and Brichford Farmstead Cheese offers three cheeses, Ameribella, Everton and Briana, a semi-firm, smear-ripened cheese. Brichford is currently developing a fourth, which should be available this August. Adair, a creamy, semi-soft French variety with a Scottish family name, is his newest creation. Brichford sells his cheeses online through the creamery’s website,, and through distributors and retail locations around the country. Leslie and daughter Maize help to market their cheeses, while daughter Miah now manages the daily milking. A third daughter, Eliza, is entering a Ph.D. program in psychology and neuroscience at the University of Illinois. “It’s work, building everything you do, designing a cheese plant, making the cheese, and marketing the cheese is a whole other career,” Brichford says. “But I’ve always been a big cheese fan.”


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Satek Winery’s Lake James vineyard at Kreibaum Bay.

WINE Tour’s

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UNLIKE CHEESE, CHOCOLATE and Napa Valley, Indiana isn’t a word most readily paired with wine. In fact, our nation’s winemaking industry had its genesis in the Hoosier State, which is now home to 77 wineries; about a half-dozen are set to pop the cork within the next year or two. While a majority of venues are located within the central and southern regions of the state, other wineries are increasingly enjoying grape success. Chief among those is Satek Winery in northeast Indiana. Owners Larry and Pam Satek established the vineyard on land that once was a working apple orchard owned by her great-grandfather. Many bottles, medals and class awards later, the Sateks have grown their Fremont-

based winery into a popular destination for on-site events that include annual art shows and a holiday open house. In July 2013 Satek joined forces with six other wineries to form the WINE Tour (Wineries of Indiana’s Northeast) ( as the state’s sixth wine trail. Members’ intent is to showcase the region while introducing tourists to boutique offerings and award-winning Indiana varietals out-of-state visitors most often never knew existed. Shane Christ, Satek’s winemaker and WINE president, says although visitors from throughout the country readily access the winery off Interstate 69, most are from the tri-state area: Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. In addition to learning that the Hoosier

State grows wine, out-of-state travelers are most often surprised to see the region’s hilly terrain, he says. “Most people think of Indiana as just flat farmland, but we have much more than that. And the tour allows visitors to experience that diversity.” WINE members are scattered from Steuben to Delaware counties. In addition to Satek Winery, they are Briali Vineyard, Country Heritage Winery & Vineyard, Two-EE’s Winery, Fruit Hills Winery & Orchard, McClure’s Winery & Orchard and Tonne Winery. The premise of the WINE Tour is simple: Participants receive a passport, which is stamped at each winery. Those who visit all seven wineries within a calendar year get a prize. Because visiting all wineries takes more than four hours, participants most often don’t complete the tour in one day. Christ says the tour has gone pretty well. “It took awhile to unify our voices, more than anything, but we’ve had about 600 completed passports and about 1,000 are still out there.” The passport, he adds, is free. “We don’t charge for this as some wine trails do. That gives everybody a good chance to get on the trail and not have that initial speed bump. If you require a purchase to get a stamp, it’s very counterproductive.” Although their primary goal is to make quality wine, members also plan to offer participants incentives. Christ says they’re considering a T-shirt designed with each winery’s logo for those who visit all seven wineries. “We’re also looking at doing a WINE dinner with seven courses, seven different wines, and holding it at a restaurant … a nice fall harvest ... after people complete the tour. “I don’t want to do the same thing other wineries are doing,” he says. “Wine drinkers are younger and younger, and millennials don’t want to drink the wine their grandmas did. There are already too many traditions and formalities with wine.” As for more regional wineries sprouting up, Christ says, “There are two, perhaps three, definitely showing up on my radar, and possibly two or three more.” A TASTE OF THE TOUR “The Fort Wayne market has been begging for wineries for a decade,” says Jeanette Merritt, marketing director for Indiana Wines & the Purdue Wine Grape Team, as well as executive director of Vintage Indiana, the state’s largest wine festival. “I’m encouraged by the growth in the northeastern part of

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the state and excited by Indiana’s consumers so eagerly welcoming local wineries. “I believe Satek has seen great growth from those consumers, and the same wine drinker has eagerly welcomed other wineries in the area.” The wineries on the tour are a diverse group, she says. “You can visit McClure’s Orchard & Winery with the entire family for horse rides, apple picking, petting zoo activities and wonderful wine and hard cider,” she explains. “Or head to Tonne Winery to relax in their classy tasting room, complete with comfy couches and award-winning wines. “Country Heritage Winery and Two EE’s Winery offer the perfect places to host your next event or just relax and enjoy some weekend music. “And Briali, Satek and Fruit Hills offer peaceful rural settings in which to enjoy wine. All three of those wineries have beautiful countryside and are a great place to relax while sipping on a favorite.” Satek Winery, the oldest among them, marks its 14th anniversary this year. The newest, Two-EE’s, opened in Huntington just prior to the WINE Tour start-up, with Eric and Emily Harris as owners. In 2013 and 2014 Eric Harris won the Rising Star Winemaker award, presented to an international winemaker younger than 35 who exhibits exceptional talent and holds promise for the industry’s future. Harris comes to the industry with a unique background: a degree in winemaking, a focus on entrepreneurship and human resources at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, certification as a sommelier, and experience working along-

side his then-future father-in-law, who made wine in his basement. “I would say it all fell into place, rather than me at 5 years old saying I was going to be a winemaker,” Harris says. Having access to more experienced owners has been very beneficial, his wife says. “When you can call up another winery for help with machinery, to borrow their labeler, those are things you can’t put a value on,” Emily says. “It’s wonderful to have the assistance of those who have been through it and are willing to help you.” As for the future of wine in northeast Indiana, Eric says all they can do is hope for continual growth, both individually and as an industry. “I know more wineries will open in this region, and I don’t see an end in sight.” Kevin Tonne and Larry Simmons are coowners of Tonne Winery in Muncie. Tonne says it’s all about friendly competition. Sour grapes aren’t one of the ingredients in this increasingly competitive Indiana market. “All the owners are friends and help each other out as much as we can, sometimes learning from one another as we go,” he says. Tonne’s was named 2014 Indiana Winery of the Year in the Indy International Wine Competition; the winery’s Semi-Dry Traminette was recognized as Indiana Wine of the Year in the same competition. Tonne commutes to the winery from his Fort Wayne home. And, he says, since the WINE Tour began, he’s seen an increasing number of northern residents at the central Indiana setting. “Our wines compare very well with California wines, and this region has very nice wineries,” he adds.


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DEEP ROOTS Hoosiers’ love affair with the grape began 200 years ago when Swiss immigrants planted vineyards in Vevay. In 1807 J.J. Dufour founded the first commercial winery in the United States on hills overlooking the Ohio River. His success was largely due to the Cape, a cross between a wild native and a European grape. According to Indiana Wines, by the 1830s the state’s vineyards became nearly nonexistent as agricultural prices dropped. Thus, Cincinnati took honors as wine capital of the nation until after the Civil War. By that time, Ohio River banks were lined with vineyards, and the region was referred to as the “Rhineland of America.” Following a resurgence, Indiana was touted as the 10th-largest grape-producing state in the nation until after Prohibition, at which time it nearly disappeared. It wasn’t until almost four decades later that resuscitation arrived in the form of the

Small Winery Act of 1971, which allowed wineries to bypass wholesalers and sell directly to the public. According to the Indiana Wine Grape Council, in 2006 Indiana was home to 33 commercial wineries, a figure that has more than doubled since then. Exact production figures are unknown, but according to Merritt, “We are in the hundreds of millions, but we can’t wrap our arms around just how much. And we haven’t had the funding to do a major study.” One of the newest operations is


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WINE TOUR WINERIES Chesterton-based Running Vines Winery, which opened in April. In addition, Daniel’s Vineyards in McCordsville may be open this fall, she says. “Indiana has a wine industry that continues to grow each year. We appreciate local consumers who demand local wine and help our wineries become the leading agritourism destination in the state.” POUR IT AND THEY WILL COME Enthusiasts from throughout the country are coming to Indiana to enjoy wine “and are staying for our Hoosier hospitality,” notes Jake Oakman, director of communications and media relations for Visit Indiana. “The growth of this industry is due to the high-quality wines produced by Hoosier winemakers. They are adding an important and fun element to Indiana’s travel offerings. “Having a number of great wineries in the northern part of our state allows us to attract visitors from Chicago, Michigan and

Ohio and really sets Indiana apart from neighboring states in what we can offer road-trippers.” Satek’s Christ echoes that sentiment. “There’s definitely a lot of value to this for tourism,” he says. “Just by talking frequently to local restaurant owners, we know it’s made a huge impact. We draw visitors from as far as Toledo and Lansing, and even east to Cleveland and north to Ann Arbor. “Fruit Hills, near Shipshewana, is exposed to a completely different demographic. They’re getting them from South Bend and Chicago. Tonne, in Muncie, has a conduit into Indianapolis and central Indiana markets. “It was by design that we’ve done that,” he says. “It will help with longevity and build the value of our wine trail, because that’s the real value of tourism: people from the big cities. Happily, we’re in the crossroads of the crossroads.”





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Volunteers at the Hoosier Hills Food Bank garden. Left, Sadie Dainko, Jennifer Vickers, Mark Pogue, Bobbi Boos, Patty Denison and Marvin Smitherman.

