Rural Living & Local Food
Healthy Kids Indianapolis program aims to redirect youthful appetites
Fansler Farms Rubicon Agriculture Southwest Honey Co.
Contents October 2016
6 Callon Farm 10 Fansler Farms 14 MicroGreens Project Indy 18 Rubicon Agriculture 20 Saint Joseph’s College Student Farm 22 Southwest Honey Co. 26 Women’s Learning Circle 28 U.S. Diet Trends
29 Continuing Education 30 From the Field Columns by growers
Local Food Section 34 Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge 36 Food News 37 Column by Jolene Ketzenberger 38 Chef Q+A: Dominique LeBlanc Beers 39 Recipe: Herb Salt
ON THE COVER Colleen and Drew Kincius of MicroGreens Project Indy. Read more on page 14. Photo by Josh Marshall
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Farm Indiana // october 2016
To have and to hold
I sometimes hold onto things for too long. In the past when something would break (this was before I married my husband, who knows how to fix everything), I would simply stare at whatever appliance was broken with hopes that it might magically repair itself. This never worked, of course, and eventually, I would traipse out to the store to buy a new toaster or coffeemaker or whatever it was that had found itself in such an ill state. There are other examples of my holding onto hope for too long. My car has many things. It has hundreds, if not thousands, of tiny bits of hay and straw inside it. It has accumulated approximately 240,000 miles on its trusty little engine. It carries dozens of tiny dents from multiple previous hail storms. And its other scars and blemishes are too numerous to name. Yet it lacks one very important thing: a car payment. The car is older than the hills, but it does its job well. I’m not giving up on it until it gives up on me. And so it came as no surprise tonight as I sat in a Verizon Wireless store with my husband, who — after months, if not years, of harassing me about my terribly old phone and my awful phone service — convinced me to make a switch. Finally, I was trading in my iPhone4. To put the iPhone4 in context, the iPhone7 just came out recently. Clearly, I have been behind the times. (I’m still behind the times; I only upgraded to an iPhone6.)
Farm Indiana // october 2016
This phone and phone carrier switch comes after years of having to walk outside to our front porch to have phone conversations. I work from home a few days each week so this trek to the front porch to talk — in rain, sunshine, snow or sleet — is one I’ve made probably hundreds of times. And, to be honest, I’m going to miss my porch chats. While the weather remains decent, I think I’ll continue to hold court, with chickens cackling in the background and goats calling to me from the side yard to fee-eeeeeed them. Many things can likely be said about me. Some of them I’d guess I’d rather not be repeated here. But what I don’t mind sharing is this: When I’m passionate about something, my commitment is ongoing. That’s how I feel about Farm Indiana. As I write, we’re winding up September and heading briskly into October. As we close out the year, we will mark four years of my editing this publication. The paper has changed in both size and focus over the years. But what hasn’t changed? My dedication. These days I do my best — in all that I do, not just in editing Farm Indiana — to promote Hoosier farmers and locally grown food. And that’s what it’s about, really. My commitment and love are not so much about this publication, but are for this state, for its heritage, for its people.
YES! This is A monthly publication of AIM Media Indiana, 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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Nate Brownlee, April E. Clark, Katherine Coplen, Katie Glick, Cheryl Carter Jones, Jolene Ketzenberger, Shawndra Miller, Jon Shoulders, Ryan Trares, Twinkle VanWinkle, CJ Woodring
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Comments, story ideas, events and suggestions should be sent to Sherri Lynn Dugger, The Republic, 333 Second St., Columbus, IN 47201, call (812) 379-5608 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To advertise, contact Sherri Dugger at (317) 371-2970 or email@example.com. To subscribe to Farm Indiana, call (800) 435-5601. 12 issues (1 year) will be delivered to your home for $50. Back issues may also be purchased for $5 per issue.
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A Homestead With History Dan Callon remembers the years on his familyâ€™s farm
By Ryan Trares â€˘ photography by josh Marshall
Farm Indiana // october 2016
From the front porch of the farmhouse on the Callon Farm, it is difficult to imagine a time when the only thing around was corn. Dan Callon remembers when he could sit on his grandparents’ front porch and see nothing but fields of crops, with only a random barn or silo breaking the view. “If a car came down here, you pretty much knew who they were,” he says. A constant stream of cars, trucks and buses now defines the area. Newer developments and neighborhoods surround the farmhouse. One of the area’s largest churches, Greenwood Christian Church, and its adjoining school sit just to the west. Much of the acreage Dan’s ancestors used to work has been sold off. But in the middle of this rapidly growing and populous part of Greenwood, this slice of Johnson County history remains intact, even after 147 years. The property is noted as a Hoosier Homestead, having stayed in the same family throughout the years, and work is in progress to add it to the National Register of Historic Places. “It’s interesting to see how everything has changed,” Dan says. “But it’s nice that this is still here, just like it’s been for so many years.” On a warm August afternoon, Dan traveled to the farm from his home, which sits just south of the property. Since his mother, Ruth Callon, died in 2015, no one from the family lives on the land anymore. But a number of his relatives reside nearby. The fields have been sold to Greenwood Christian Church and are farmed now by the Kelsey family of Whiteland, who raise wheat, soybeans and corn. The Callon farmstead consists of three acres — enough to accommodate the farmhouse, milk house, corn crib, barn and garden. Standing in the grassy side yard on the property, Dan points out the scope of the original farm — a 160-acre block of land that covered most of the area west of what is now U.S. 31, between Stop 18 Road and Worthville Road.
The tract was divided among children over time. As fewer members of the family were farming, portions also were sold off to developers in the area. The original farm was founded in 1869, when Ruth’s ancestor, Henry Bagby, his wife, Sara King Bagby, and his sister founded it. The family had first settled in White River Township in 1823. They were some of the first pioneers to come along the Wetzel Trace and make their homes in the Indiana wilderness. Ruth’s great-great-great-grandmother, Martha Park, started the first school in White River Township. Farm Indiana // october 2016
Barn built in 1941 by Roy Allen. Below: Cross section of the tiles used to build the barn.
Left: Corn from the 1970s still sits in the corn crib that is no longer used. The structure was moved by wagon and horse teams from Greenwood in 1934. Right: Storage silo. Below: Old foundation of a chicken coop that once stood on the property.
But the homestead the family founded along the White River was often swampy, a breeding ground for fever and illness. So they moved to Pleasant Township, where they raised dairy cows and grew corn, soybeans and other crops. Evidence of the farm’s longtime heritage is everywhere on the Callon property. A weathered dairy barn, covered in sandstone-colored tile, still stands from the early days of the farm. A 1930s corn crib is located off to the side. The original farmhouse was built by Dan’s great-grandfather in 1896. Its wide front porch, 8
Farm Indiana // october 2016
with room for chairs and a swing, was the family gathering place, particularly during summers. “Before we had air conditioning, there was always a breeze here,” Dan says. “This was the place to sit.” A second house, which had been moved intact from a neighborhood on the north side of Indianapolis in the 1950s, resides next door. It was there that Dan Callon’s parents, George and Ruth, made their home. Ruth was born on the farm on Worthville Road and grew up running around with the
The Callon Farm
other children in what, at the time, was a rural part Where: 480 W. Worthville of the county. Save for a two-year span when she and Road, Greenwood her husband lived in town in Founded: 1869 Whiteland, she was always near the farm. What they raiseD: “Mom always laughed Dairy cows, row crops such and said she only made it a as corn and soybeans couple hundred feet from where she started,” Dan says. Original acreage: George Callon’s ancestors 160 acres have lived in Johnson County Current acreage: 3 acres for generations as well. They settled in Trafalgar in the Distinctions: Named a 1830s. “They (his mother and Hoosier Homestead Farm father) represented both ends in 1989; family members of the county,” Dan says. The farm now offers warm are applying to have the memories for Dan. He and farmhouse on the property his sister, Cathy Pieratt of named to the National Butlerville, raised sheep and Register of Historic Places. horses through 4-H. Their parents were the leaders for the 4-H Horse and Pony Club and active in the agricultural community around Johnson County. Because they were still considered “out in the country,” it was rare for people to drive past their property, Dan says. He used to ride his bike to a friend’s farm about 1½ miles away and never had to worry about traffic, save for the occasional tractor. “Even if something happened between here and there, we knew everyone who lived around here anyway,” Dan says. Milk house built in 1944. The farm remains significant for Dan and his sister. They applied to have it earn the Hoosier Homestead moniker, a distinction that was granted in 1989; the signature blue and yellow sign is mounted on a post in front of the property. Dan and Cathy are working to restore the old dairy barn to ensure it remains standing. The family also wants to add the property to the Historic Register to protect it well into the future, Dan says. With the amount of development and the growth in that part of the county, they want to have that extra designation to slow any future road projects or other plans that would threaten it.
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With sustainability a top priority, Andrew Fansler hopes to have a positive impact on the land By April E. Clark Photography by Josh marshall
Farm Indiana // october 2016
When Andrew Fansler calls it a day on his Shelby County grain operation, he has one final thought. “We need to be better tomorrow than we are today,” the Fansler Farms owner says he reminds himself at the end of each day. The motivation is something Fansler has focused on since he was a 16-year-old farming 42 acres of land with equipment he rented from mentors Kenny and Cindy Kuhn. Two decades later, Fansler remains dedicated to entrepreneurship, innovation and sustainability in his business practices. “That’s something I’ve always been pretty big on,” says the 37-year-old firstgeneration farmer. “I personally spend a lot of my time looking for new opportunities, looking for ways we can utilize the environment and make the land better. To add value to the crops and the land we have now. We’re not a farm that takes our winters off and relaxes. I’m always reaching out to other folks in farming and food production to see
“The first 10 years of my farming career, I didn’t buy anything that didn’t relate to the farm,” he says. “I don’t even think I bought myself lunch.”
how we can bring value to them, and they can bring value to us. The challenge is to innovate and to perform better than we did last year, or even yesterday.”
Fansler Farms plants between 4,500 to 4,600 acres of no-till yellow and white corn, wheat and soybeans, including non-GMO soybeans, each season in Shelby, Decatur and Rush counties. Fansler employs a staff of six, including trusted operations manager Darin Richards and Fansler’s business manager mother-in-law, Lesa Brinson. When she’s not teaching second grade, his wife, Carmen, helps on the farm with marketing, making homemade meals for the crew when they’re out in the fields, and raising the couple’s two girls, Anne Marie, 6, and Mollie, 4. “I’m trying to build a family business that if my daughters want to have something they can always come back to, they can,” he says.
While farming isn’t a livelihood passed down in his family, being a business-savvy entrepreneur runs through Fansler’s bloodline. His father owned a janitorial and pool supply company. One uncle founded the Bonded Oil Co. in Shelbyville. Other relatives owned Anheuser-Busch distributorships. “I think I’m about five generations removed from the last farmer in our family,” Fansler says. “My family has a long history of entrepreneurship and business ownership. That has been one of my best benefits in farming.” He says when he started farming as a teen, he would “hang around the Kuhn farm” to learn as much as he could. He continued to trade labor for use of their equipment until his operation began to gain momentum. “My grandpa was instrumental in working with me on the financial end of it (running his business),” Fansler says. “He taught me that when you earn a dollar,
then you need to take that dollar and invest it, put it back into your business.” Fansler describes the progression as an uphill battle, but one he would easily repeat.