O A Good Cause The organic garden of Hoosier Hills Food Bank helps to feed the hungry BY SHAWNDRA MILLER | PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOSH MARSHALL



ON A WINDY SPRING MORNING, with the sky threatening rain, six people work the straw-mulched garden beds of Hoosier Hills Food Bank’s organic garden. Covering over an acre of land on the edge of Will Detmer Park in Bloomington, the garden produces thousands of pounds of food for the hungry. John Harl of Ellettsville kneels at the end of a long row, tucking cabbage starts into compost-amended soil. A retiree who spent four years volunteering in the food bank’s warehouse, he decided to expand into the garden this year. “My mother was an Arkansas sharecropper’s daughter,” he says when asked if he has an agricultural background. He grew up with the expectation of pitching in on the family’s large vegetable garden, and he’s never been afraid of what he calls “donkey work,” meaning physical labor. Nearby, Patty Denison of Bloomington takes a pointer from Bobbi Boos, the garden operation’s sole paid employee. “That little one won’t make it,” says Boos, pointing to a tiny cabbage sprout Denison just planted. “You know how I feel about thinning plants,” Denison says with a smile and stoops to replace the plant with a leafier, larger specimen. Denison and Harl are among some 400 volunteers who collectively give more than 1,300 hours in a season to plant, tend, harvest and wash produce bound for the food bank. Their efforts extend far beyond this kale and cabbage bed. Soon they will plant lettuce, onions, carrots, tomatoes, beans and squash — over 20 varieties of produce in a seasonal rotation plan created by Boos. Boos, whose official title is garden and gleaning coordinator, says her job is intensely rewarding. “When we start to harvest, some days the food doesn’t even hit the cooler,” she says. “It immediately gets turned back around to agencies that provide food assistance.” Hoosier Hills Food Bank’s reach is vast, serving eight southern Indiana counties through its member agencies. Emergency food pantries, day care centers, residential homes and soup kitchens are among the nonprofits receiving food. Over the course of a year, the food bank provides over 3 million pounds of food to these agencies. A

mobile pantry makes monthly forays into counties that lack centralized food banks. Since 2008, with the instigation of the garden project, the food bank has been able to distribute local, organic garden produce on a regular basis. Individual gardeners have contributed their surplus for longer than that. But the existence of dedicated crops greatly increases the number of people receiving fresh-picked vegetables and melons. Future pickings will offer patrons one of the most popular fruits around. Bloomington Community Orchard donated several apple tree saplings (Arkansas Black, Red Volunteers plant California Wonders and Chinese Free and Enterprise varieties), now planted Giants bell peppers. along the eastern edge of the garden. This is the garden’s third year in Will Detmer Park, thanks to Monroe County Parks Department’s granting long-term use of this land. The acreage snugs up against community garden beds, where the public produce comes from God … it’s not yours. can rent raised beds or plots. You’re managing it for God,” he says. Last year the garden program resulted “You’re supposed to manage it the way he in nearly 23,000 pounds of produce offered would want it. Would he want it sitting through the food bank’s member agencies. there rotting? I don’t think so.” A whopping 71,000 additional pounds of He says other farmers sometimes express produce comes from the food bank’s gleanconcern about inviting a ing program, also coordinated gleaning group into by Boos. Starting in their fields, June, she mus“When we start to harvest, but he’s had ters volunteers some days the food doesn’t even hit nothing for a weekly the cooler. It immediately gets turned but positive gleaning trip back around to agencies that provide experiences to Harriman food assistance.” —BOBBI BOOS with Hoosier Farms, near Hills. “They stay Spencer. They where they’re supposed bring back “seconds” from to and are respectful of the the harvest, set aside by owner property,” he says. “I don’t have to pick up William Harriman. He also gives them trash after them, or baby-sit them. I don’t access to fields where he’s done harvesting, worry about things getting torn up.” and they pick what they find there. Other farmers take part in vital ways, Harriman got acquainted with the like Jeff Hartenfeld of Hart Farm. He starts food bank when representatives requested plants from seed in his greenhouse, includmarket day surplus at the Bloomington ing the cabbage and kale being planted Community Farmers Market. Since 2008, today. he’s proactively donated his excess produce. It all adds up to a huge impact for people “We’ll get done picking a batch of tomastruggling to get food on the table. toes,” he says, “and I’ll call them and tell At Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard in them what I have, (and say) ‘There’s still Bloomington, an influx of Hoosier Hills some good stuff there, if you want to come garden produce always meets with enthuand get it.’” siasm. Stephanie Solomon, who directs His Christian faith guides his desire education and outreach, says, “Fruits and to see surplus put to worthy use. “If your FARM INDIANA // JULY 2015


Sadie Dainko

vegetables are expensive, and so people are really excited when we have a good variety, especially of local produce. A lot of our people are concerned about where the food comes from and what kind of soil it’s grown in, and to be able to say it’s from Hoosier Hills Food Bank’s organic garden … is something a lot of people are excited about.” The highest-value items seem to be tomatoes and sweet corn, but patrons don’t shy away from other less-popular vegetables. “It surprises me sometimes,” she says, “how quickly things like kale will move through the pantry.” That might be largely due to Mother Hubbard’s commitment to outreach. The agency even grows produce of its own in 24


“A lot of our people are concerned about where the food comes from and what kind of soil it’s grown in, and to be able to say it’s from Hoosier Hills Food Bank’s organic garden … is something a lot of people are excited about.” — STEPHANIE SOLOMON

demonstration gardens and offers regular cooking workshops and tastings. “People are much more likely to take winter squash or greens if they’ve tasted something simply made with them,” she says. Back in the garden fields, volunteer Emily Winters gives her 2-year-old daughter, Hazel, a stack of seed trays to “organize” and returns to transplanting cabbage. “Knowing what we’re growing for is really satisfying,” Winters says. “If we bring in 1,000 pounds, it’s gone within one day.” “But the best part is probably the communal aspect of it,” she says. The other volunteers echo her sentiment, each enjoying the camaraderie that comes with working together for a good cause. In addition to weekly volunteer shifts

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Bobbi Boos

like these, Boos hosts ad hoc groups of helpers at various times in the season. They might be student groups, Girl Scout troops, church groups or 4-H clubs. Behind the scenes, she has a lot to do even before the volunteers arrive: tilling fields, sowing cover crops, mixing compost, creating plans, weighing and tracking outputs. She also writes grant applications for special projects. For example, this year she initiated a “potato project” because potatoes are among the items most requested by member agencies and their patrons. She obtained grant funding from the Archer Foundation, which supports programs teaching young people to garden. On Global Youth Service Day, April 17, she

worked with four area teen groups to plant 350 pounds of seed potatoes, and the youths will continue to maintain the plot over the coming season. Given that Boos also operates Sundry Farm with her partner, John Perry, in Owen County, this year-round off-farm job might seem overwhelming to someone with less energy and passion. But her mission is to get healthy food into the hands of people who need it. So she welcomes this work that adds up to 30 hours a week during the busy season. “The amazing thing is that I don’t do that much of it,” she says, indicating the volunteers bent over rows yellow with fresh straw, “because look what happens!” For more information, visit

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Andy and Kristen Isch preserve a small farm legacy BY JIM MAYFIELD




ON HIS 34TH BIRTHDAY, Andy Isch talks and strides easily between fences and red barns under the glaring umbrella of a Hoosier May morning. He’s a long way from where he was just a few years ago but pretty much right where he started as a kid growing up in Jay County. “I’m a farm boy, and my wife is a horse lady,” Isch said. A former business development and account executive in the corporate world, Isch and his wife, Kristen, an administrator at Ivy Tech’s Indianapolis campus, now own and operate Isch Farm, a seven-acre homestead, farm and horse stable just out of earshot of the big rigs howling east and west along Interstate 70 in western Hancock County. Compact and clean, the farm is an island of self-sufficiency in a sea of corn and bean fields. There’s an orchard yard that includes pear, apple and peach trees. Two of Isch’s early-season steers, which later this year will be someone’s naturally raised freezer beef, plod over to check out a visitor, and plans are being made to get the hog stalls in shape. “There’s our eggs over there,” Isch said, pointing to hens cautiously peering around the door of the chicken coop that was converted from an old ram shed. The shed was part of Don and Joan Kennedy’s significant sheep operation that drove this particular farm from the late 1960s until the Ischs purchased it just before Thanksgiving 2012. The big barn still bears the “Kennedy” placard over its door, and the decision to keep that family’s name above the main drive is more than just a nod to the previous owners. It’s a determined effort to throw a lifeline to a way of life that would all too easily fade into the mist absent a new generation that is coming to see the importance of saving it. Preserving the small farm legacy — in this case, one that’s been around since the early 1940s — is one reason for Isch Farm, but there’s a more personal one as well. Isch’s father was a farmer’s son, who helped work the operation until he was FARM INDIANA // JULY 2015


Kristen Isch

called to ministry. Isch spent his youth working on the farm and with the dairy herd. Agriculture ultimately gave way to college and business, and though Isch left the farm, the farm never really left him. About four years ago, he stood at the proverbial crossroads: One path led to a promotion, more commitment and more time on the road; the other to a new bride and a chance to get to something perhaps better. Something real. Something important. Something from back there. “I have a very strong sense of community in my background,” he said. “This is a way to try and get back to the family roots.” He decided he was done with the suit and tie. 28


So, with Kristen’s substantial knowledge base in all things equine — she’s been riding since she was 8 — they took the leap and bought the farm, hoping the horses would be the economic engine to keep things going as the enterprise developed. The Isch Stables portion of the operation offers full horse care with fresh stables, tack room, outdoor riding arena, lessons and a turnout pasture. City-bound folk can even get their equine fix by renting Mona or Moose, which is exactly what Melanie Stanage, a civil engineer living in Fishers, does to get away from it all when she needs to. “I love it out there,” Stanage said. “It’s peaceful. It’s nice.”