A toy John Deere pedal tractor Fansler received when he was 3 years old was the start to his dream of growing up to be a farmer. “From that moment I was obsessed,” he says. “It (the idea of farming) was always in my life. I can’t say this brought me to it, or that brought me to it. It was one of those things I think I was born with. We didn’t even have FFA at Shelbyville (High School). I wanted to be in 4-H so bad.” Fansler says he “just started farming” in high school, continuing his mission through his years at Franklin College, where he studied business and entrepreneurship. “Even in college, when I had a project in business writing class to make up a fictional company and write up a business plan, I chose Fansler Farms,” he explains. “I started marketing my business plan then, and it worked. That was back in (19)99 to 2000, and through that one project, I ended up coming up with 700 acres of land to farm.” That drive and dedication to his industry were key to his winning Bayer CropScience’s prestigious Young Farmer
Farm Indiana // october 2016
Sustainability Award last year. The annual honor recognizes agricultural producers 40 and younger who demonstrate entrepreneurial initiative and new approaches to farming, sustainability efforts and economic stability. With his wife by his side, Fansler received the award during an Ag Issues Forum thought-leadership event in Phoenix. “We were proud to name him a Young Farmer Sustainability Award winner and look forward to watching Andrew and Fansler Farms become even more successful in the future,” says Jim Blome, president and CEO of Bayer CropScience LP, regarding Fansler’s 2015 honor. “American agriculture is lucky to have him as a next-generation leader.” 12
Farm Indiana // october 2016
Fansler was surprised to discover he had even been nominated for the award and most enjoyed the learning experience of participating in the Ag Issues Forum. “It was one of the most eye-opening conferences I’ve ever been to,” he says. “We discussed how we can be better aggregate, how we can improve what is going into the food supply. Actually receiving the award was surreal to me. I still feel like I’m trying to be a ‘real’ farmer, even 20 years into it.” Winning the award was “a real big deal, and I was, of course, honored to be recognized, but we need to include the people around me — my staff and peers, whether it be a vendor or college friend who’s an entrepreneur in another
“We were proud to name him a Young Farmer Sustainability Award winner and look forward to watching Andrew and Fansler Farms become even more successful in the future.” —Jim Blome
business,” he says. “The fact is, if it wasn’t for the people surrounding me, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Leaving His Mark
As a first-generation farmer, Fansler has big plans to make an impact in his lifetime on the art and business of farming. He is committed to sustainable, environmentally minded agricultural and business practices. That includes using no-till methods, crop rotations, variable-rate planting, soil testing, tissue sampling, GPS-guided fertility application and yield monitoring. “He is an active participant in the Conservation Stewardship Program, utilizing CRP (Conservation Reserve
An employee moves a corn chute on Andrew Fansler’s farm. Below: A combine engine.
Program) grassed waterways and buffer strips, and he invests heavily in field tiling and other land improvements as needed each year,” noted Bayer, in highlighting Fansler’s award-winning farming innovation. Fansler says these processes are all part of being a better steward to the land he loves to farm. “Our plans are to continue in a controlled growth manner, and growth for us is not always about acres,” he says. “It’s about sustainability. We have to grow the profitability of the farm and continue that growth. I refer to the Mayans a lot. They were one of the greatest empires of all time, but they lost their food supply. It completely fell because they quite simply
ran out of food. We need to change what we do today so that doesn’t happen. We have to leave the land in better shape than we got it. And we need to leave less of a footprint than our forefathers did.” Fansler hopes to make a difference in his chosen profession, as well as an impression on the next generation of farmers. “Innovation has changed farming, has made it what it is today,” he says. “There aren’t many out there 35 and younger farming, not many young farmers left. So my thing is that I want to make a positive influence on ag. Maybe a young farmer will see me and say if he can do it, maybe I can do it, too.” For more on Fansler Farms, visit fanslerfarms.com.
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but healthy MicroGreens Project Indy arms area youths with the know-how to eat well
C By Shawndra Miller
Colleen Kincius is on a mission. This past summer the Indianapolis resident mobilized resources in support of an ambitious goal: to shift the way food dollars are spent. Her new nonprofit, MicroGreens Project Indy, aims to teach middle schoolers to shop for, cook and enjoy healthy dinners on a budget of just $3.50 per meal for a family of four. That’s in line with what low-income families receive through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, and formerly known as the Food Stamp Program. Kincius is starting small, piloting the program at one school. But she’s thinking big, with hopes of expanding into as many schools as possible with the help of volunteers. Eventually, she envisions partnering with schools that have on-site vegetable gardens. “We have tons of ideas,” she says. “But we’re first focusing just on the nitty gritty, the basics, like buying things in bulk, ways to budget.” She notes that from a financial standpoint, eating organic or local is less feasible on a governmentsupplemented food budget. The menus revolve around healthy food that’s both palatable to youthful appetites and easily accessible, not to mention affordable. Transportation is a barrier for many families on SNAP, which is another reason to keep the meals simple. Kincius will shop for ingredients ahead of time in a store that parents are likely to frequent. “I’ll be going to the grocery store closest to them, because transportation is a huge issue,” she explains. “Then I come to
Farm Indiana // october 2016
Students are taught to make healthier meals on a limited budget.
class and show them the receipt, price it out and show how it works.” With her husband and co-founder, Drew Kincius, she plans to start working with small groups of young people this winter. They’ll use an eight-week curriculum developed by chef Allison Sosna of New York City. Sosna began MicroGreens four years ago in Washington, D.C., where she had fed more than 1 million healthy meals to schoolchildren at eight public schools. There she realized that America’s epidemic levels of obesity start in childhood. She saw firsthand the problems faced by low-income families trying to make ends meet. Whether the kids were being raised by a single parent or two, typically the parents worked
multiple jobs and had little time to devote to meal planning and preparation, especially on a shoestring budget. Indy is just the latest city to adopt the project that takes a practical approach to changing dietary habits among this population. Middle schoolers are the key to bottom-up change, Sosna has found. Her curriculum takes a hands-on approach to showing this age group what it’s like to prepare meals that are both healthy and economical. Some 46 million Americans are on SNAP, half of whom are minors. Much of that money gets spent on boxed and processed foods that are cheap but not very nutritious. The MicroGreens approach demonstrates how to target a
Drew and Colleen Kincius
How you can help: »“Like” MicroGreens Project Indy on Facebook and share its work with your networks. »Ask for Fresh Bucks at farmers markets. »Apply to be a volunteer with MicroGreens Project Indy. »Contribute to the ongoing crowdfunding initiative at gofundme.com/MicroGreensIndy. »Connect Kincius to businesses interested in becoming a fiscal sponsor or consider sponsoring the project yourself. »Spread the word about MicroGreens across the nation and contact chef Allison Sosna through her website to start a project in your town.
Photos by Josh Marshall
Farm Indiana // october 2016
give youngsters a solid foundation to take limited budget toward healthier meals, home to their family kitchens. emphasizing bulk buys, for example. “The whole class is taught with When funds are limited, it can be professionalism in line with the a mental leap for families to see the culinary business,” says economics of putting “Their minds are so Sosna. Participants start money on a bulk bag open; they’re takusing a chef ’s knife the of brown rice or large ing all this in like a first week, and anyone container of oil. “It’s hard sponge, and they’ll go caught fooling around is for people to drop 25 bucks home and teach their shown the door. on olive oil up front,” says siblings, teach their By the final week, the Sosna. Her tactic is to parents, teach their students compete in a Top show kids the math. “If aunts and uncles.” Chef-style cookoff. At they buy a liter,” she says, — Colleen Kincius graduation, they receive “and then they only use a cutting board, measuring spoon and a tablespoon at a time, it’s less than 50 Crock-Pot, as well as a certificate. cents a serving.” Comprehensive surveys before and Sosna flew in for a recent fundraiser to after participation give a sense of the support the project’s launch and to prep impact. The questions measure the child’s Kincius to use the curriculum. It’s more nutritional savvy and eating habits, than budgeting: From sanitation to knife both of which tend to improve after the skills to cooking techniques, the classes
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Farm Indiana // october 2016
Fresh Bucks Transportation and budget constraints limit the possibility of including locally grown food in the MicroGreens programming. But Kincius intends to teach participants about Fresh Bucks, a SNAP incentive program available at some Indianapolis-area farmers markets. Anyone with SNAP benefits can use Fresh Bucks to double their purchasing power at participating farmers markets. Since the dollar amount they receive is double the amount deducted from their SNAP card, up to $20, the program economizes purchases of locally grown produce and garden plants. “There isn’t as much access to it as I would like there to be,” says Kincius, “but depending on what part of town they’re in, the access is there for some people.” Increasing access to locally grown produce not only helps low-income people, it also supports farmers. She would like to see more people requesting Fresh Bucks at their farmers market, whether they personally need it or not. Just asking at the market’s information booth whether Fresh Bucks are accepted is a start. If not, she says, find out what it would take to implement the program. “Creating that interest is key.”
eight-week course. “We’re proving they’re shopping more with their families and cooking more at home,” says Sosna. Kincius plans to pilot the program with an existing cooking club at public charter school KIPP Indy. She and her husband both have experience working with young children. They previously volunteered with the Patachou Foundation, teaching elementary-age kids about nutrition in an after-school class at Chase Near Eastside Legacy Center. That experience with foodinsecure children showed them the potential for effecting lasting change. “One thing I love about this program,” Kincius says, “and working with middle schoolers in particular, is that first of all, they love teaching, too. ... Their minds
are so open; they’re taking all this in like a sponge, and they’ll go home and teach their siblings, teach their parents, teach their aunts and uncles.” A lifestyle wellness coach at Eskenazi Health, she knows how much food affects health because she was once a junk food junkie, and her digestive tract was not happy about it. She describes those days with disarming frankness. “I ate raw hot dogs on a regular basis,” she says. “For every lunch at school I would have a honeybun, drink a Yoo-Hoo and have either nachos or some other junk that came off the assembly line.” Given those habits, she counts herself fortunate to not wind up in the roughly 33 percent of Indy residents who deal with obesity. Dogged by health problems, she eventually found her way to the book “Skinny Bitch,” which opened her eyes to the power of food. Once she turned her own health status around, she realized she had a passion for helping others. “I’ve always been very conscious of what’s happening in the community,” she says. Education made the difference for her, and she felt called to carry the message. While she started a health coaching business, she began to wish for a way to bring change on a larger scale, particularly with people who couldn’t afford coaching. “You can help yourself; you can be healthy,” she wanted to tell them. “But the education just (wasn’t) there. I became very conscious of that, thinking, how can I help, and what can I do? Because I have these resources, but not everyone does.” That’s when she saw a tweet from author Michael Pollan about Sosna’s work and began to explore bringing the MicroGreens Project to her own city. Sosna calls Kincius a “spitfire” with great tenacity and an intuitive grasp of networking. “She’s very industrious,” Sosna says. “I see myself in her, and this knowledge of the greater picture and running with it.” “I know the program’s going to do really well. Her heart is in it.”
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Farm Indiana // october 2016
From left: Erik Moorman, Jesse Robbins, Chris Moorman and Pat Burton
T Hancock County entrepreneurs bring engineering and automation experience to their growing business
By Shawndra Miller
The day Chris Moorman watched a truck driver load up and drive off with his company’s first “baby,” a shipping container tricked out for hydroponics, he had one thought foremost in his mind: “I just hope he gets onto the highway without getting T-boned, because otherwise we are totally hosed.” Rubicon Agriculture’s Living Learning Lab was headed for its final home in Nebraska. Out in Omaha, Bryan High School’s Urban Agriculture Academy stood ready to receive the L3, as the modular classroom is known. The L3 is an AgroBox developed by Rubicon Agriculture, a company consisting of CEO Moorman — a former Wall Street trader — and three brothers-in-arms (one of them his actual brother). The young team works out of a Greenfield barn and basement. Brother Erik Moorman is a Navy veteran, having honed his skills in closed circuit water systems aboard the USN Newport News. Engineers Jesse Robbins and Pat Burton boast manufacturing automation experience. On the back deck of the modest house where three of the four partners live, a hydroponic cylinder overflows with arugula and other greens for their table. “One of the nice things about being in the food business is you’ll never completely starve,” jokes Moorman, “although you might come close.”