Though she’s ridden since the age of 10, college graduation, marriage, relocation and a profession conspired to separate Stanage from her passion for horses, until she found Isch Farm. She’s been working with Moose since last August, riding and taking care of him when she wants, meeting new friends and plugging into another world. “It’s my therapy,” she said. Similarly, folks can buy in to one of the Isch Farm beef steers, which are hand-picked from a fourth-generation producer near Muncie who needs only to know the animal’s ear tag number to tell you more than you want to know about the beast, Isch said. The farm runs four to six steers per batch

two to three times annually, and securing customers prior to taking the herd to market not only shores up the bottom line, it connects people to what’s happening on the farm, where buyers are encouraged to get up close and personal with the steaks they have a stake in. “You can touch it, see it and feel it,” he said. “People just get hooked.” Last September the family enterprise expanded to offer farm services — fence and stall construction, building repair and other services — that allowed Isch to focus all his efforts on farming and give him some time to ponder raising “Steerzilla,” the biggest walking side of beef on hoof the state has ever seen.

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“The record is 1,600 pounds,” he said in a tone indicating he thinks he can do better. It’s a work in progress, Steerzilla and the farm. Though it was never easy, farming isn’t as simple as it might have been, and the Ischs are constantly adjusting the plan to keep the project alive. “We’re still working on what works best for us,” he said. “The plan is to grow intelligently. We’re still figuring out how to have a small farm and make it work.” One day, maybe, Isch Farm may grow by another 25 acres or so if the couple get the chance to purchase the land just across the west fence line. But there’s no rush. As far as Isch is concerned, he’ll farm, build fences and continue his quest to

raise Steerzilla, while family and friends graft into the way things are done down on the farm. Three years ago, the pair bought some property and a legacy, but they got more in the bargain than getting back to the land and becoming a bit more self-sufficient. They reclaimed something from a day where the aroma and muted sounds of farm, family and close relationships drifted in the air of a warm Hoosier evening like a favorite song. “We’ve built a community by building our farm,” Isch said. “We love it.” Isch Farm is located at 4618 W. Road 300N, Greenfield. For more information, visit

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CLIMATE CONTROLS Meteorologists offer tips for farmers to stay current on weather




The main radar at the Indianapolis National Weather Service.


TO MOST OUTSIDE OBSERVERS, the numbers and graphics that meteorologist Dave Tucek sees every day at the National Weather Service (NWS) Forecast Office probably would be confusing. They may even seem downright arcane. “It can be a lot to take in with all the different systems we use, but you come to be familiar and comfortable with it after a while, like any job,” says Tucek, one of 16 meteorologists serving the NWS Indy branch, which was formerly located at Indianapolis International Airport before its current facilities on West Hanna Avenue in Indianapolis were constructed in 1993. The forecasts ultimately issued by Tucek’s office and each of the other 121 NWS forecast offices around the country are the result of far more than simply observing current weather patterns and guessing what those patterns might be a few hours later. The Indy office, like its fellow NWS branches, uses radar and satellite data, as well as data from airport-based

surface weather observation stations, to create short-term forecasts for central Indiana. Several computer programs, which display weather progressions and include graphical, color-coded and textual information (such as “PC” for partly cloudy, “OV” for overcast and “CLD” for cloud cover), are continually studied and interpreted by Tucek and the rest of the NWS staff. “There are four or five different American computer models, (and) there’s also a Canadian and a European model that we look at,” Tucek explains. “They all have slightly different physics built into them, so we like to look at them all, and you try to get a feel for which model is doing the best at the moment in time. For example, you might see that there’s a little bit of difference among the models in how a storm will be progressing from Missouri and tracking into northern Illinois. If two models that I’m looking at are differing, typically what I’ll do is bring up a third and a fourth model, and for me it’s kind of like the majority rules regarding what those models are showing for the next 12 hours or into the next day.” Tucek adds that weather-sensing mechanisms called radiosondes are attached to balloons and launched twice per day at daybreak and sunset by a number of NWS locations around the country — not including the Indy office — to measure wind patterns, temperature and atmospheric pressure at various altitudes. The battery-powered radiosondes attached to the balloons, which are filled with hydrogen or helium gas, send data back to the ground via radio transmitters for input into the NWS computer models. The NWS creates forecasts in 12hour increments for seven days, not much

help for a farm owner trying to obtain a more long-range seasonal weather glimpse prior to growing months. “When you’re talking about months in advance, for a farmer to plan ahead for the summertime based on climate data, there’s really not a lot to work with,” Tucek explains. “What’s unfortunate for farmers is that predictions for summertime weather, from a climate perspective, are very difficult because much of what happens weather-wise in the summer is driven on a very small scale, and our models are often not able to pick up on it. El Niño and La Niña (the warm and cold phases, respectively, during the fluctuation of temperature between the ocean and the atmosphere in the eastern tropical Pacific) usually have their strongest influence during the wintertime when the wind fields are strong because of the great temperature gradient between the pole and the equator.”



Clockwise, John Boner’s property was damaged by a storm in 2012. An 8-inch rain gauge. Meteorologist intern Meagan Bird. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Cooperative Weather Station.



Johnson County resident and retired cattle and soybean farmer John Boner recalls an experience in 2012 that serves as a cautionary tale for just how important weather awareness can be. While relaxing with his father on their 16-acre cattle and soybean farm, he suddenly spotted the sheet metal façade from one of his storage sheds sliding swiftly across his front yard. Straight-line winds, which result from ground-level wind systems known as downbursts (distinct from cyclonic storms such as tornadoes or tropical cyclones), damaged several buildings on the property. “Our house was the only building on the property that wasn’t damaged, and our storage shed and some of the fencing were completely blown apart,” he says. “The fence posts just popped up

from the ground like popcorn.” Boner says technology is key, not just for the folks doing the forecasting, but for farm owners hoping to stay prepared for storms, tornadoes or even unexpected dry spells. “Having a smartphone on you helps, especially if it looks somewhat like it might rain, but you’re not sure how soon it’ll be on top of you,” he says. “Being on a farm you want to check the forecasts often since most of the time you’re out in the field trying to get the crops in, and staying informed, even just a couple hours in advance, helps to know if you need to really hurry.” Farm owners and other individuals interested in long-range weather predictions can visit, which is the Climate Prediction Center page on the

official website of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, of which the NWS is a component. Users can view temperature and precipitation predictions for as little as six to 10 days up to three months, as well as a U.S. seasonal drought outlook.

STORM SAVVY Consider the following tips to maximize severe weather knowledge and preparation. Visit to view the National Weather Service’s central Indiana briefing page and customize the page for future visits by entering a city or zip code under “My Forecast.” The update map in the center of the page displays current weather warnings, watches and advisories, and users can click a specific location on the update

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map to view a seven-day forecast. Click on “Climate and Past Weather” for drought information and click “Forecast” for a detailed forecast discussion and a weather activity planner, through which users can enter desirable temperature ranges and weather conditions for a specific area and see if those conditions are likely to be met over the following seven days. Call (317) 856-0664 for an automated, detailed seven-day National Weather Service forecast for Indianapolis and surrounding areas. Weather summaries and statistics for the past seven days are also available. Sign up for free weather updates via email from AccuWeather, a Pennsylvaniabased private media company that offers forecasts worldwide, at,

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Zach Morris of Freebird Farm and Homestead

A Farm Story Zach Morris and Melanie Shepherd embrace a homegrown lifestyle BY DAVID HOPPE PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOSH MARSHALL




“IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT local food. It’s not just about eating better,” says Zach Morris, co-founder with his mother, Melanie Shepherd, of Freebird Farm and Homestead, outside Walton. “It’s about people wanting a story. They want to connect with their food. They want culture.” There’s certainly a story in how Freebird — operating now for just over a year — got off the ground. Morris and Shepherd exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit that’s transforming Indiana agriculture. “I grew up around here,” says Morris, sitting on the porch of one of the family’s two farmhouses. After graduating from high school, he tried college for a year and decided it wasn’t yet right for him. After a spell working construction, he joined the Army. He would serve for the next eight-and-a-half years. Although they lived in the country and Shepherd had kept goats and chickens, farming was not part of the family history. So, as Shepherd tells it, the decision to purchase a farm represented a kind of leap. “Zach called one day and said, ‘You’re going to think I’m crazy, but I want to get out of the Army and come home. I’d like to try farming.’”

It’s not as if this news was completely unexpected. During the course of his military service, Morris had been posted for a couple of years in Italy, where an introduction to the varieties of Italian cuisine created a fascination in him for that country’s dynamic and enduring food ways. Then he spent another two-plus years being stationed in Vermont or, as he calls it, “the mecca for local food.” Shepherd made a point of visiting her son there on a regular basis. When he was working, she would get out and drive around the countryside. “Every little homestead had some type of produce or meat or soaps business,” she says. It wasn’t long before mother and son embraced Vermont’s homegrown approach. “I saw what was possible when I was in Vermont,” says Morris. “I knew what was possible up there could be possible here because once you’ve had fresh chicken or fresh eggs, you never want to go back to the store-bought stuff.” For Shepherd, farming was the next logical step in her quest to take greater control of her family’s diet. “I think it really started out as just wanting to feed our family better. ... We saw other people wanting to do the same thing, but maybe living in town and not having the same resources.” At times it seemed this decision was meant to be. Not long after Shepherd and her husband, Jim, put their home up for sale, they found a 16-acre farm nearby, with woods and, best of all, two houses — one for Morris and one for themselves. Shepherd allows that their newly acquired homestead “needed a ton of work.” The previous owner kept 200 head of cattle on a dry lot of less than an acre. Morris set to work rebuilding the soil with root crops, bringing nutrients up from the subsoil. Today there’s a lush meadow on the site, with goats and a small, but growing, herd of hair sheep grazing.