Farm Indiana // october 2016
Next to a barn, two 10,000-pound shipping containers are in the process of being converted to closed growing environments. In the footprint of six parking spots, an urban farmer could reliably harvest produce all year long, while using minimal water and eliminating pesticides and herbicides. The AgroBox’s automated system allows for absolute control of inputs, giving a plant its exact nutrient needs, no more, no less. Tweaks in lighting at various times during the growing cycle result in harvests that are sweeter and possibly more nutritious as well. Moorman walks across the gravel in flip-flops toward the gleaming white containers, explaining, “These are refrigerated shipping containers that probably made dozens and dozens of cross-ocean journeys bringing produce to us. We get them for a song … from a guy that pulls them off the railroad in Illinois.” The Rubicon team installs HVAC and nutrient dosing units on either end and puts in conduits, racks and lights. It all adds up to a growing system that they hope will revolutionize urban ag. He swings the Max Grow’s door open. This AgroBox model contains up to 2,500 grow spots, less depending on crop selection. Unlike the L3, which leaves ample space for classroom interaction, this box is meant for one purpose only: to grow as much produce as possible. Inside, walls are white above a corrugated metal floor. One five-tiered rack is in place. Once fully equipped and set up with a water and electrical hookup, the Max Grow has the capacity to yield 600 heads of lettuce each week in its soilless environment. Shorter grow cycles and efficient use of space make that possible. And it uses only
about 10 percent of the water required by a traditional farm operation. This particular box is bound for Good Shepherd Community Center, an eastside Indy ministry. There it will put high school students to work growing food for local restaurants, in keeping with the company’s vision of boosting the local economy. “This is going to enable a whole new generation of farmers to be developed,” Moorman says, “people that never really saw themselves as potential farmers.” Exiting the compartment and taking a few steps to the control panel installed in the side, he remarks, “Here’s something that’s gone thousands and thousands of miles bringing produce to you, and we want to put it in a neighborhood and have it be a hyperlocal solution.” He opens the panel to show the proprietary dosing unit that fills interior reservoirs with a nutrient mix calibrated to plants’ individual needs. On the 10inch touchscreen, a grower can set up the desired electrical conductivity, pH, water temperature and more. A series of pumps and sensors keep the crops growing to those specifications. “American Gothic meets the Jetsons” is the way Moorman describes Rubicon’s products. Next in development, after the Max Grow and the L3, is a solar model that would be self-sustaining, using runoff water and solar panels. He sees potential military applications for this S2 AgroBox. With its digital-age technology, this brand of farming may seem more like manufacturing produce than growing it, and he makes no apology for that. Predictability is the goal. By removing variables of weather, soil composition and light waves, the system can give urban farmers a measure of certainty. That’s critical in an era of topsoil depletion, soil contamination and ever-more unpredictable weather patterns. Photos Submitted
Eliminating the 1,500-mile trek that most produce travels to reach a typical diner’s plate is another boon, and not only in terms of fuel consumption. From freshness to food safety, there are many benefits to going “hyperlocal.” “We’ve actually got about 25 percent more nutritional value,” he says, “because (produce) doesn’t have to be shipped. If you ship something at peak ripeness, it’s going to be rotten. So usually they’re cutting things down about five to six days in advance of when it gets to the consumer, and by then it’s going to pass through about seven pairs of hands from picker to consumer.” Why, he wonders, must the country waste 40 percent of its produce due to mishandling in transportation or worse, spoilage on a shelf? Then there’s the fact that the vast majority of fresh greens originate in California, where desert conditions prevail. “They pull more water out of the aquifer every year than flows down the Colorado River,” Moorman points out. “People think about
water as rain: ‘It falls out of the sky. It’s always going to be there.’ Not aquifer water. Aquifer water’s like oil. It took millions of years to get there, and several decades to pull it out.” “We think there’s a better solution.” The shipping container models are just a starting point. The company’s integrated control system is scalable for large warehouses. Moorman emphasizes that Rubicon’s products will not compete with farmers markets. “We think there’s more than enough space in agriculture for everybody,” he says, “because in reality our competition is California.” His hope is that high school kids who learn in an L3 or take an after-school job in a Max Grow will go on to earn higher degrees in horticulture, agriculture or engineering, becoming the future workforce that will bring food to the table. “We’re really trying to raise the next generation,” he says. “We believe we’re not just cultivating vegetables; we’re cultivating human capital, too.” Especially in neighborhoods where youths have a higher probability of entering the penal system, he envisions AgroBoxes having a far-reaching impact. “We think people who grow things have a little bit more respect for life,” he says, “and I don’t think that’s just about the greens. … I really think that does
translate into a whole life. “There’s a pride of place when you end up feeding your community as well.” Out in Nebraska, the executive director of the Omaha Schools Foundation calls the Living Learning Lab “the coolest, coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.” Toba Cohen-Dunning spearheaded the funding to bring the L3 to Bryan High School. She’s excited about the possibilities — and not just in terms of education. “We have a district with 74.3 percent free and reduced lunch students,” she says. By serving fresh L3-grown produce in the cafeteria (depending on health department approval), the school could boost interest in healthy eating. The school also runs a food pantry for its students’ families, and leafy greens would be a great addition to the nonperishables typically distributed. BHS teacher Mary Miller, who coordinates the school’s urban ag program, says she and the other faculty are looking for student buy-in on how to integrate the L3 into their curriculum. They may grow a miniature lemon tree, or cultivate pomegranates, or start aloe plants for sale as an entrepreneurial
endeavor. They’ve already started peas and tomatoes in the space, as well as herbs like sage. About 120 students participate in the high school’s agricultural academy, which presents all classroom lessons with an ag focus. They’ve been studying history, literature and economics through the lens of agriculture already, and now students will get hands-on experience in the manufacturing automation arena as well. They can learn Microsoft Excel using live data from the L3’s integrated control system, for example. While students will continue to learn traditional farming techniques, CohenDunning believes the future depends on technological advances like Rubicon Agriculture’s team is developing. She points to the 365-day-a-year growing environment as a huge advantage in a school setting. BHS students go on summer break right when peak growing season starts, so their school garden has its limits. But now they will have a chance to see the growth cycles from start to finish. For more information, visit rubiconag.com. Farm Indiana // october 2016
Students with transplants they started in the greenhouse.
Seeds of Sustenance
Saint Joseph’s College Student Farm connects campus with community
By CJ Woodring
Opened in 1891, Saint Joseph’s College is a Catholic liberal arts school in Rensselaer. With a student enrollment of about 1,200, it is small when compared with schools whose student population can be up to 50 times greater. But the self-sustaining Student Farm is a proven paradigm for schools of all sizes, combining horticulture, sound business practices, community outreach and social justice. And yielding large rewards. Begun in 2010, the project was the initiative of Lana Zimmer, associate professor of education and sustainability studies and Student Farm director. In recognition of her efforts, in 2013 she was inducted into the Northwest Indiana Society of Innovators.
Farm Indiana // october 2016
Zimmer says the initial intent was to create space to begin building a community for incoming freshmen. A school garden was a natural enterprise for Zimmer, a former science teacher and lifelong gardener. “It was intended to be a pizza garden, growing tomatoes, onions, peppers, herbs and the like,” she says. “Students would pick produce, clean it and then go back to the chapel kitchen, where a small group would serve pizza. It was very small at that point.” Grants from the Ball Brothers Foundation Venture Fund, USDA and Alliance for Community Trees enabled the school to build a hoop house and dedicated classroom, install an aquaponics system and create an orchard. Ultimately, students sold produce at the Rensselaer Farmers Market and in fall 2012 formed their first Community Supported Agriculture. The following spring, students grew enough crops to produce and distribute seasonal CSAs, while continuing market sales and donating excess produce to the city’s Good Samaritan Food Pantry. CSA membership currently numbers about 15 and continues to grow, primarily through word-of-mouth. This spring, student organizations were invited to support farm efforts through the Fresh Food First Campaign. “We reached out to the campus community, asking them to donate a bit of their budget to pay summer farm workers,” Zimmer says. “We had to make sure we had enough funds to support it.” Sustainability Studies, a minor program started in 2012 and open to all grade levels, has thus far graduated about 20 students. In addition, numerous classes have been held, introducing students to
the techniques and tools of the trade. Students work throughout the year, farming about a half-acre outdoors and in a seasonal high tunnel. Proceeds are plowed back into the program. “We’ve gotten such positive feedback from students, who said they loved the hands-on part,” Zimmer says. “They couldn’t believe the farm was here. For the entire class to be able to pull it together, applying both liberal and practical arts, was really appealing to them.” The program and its resultant bounty also have resonated within the food pantry and among the client base it serves. “Although we’re not organic-certified, we use organic growing practices, and people are so grateful to have access to that high-quality produce because local retailers’ offerings are pretty limited,” she says. Bill Hollerman has volunteered for the food pantry since 1984. Open two days a week, the charitable organization serves residents of the small agricultural community (pop. 6,000) and outlying areas. Between 30 and 50 families receive assistance each week: non-perishable food and milk vouchers in addition to eggs, pork and beef from regional farmers. “So often what we give out is canned goods. Very seldom do our recipients have the opportunity to have fresh vegetables. So here’s an opportunity for people to have fresh, nutritious produce,” Hollerman says, noting the school farm provides items ranging from corn to cantaloupe. “Some of our clients are senior citizens, and they really look forward to it because they were used to having fresh produce in their younger life. We certainly appreciate the donations,” he says, “because by adding produce we’re able to give recipients a well-rounded menu.” Planting inspiration Connecting with the Earth can hold unexpected consequences, many of them life-changing. Such is the case with three Saint Joseph’s College students. Junior Kevin Heinemann says working on the farm for the past two years affected Photos Submitted
him in ways he hadn’t imagined, while also informing his career choice. Although he has a small backyard garden at his Joliet, Illinois, home, Heinemann says he had no prior farming experience. “When I decided to do this, I thought it would be a good experience to go outside and see the stuff I eat on a daily basis and learn how it grows. It was an eye-opening experience, because I come from an urban environment, and hadn’t expected it would hit me like that. “I’m a criminal justice major and thought gardening is probably something I’d do at home. But after working here for so long, I discovered I really like being
outside. I decided my career should include agriculture, so a conservation officer would be the obvious choice. It’s really been a great experience, and I’ll definitely stay with it for my next two years,” he says. Ashlee Troop, in her first year of working at the farm, also has a home garden. Program involvement for Troop was about more than farming, also dovetailing with her chosen career path. “I wanted to do something bigger and more involved with the community,” says the Morocco resident. “Plus, after graduation I’m hoping to find full-time work at a greenhouse or on a farm, with the goal of greenhouse or farm management.
Students planting potatoes.
“I’ve only been working here a couple of months. But working with the land, with the crops, gives you a sense of connection with others, with the Earth, the world and even with yourself. I don’t know where else you’d be able to experience this, and I’ve never had it before.” Farming has affected the life of senior Yohanes Lee at several levels, he says, following a summer as student worker. An accounting major, he took the class as an elective because a friend with a farming background told him it would be fun. “It was good to see where vegetables and fruit come from, and I’m planning to have a garden at home,” says the Fort Wayne resident. “Hopefully, I can get into something farming related in the future. I definitely want to be involved in that type of lifestyle.” Growing more than a program Zimmer says a productive fall season is shaping up. “We’re happy to sell through the farmers market and have made a personal commitment to donate 1,000 pounds of food –– we grow more than 30 varieties of vegetables –– to food pantries this season. We’re looking to harvest about 1,000 to 1,400 pounds of potatoes this fall. So we know we can meet our quota on potatoes, if nothing else,” she says. Zimmer says she anticipates additional grants this year and plans to explore the process of fermentation with future students. “Fermentation covers so many areas ... food, biofuels, pharmaceuticals ... there’s really a broad field it includes, from beer to cheese to you-name-it. So there could be some interesting, value-added produce in the future.” Addition of the greenhouse and classroom has enabled her to teach all-season classes. The next will be held in the spring in conjunction with the on-campus sustainability studies program. Zimmer envisions the program changing within the next five years, she says. “The program is a minor right now, but I see us offering a major in that area. I
would say it would allow an agricultural focus for those who choose to do that. And an additional faculty member would allow us to ramp up the program for those who take it. That’s what’s on my radar for now.” Publicity is an ongoing concern Zimmer hopes to address this school year. Because the farm isn’t visible from campus, this year’s freshman orientation will include a two-hour farm visit. “We have our conventional farm and then the organic farm is about a half-mile off campus. So unless it’s a destination, students don’t know it exists.” Troop gives the project high marks in connecting students with one another and with the Rensselaer community at large. “Since I’ve been here four years, I’ve known most of the people who have worked out here,” she says. “There’s definitely a greater understanding of our impact on the Earth, how we relate to food and even in our relationship with community members. We work with them, selling at the farmers market, for example, so we’re definitely not our only little hub, but a part of the farming community.” And, fellow student Lee adds, farming is a subject everyone should learn and undertake, if possible. “Food is a necessity of life. And especially if you can grow crops naturally, the lessons will last you a lifetime.” Zimmer says the social aspects of the program can’t be overlooked or underrated. And, she adds, such programs aren’t available solely at larger post-secondary schools. “Small liberal arts colleges can be go-to places for students interested in sustainable agriculture and community food systems. We’d like to attract students who come here specifically to participate in this program, and I invite those students to contact us. The social side of that, I think, is very important.” For more information about the project or CSA shares, visit the Saint Joseph’s College Student Farm website at saintjoe. edu/student-farm. Farm Indiana // october 2016
Left, Alex Cornwell at their education apiary at the Southwest Conservation Club in Fort Wayne. Right, Megan Ryan, lead educator of the Explore The Honeybee program, looks at pollinator plants close up with a digital microscope and digital display with students.