In addition to sheep and goats, Morris is harvesting eggs from a flock of free-range chickens, and on the day of the interview for this story, he was looking after a fresh shipment of 200 Freedom Ranger chicks, a breed developed in France that thrives on pasture feed and makes for delicious eating. About 140 of them were already spoken for, according to Morris, on their way eventually to Taxman Brewing Co.’s gastropub in Bargersville, a restaurant that sources ingredients from such high-end purveyors as Gunthorp and Fischer farms and Smoking Goose in Indianapolis. Taxman has also expressed interest in Freebird’s lamb, something Morris hopes to turn into a niche product. Shepherd adds to the diversification of the family’s ag portfolio by creating a line of



goat milk soaps and bath products. The goat milk itself has become a popular commodity. “People try it and get hooked,” says Morris. “Part of our philosophy is doing things modeled on God’s design, after nature,” Morris observes. “When you stack all these different functions out here, they wind up becoming symbiotic with one another.” And so he used pigs to effectively till his pastureland. “That initial disturbance was what the soil needed to flourish,” he explains. He also rotates his grazing animals to new portions of pasture on a regular basis, allowing chickens to follow along and clean up afterward. “We don’t have any problems with disease or parasites in our herd because they’re continually on fresh ground, continually moving,” says Shepherd. “You get the disease and parasites when (the animals) are in a dry, mudded lot, where they’re always in their own feces.” Morris and Shepherd readily admit that the farming learning curve has been steep. “We learn every day, trial and error,” laughs Shepherd. But they are encouraged by the positive reception their products and, perhaps just as important, their decision to establish a homestead based on sustainable agricultural practices have received. Freebird welcomes visitors, some of whom have become volunteers and help with chores. A group from the Purdue School of Agriculture also made a recent trip. Morris has two brothers and three sisters, all of whom also contribute on the farm. Morris would like to see Freebird become a hub for homestead education and workshops. “A lot of people are getting back to the land,” he says. “In this corporate society, people want to get back to the roots. Speaking from experience, that’s easier said than done. I’d like to lessen the learning curve for people trying to do that.” “People are wanting to know they can take care of their family and not depend



so much on the grocery store,” adds Shepherd. “They want to be able to take care of themselves.” Freebird received another boost when it was certified to participate in the Homegrown For Heroes (HFH) program, a national farmer-veteran coalition. “Their goal is to help veteran farmers be successful,” says Morris. Originally started in Kentucky to recognize and support the work of farmer veterans by assuring the quality and safety of their products through programs, mentorships, internships and grants, Homegrown For Heroes has grown into a national network with 2,600 members. “They recognize that the average age of a farmer is 60-plus,” says Morris. “These people have to be replaced by somebody. We need people to fill that gap, and what better people than those that have served in the military, who know what it is to sacrifice. What

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4987 W County Rd 700 S, Greensburg, IN 47240 (812) 591-2221

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Morris on his farm.

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many veteran farmers will also tell you is that getting in touch with the land is a healing process.” All Freebird products now carry the HFH label so that consumers know they are buying from a farmer vet. Morris sees the variety of Freebird’s products — from lamb, to roasting chickens to fresh eggs, goat milk and bath products — as creating hedges to ensure profitability. But, he adds, “We have to strike a careful balance between spreading ourselves out and keeping enough focus on each one of these enterprises to do a good job.” Given this perspective, Freebird’s small size — 16 acres — is actually an advantage.

“You can farm on a small scale,” Morris says. “You don’t need thousands of acres. From a business standpoint, 16 acres can work. It’s all about how intensively you want to manage it, how you market your products, how much value you want to add.” If this sounds reminiscent of the approach that’s made the local food scene in Vermont so famous, Morris and Shepherd are fine with that. Morris says he’d like small, entrepreneurial farms like Freebird to help Indiana become the Vermont of the Midwest. “It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.” For more information, visit freebirdfarmhomestead.

Letts Hardware & Equipment

4987 W. County Rd. 700 S., Greensburg, IN 47240 (812) 591-2221

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Building a Brand July marks the official launch of the Indiana Grown certification program BY JON SHOULDERS

STARTING IN EARLY JULY, Indiana residents throughout the state can expect to see a lot more labeling of locally grown products in their neighborhood retail stores. July 7 is the official launch date for the new Indiana Grown brand, the result of an initiative originally conceived in 2012 as a cooperative effort among farmers, processors, retailers, wholesalers, restaurants and the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) to promote products produced and grown by the Hoosier agriculture industry. The new branding serves essentially as a certification program through which producers and retailers can apply for permission to clearly

“Consumers can expect to see branded signage, such as banners, in retail stores that promote local farmers and Indiana Grown products.” —DAVID KING

label, and thereby help consumers more easily identify, locally grown products, including produce, meat, beer and wine, dairy and nonedibles such as flowers, household supplies and wood products. David King, the local food program manager at the ISDA, says the program is tailored for businesses of all sizes, and state residents will immediately start to notice distinct Indiana Grown logos in hundreds of retail stores after the launch. Stores such as Kroger, Marsh, Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, The Fresh Market, Earth Fare



and Trader Joe’s, as well as distributors, farmers markets, hospitals, schools, drug stores and more, will carry foods with the Indiana Grown label. King says the commission also is working with restaurants to find ways to distinguish dishes that include Indiana Grown products. “Consumers can expect to see branded signage, such as banners, in retail stores that promote local farmers and Indiana Grown products,” King says. “The program will have a presence at local fairs and events throughout the year to further build awareness with both businesses and consumers. You can expect to see Indiana Grown at the Indiana State Fair providing an opportunity for members to showcase their Indiana Grown products to the public to help gain visibility and sales. This visibility is at no cost to the farmers, growers, producers and processors signed up as Indiana Grown members.” The original Indiana Grown program, launched in 2012, struggled due to lack of funding and structure, and in March 2014, Gov. Mike Pence signed House Bill 1039 into law to advance Indiana Grown branding. The bill calls for a commission to brainstorm and oversee programs that market and promote Indiana agriculture, and a 12-member commission, chaired by ISDA Director Ted McKinney, was appointed by Indiana Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann last summer to revitalize the initiative. Commission members include representatives from the Indianapolis City Market, the Indiana Cooperative Development Center, Indiana Farm Bureau and several Indiana farms.

According to the commission, Hoosiers spend about $16 billion annually on food, over 90 percent of which goes to food sources outside the state. “Many restaurants and others don’t use local products, but it’s not because they don’t want to,” McKinney says. “The guests we’ve heard from at our meetings and the commission members themselves give very clear evidence that there is a big demand for locally grown products. We hear often that there’s a volume need, and some restaurants and retailers would love to do local, but the reliability of supply becomes an issue.” To address what it sees as a needless disconnect between many local growers and retailers, King says the commission will help to guide the development of Indiana food hubs. “Utilizing a food hub as a consolidator will allow many smaller farmers to compete for large volume orders,” he explains. “Our Indiana Grown retailers will provide the food hub manager with the new products needed in their stores while providing volume estimates and buying commitment on these new items, thus giving producers the confidence to expand their operations. Indiana Grown will also assist retailers in finding producers that can grow sufficient quantities of products to go directly to the retailer.” Approximately 100 organizations, including a variety of farms and orchards, have become members so far, and those interested can contact the ISDA directly or visit the Indiana Grown website for application information. According to the commission’s guidelines, consumers will be able to iden-

tify Indiana Grown products by four different logo designations: » 100 percent Indiana — Products within this category must be grown in Indiana and/or all ingredients must come from Indiana. » Prepared in Indiana — Product ingredients can be sourced from anywhere, but 100 percent of the production must be done in Indiana. » Partner — To be an Indiana Grown partner, a company or institution must assist in marketing Indiana-grown

products and members. » Indiana Grown — This category applies to all other Indiana Grown members. King says that as of the launch date, Indiana Grown officials will increase the program’s social media presence and release an Indiana Grown mobile application that will offer state-of-the-art traceability software, through which retailers, chefs, consumers and others can locate specific farms where products were grown or raised. “By sharing this information, the app

will aid in keeping the public educated on Indiana Grown items,” King says. “The app is one-of-a-kind and will set Indiana Grown apart from all existing state marketing programs. It will help Indiana Grown achieve the traceability required by compliance agencies as well.” McKinney adds that the commission’s role lies not necessarily in setting a concrete goal of increasing the money spent by Hoosiers on products grown in the state, but rather in finding more efficient ways to provide further access to

existing outlets for local agricultural products. “I know a lot of people who are just grateful they can get a dozen eggs and some sweet corn at a very low expense, never mind that it comes from out of state,” he says. “Their needs and values are different. But what certainly has been missing is the availability of products to meet this emerging segment that says, ‘I want local.’” For more information and to inquire about Indiana Grown membership application, contact the ISDA at (317) 232-8770 or visit

Did you know... that on average, Americans eat 1.7 ounces of beef every day?