Plight of the Honeybees
The owners of Southwest Honey Co. raise awareness about the not-so-lowly honeybee By CJ Woodring
“If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live.”
— Maurice Maeterlinck, “ The Life of the Bee”
Farm Indiana // october 2016
To bee or not to bee. That was not the question for Fort Wayne residents Megan Ryan and Alex Cornwell. For soon after they began researching nature’s primary pollinator, the conservationists were driven to educate others about the honeybee’s vital role and its uncertain future. Taking their message into the community and beyond, the owners of Southwest Honey Co. have gained an enthusiastic audience of all ages, along with a USDA grant. And their mission has barely begun. As activists and environmentalists, the longtime friends were looking for a conservation project to work on, Ryan says. “We started doing a bit of research on bees and beekeeping, and both of us kind of fell in love with the idea. So we read and watched everything we could, joined the Northeast Indiana Beekeepers
Association, kind of ventured into it and just got hooked. We loved it.” Cornwell is very business-oriented, she says. Paired with Ryan’s educational background, they make a perfect mix. That combination has resulted not only in the creation of Southwest Honey Co. and an educational program embraced by students, educators and various environmentalist groups, but in a venture that has brought a new life and outlook to the city’s venerable Southwest Conservation Club. In addition, it has deepened the couple’s commitment to the project that serves to challenge audiences to care for the environment, one honeybee at a time. “We like to focus on the fact that the Southwest Honey Co. is about more than honey,” Cornwell says. “It’s about creating pollinator awareness, by honeybees or other pollinators, which has a real impact on our daily life. “Just 10 years ago, we didn’t know we had a problem. But within the past five years, honeybees have become more valuable and scarce. America has a honey deficit and is importing a lot of honey. Some of it isn’t honey at all.” The problem Cornwell is referring to: colony collapse disorder, which occurs when the majority of worker bees in a honeybee colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees and the queen. Hundreds of thousands of honeybees are also dying each year, a result of which hasn’t yet been fully explained or understood. Photos Submitted
Mackenzie Kneller with the Southwest Honey Co. talks with attendees.
“Going at this pace, it’s estimated that 2035 will be the extinction date for honeybees in the United States,” Cornwell says. “From that standpoint, we hope it’s not too late, and that the general public starts advocating with us, rather than us just preaching to them.”
A beneficial relationship
Ryan is full-time director of special education at Bishop Luers High School. Cornwell owns and publishes the weekly Waynedale News, which covers events in the small, southwest-central Fort Wayne community. At 29, he’s considered the youngest newspaper publisher in the United States. Southwest Honey Co. is based on conservation, beekeeping, education and fundraising. “We formed the business this spring,” Cornwell says. “It was the beginning of our educational
program, and then we did an expansion of our apiaries from one to six. Two are located on the Southwest Conservation Club’s property.” As longtime members of the club,
the couple approached the organization with thoughts of partnering. The resultant relationship has provided them with a 31-acre home base, where they maintain hives and host programs while also helping benefit the organization. “They’d found someone wanting to get rid of some hives and asked if they could put them here,” says club President Wes Davis. “All our ears really perked up, and the board was very enthusiastic about it, so it wasn’t a hard decision to make. “Alex and Megan are just an ‘A’ team, both college-educated go-getters. They really want to help out.” Davis says members, whose ages range from 20-something to 95, remain enthusiastic as they personally engage in some of the
programs. “They’ve also bought the club some oars for the boats we use on our ponds, so it’s been a blessing to have them here,” he says.
Bee Conservation 101
Although Ryan and Cornwell currently have about 25 hives, each housing about 80,000 bees, Cornwell stresses that they do not teach beekeeping classes. “The beekeeping association does that, and we leave it to them. Our company isn’t beekeeping oriented.” Ryan agrees. “Beekeeping takes expertise. You have to know what you’re doing. There are tons of things people can do to help the bee population, and they don’t have to have a hive. But if they want one, they can contact their regional beekeepers association, and members will work with them.” Throughout late spring and summer, the couple made presentations at a Purdue Extension-DeKalb County 4-H mini day camp, a Goshen elementary school and at Science Central in downtown Fort Wayne. They ranged from hands-on, ageappropriate, school-based programs about honeybees and their life cycles, to Farm Indiana // october 2016
among farmers, ranchers and honeybees through consumer education. Cornwell says the grant paid for a large number of start-up supplies.
A Wake-up Call
Bees & Brew, an educational and crafts event held at the club; Bees & Tea, which engaged seniors at a Waynedale assisted living community; and the Science Tent, held on-site at the club. Within the first two months, more than 300 kindergarten to Grade 12 students participated in the Explore the Honeybee program, a significant number considering it didn’t take flight until late spring. The experience was overwhelmingly positive, Ryan says, noting that a hands-on program offering exploration stations and a digital microscope was the overall favorite. “I very much enjoyed working on that,” she says. “It’s been fun. And I really couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my summer.” “The biggest thing is connecting (them) with bees, the way pollination works and how that connects to everything else ... our food and environment,” Cornwell says. “And it’s not just honeybees. They’re 24
Farm Indiana // october 2016
just an example and a well-known pollinator, but not the only one. So these programs can be applied to everyday life and give people an idea of how small the bee is, yet how large an impact it actually makes.” The couple works with local organic farmers and conservation groups such as ACRES Land Trust, which hosts one of their apiaries. They also partnered with SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education) and with beekeeping suppliers Betterbee and Wheeler’s Bees, each sponsors of summer programs. Through Finding Homes for Bees, they seek environmentally suitable homes for the bees, such as with a farmer who uses a clover cover crop. “He hosts one of our apiaries at his farm, and it’s worked pretty well for him,” Cornwell says. “Although we’re for profit, we operate more like a nonprofit. That’s where Finding Homes for Bees comes from. We haven’t taken any money from it and don’t really plan to. Rather, we plan to
continue the program and through sales of honey and education tickets find more homes for bees so they can thrive.” The USDA’s North Central Region SARE has already awarded the couple a grant to study the symbiotic relationship
In March, soon after they launched the business, Ryan received an award for community service work. Sponsored by St. Mary’s Catholic Church and the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, the Father Tom O’Connor Light of Christ Award recognizes individuals committed to social justice and peace. Ryan, who holds a master’s degree in education, was cited for her work with Sodalitas, a service mission at Bishop Luers and for her teaching in Ghana. But it was after hearing Pope Francis’ delivery of “On Care for Our Common Home,” in which he challenged individuals to involve themselves in “ecological education,” that Ryan says she had a wake-up call. “I tied that in on the day of my award,” she says. “It was interesting,
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because the new pope is very much invested in the environment, and he reminded us that we can’t be so immersed in human rights and caring about ourselves that we forget about our environment. Something as little as the honeybee still counts and is actually pretty important.” In the foreseeable future, the duo plans to continue programs initiated this year while also expanding their educational component to include both a new K-12 program and a junior program, Cornwell says. “We’re also working on more educational material where home schooling groups and associations could start doing a bit more of what we’re doing. The DNR and some other organizations would love to see more of these unique programs throughout the nation.” Meanwhile, the company’s comprehensive website has created a buzz among users of all ages, whether seeking educational information, ordering honey, gathering honey-based food and facial recipes or participating in the
Name the Bee project. In the end, Southwest Honey Co. is about raising awareness and charging audiences with caring for honeybees, among the smallest — yet most important — of Earth’s inhabitants. “Our biggest thing is awareness, and Meg and I are in it for the long haul, until colony collapse disorder severely impacts beekeepers and they can’t afford to keep them anymore. We’re in the same boat,” Cornwell says. “As a society, we focus on large issues, e.g., global warming, but don’t take time to look at our local environment and recognize (this) as a huge concern. Pollinators connect us with the world, so it’s hard to estimate what, specifically, the future would look like if their numbers were decimated or they were totally gone. Ultimately, it would affect our entire economy. “It takes everyone to make a change,” he adds, “but we don’t think it’s too late to make that change.” For more information visit southwesthoney.com.