595 E. Tracy Rd., Whiteland, IN 46184 (317) 535-3700

235,000 Head of cattle in Indiana 12,500 Beef producers in Indiana $2 billion spent on beef by Indiana residents each year In 2012, the U.S. Beef industry contributed $44 billion in farm gate receipts Source and Sponsored by: Bartholomew County Farm Bureau Inc. and National Cattleman’s Association, National Agriculture Statistics Service



Fair Share Here are 10 local events heavy on the funnel cakes … and on the fun. By Catherine Whittier

JULY 19-25

Johnson County Fair FRANKLIN, (317) 738-3247, JOHNSONCOUNTYFAIR.COM There is an annual fair parade (July 18), truck and tractor pulls (July 20-21), a demolition derby (July 24), plus a full lineup of concerts and more. Check out the queen contest and fireworks (July 19), a strawberry baking contest (July 21) and a watermelon seed spitting contest (July 22) before hitting the midway. “Our fair is a community event that brings the county together and a family event that brings people together that may only see each other once a year,” says Larry Vandenberg, fair board president. JULY 19-25

Hendricks County 4-H Fair JULY 6-11

JULY 11-16

DANVILLE, (317) 718-6154, 4HCOMPLEX.ORG

Shelby County Fair

Wells County 4-H Fair


BLUFFTON, (260) 824-6412, WELLS4H.COM

The Hendricks County 4-H Fair offers a variety of free entertainment, says Steve Patterson, executive director, Hendricks County 4-H & Agricultural Fair Association. Head to the grandstand for a truck and tractor pull (July 19), motocross races (July 20), midget auto races (July 22) and a rodeo (July 24). Check out the 4-H livestock competitions held throughout the week, suggests Patterson. Two popular events include the 4-H livestock auction (July 24) and the supreme showmanship competition (July 25). There is “great family entertainment throughout the week,” says Patterson.

Though it was sad to lose the more-than-acentury-old grandstand to arson in 2012, raising a new Shelby County fairgrounds grandstand “has been a nice community effort,” says Mike Freeman, fair board president. Coming to the new grandstand at this year’s county fair will be the demolition derby (July 6), a cheerleading contest (July 7) and a regional tractor and truck pull (July 8). Expect 4-H activities and a 4-H livestock auction (July 9) at this year’s fair, as well as a free stage where many notfor-profit organizations will perform. “We also have a wonderful midway,” Freeman says, which offers rides for $1 each on July 11.

At the Wells County 4-H Fair, a new dairy club milking demonstration will be among the many regular attractions, says Kent Ulmer, fair board president. Also head to the fair for the popular spirit night (July 11), which features an obstacle course for 4-H groups that involves “a lot of mud,” Ulmer explains. There’s also karaoke night (July 15), as well as a full lineup of activities for children, such as a bounce house, a fishing rodeo and a dunk tank. And if all that isn’t enough to sate your fair cravings, save room for the Wells County Chamber of Commerce Chicken BBQ (July 13) and the Bluffton Optimist Club Pork Chop BBQ (July 14). JULY 12-18

JULY 10-18

Bartholomew County 4-H Fair COLUMBUS, (812) 372-6133, BARTHOLOMEWCOUNTYFAIR.COM Everyone comes for the 4-H displays and grandstand events, but guests also will want to stop in the antique building, says Larry Fisher, fair board president. Home to a blacksmithing shop, a post office, an oldtime funeral parlor and a general store, the antique building is a new attraction to the Bartholomew County 4-H Fair this year. Also on the list of attractions are two demolition derbies (July 11 and 18) and the police and fire department’s “Battle of the Badges” (July 15). On the food front, try the pork barbecue, provided by the Bartholomew County Pork Producers Association, or hit the fish fry, hosted by the Conservation Club.



Vigo County 4-H Fair TERRE HAUTE, (812) 462-3371, VIGOFAIR.COM There are plenty of exhibits to see at the Vigo County Fair, but most of the show participants hope to “get inside the fence,” explains Krista Farthing, Purdue Extension educator. In the center of the exhibit hall resides the Display of Champions, an area fenced off to showcase the Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion winners. Making it “inside the fence” became such an honor that fair organizers adopted the theme and now print T-shirts with the slogan “I got inside the fence” for each year’s winners. Other highlights of the annual event include the IPRA championship rodeo (July 12), the demolition derby (July 13 and 18), the Voice of the Valley singing competition (July 14) and a truck and tractor pull (July 17).

JULY 20-25

Vanderburgh County Fair EVANSVILLE, (812) 435-5287, VANDERBURGHCOUNTYFAIR.COM The Vanderburgh County Fair is a place where “mom, dad and the kids can enjoy a fun evening out together,” says Norman Reibold, Vanderburgh County fair board president. Grandstand highlights include motorcycle races (July 20), a rodeo (July 21), a truck and tractor pull (July 23) and an antique machinery parade (July 24). The fair features numerous 4-H events and exhibitions and family activities, in addition to traditional fair food, and rides. “It’s fun and exciting for everyone,” Reibold says.

JULY 23-AUG. 1

Porter County Fair VALPARAISO, (219) 462-0321, PORTERCOUNTYFAIR.COM The Porter County Fair kicks off with grandstand performances and events that include a demolition derby (July 26 and 31), bull riding (July 27), a truck and tractor pull (July 29) and more. Stop by the Taste of 4-H foods auction (July 25), the second annual 4-H 4-Mile Hustle & Kids Fun Run (July 25), a 4-H barbecue competition (July 25) and a livestock celebration sale (July 30). The fair also boasts a huge midway. “We are one of the larger county fairs in the state,” says Mark Baird, fair board president. JULY 24-AUG. 1

Elkhart County Fair

5975 25th Street, Columbus, IN 47203 (812) 376-6838 1512 West Main, Greensburg, IN 47240 (812) 663-2454 100 International Drive, Franklin, IN 46131 (800) 327-5099

GOSHEN, (574) 533-3247, 4HFAIR.ORG Considered one of the larger 4-H fairs in the nation, the Elkhart County Fair offers a schedule packed with family events and activities, including the annual 4-H fair parade (July 26). This year’s event also features a 9/11 Never Forget exhibit (July 29-31). Grandstand seating is free for the fair concert series, which includes Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (July 25), Little River Band (July 27) and Trace Adkins (July 29). Also head to the grandstand for harness racing (July 27 and 28), the truck and tractor pull (July 30), a rodeo (July 31) and motorcycle races (Aug 1). “It’s a great fair, and the community is very involved,” says Rich Utley, fair board president. JULY 25-AUG. 1

Monroe County Fair BLOOMINGTON, (812) 825-7439, MONROECOUNTYFAIRGROUNDS.IN “Our motto is ‘Where Friends Meet Friends,’ says David L. Smith, Monroe County Fair manager. “People come from the city to see the animals” and enjoy the opportunity to “sit on benches scattered throughout the fair just to talk to people they only see once a year,” Monroe says. In addition to numerous 4-H displays and events, fairgoers can look forward to a minimum of two musical groups that will entertain on the free stage nightly. Some grandstand events include quad races (July 25), motorcycle races (July 26), HSTPA truck & tractor pull (July 27), IPRA championship rodeo (July 29 and 30) and the demolition derby (July 31 and Aug 1).




Pest Control ON ORGANIC FARMS PRODUCING FOODS, feeds and fibers without relying on the use of synthetic fertilizers and pest control has occurred for most of human history. An operation that does this may be categorized as certified naturally grown, biodynamic or certified organic. The farmers who grow foods or raise livestock without fertilizers or pesticides might do so in permaculture settings, in aquaculture or in grass-fed operations. Common threads run through them all in terms of pest control. For instance, all of these production systems are meant to rely on natural processes that simply occur, many times without a human solution at all. Our role as stewards of these systems is to then allow conditions that favor these processes to occur. Advances in understanding how these processes function, how each process is intertwined with the next and how we as producers can foster environments to produce our crops more efficiently are leading all of us to adopt practices that are to our economic and environmental advantage. Every producer can find a stake in adopting all or parts of these processes. Organic production operations are required to recognize and implement this understanding as part of their farm system plan in order to become certified. To employ the use of even the most benign of organic substances to control pests, a system that encourages and encompasses biodiversity, along with balanced fertility and nutrition, must be in place. Only when



these basic conditions are met can materials that are reviewed by accredited agencies for their impact be used to control crop pests. The greatest tools that organic producers have are their crop fertility plans, which are designed to optimize crop health, as well as the natural order of life, predators and their prey. An organic system is a literal battlefield between pest organisms and beneficial organisms. Farms that promote this interaction and provide the opportunity for beneficial organisms to flourish realize decreased cost in input materials and increased marketability of their farm products. Consider the cost of maintaining the required buffer zones between organic and conventional production to reduce or eliminate the potential of pesticide residue on and in organic products. Crops grown on that buffer land must be sold outside the organic marketplace. Even a small portion of that buffer ground dedicated to habitat that fosters the beneficial organisms will realize a return. These habitats can be as simple as a strip left untouched over time, a tiller pass of annual and perennial native grasses and flowers, or a full hedge row that can help mitigate drift as well as foster the habitat of beneficial organisms. Your Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has many programs to help you reach your goals. One NRCS Conservation Activity Plan, called the CAP 138, helps farmers transition from conventional farming practices to organic production by addressing any natural resource concerns on their operation. This plan also promotes planting of beneficial insect habitats, such as milkweed for monarch butterflies. In order to receive financial assistance from NRCS for the completion of a CAP plan, the plan must be prepared by NRCScertified technical service providers (TSPs). Producers should contact their local NRCS service center to receive assistance.