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Farm Indiana // october 2016
arning circles p e l s ’ ro en vid om
farmers and lan d ale o w em n rf
cational e edu spa u iq ce n u fo a
Ladi e s On ly By Jon Shoulders
In 2014, Sara Creech heard that a female-only agricultural education and network gathering would be occurring near her home. As owner and operator of Blue Yonder Organic Farm, a 43acre poultry and produce operation in Hendricks County, Creech learned of the event from a colleague at the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Indiana offices and decided to attend. Just minutes after the meeting began, she knew something special was happening. “I went there, and it was a real unique way of talking to women about soil conservation, about different concerns that women have about their land and water quality, and about the bigger picture beyond just profit and being efficient with your crops,” Creech says. “Other than small-scale farming, it’s (farming) just a very male-dominated profession, so it helps to be able to connect with other women. I actually met some people that lived near me that I didn’t even know were doing anything on their land.” In 2013 the Iowa-based Women, Food and Agriculture Network, a national nonprofit networking organization, received 26
Farm Indiana // october 2016
an NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant to develop Women Caring for the Land, a project created to improve soil health in Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Missouri by increasing knowledge among female farmland owners through organized meeting events. Several pilot meetings took place around Indiana, including Hendricks and Howard counties that year, and their immediate success led to interest from several Indiana women in forming a steering committee to add structure and organization to further sessions around Indiana, known as women’s learning circles. The resulting Indiana organization, Women4theLand (W4TL), has hosted 17 meetings in counties throughout the state in its first three years, attended by approximately 200 total participants. Steering committee members for the group represent a wide range of institutions, including the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Purdue Extension, the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
Female landowners and land operators, as well as natural resource professionals, can attend the learning circles, which are led by trained facilitators and at which a handful of conservation specialists are on hand to field questions and address concerns regarding soil health and related topics. “A lot of the women who attend are landowners who know nothing about conservation practices like no-till or cover crop, and they may have heard about them but don’t know how they work together to build soil health,” says Rebecca Fletcher, public affairs manager for the NRCS and W4TL steering committee member. “Then we have other topics like wildlife planting and wetland restoration that women have requested more information about.” The meetings are typically held in the morning, followed by field tours of farmland where the group can observe actual conservation practices. Male conservation professionals are welcome for the field tours. “Women typically have not come to our past field days or our workshops, and at the Natural Resources Conservation Service and all the agencies that we’re
involved with, we all struggle with reaching women,” Fletcher says. “So this way has been effective where the women are comfortable and welcomed and are learning something.” Fletcher says the women-only policy during the morning learning circles increases the comfort level of attendees and encourages participation and vocalization of concerns. “On every evaluation form we always see things like, ‘Thank you for making this just for women,’ and ‘I would’ve never spoken up about anything if this were a mixed group of men and women.’” According to Fletcher, many female landowners struggle to find ways to challenge their tenant farmers to engage in soil conservation practices and incorporate such practices into their land lease agreements — topics the learning circles tackle directly. “A lot of women don’t know that there are lease templates available through Purdue that they can take language from,” she says. “We’re trying to help build that confidence so that they know more, because when the land is healthier it’s going to have a lot more economic value,
position. Women have great ideas that are and we’re trying to encourage them to often different than men. Those should take care of that land as a financial asset. be encouraged and maybe haven’t been A lot of them just don’t feel well-equipped enough in certain older generations. We enough to challenge anything that their don’t want to lose that.” farmer is doing. That’s come up at almost Meeting locations thus far have every learning circle I’ve been to.” spanned the state, including Tippecanoe Fletcher says simply conveying informaCounty in the northwest and Warsaw in tion on basic resources such as free technithe northeast, Washington County in the cal assistance and the steps toward obtainsouth and around the Indianapolis area. ing financial assistance has been invaluable To maintain the efficiency and qualfor learning circle participants. “Many of ity of each meeting, them are elderly women 20 facilitators located whose husbands may “Women have great ideas around Indiana have have passed away, and that are often different been trained to assist they have ended up than men. Those should or lead a learning circle being the sole owner if interest grows in any of the land,” she says. be encouraged and region of the state. “Many just don’t know maybe haven’t been Since the CIG these resources exist and enough in certain older funds were exhausted, have never been in our generations. We don’t representatives from offices. That goes for all want to lose that.” Indiana’s Soil and Water of the agencies involved, — Sara Creech Conservation Districts whether it’s the local Soil — one district exists and Water Conservation for each of the state’s 92 counties — have District or a state agency or whomever. So stepped up to host the learning circles and it’s been wonderful for us to connect them helped to find sponsorships to assist with in that way.” costs such as food and bus transportation According to U.S. Census of Agriculfor the field tours. “We’re currently looking ture data for 2012, 30 percent of America’s for grants now to help pay for a state coorfarmers – including day-to-day farm dinator, at least part time, to keep all of this operators and farmland owners who rent on track and moving ahead,” Fletcher says. their land to operators – were women. In The feedback and enthusiasm in reIndiana, women were in charge of daily sponse to the learning circles so far have farming operations on 9.7 percent of all been encouraging to Creech, Fletcher and farms in 2012, according to the census their fellow steering committee members. data, which is compiled every five years. “What’s interesting is that we evaluate evCreech, who now serves as executive ery workshop, and over and over again aldirector of the W4TL steering commitmost 70 percent of the women who attend tee, says the unique insights and opinions actually say that they will implement at many women landowners have on conserleast one conservation practice as a result vation practices are often not expressed to of attending that workshop,” Fletcher says. their peers or tenant farmers. “We hope to keep that momentum going.” “They really know their land and farm For additional information on Womenbut might not necessarily feel comfortable 4theLand, including dates and locations of or might not be encouraged to give their upcoming learning circle events around the opinion,” she says. “Sometimes just the state, visit women4theland.org. safety of other women talking about it and To learn about the Women, Food and identifying kind of breaks the ice, and all Agriculture Network’s programs and the sudden they’re not as nervous and are resources, go to wfan.org. seeing that there are others in a similar
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Farm Indiana // october 2016
also accounts for losses due to factors such as spoilage and plate waste. Consumption per person of dark greens, such as spinach and broccoli, rose from less than a pound annually in the early 1970s to more than five pounds in 2013. Potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and onions have remained relatively consistent during the same time frame, however. “The juicing and smoothie trends I’m seeing now have helped because a lot of people who don’t want to eat the kales and the spinaches are putting it in their smoothies with fruits,” O’Connell adds. Although Americans consumed increasing amounts of meat from 1950 through the late 1970s, a fragmentation of consumption trends by meat type began to occur thereLocal experts and national data after, according to ERS figures for boneless, suggest the American diet is evolving trimmed weight. For example, chicken consumption increased steadily from the early in positive and negative ways 1970s through 2013, while beef declined and By Jon Shoulders seafood remained relatively consistent in the same time span. Milk and milk product consumption trends in the U.S. When assessing the eating habits of the population, also fragmented since the early 1970s; whole milk plummetboth in Indiana and on a national level, Lorna O’Connell, ed from 17.1 pounds annually in 1971 to 3.65 in 2013, while executive director of the Indiana Academy of Nutrition and skim and 1 percent milk, as well as American and Italian Dietetics, sees a lingering cloud with a growing amount of cheese, rose slightly. silver lining. “There’s still a long way to go in many ways, Perhaps unsurprisingly, annual per capita intake of whether you’re talking about sugar intake, lack of vegetables refined cane and beet sugars rose, according to ERS data, or overall portioning, but I have noticed as of five to 10 years from 37.8 pounds in 1992 to 40.6 in 2015, although high ago we started making some strides,” she says. “I think we’ve fructose corn syrup, a sweetener made from corn starch first finally been able to get some good information out there marketed on a large scale in the 1970s as a less costly alternaleading people to rethink what should be on their plates, and tive to sugar with a longer shelf life, declined by about six I see and talk to more people now that are interested in eatpounds during that time frame. ing healthier than I ever have.” “The reason we’re consuming more sugar than the corn O’Connell, a registered dietitian for 31 years, says on a syrups is because the manufacturers have transitioned that local level, the increase of farmers markets and local food ingredient in many cases,” O’Connell says. “They knew purveyors has contributed to what she sees as a slowly shiftpeople were getting more aware of what’s in their food and ing mindset. “In Indiana, the farm-to-table movement has trying to stay away, and they even started advertising no been helpful — appreciating what we have available here fructose corn syrup, but they had to keep the taste sweet with the farmers markets with all of the fresh fruit and vegso they went back to sugar. Sugar is still a huge problem etables available to us,” she says. “I think people are starting because it’s so prevalent in so many foods. People are always to understand the importance of those foods more — giving going to have their favorite sweets and desserts, and what I fruits and vegetables a higher priority in our meals than the try to work on there is just portion control and moderation, meat and the starch. I’m also seeing a lot of increased knowland having those things less frequently.” edge about additives and the ingredients that people don’t want in their diet. I think we’ll see a trend moving more and One factor perhaps contributing to several upward more away from processed foods.” trends — namely the increase in consumption of certain meats, refined sugar and cheese — is that Americans are Part of the silver lining O’Connell notices is a trend dining out more with each passing year. Statistics from that will make moms and dads throughout the country USDA surveys show that consumption of food away from proud — Americans are eating more dark green vegetables home, in proportion to total calories consumed, increased in the long term, according to U.S. Department of Agrifrom 18 percent in 1977 and 1978 to 32 percent from 2005 culture Economic Research Service data that bases food to 2008. Food prepared away from home during this consumption averages on food and nutrient availability and
Farm Indiana // october 2016
period, according to the USDA data, tended to be higher in nutrients Americans already get too much of, such as fat and saturated fat, and lower in those we get too little of, like fiber and iron. Regan Bailey, associate professor of nutrition science at Purdue University, says portion sizes for Americans have, on average, increased across almost all food groups throughout most of the second half of the 20th century. “There’s a lot of convenience food, and people want the value for their money, so things like super-sizing it where you get bigger portions have gotten more common,” she says. “Even when we go out to restaurants, what is considered a dinner serving now is just massive. You have to be cognizant of that.” O’Connell says socioeconomic issues, including household income and the lack of groceries in struggling urban locations, play a more prominent role in the average American diet than many might realize. “When your only opportunity to pick up food is at a convenience store, you can imagine what your diet is going to be like,” she says. “A lot of the inner-city groceries aren’t able to survive anymore, where they have to keep their prices up because their sales are low and they’re pricing themselves out because the individuals who live there can’t afford to pay the prices. Even in downtown Indianapolis we’re facing that now. So it’s not necessarily a lack of proper nutrition information for people with lower incomes and people living in these types of areas. There are some groups trying to get fresh produce to food pantries in the state in response to this.” Bailey adds that the percentage of Americans living in poverty is increasing, and percentage of money devoted toward food purchases is larger for lower income groups than higher ones. “It’s much more economical to make bad food choices when you have limited resources,” she says. “We do have national data that suggests that poverty, and how much money a family has, really determines the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables that are being consumed.” The eighth and most recent edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released last year by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, reflects some of the positive dietary trends O’Connell has observed in the last five to 10 years, including an emphasis on fruits and vegetables as well as the benefits of non-red meat options for sufficient protein intake, like nuts, seeds and seafood. “You just hope that information continues to get out to more people and they make more and more of the right choices for their health,” she says. »For USDA data on national food consumption trends, based on food and nutrient availability, go to ers.usda.gov/dataproducts/food-availability-(per-capita)-data-system »To view the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, visit health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015
Class Schedule By Katherine Coplen
Ongoing through Oct. 31
Photographers of all ages can enter a photo contest by sending a picture taken on an Indiana farm to oakheritageconservancy@ gmail.com with the subject “Photo Contest.” In the email, include your name, address, phone number and category. Categories include “Wildlife & Wildflowers,” “Wetlands, Creeks, Prairie & Forests,” “Cropland, Pasture & Livestock,” and “Farmstead, Barns & People.” Winning photos will be part of a traveling photography exhibit around southern Indiana. Winners receive a large, high-quality print of their photo at the conclusion of the photo exhibits. Contest hosted by Oak Heritage Conservancy and George Rogers Clark Land Trust, with generous support from the Indiana Arts Commission. For more information,
Permaculture Workshop Ande Schewe and Braden Trauth are certified permaculture instructors who will conduct this one-day introductory workshop at Alpine Berry Farm in Batesville. Attendees will learn about ethics and principles of permaculture design, forest gardening, basic to complex mapping and various permaculture solutions. The day will include lectures, hands-on exercises and examples. The $75 attendance fee includes a locally sourced lunch; for an additional $10, participate in an hour-long plant walk covering historic, edible and medicinal uses of wild plants. Time: 9 a.m. Location: 26185 Pocket
are welcome, if accompanied by an adult. Time: 10 a.m. Location: Garfield
Park Conservatory, 2505 Conservatory Drive, Indianapolis. Information: herbsocietyofcentralindiana.org.
Fall Education Night
The Herb Society of Central Indiana offers brief presentations, handouts, make-and-take activities and more. Includes refreshments. Time: 6:45 p.m.
Location: Garfield Park Conservatory, 2505 Conservatory Drive, Indianapolis. Information: herbsocietyofcentralindiana.org.
Indiana Local Food Summit
Local foodies, food service directors, farmers, elected officials, food entrepreneurs, city or county leaders and more are invited to the Indiana Local Food Summit. Expect a morning of networking and training, with a local food lunch, followed by sessions on food hubs, farm to school, food councils, food business development and more. Time: 9 a.m. Location: Ivy Tech
Culinary Center, 2820 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis. Information: (765) 494-0349.
Beginning Farmer Tour
The Purdue Extension Beginning Farmer Tours help aspiring farmers get their hands dirty, literally. Attendees will tour Hawkins Family Farm, where they will hear about raising poultry, hogs, cattle and vegetables, plus a discussion on processing meats. Lunch is provided. Time: 9 a.m. Location: Hawkins
Jeff Hawkins with son, Zach, at Hawkins Family Farm
to learn from beekeepers from three counties. Time: 7 p.m. Location: Brown
County Library, 205 Locust Lane, Nashville. Information: indianastatebeekeepers.org.
Tropicana, 421 NW Riverside Drive, Evansville. Information: swimga.org.
White Lick Beekeepers Interested in beekeeping and finally have time this fall to investigate? These regular Wednesday night meetings are open to the public. Location:
Adventures in Gardening 2016 This day-long event features a keynote by Benjamin Vogt of Monarch Gardens in Omaha, Nebraska. Sessions include 21st century garden ethics; designing for winter wildlife and beauty; botanical workhorses: heavy-hitter native plants; adding style and fun to your outdoor space; and the amazing honeybee. Registration is $45. Time: 8 a.m.
Location: Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds and Conference Center, 1900 E. Main St., Danville. Information: (317) 745-9260.
Ohio Valley Garden Conference
Are you an aspiring south central Indiana beekeeper? Join the 10 O’Clock Bee Line Beekeepers Club
This full-day event includes several speakers, including keynote speaker Peter J. Hatch, director of gardens and grounds at the Thomas Jefferson
A make-and-take craft and educational session. Children 5 years and older
Tony Rekeweg is the featured speaker at this NEIBA meeting, where he’ll discuss taking bees to California for almond pollination. Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Classic Cafe, 4832 Hillegas Road, Fort Wayne. Information: neiba.info.
Road, Batesville. Information: (812) 934-4620.
10 O’Clock Beekeepers
Northeast Indiana Beekeepers Association
Community Room at the Mooresville Public Library, 220 W. Harrison St., Mooresville. Information: whitelickbeekeepers.org.
Family farm, 10373 N. Road 300E, North Manchester. Information: (765) 496-2161.
Kids Workshop: Autumn Herbal Craft
Foundation. Attendance is $49 per person. Information: Location:
Beginning Farmer Tour
Another beginning farmer tour features Carthage Mill and Fields of Agape LLC, an artisan organic grain, seed and bean cooperative. Topics include developing partnerships and infrastructure to support small grain farming. Lunch is provided. Time: 9 a.m.
Location: The Carthage Mill, 201 E. Second St., Carthage. Information: (765) 496-2161.
A course designed for those in intermediate and advanced aquaponics. Course includes presentations on fish nutrition, facilities and equipment, pest control, current aquaculture research, species selection and food safety.
Time: 8 a.m. Location: Kokomo Event and Conference Center, 1500 N. Reed Road, Kokomo. Information: (765) 583-0351. Farm Indiana // october 2016
From the field
PERMACULTURE 101 By Cheryl Carter Jones
Cheryl Carter Jones is an Indiana farmer and the president 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 localgrowers.org.
Farm Indiana // october 2016
Fall is upon us. While I experienced life-changing events in my life this year that caused me to significantly alter my farming plans, I find that I am now in a position to come close to meeting my goals for 2016 by year’s end. More so, it means that I can finally focus on my passion for permaculture and begin some of the projects that embrace the principles and practices that I hold in such high regard. Life is good. I am putting pen to paper in a Vermont hotel while on an invigorating trip through Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine as a participant on a new small farmer tour, thanks to a grant obtained by Purdue University. Though the schedule is aggressive, the opportunity to
visit a number of exceptional agricultural enterprises and organizations and to bring that wealth of knowledge back to Indiana is monumental. It is also an opportunity for a little reflection and down time in our hotel rooms at the end of the day. That is time well spent for farmers and Extension educators, who rarely have that luxury. It has given me a chance to realize that like any good farmer, I have had to be flexible and able to course correct on a dime. Yet in the end, it is all coming together, and the dream will be a reality though the path was not exactly as planned. So as I turn my focus to that which brought me to begin a new farm in my late 50s, my commitment is renewed and I am re-energized to say the least. I am eager to share that vision and passion. What better way to do so than to dedicate my column this month to a high-level overview of what is soon forthcoming on my new, little farm? The term “permaculture” is starting to be heard by more people, but few truly understand what it entails or the vastness of it. It is an all-encompassing way of life when completely practiced. The following will offer a brief glimpse of the scope of permaculture.
There are three guiding principles in permaculture: Earth Care: » Entire books are written on this topic, but in a nutshell, we need to leave the Earth (soil and environment) in better condition than we found it. It is an obligation. Not only do we use compost and various soil amendments to accomplish this on my farm, but we also become one with the land upon which we dwell. We cherish and preserve what nature offers us, such as our water. We learn the direction of the winds, are in tune with the likelihood of natural disasters and research all we can that history has to offer on a particular location. Then, we proactively act upon it by putting in windbreaks accordingly, use plants and other methods of deterring possible natural disasters or reducing their likely damage, prepare the land to adapt to flooding or drought (often in the same year now), and determine placement of buildings and crops most conducive to the land — we call them zones. As individuals, we are Zone 0, or the center of activity. We put the things we interact with on a daily basis closest to us,
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such as our home garden and the herbs that we are most likely to use on a daily basis. From there, we prioritize our interaction and need to tend to things such as orchards and animals and determine their location accordingly. We reserve a portion of our land for forest, and clearly, it is the farthest away, as the need to work in that area is the least. We have all heard time and time again “location, location, location.” While we may like the setting on a particular site best for building a home, it may not be the best suited. Permaculture teaches us how to determine where to place our infrastructure. It also delves into building practices and materials, utilizing and maximizing what the Earth has to provide us in a given location and that which will best minimize our costs (energy, efficiency and health factors all play a part) over the long haul. People Care: » Permaculture includes the care of ourselves and others. Our diet and the methods of food preservation that we use are a part of the philosophy of permaculture. If we take care of the land appropriately, it will, in turn, help to care for us by providing us with healthy, nutritious food. Fair Share: » Not only do permaculturalists take care of the land and themselves, but we give to others in our community as well. In some instances, this means making our bounty available at a farmers market. In other cases, it is sharing our abundance with a neighbor or elderly friend. Yet it goes well beyond the crops that we grow. We also share our knowledge with others. For me, this means teaching — a skill set that has been a critical part of my entire career. For others, it may be a simple conversation or the sharing of a tool. Simply stated, we share of ourselves.
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My plans for the fall season include completing some guild plantings. In permaculture, a guild is a grouping of plants, trees, animals or insects. When you plant in guilds, you bring together plants that benefit each other and put them in relatively compact areas. A side benefit is that a guild planting will confuse destructive insects that thrive on plantings in straight rows and groupings of the same species together. Guilds mix it up. Doing my part to minimize my carbon imprint, my greenhouse will be completed by enclosing the north end with a slip straw wall, significantly reducing the impact of strong north winter winds. Slip straw consists of a cob mixture with straw and is packed into a form to dry. The form is then removed, leaving a solid wall with a high insulation factor. The final phase of my fall work will incorporate principles that allow my plants to flourish in drought and/or flooding conditions, although on sandy loam soil, flooding is not a concern. Thanks to an opportunity given to me by Kris Medic, our Bartholomew County Extension educator, I also will be part of a teaching team that will be providing further insight into permaculture in October and November. Classes will be held at the Bartholomew County Public Library beginning Oct. 17. Life is good. My plan is a little closer to reality for a lifestyle that brings me closer to nature and provides a healthy tomorrow for myself and others around me. I took stock of my life several years ago and determined to make some significant changes. Permaculture is a major part of those decisions.
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From the field
Katie Glick holds daughter, Mae.
What We Got
T by Katie Glick
The summer nights have turned into cool evenings, and the hums of harvest can be heard from the farm fields. While every season seems to be busy in this day and age, fall reminds us, even for just a short moment, to slow down and appreciate what we have and what God has given us. After being pregnant for the first portion of summer and then having our firstborn in the middle, the last part of the season seemed to get away from me, too. When I finally started to get out on a regular basis, the air turned cool but time sped up. Everyone said it would. Everyone said I would blink and my little girl would grow up, even though I didn’t believe them. Everyone said to cherish the moments, almost as if they hadn’t. So I will. Everyone wants what they don’t have — the grass is greener, the hill is taller, the dirt is darker or the house is bigger on someone else’s lot. We forget to look at what we got, what God gave us, before we look out our window at what the neighbor bought. And then when time passes us by, after the busy seasons slow down and time is lost, we realize what we got, and it is too late. I’ve seen new life enter this world every year since I can remember, and I remember a lot of lives that left this Earth just as quickly. When our baby entered the world, the many lessons
that people and life experiences had taught me over the years made me slow down and cherish the moments. I live my life at a pretty fast and full pace, but this precious gift has made me sit down and look around at what God has given my husband and me. What we got was a healthy, happy baby, even though she didn’t come into this world the way we thought she would. What we got were a lot of blessings, even though God took our fathers too soon. What we got was love and kindness, even in a world that seems to be more hateful by the day. Sometimes much is given and much is taken away, but we make the best of what we got. It’s a lesson I learned as a
farm girl, and I plan to teach our little farm girl the same thing. So before time passes by too quickly this season, I’ll stand and hold our baby in our old farmhouse, next to the abundant cornfield that our family will harvest and appreciate what we got. Katie Glick grew up on her family farm in Martinsville and now lives with her husband on their farm near Columbus, where they grow corn, soybeans and wheat, raise cattle and have a private seed company. She is a graduate of Purdue University and has worked in Indiana politics. She now works in the agriculture industry within our state. She shares her personal, work, travel and farm life stories on her blog, “Fancy in the Country.”
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Farm Indiana // october 2016
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The View at Nightfall
Logging Hours By Nate Brownlee
Behind our wooden barn, relatively unsupervised and left to their own devices, our shiitake logs have been busy. In April 2015 Liz and I enlisted the help of two volunteers to undertake a big project: the launching of our shiitake operation. We spent a day filling a truckload of tree limbs, all near the diameter of a coffee can. The four of us then set up an assembly line work station: I drilled lines of holes into the limbs, Liz used a plunger to inject sawdust laden with shiitake spawn into the holes, and our volunteers coated the holes with a food-grade wax to seal in moisture.
It took less than a week to get maintain total control. A rainstorm everything ready, from cutting limbs to can inspire small scale fruiting, which stacking the inoculated shiitake logs in leads to an unplanned mushroom hunt the shade of the trees behind our barn. in our stacks. And sometimes a log All we had to do after that was hurry up that is shocked doesn’t fruit on time and wait. It takes an average of 12 to 18 for a market, or doesn’t fruit at all. months for shiitakes to colonize the limb, Our system is geared around harvest an essential step before they are ready to for Saturday farmers market, but produce mushrooms. unfortunately our supply has sometimes For us, that time period flew by; this been irregular with such a rainy season warm, wet spring reminded us to check interrupting our soaking schedule. back behind the barn and see how the The end result is worth the wait. mushrooms were looking. One of our Only once have we not sold out of varieties happened to be a our shiitake supply at cold-hardy variety, and just market. The mushrooms After years like that we had mushrooms are beautiful, displaying of gaining experience to harvest. a variety of size, color on other Shiitakes are inspired and curl to the cap. They farms, Nate to fruit, or produce have a meaty texture, and Brownlee and mushrooms, by a shock customers respond to the his wife, Liz, of temperature change. full flavor. moved back to Indiana to start A heavy rain can soak the Our first season with their own family farm, which they logs, and that cold moisture mushrooms is winding named Nightfall Farm. Here, inspires the fruiting. We down, as the falling they share stories of the many trials, tribulations, successes can manage our logs for temperatures will and failures in running a family intentional, planned harvest eventually inhibit the business. For more on Nightfall by maintaining a soaking fruiting as the shiitakes go Farm, visit nightfallfarm.com. schedule. Each week we dormant for the winter. soak 10 logs for 24 hours, A shiitake log can last lean them against our fruiting station and two to five years before the colony then we are able to harvest mushrooms decomposes the wood past the point about seven days later. We have about of production. Add in the wait time 100 logs, so the mushrooms are able to before production, and that means it’s rest for about two months before we soak time to inoculate another round of logs them again. this winter. At least this time, we’ll have It’s not a perfect system. Because mushrooms to eat while we wait for the the logs are kept outside, we can’t new logs to become productive.