Jeff Evard and Jessica Ervin work at Ecocert ICO (formerly Indiana Certified Organics LLC). Ecocert ICO, a subsidiary of Ecocert Group, is the only USDA National Organic Program accredited certification agency in Indiana and operates across the United States and beyond. For more information, visit


Favorite Tools I have just finished a stretch of long days in the field. It places the appreciation I have for certain tools at the forefront of my mind, so I thought I would share my top 10 favorites and fill the void left by Indiana’s good old Dave Letterman, who recently retired from his nightly top 10 job. These tools stand out in my mind as favorites because of the work I am doing right now and the number of times I depend on them. Tools do not have to be expensive to be valuable. They just need to make work easier. BY CHERYL CARTER JONES

10. Garden scissors and pruners » Possibly part of the attraction to these two little tools is the price tag — $1 each at the dollar store. I have bought several of each, so if one breaks, it’s not a big deal. The small pruners are great for cutting flowers and work very well for cutting small branches when pruning. They are a precision tool and seem to be of good quality as long as you do not try to use them for something larger than the intention. The scissors have come in handy numerous times to cut bound roots at planting time or anything else that calls for scissors, including flower cutting. 9. Gas cans » When the newest version of the gas can came out, I promptly purchased a couple and liked them the first few times I used them. However, after parts of the nozzles flipped off and found their way inside my Dixie Chopper gas tanks (yes, both of them), they have now been sidelined. So, as my father and I peruse the antique farm machinery shows and swap meets, I keep my eyes out for the older gas cans with hard spouts. The cans themselves are made of thicker, better quality plastic, and the gas goes where you want it to go. 8. Dishpans » Dishpans are inexpensive, but versatile. I use them primarily when I am planting. They are perfect for loading up tomatoes, peppers, sweet potatoes or strawberries when taking them out to the field or garden to plant. They do not tip over easily and will hold a good amount of new starts. They are equally effective for sorting and keeping different varieties separated. Dishpans stack and store well and can also be used to store small items. 7. Seedbed roller » If you use a seeder to plant in your garden, then you know that you want your bed to be nice, level and free of clumps. Purchasing a seedbed roller, which can break up smaller clumps and

press seeds into the soil, was a tough decision, primarily because of the price. For a very small garden, it is simply not worth the price tag (usually around $250), but if you have a large garden, you may want to consider the purchase. A seedbed roller can be used at two different times. It is a great last step before using a seeder. Your bed will be nice and even, and a seeder will readily fly through it as it plants your seeds. The seedbed roller can also be used to cover seeds that have just been sowed, either as a finishing pass or to cover rows that have been made with a hoe. 6. Hoss seeder and attachments » Everyone has a buying philosophy. Mine is to buy the best quality that I can find at the time and then take care of it. I also look for things that can serve more than one purpose. The Hoss seeder delivers on both points. The quality is excellent. As my father says, “You’ll never have to buy another one.” Mine should endure the test of time. It is easy to change attachments, and it is very simple and straightforward to use. 5. Electric-start equipment (tillers/mowers) » I have a shoulder issue, I have no patience and I have better things to do than spend 20 minutes pulling on a rope to start a piece of equipment. It uses up too much energy. Electricstart equipment costs more upfront, but in the long run it saves time and energy, both of which are always in jeopardy on a farm. 4. Plastic mulch » We typically think that planting in plastic mulch can only be done by those fortunate enough to own a mulch layer — not true. Plastic is also perfect for the individual with a small garden. Many of the garden and seed suppliers now offer single sheets of plastic. All that is necessary is to anchor the edges well, and if your plastic is large enough, you may want to weight it down with stones or bricks in the middle as well. Plastic retains

moisture and keeps those nasty weeds at bay. It is not to say you will be weed free, but you will have far fewer. 3. Flame weeder » One of my newest toys is a flame weeder, which provides organic weed control by giving off just enough heat to burst plant cells and denature leaf proteins. I am continuing to battle super weeds on my farm, since weeding products were once used here. It is just a fact of life when you cease to use the chemicals that the weeds will come back with an even greater vengeance. I now have a new defense mechanism for those persistent weeds that just do not want to go away. The tank fits nicely in a backpack, so you can walk between rows in the garden, use it along fence rows or wherever needed. 2. Heavy-duty bulb planter with spring tension soil release » As I was completing orders in late winter, I ran across a bulb planter that releases the soil after you make a hole. After having planted several hundred bulbs in the fall and invariably having had to dig the dirt out of the planter after it got stuck in there, this particular bulb planter caught my eye. It was

expensive in comparison to the ones you purchase at local retail hardware/ lumber stores, but I decided to take a chance. I cannot begin to calculate the number of hours this tool has saved us. These planters range in price from $60 to $85, but I would pay double that if necessary. They are worth every penny. 1. Buckets (cheap with rope handle) » I just love buckets — my No. 1 favorite tool. When people come to work for me, one of their first questions is to inquire as to the purpose and high number of buckets I have. By the end of a month or two, it usually comes out in conversation that they too are now amassing a bucket collection. Buckets are great for carrying water, mulch or plants, mixing soil, gathering up small items or a vast number of other tasks. Ours stay in a neat stack until needed. They are one of the handiest things we use on the farm. Buckets are another of my dollar store purchases. This year I did not purchase the plastic ones with wire handles, which seem to be getting cheaper and cheaper and break easily. The blue ones I found with white rope handles are made of heavier, more durable plastic and the rope seems to hold very well.

Cheryl Carter Jones is an Indiana farmer and a board member of the Local Growers’ Guild, a cooperative of farmers, retailers and community members dedicated to strengthening the local food economy in central and southern Indiana through education, direct support and market connections. For more information on the guild, visit FARM INDIANA//JULY 2015 43


Summer Learning



Summer is here, which means family vacations for some of us and 4-H projects for others. If you were blessed to take a summer vacation and have 4-H projects, consider yourself lucky. Free time on the farm doesn’t come around for some of our farmers or their families. However, staying home and learning about the various lessons from your 4-H projects can be an adventure as well. As a kid, we camped a lot with our friends around the state but didn’t take too many long summer vacations. My mom would take us on our fancy trip to Chicago, “the big city,” to shop, while the farmer stayed home for the harvest. I am sure he was just fine staying home and away from the city and our shopping shenanigans, so it all worked out. The one time my dad went with us on a spring break trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama, I never really wanted to vacation with him again. I was in the fifth grade, and we were going with a big group of people to Katie Glick experience new advengrew up on her tures and to relax on the family farm in beach. However, if you Martinsville and know farmers, they can’t now lives with her husband on really sit still. their family farm near Columbus. She is I was elated to stay in a a graduate of Purdue University and has condo with a view of the worked in Indiana politics. She now works beach and surrounded in the agriculture industry. She shares her by the noise of the big, personal, work, travel and farm life stories blue waves. However, our on her blog, Fancy in the Country. farmer had something else in mind for us on vacation. We had to see the army bases and battleships. It was not an experience this Midwestern farm girl who lived among the cows was expecting to have on her vacation to the beach.



We even had to cut our trip short and head back to Indiana because my farmer dad noticed the corn sprouting from the fields in Alabama. He got antsy, couldn’t sit still and had to get home to start planting. I think I even started my 4-H projects earlier that year, too. As time has gone on and I have traveled around the world, I think about that summer vacation and the time we spent learning about the history of our country and those who served on the battlefield. I now understand that Dad took us on adventures through the battleships to teach us something about why we were able to enjoy our vacations. He taught us that it’s OK to sit on the beach and relax for a short time, but vacations should include life lessons, just like those 4-H projects left behind to finish. Even though I was mad that we came home early, I think I earned more blue ribbons that year — a good lesson learned. So take that summer vacation to sit still and relax for a moment. But remember to learn a lesson or two while you are away from the farm or your home. Enjoy that freedom to travel and be adventurous and give thanks for the lessons they teach you; maybe you’ll get a blue ribbon, too.




EVEN THOUGH I’m going off to college soon, this summer is still a typical summer. I wake up in the morning and generally my only plans are to go out to the barn. I have some little trips planned — to Purdue University for Indiana FFA State Convention and to Ohio State University for orientation. But for the most part, I’ll work on the farm. The days are always different. I’ll wake up around 8 or 9, get some breakfast and then go out to the barn. My dad nor-

mally is just finishing the milking, so I go fill up the waters for the goats and llamas. On a typical day, we have to refill the water four or five times because the goats drink so much. This is when my day becomes different. Some days, I’ll help clean pens. Other days, I’ll help my dad run errands. Sometimes, I’ll prep my dairy goats for the county fair. It all just depends on the day. But something that I recognize every single day is how hard it is to run a successful business. No matter what day it is, there is something to do. Generally, the to-do list is so long, we won’t accomplish it all in a day, maybe not even by the end of the week. There are things that won’t even get done by the end of the summer. The to-do list can be split into three categories: the barn, the dairy and the house. The barn is simple enough to explain. It involves everything that needs to be accomplished in regards to the goats. I will clean pens, give shots and fill water buckets. The dairy category is a bit more complicated. Only my mom can accomplish most of what goes on the dairy list. There is washing cheese to help it age. She flips cheese in the walk-in cooler. And most importantly, she makes the cheese. My mom holds all the knowledge when it comes to running the dairy and making the cheese. I help when I can, mostly packing cheese, but my mom is still in charge.

Finally, there is the house list. This sometimes means normal house chores, like doing the dishes, but a lot of the time, it has to do with record-keeping. My mom has many Excel spreadsheets that need to be updated. These spreadsheets categorize all the goats we have, and every one of them documents a new piece of information about them. Some of the goats have tattoos; some of them, medical records; some of them, progeny. These house chores, like updating spreadsheets, are usually the best, because it means I will be working in the air conditioning all day. I’ve realized that my summers look very different compared to many normal teenage summers. But I’ve grown to love these summers. It’s great to take a break from school, but yet I have a chance to work my brain and (sadly) my muscles to complete my many daily chores. I can’t wait to see what next summer will be like after one year in college. Jessica Hoopengardner, pictured at her family farm, graduated from Eastern Hancock High School in Hancock County. Very involved in 4-H and FFA, Hoopengardner is the vice president of her 4-H club and the president of her FFA chapter. She plans on going to college outside Indiana and majoring in English and biology.