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Farm Indiana // october 2016
The results are in By Jolene Ketzenberger
»“You know, people would pay good money for that.” Anyone with a specialty, a favorite dish that everyone requests or a special recipe has probably heard something like that. And as your pitch-in plate comes back empty, as friends and family ask you to make your signature dish yet again, you might start to wonder “what if?” Is it actually possible? Would people really want to buy my product? Seeing your bake sale brownies or your secret barbecue sauce on grocery store shelves might sound like a dream, but for more and more food entrepreneurs it’s one that can actually come true. Noting that the demand for locally made products is at an all-time high, the Indiana State
Zach Rohn at Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge
Farm Indiana // october 2016
Department of Agriculture created the Indiana Grown initiative in 2015 to help promote local products and help consumers identify and find those made-in-Indiana specialties. Now kiosks with dozens of local products, from jams to jerky, are found in supermarkets across the state. But developing your signature food item in the first place and then growing a business aren’t easy. That’s when a competition like the annual Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge, a contest sponsored by Ivy Tech Community College and Reliable Water Services, can make a difference. Two local food businesses took grand prize honors in this year’s contest, held in June at Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis. In the early stage category for companies in business five years or less, Indianapolis chef Zach Rohn won with his Batch No. 2 artisan mustards and ketchups. In the start-up category, for businesses that have recently launched, Ed Baun, also of Indianapolis, won with his Primal Delights Kombucha. Prizes included $2,000 in seed money, plus scholarship funds, equipment and valuable advice from contest judges that ranged from marketing to packaging.
“Every year our entrants step up their level of creativity, flavor and passion for entrepreneurship,” said contest judge Brian Shapiro, owner of Shapiro’s Delicatessen in Indianapolis, which also awards $1,000 to people’s choice winners in each category, chosen by the audience during the competition. “It’s always a difficult decision, but we felt that Primal Delights Kombucha and Batch No. 2 had it all in terms of originality, taste and marketability.”
Batch No. 2
Rohn has cooked in restaurant kitchens throughout his culinary career, so the idea of owning a food-related company wasn’t that much of stretch. The original plan, however, was to build a bratwurst business with a friend. But when that didn’t work out, he focused on the mustard he had been making to accompany those brats. “The name is in reference to my company,” he said. “This is my second attempt at having a company. To me, it was an idea of starting over.” Plus, he had to recreate all his recipes. “I had just moved, and I couldn’t find all my old mustard recipes,” he said. “I had decided I wanted to revive this idea, and I had a notebook just filled with scribbles and all sorts of things, and I couldn’t find it. But I realized that I’d made this recipe hundreds of times, so this is the new one. This is batch No. 2. That’s what I labeled it. From there it just kind of went on.” Unlike many new food artisans, Rohn didn’t immediately go the farmers market route. They can be a great way to get a new product to consumers, but farmers market hours just didn’t work with the schedule of a restaurant chef.
“I saw everybody doing the farm markets and stuff,” he said, “but I can’t go out on a Saturday. I can’t do markets during the week. So I went for restaurants and retailers.” The response was encouraging. “About eight months ago or so I realized that I might actually have something here,” Rohn said, although not everyone was convinced. “I remember my chef at the time telling me, ‘How are you going to sell enough mustard to justify doing that?’” But he kept at it and developed a line of mustards first, then ketchups. “It eventually became apparent that it was a real idea,” he said, “and so I kind of made a plan and a goal. As of April of this year, I broke away from my full-time job, and I do this full on.” Winning the Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge was a surreal experience, he said. Rohn had done plenty of competitions while in culinary school and had always worked in restaurants, but making it into the contest and then winning “still kind of blows my mind,” he said. “It was kind of unreal,” said Rohn, “because you fill out things online, and then you assume that they kind
Ed Baun with wife, Shannon
of go into the ether, and nobody ever looks at them. And when somebody does call you back, it’s like, ‘That’s cool,’ and you try not to get too excited or too confident or too worried. For me, it was very exciting.” Critiques from the judges brought some surprising comments, he said, including questions about whether he had priced his products too low. But that kind of feedback and interaction with the entrepreneurs and food service professionals who judged the event proved invaluable, Rohn said. “I think that was the biggest prize of the entire thing,” he said.
Primal Delights Kombucha
Baun had been brewing kombucha, a
beverage made from fermented tea, for his family and friends for years before he launched his company last year. His Primal Delights Kombucha won the grand prize in the Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge in the start-up category. “It started out of necessity for my family,” he said. “We wanted to be a little healthier and started getting rid of sodas and things like that out of our diet.” The probiotic-rich drink is made by adding bacteria and yeast — sometimes called the “mother” — to green or black tea, along with sugar, and allowing the mixture to ferment. The process results in a lightly sweet, tangy and fizzy drink that is growing in popularity. According to Whole Foods Magazine, total sales of kombucha were expected to reach $500 million by the end of last year. “I started brewing it at home,” said Baun. “I’m a DIY kind of person. And I wasn’t happy with the stuff I found on the market that I was paying $5 a bottle for. So I was like, ‘Let’s try this and see what happens.’” What happened was that people liked it. “I kept making more and more
and more,” Baun said. “My family loves it, so we decided to start selling it and make a business because all our friends were wanting to buy it from me.” Baun said he’s always been into cooking, so making something like kombucha is a natural fit. “I’ve worked in kitchens, and I love flavor profiles,” he said. “I experiment. Habaneros and lime: Those are good flavors. Lavender and lemongrass are good flavors. I look at it as an art, almost.” The natural fermentation process results in a mildly carbonated beverage, he said. “It’s not as fizzy as some people’s,” he said. “I steep mine overnight and really infuse the flavors into the tea. It’s not too sweet and not too sour.” Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge judges agreed and commented
on Primal Delight’s flavor as well as its potential marketability. Baun said the judging process was nerve-racking but helpful. “I was super nervous, but it was really exciting,” he said. “I pretended I was on ‘Shark Tank,’ like I was pitching it to investors.” Baun said he would encourage other food entrepreneurs to enter the annual culinary contest. “If you’ve got something you like and you’re passionate about it,” he said, “just do it. Don’t be afraid, because I was for so long.” Food entrepreneurs Michelle Twaddell of Indiana Craft Jerky and Robin Willis of Robbybaby’s Kitchen won the people’s choice awards in the Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge.
For more information on the contest, go to reliablewater247.com/hottest-kitchen.
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Farm Indiana // october 2016
FOOD NEWS By Jolene Ketzenberger
MEAT MANIA Interest in artisan meats continues to grow in Indiana, a trend that seems like a fit for a state such as Indiana, traditionally a top producer of pork.
Bread Winner Sometimes you just have to do it yourself Since switching to a glutenfree diet to improve her health, Indianapolis resident Hayley McGinley had missed artisan bread. She could find gluten-free loaves, but none with the hearty, whole grain crunch that she loved. That fact hit home one day last winter at the farmers market. “I just had the thought one day that I really wished that Indianapolis had a really high-quality gluten-free artisan bakery,” McGinley said. “And I said to myself, ‘Well, I can wait for someone else to do that, or I can do it myself.’” The fact that she had no experience in the food business was a concern at first. “That really held me up for a while,” she said, “in terms of whether I should do this or not. I talked to my friends about it and said, ‘This is crazy. I have no experience.’ I bake a ton, but not glutenfree artisan bread. And everyone was just like, ‘You know, Hayley, it doesn’t matter. You can learn.’” So she did her research and launched her company, Native Bread. But McGinley wasn’t just looking for recipes without gluten. She also wanted her bread to be vegan and free of soy and nuts, as 36
Farm Indiana // october 2016
well. That’s a pretty hefty challenge for a novice bread baker, but McGinley made it work. “I started with breads that I would want to eat, and I went from there,” she said. While she now has a lineup of breads that includes seeded whole grain, honey oat and sourdough, it didn’t happen quickly. It was more a matter of practice makes perfect. But McGinley is confident in her abilities to learn by doing. “There are so many people out there and so many businesses that have been started by people who didn’t know what they were doing in the beginning,” she said, “but you learn as you go. I’m a fast learner, too.” And the company is growing quickly as well. McGinley now bakes in a commercial kitchen in downtown Indianapolis, and Native Breads are used at The Garden Table restaurant in Indianapolis and are available online at farmersmarket.com. But she remains focused on creating bread that lives up to her high standards. “I wanted to create product I felt good eating,” she said, “and that I could feel proud to serve to the community as well.”
But it’s the heritage breed hogs that are gaining attention from local chefs, who prize the old breeds for their tastier meat. Some farmers now raise such breeds as Duroc, Berkshire, Red Wattle and Gloucestershire Old Spot, and that makes chefs and charcuterie experts very happy. Charcuterie — a sort of catchall word that can refer to a shop that sells pork products, such as hams, salamis and sausages, as well as to the products themselves — has become popular in many local restaurants. So when you see a charcuterie plate listed on a restaurant menu, it’s likely to include smoked, cured and aged meats (and the pickles, breads and spreads that accompany them). And when it’s on a local menu, those meats often come from Smoking Goose Meatery, which was opened in Indianapolis five years ago by chefturned-butcher Chris Eley. He opened his specialty meat shop Goose the Market in 2007 and since then has promoted interest among consumers in locally raised meats. But others are getting into the local charcuterie business as well. Pig’s Tale Charcuterie, headed by self-taught salami maker Troy Reed and former Smoking Goose apprentice George Turkette, aims to open late this year on the northeast side of Indianapolis. Another artisan meat fan, barbecue competitor Mark LaFay has begun to sell his artisan bacon and sausages, with the goal of opening a shop in his Meridian-Kessler neighborhood in Indianapolis.
LaFay began with a small smoker the size of a dorm refrigerator, which soon led to a trailer-sized rig. He won last year’s Indiana State Fair barbecue competition, and cooking for church barbecues followed, while his interest in smoked and cured meats continued to grow. After being involved in several techand marketing-related businesses, LaFay said, an idea took shape to create a business with his wife based on their food interests. “It’s the culmination of all the things we love to do, our passions, our beliefs, our hobbies,” said LaFay. “We said, let’s do a market. Let’s open a neighborhood market that has sort of this craft butcher shop feel to it. There’s been this sort of renaissance movement all over the country where people are going hyper local, even within a city.” Though the actual brick-and-mortar location won’t happen until early next year, LaFay has launched Old Major Market online. He works out of a Meridian-Kessler neighborhood church kitchen and takes orders for his bacon and sausages at oldmajormarket.com. Now he sends an email each month to let people know what products will be available. He has two locations for delivery, one in his neighborhood and another on the northside. And now, he said, he has become “the bacon guy.” “It just grew,” he said, “this persona within the neighborhood of ‘this is the bacon guy,’ to where people started referring to my wife as ‘the bacon wife,’ and they refer to our house as ‘the bacon house.’ It’s just really funny.” But LaFay is serious about his goals to create a quality product and serve his neighborhood. “Our vision was to open a market,” he said, “with the idea being that we would source great ingredients, great products, great food, so that we could encourage people to slow down and enjoy life bite by bite.”