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The raw deal

FRESH FOOD BOUGHT directly from a farm is undeniably appealing. In addition to the fruits, vegetables, meat and eggs provided at local farms, some consumers want their milk fresh from the cow, without pasteurization. But is it legal to sell it? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has requirements that all dairy operations must meet. Additionally each state has its own laws governing the sale of certified raw milk, and some do not allow it to be sold at all. Before you decide to sell raw milk, it is important to research both the federal and state regulations and follow them carefully. Thirty states have regulations that control how raw milk can be sold within their boundaries, but federal law prohibits the interstate sale of raw milk for human consumption. So purchasing raw milk is not simply a matter of crossing state lines to purchase raw milk where it can be sold legally.



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In Indiana, dairies may sell raw milk as pet food, as long as a commercial feed license is obtained from the state and the product is clearly labeled “not for human consumption.” Only a cow’s owners are allowed to consume its raw milk. Since raw milk sales for human consumption in Indiana are illegal, some dairy farmers have created legal “cowshare” programs, which do not constitute a sale under the statutory definition of the word. Cowshares have popped up in Virginia, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Utah, Florida and Washington. Cowshare or herdshare programs are contracts between the farm and consumer that allow citizens to buy a share or portion of the cow herd and be entitled to a percentage of what the herd produces. Because of Indiana’s regulations, the purchase of a cowshare or herdshare is

a little more complicated than just buying a gallon of milk from the grocery store. It often involves a signed contract between farmer and consumer. HEALTH MATTERS Despite the “not for human consumption” labels required on raw milk sold in Indiana, many believe consuming raw milk is a healthful choice. A 2007 study by the University of Basel in Switzerland found that regular consumption of raw milk lessened the onset of asthma and allergies in children ages 5 to 13. A 2008 study by the University of Michigan showed that raw milk does not produce symptoms in those who are lactose intolerant. Anecdotal evidence also has credited raw milk as the cure for a variety of other ailments, from intestinal problems to skin rashes. But the U.S. Food and Drug Admin-

istration says pasteurization of milk is necessary to kill harmful bacteria like E. coli, salmonella and listeria that might be found in raw milk. According to the FDA, between 1998 and 2008, drinking raw milk was linked to two deaths and more than 1,600 reports of illness. As a certified raw milk supplier, a farmer will need to apply for special permits and licenses. Besides the requirements for all businesses, such as name filing and obtaining a state tax identification number, local public health departments also have set requirements for raw milk sales. Regular health department inspections are mandatory, so farmers must take special care in the health and cleanliness of their cows and facilities. It is very important to follow all of the regulations with regard to milk sales of any kind. Make sure to ask questions along the way.

The founder and program director of Hoosier Organic Marketing Education, Cissy Bowman has been growing food organically since 1973 and on her current farm, Center Valley Organic Farm, since 1983. For more information on Hoosier Organic Marketing Education, email or call (317) 539-2753.



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Changing Scenery BY NATE BROWNLEE


WHENEVER WE GET the chance, Liz and I enjoy taking the time to drink our morning tea and coffee on the porch as we discuss the day’s work plan. The crisp cool air complements the warm beverages, the day swinging into action as our caffeine takes effect. I love to hear the birds singing, the woodpeckers looking for food and the bees buzzing around the flower beds. I didn’t realize that these sounds I enjoy from the porch are also strong indicators of change, be it pollination that leads to fruits and vegetables, or be it emerald ash borers that lead to woodpecker food and death in an ash tree. The vibrant woodpecker population that we noticed this spring doesn’t sound so sweet now as we realize just how drastically the woods around our barn are about to change. Change in farming is part of the game. I expect the seasons to change. I need piglets to transition into market-weight pigs. And yet I am still surprised by change. We have been writing for Farm Indiana for one year now, and just how differently our farm looks is on my mind as I think back at the past 12 months. “They’re trying to do it the way our grandparents did, trying to farm like it was the 1940s.” This is a common way we hear our farm described, but we disagree. All of the changes we’ve seen this last year illustrate the farm this place has been and the farm it is becoming. We’re always trying to find the best tool for the job. For instance, we use movable solar-powered electric fences to move our animals to different parts of the pasture where there is more grass (food), more shade, more



dry ground in the wet season or just more of whatever they need. We use new technology and new strategies as well as some old ones. We’re integrating all that we do into a very old farm and homeplace. We like how these changes are looking. I only know the history of our farmland back to the 1970s, but there are clues all around that point to the ways this place has changed over the years. We are slowly and steadily pulling trash out of the draws and gullies, transforming areas that were used as dumps into fence rows and hiking trails. A decade ago our family took low-lying waterlogged sections of field out of production and converted them into wetlands (which is what those fields were prior to being drained and used as farm fields). Those wetlands now attract numerous species of wildlife and have 15-foot trees growing around the ponds. Over the years, my brother-in-law has pulled out the decrepit woven wire and barbed wire fences. This year, we put in a high tensile fence to power the temporary electric nets that we use to rotate our animals around the pasture. My father-in-law dug a small pond years ago, attempting to develop a spring for livestock. The project didn’t pan out, but that’s OK. The pond is beautiful and now is one of our favorite places to listen to frogs. Speaking of water, this year we put in a well to supply all of our

animals with water out in the pasture and also to make our chores easier. Our barns have undergone obvious changes in the last year. After the family stopped farming in the 1980s, the barns were used as storage. Numerous trips to the salvage yard and the dump later, we have usable barn space, some still reserved for storage but also areas for animals and workspace. Here and there as needed we are pouring concrete floors; though never needed before, we now need solid floors to keep pests out of our granary and our chicken brooder. We have built new walls and new doors, we have repaired broken posts and boards, and we are adapting the barn to suit our purposes. I’m not excited to lose all of the ash trees surrounding our barn, to lose the shade and the scenery that I am accustomed to enjoying. However, I understand that there will be new trees that will grow in the place of those old ash and that eventually they will be big and beautiful. In the meantime, we heat the house with wood, so we need some trees to die to keep us warm in the winter. Change is most certainly a part of farming.

After years of gaining experience on other farms, Nate Brownlee and his wife, Liz, moved back to Indiana to start their own family farm, which they named Nightfall Farm. Here, they will share stories of the many trials, tribulations, successes and failures in running a new family business. For more on Nightfall Farm, visit

Ag Classes Summer is busy on the farm, but several of this month’s classes are aimed at helping farmers stay a step ahead BY KATHERINE COPLEN



Winemaker Wednesday

Purdue Turf and Landscape Field Day

This month’s subject is “bouquet of the white wine.” TIME: 6 p.m. COST: $10, includes refreshments and a gift. LOCATION: Blackhawk Winery and Vineyard, 28153 Ditch Road, Sheridan. INFORMATION: (765) 496-3842.

JULY 8, 15, 22

Beginning Cooking Classes Cooking 101: The Basics of Cooking; Cooking 102: Cooking Meat; and Cooking 103: Cooking Veggies. Hosted by White Violet Center for Eco-Justice (WVC), these single-night workshops will cover basic cooking methods and more. The registration deadlines for each workshop are July 2 (Cooking 101), July 9 (Cooking 102), and July 16 (Cooking 103). TIME: 5 to 8 p.m. Cost: $30 each. LOCATION: 3850 U.S. 150, Saint Mary-of-theWoods. INFORMATION: (812) 535-2932.


Southwest Purdue Agricultural Field Day Various Purdue agricultural centers host field days throughout the summer. Topics covered at this July event include production of grapes, vegetables and canola and soybean, among others. Pesticide Applicator Recertification Program classes are available after lunch. These events are geared toward commodity producers, community members and crop advisers. TIME: 7:30 a.m. LOCATION: Southwest Purdue Agricultural Center, 4369 N. Purdue Road, Vincennes. INFORMATION: (812) 886-0198.

JULY 9-10

Purdue Top Farmer Conference This conference includes two days of sessions on a variety of topics designed for farmers seeking to improve their operations through better management. COST: $350/ person. LOCATION: Purdue University Beck Agricultural Center, U.S. 52, West Lafayette. INFORMATION: progevents/topfarmer.html.

This one-day educational event updates turf and landscape managers on recent research and technical resources. Expect various research tours and workshops, plus a large trade show. TIME: 8 a.m. LOCATION: W.H. Daniel Turfgrass Research and Diagnostic Center, 1340 Cherry Lane, West Lafayette. INFORMATION:


Mid-Season Diagnostic Workshop Topics covered include mid-season corn growth, corn growth, plant disease identification and management. This workshop is designed for agribusiness professionals and educators who work with farmers. TIME: 8 a.m. COST: $110, includes lunch. LOCATION: Purdue University Crop Diagnostic Training and Research Center; 4540 U.S. 52, West Lafayette. INFORMATION: (765) 496-3755.


Pre/Post Harvest Training Workshop Topics at this crop diagnostic training workshop include managing insect pests in grain, pre-harvest prep and stored grain management and personnel safety in grain handling. TIME: 9 a.m. LOCATION: Southeastern Indiana Purdue Ag Center, 4425 E. County Road 350N, Butlerville. INFORMATION: (765)494-4783.

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Set up by the Purdue Turfgrass Program, these events include demonstrations both in classrooms and in the field, geared toward turf industry professionals. LOCATION: W.H. Daniel Turfgrass Research and Diagnostic Center, 1340 Cherry Lane, West Lafayette. INFORMATION:

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Farm Indiana highlights classes from the Purdue Extension calendar every month, but there are many more to be found online. Log on to extension.purdue. edu for more information.