Hit the Road
By Jolene Ketzenberger
Get outta town. I mean it. Do yourself a favor and go for a drive. Because it’s hard to find a more beautiful time of year in Indiana than October. Now, I have to admit that I’m also a June fan. A glorious June day in Indiana is something wonderful, too, when the weather is perfect after a too-hot or too-chilly May. I reread James Whitcomb Riley’s poem “KneeDeep in June” and eat strawberries and soak up the sunshine and revel in the month’s beautiful Juneness. But October has its quintessential Riley poem, too, and I’m here to argue that “When the Frost is on the Punkin” is an even better time of year. Crisp mornings, blue skies, cool evenings — sweater weather at its best. You can certainly find plenty of places to go in October — the month is full of festivals — so coming up with a road trip destination isn’t tough. But here’s my suggestion: Check
out a small town. Head out of your own county — whether it’s Bartholomew or Marion, Hancock or Hamilton — and hit the road. You never know what you’ll find. That’s what I did recently, and since I tend to focus on food, mine was a very tasty excursion, one that I highly recommend. I spent a whole day exploring Franklin, and while it wasn’t far away, it’s a town that I hadn’t been to in years. And now, I’m anxious to go back. Admittedly, there’s a lot of road construction going on right now in Franklin, as the main thoroughfare through town is being completely rebuilt. It’s a $20 million project that won’t be completed until 2019, but the first phase should be done by the end of the year and Phase 2 by next spring. When it wraps up, Franklin will have a revitalized downtown with new streets and sidewalks and
an infrastructure that will support a busy, vibrant county seat. All that construction can be tough on a town, though, especially on mom-and-pop merchants who have started to see momentum as consumers find a renewed appreciation for shopping locally. Lifelong Franklin resident and business owner Fred Paris appreciates how his town has changed. “I grew up in this town working in my dad’s gas station,” he said. “I was able to walk this town as a little kid. I know what all has been in the different buildings and who ran them.” The former real estate developer said he loves rehabbing those old buildings, and he and partners have opened The Pavilion on Jefferson Street in downtown Franklin. The renovated building, which houses Triple Play BBQ and Shoal Creek Brewing, now features a retractable roof, which creates a unique and beautiful spot to enjoy a pint of craft beer on a sunny fall day. Destination dining might not be what Franklin is known for now, but that could very well be its future. “When the big-box stores come in, you have to find a new identity,” said Paris, “so the identity here is to find the small shops and the small restaurants. Franklin’s come along and made a big bounce back just in the last few years.” He also appreciates the need for the road construction and isn’t complaining about the inconvenience of having the street in front of his business closed and full of heavy equipment. “It just started out in front of us a few days ago,” he said, “and I’m not a bit worried about it. I’m just going to embrace it and love it, because I know what it’s going to look like four months from now.” Franklin’s Jefferson Street Construction Project will definitely have a huge positive impact on the city’s future.
But right now, you can have an impact on some of small-town Indiana’s locally owned businesses by visiting them in spite of the construction. My recent road trip to Franklin included Benjamin’s Coffeehouse, Suzy’s Teahouse & Bakery, Court Street Café, Greek’s Pizzeria & Tapp Room (aptly named for owner Jason Tapp), Hoosier Cupboard Candy & Snacks, the old-school Grill Bar (in business since 1947), The Pavilion (with that awesome retractable roof) and, finally, Richard’s Brick Oven Pizza. My tour guide for the day, Franklin resident and local food fan Brian Alvey, also showed me where his new River City Winery tasting room will be — just down the street from The Willard, known for its pizza and chicken wings, and right next door to the Historic Artcraft Theatre. If nothing else inspires a visit — even if you can pass up my foodie field trip — fit in a visit this fall to the Artcraft. The 1920s-era Art Deco movie house — currently being renovated by the historic preservation group Franklin Heritage — shows classic films and regularly sells out its November and December lineup of holiday movies. Tickets for those go on sale Oct. 1. So grab a cheeseburger at the Grill Bar or barbecue at Triple Play or nickel candy at the Hoosier Cupboard or gluten-free treats at Suzy’s Teahouse and go see a movie. And let me know what’s happening in your part of Indiana. Drop me an email at joleneketzenberger@gmail. com and tell me what a foodie field trip would look like in your county. I’m looking forward to it. Jolene Ketzenberger covers local food at EatDrinkIndy.com and hosts Eat Drink Indiana Radio on WFYI-FM and at wfyi.org. Follow her on Twitter @JKetzenberger. Farm Indiana // october 2016
Local Food syrup from Fischer Farms; honey from Sweet Life Honey Farm; tomatoes from Earthlink Farms. We are fortunate enough to have been able to get to know so many suppliers and have access to them and countless others through Piazza Produce. Piazza is able to get us products from a bunch of farmers every week in Indiana and neighboring states, getting us the best local produce they can.
Chef Q & A with:
Dominique LeBlanc Beers, chef de cuisine at 1913
By Twinkle VanWinkle
Growing up surrounded by chefs, Dominique LeBlanc Beers knew her life’s path from an early age. Her culinary education began in the kitchen of her family’s restaurant and continued to the classroom and beyond as she aged. A chef de cuisine at Omni Severin, Beers now brings the many life lessons she picked up along the way to each plate she serves. How did you get involved with food? What’s your food history? My training started at a very early age. I grew up around food, quite literally. My father is a chef, and in my early years we lived above the restaurant he and my mother owned. My parents love to tell stories of a 3-year-old girl sitting on the counter making hollandaise for Sunday brunch at their restaurant. When I was 8, he (her dad) began teaching at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. As I grew up, I would spend time with my dad at the school and amongst many other chefs. There was never any other option than culinary arts. One of my first jobs was during the summer working at the local county fairgrounds in the food booths. This progressed to seasonal employment at a country club doing events and then on to restaurants and hotels. I did go to school at the Culinary Institute of America for my bachelor’s degree in culinary arts. Just as important as the education I received in classrooms was the training I had from numerous chefs, jobs and
Farm Indiana // october 2016
exposure to food through travels over the years. It is a small world that we work in, and staying connected to old classmates and former fellow associates helps us to grow and continue to learn from each other. What are your thoughts behind the philosophy of what you serve and prepare? The biggest part of deciding what to make is trying to stay true to the products. It is important to me to allow the items to shine while still delivering a unique experience through uncommon flavor combinations. When I find something new to me or just an item that I really like, I want to share that with people and get them as excited about it as I am. I also like to find ways to utilize some of the more underappreciated items. This could mean using offal in a meat dish or finding some surprise vegetables and fruits at the farmers market. Nowadays you can get a lot of produce any time of the year, but it can be an entirely different flavor when it comes from nearby farms in their peak season. It becomes a balance between honoring the product, creating approachable dishes but still delivering a one-of-a-kind menu. The passion I have for locally grown and made products comes directly from my life experiences. Family traditions of going to the U-pick farms around the Hudson Valley and cutting down fresh Christmas trees every year from a family friend’s tree farm. While in school at the C.I.A. I helped to open a year-round farm market and bakery. Then after school I spent a dedicated year working on a goat cheese farm, selling cheese, learning about making cheese and selling at farmers markets each weekend. What kind of produce do you use and who are some of your local suppliers? There are so many it’s hard to narrow down to a few bullet points. We get apples, corn, berries, peppers, melons and rhubarb from Garwood Orchards; corn and pumpkins from Mouzin Brothers; beef, pork and maple
Tell me about the Farm to Fork series at Omni. The idea of the series was conceived over a year and half ago by our food and beverage team, including myself. It started off just by wanting to do a couple of wine and beer dinners through the summer months using all the seasonal and local items we already buy. As we started thinking of ideas, like producers and farmers we wanted to feature, we had a few meetings with some vendors. At some point through these discussions we realized it would be an amazing experience to have the farmers and producers themselves be at the dinner. We would have long passionate discussions with some of the farmers, and we wanted our guests to experience that. At the same time we could give the farmers a chance to see what we can do with their products. Describe your relationship with farmers. Since we started the Farm to Fork series, our relationships have developed greatly. I have gotten to know the names of several farmers/ suppliers, meet some of their families, share meals with them and see how they impact their local communities. To understand fully what the farmers/suppliers are doing to create the products we use, we started doing outings with staff to see the operations, stand in the fields, learn how chocolate is made, cows are milked and what sets apart these farmers/ suppliers from the rest. Having a closer relationship with the people that make and grow the items we want is beneficial for them and me; it gives everyone greater knowledge of how what we do affects them and vice versa. We are also able to get top quality products,
customize flavors, have specific preferences for ways items are packaged. Maybe even most important is having a direct person to talk to that can help us plan new menus based on production schedules, when there are concerns over how weather has affected crops or when there is an outbreak (so we can know) the products we buy are safe. What’s something you’d like those local farmers to know? First thing: We appreciate the hard work, effort and dedication they put in. As far as more info, we love to test out any new items coming to market. We also like to have a wide variety of options to be able to have surprises and exposure to new things. A biggest need for us is having items year-round. Having products locally grown in greenhouses or fresh frozen and preserved allows us to still buy some local produce even through the winter months. How does your food philosophy line up with some of your supplier’s thoughts? We all seem to agree on not cutting corners just to save a buck, utilize as much as possible, know that every step counts and we are in it together. When everyone puts in the deepest level of passion, the end result tastes that much better.
40 W. Jackson Place, Indianapolis, (317) 634-6664, omnihotels.com/ hotels/indianapolis-severin 1913 Restaurant Hours:
Monday through Friday: 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.; 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday: 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; 5 to 10 p.m. Severin Bar:
Opens 4 p.m. daily
Salt of the Earth By Twinkle VanWinkle
I wish I could grow fresh herbs all year, rather than spending an arm and leg for them at the grocery store in December. It can be difficult to keep fresh herbs growing inside for the average person during the winter months. I’ve tried. And by January, everything has dried up or the cat has nibbled it into oblivion. I’ve transplanted herbs from the yard, only to have them wither in the window sill. When I started growing my own herbs several years ago, I had no idea I would end up with a bumper crop three or four years later and that my garden box would have to expand exponentially. Many herbs are
perennials, and even though they may be purchased from a greenhouse or nursery to begin with, they end up coming back every year, three or four times bigger than the year before. It’s a good thing you can dry them fairly easily and use them all year. Preserving this abundant herb harvest when the plants are at peak readiness in late September or October is one way to keep your food flavorful and fresh tasting. You can create herbed salts, rubs, bouquets and herbed sachets for soups and stews. Plan ahead and make sure you have time for drying to have plenty of fragrant herbs all year.
Fragrant Herb Salt Equipment: Parchment paper 3 to 4 baking sheets, approximately 18-by-26 inches Good, sharp chef’s knife Clean cutting board Food processor (for processed method) Clean, dry jars or other airtight containers Ingredients: 2 cups sea salt (kosher salt will work, too) 4 cups loosely packed fresh herb leaves (thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley, lavender) 5 large garlic cloves, peeled ¼ cup fresh lemon zest 2 medium shallots, peeled and minced *See note for herb variations at bottom
Food Processor Method:
Variations on a theme:
Prep your pans by lining with parchment paper and setting aside. Mound the salt and garlic in the center of your cutting board. Chop the garlic into the salt until the garlic is finely minced. Pile the herbs, zest and shallots on the cutting board and coarsely chop. Heap everything together on the cutting board, the herb mix with the salt mixture, and chop until it begins to have the texture of coarse sand. The herbs should be chopped very fine. Spread your herb/salt mixture across the pans in a very thin layer. Bake in the oven at 200 F for 15 minutes. Remove, let cool and place in a dry, well-ventilated area and let sit for two to three days. Once your herb salt is dry, store in clean, airtight jars or containers.
I know it seems like you could just throw everything in at once with a food processor method, but slow down. Add about 2 tablespoons of the salt and all the garlic, roughly chopped. Process with the pulse option until everything is roughly chopped. Add the herbs in small batches, then zest and shallot, pulsing until everything is the texture of coarse sand. Dump into a large bowl and toss with the remaining salt. Spread thinly on your prepped baking sheets and follow the same steps for drying above: Bake in the oven at 200 F for 15 minutes. Remove, let cool and place in a dry, well-ventilated area and let sit for two to three days. Once your herb salt is dry, store in clean, airtight jars or containers.
»Really there is no wrong way to add herbs to your herb salt. There are endless combinations to create. I love to use sage and rosemary to create a Tuscan blend. Use 50/50 of rosemary to sage in the recipe, and leave out the zest, garlic and shallots. (Well, you can actually leave those in there, too, but a more traditional version is without.) »For a really fragrant basil salt, use 1 part salt to 2 parts basil, with no other ingredients. Because basil tends to bruise easier than other herbs, make sure you are pulsing it with the salt so it does not shred and become mushy in the food processor. I do recommend using the food processor on this so you can keep from touching it so much during chopping. »Use a combination of lavender and lemon zest (leave out everything else from the recipe except for the salt) and you have a delicious addition for sweet shortbread cookies, crusty bread or even dishes like oatmeal. »Sprinkle ½ cup in your bath water for a relaxing, aromatic treat.
Twinkle VanWinkle is an Indianapolis-based food writer and experienced chef with Southern roots. She has more than 23 years of professional cooking under her apron strings and loves to share her unique perspective on food, foodways and culture with others. Needless to say, her family is very well-fed. Farm Indiana // october 2016
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