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Moving In


THOUGH THE POPULARITY of food trucks is associated with a requisite amount of mobility, fans of Johnson’s BBQ Shack are asking the small business to stay put. After three summers of frequenting a number of central Indiana markets, community festivals and food-truck-centric events — not to mention an increasing response to a growing list of catering requests — the family behind Johnson’s BBQ Shack is aiming to set up a permanent residence at 82 S. Baldwin St. in Bargersville. “We looked at a variety of strip centers, independent buildings, downtown Franklin (and) downtown Greenwood,” says Nate Johnson, who eventually spotted a building in Bargersville that was for sale. “We liked the price and location the best.” Though the barbecue business occupies most of his attention, it’s not technically Johnson’s vocation. “I

am proud of my career as a teacher at Indianapolis Public Schools,” he writes on his Johnson’s BBQ site. “I have been very fortunate to meet many families and impact them in a positive way.” But during his teaching breaks throughout the school years, Johnson has invested his time in his family and in toying around in the kitchen, which is really how this all began. The Johnson’s BBQ venture goes back about 10 years when Johnson and his brother, Keith, with merely novice knowledge of smoking meats, began smoking whole turkeys for large family dinners at Thanksgiving. Keith began tinkering with dry-rub variations, and the brothers eventually settled on an all-purpose rub, which they now use on most of their products. “We started this business with the idea of providing a quality selection of smoked foods and breakfast selections at events, including the

Butters/Preserves Available From Dillman Farm & Baked Goods From Ahlemeyer Farms Bakery

Growers of Fine Fruits & Vegetables

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Covered Bridge Festival, Avon Rib Fest, Greenwood Farmers Market, City Market … and Broad Ripple Farmers Market,” Johnson explains. As the business expanded, he took strides to utilize his community as a source for high-quality products. “We use local shagbark hickory wood and apple wood purchased from Apple Works in Trafalgar,” he notes. “We have sourced some products locally and continue to try and grow our relationships with local vendors.” Though Johnson adds this can be a challenge because their business requires a consistent, year-round product, “two vendors we really hope to grow our relationships with are Red Barn Farms (Bargersville) and Indy Family Produce (Greenwood),” he says. He uses Indianapolis-based John’s Poultry as a purveyor for the majority of his products. Johnson’s BBQ Shack specializes in a long line of smoked products, including brisket, turkey, salmon,

ham and ribs, as well as pulled pork. “Our smoked hams and turkey that we sell (during) the holidays are growing in popularity,” says Johnson. “The new location will make ordering a Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter ham that much easier.” And just as smoking is a measured process, setting up permanent residence at the Bargersville property is a work in progress. Johnson and his team are currently waiting to hear back from the state for an architectural review, which they anticipate receiving this summer. “If all is approved, we need to pull permits and start the remodeling,” he says. The new space will offer outdoor dining with “a great view of the town,” he says. “This is a quiet street where you can still hear the birds chirping and not have to yell over passing vehicles to enjoy a meal.” Johnson hopes to open by Labor Day. For more information

FREE RANGE EGG COMPANY We are looking for a few producers that are detail oriented and have an interest in producing Free Range Eggs. We offer an income opportunity of up to $130,000 annually.

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Chef Jeff Bricker, department chairman of the Ivy Tech hospitality administration program in Indianapolis, suggests, “There is no greater way to enjoy fresh local lettuces and vegetables than a crisp salad in the summer.” Bricker offers his own line of Brick House Vinaigrettes with flavors that range from “naturally sweet in the classic herb vinaigrette to tart in the no-sugar herb vinaigrette,” he says. Brick House Vinaigrettes are sold at the Greenwood Farmers Market and the Carmel Farmers Market on Saturdays, as well as the Jewish Community Center Farmers Market on Sundays. “While they (the vinaigrettes) are a healthy and flavorful alternative to traditional salad dressings,” Bricker says, “they also make great marinades for chicken, pork and fish and serve as a great mayonnaise substitute for coleslaw, pasta salad, chicken salad and tuna salad.” For more information, visit facebook. com/brickhousevinaigrettes.


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GRILLED TO PERFECTION Chef Jeff Baxter of Dye’s Walk Country Club in Greenwood supplies readers with a labor-friendly recipe with the summer grill-master in mind.

Maple-Mustard Grilled Chicken SERVES 3 TO 4

8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 2/3 cup maple syrup ½ cup Dijon mustard 1 cup sweet miso 2 cloves fresh garlic, grated 1 teaspoon soy sauce ½ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper 5 fresh scallions, chopped

» Place chicken breasts in a wide, shallow container. In a medium bowl, combine syrup, mustard, miso, garlic, soy, cracked black pepper and scallions. Mix thoroughly to evenly distribute ingredients. Pour marinade over chicken and coat thoroughly. Allow chicken to marinate for at least four hours (preferably overnight). Whether using a charcoal or propane grill, prepare and heat according to preference. Place chicken on the grill skin-side down (meaning the portion where the skin had been before it was removed). After acquiring grill marks, rotate chicken a quarter turn for crosshatch marks. Turn chicken over and continue to cook (depending on portion size) until meat is firm or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees for 15 seconds. Allow chicken to rest for several minutes before serving.

...and your farm




Creamed Corn Homemade ice cream offers an authentic Indiana taste



SOMETIMES AS WE GROW older, the things we enjoyed with abandon as children become just too much trouble. For most folks, making homemade ice cream is on that list. But it isn’t just about eating the ice cream. It’s about the experience. It’s about the excitement of taking your turn at the crank, watching the ice melt and swirl around the silver bucket, and the anticipation that builds as you’re told, “Just a little bit longer.” These kinds of memories are few and far between these days. Many children are detached from the past and from how their food is made, and it’s difficult to find the time to give them these types of experiences. Buying an ice cream maker is one of the simplest ways to create a new tradition. And the end result? It’s delicious.


Indiana Sweet Corn Ice Cream

This ice cream recipe incorporates a key Indiana ingredient: corn. 4 cups heavy cream 1 cup whole milk 1 cup local honey 2 vanilla beans 6 large egg yolks 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 cups freshly cut sweet corn with cob juice »Mix honey and eggs together in a bowl and set aside. »In a medium saucepan, bring cream and milk to a gentle simmer, taking care not to boil. Cut vanilla beans down one side and place into the milk while cooking.

»When milk mixture begins to bubble at the edges, remove from heat and begin to gradually stir it into the egg mixture with a whisk. Scrape the insides of the vanilla beans into the mixture. »Return mix to your saucepan and heat on low, stirring constantly until mixture begins to thicken, about 8 to 10 minutes, or until mixture reaches about 165 to 175 degrees. You’ll want your mixture to coat the back of a spoon with a thin, custardy film. »Gently fold in the sweet corn kernels and cob juice. For the cob juice, simply squeeze the cobs with your hand and slide

down to squeeze out the extra juice. A really fresh, ripened ear of corn will contain a few teaspoons, just enough for an extra punch of flavor. TO CHURN:

»Place your still warm ice cream mixture into the metal can of a churn-style ice cream maker, attaching the bat and lid. The turning of the bat adds air into the ice cream mixture while processing, making sure the ice cream freezes consistently. Layer ice and rock salt around the can, about ½ cup of rock salt to 4 cups or so of ice. Too much salt can make your mixture freeze too fast, and you won’t get a smooth, creamy texture.

Once you have salt and ice layered into your ice cream maker, turn on if electric or hand churn for 30 to 45 minutes. Don’t stop during this time or your ice cream mixture could become lumpy; the mixture may separate and ice crystals will form. »Serve finished ice cream with fresh blackberries or salted popcorn and caramel topping. »Or just eat it straight from the ice cream churn. »Store leftovers for up to three months in an air-tight container in your freezer.



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Case IH is a trademark registered in the United States and many other countries, owned ® by or licensed to CNH Industrial N.V., its subsidiaries or affiliates. CNH Industrial Capital is a trademark in the United States and many other countries, owned by or licensed to CNH Industrial N.V., its subsidiaries or affiliates.

Like their forbears, today’s Farmall utility tractors are designed for versatility and rugged performance - ideal for demanding livestock chores, larger hay operations and heavy loader and blading work. Ranging from 50-90 PTO HP, you’re sure to find a Farmall utility tractor that’s perfectly powered for the jobs you do. See us today to select yours!




Like their forbears, today’s Farmall utility tractors are designed for versatility and rugged STEVENS WAY performance - ideal for demanding livestock chores, larger415 hay operations and heavy loader and SEYMOUR, INtractor 47274 blading work. Ranging from 50-90 PTO HP, you’re sure to find a Farmall utility that’s perfectly powered for the jobs you do. See us today to select yours! 812-523-5050


* For commercial use only. Customer participation subject to credit qualification and approval by CNH Industrial Capital America LLC or CNH Industrial Capital Canada Ltd. See your Case IH dealer for details and eligibility requirements. Down payment may be required. Offer good through June 30, 2015. Not all customers or applicants may qualify for this rate or term. CNH Industrial Capital America LLC or CNH Industrial Capital Canada Ltd. standard terms and conditions will apply. This transaction will be unconditionally interest free. Canada Example: The interest rate will be 0.00% per annum for a total contract term of 72 months: Based on a retail contract date of April 1, 2015, with a suggested retail price on a new Farmall 105U with L735 loader of C$94,500.00, customer provides down payment of C$18,900.00 and finances the balance of C$75,600.00 at 0.00% per annum for 72 months. There will be 72 equal monthly installments of C$1,050.00 each, the first due on May 1, 2015. The total amount payable will be C$94,500.00, which includes finance charges of C$0.00. Taxes, freight, set-up, delivery, additional options or attachments not included in suggested retail price. Offer subject to change or cancellation without notice.

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