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Rural Living & Local Food

Good Moves The proprietors at J.L. Hawkins Family Farm keep their pasture-raised animals in motion



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.


Liz Brownlee, Katherine Coplen, Katie Glick, Cheryl Carter Jones, Jim Mayfield, Jeffrey Meitrodt, Shawndra Miller, Jon Shoulders, Rebecca Townsend, Ryan Trares, Twinkle VanWinkle, Catherine Whittier, CJ Woodring COPY EDITOR Katharine Smith SENIOR GRAPHIC ARTIST Margo Wininger ADVERTISING ART DIRECTOR Amanda Waltz ADVERTISING DESIGN

Emma Ault, Dondra Brown, Tonya Cassidy, John Cole, Ashley Curry, Julie Daiker, Cassie Doles, Josh Meyer, Desiree Poteete, Tina Ray, Robert Wilson PHOTOGRAPHER Josh Marshall IMAGE TECHNICIAN Matt Quebe

©2016 by AIM Media Indiana. All rights reserved. Reproduction of stories, photographs and advertisements without permission is prohibited.

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

4329 N. U.S. 31, Seymour, IN 47274

812-522-5199 MON-FRI 7 A.M. - 5 P.M.



To advertise, contact Mike Rossetti at (812) 379-5764 or To subscribe to Farm Indiana, call (800) 435-5601. 12 issues (1 year) will be delivered to your home for $24. Back issues may also be purchased for $5 per issue.

Contents FEBRUARY 2016

5 Field Notes

32 From the Field  Columns by growers

6 Maple Valley Farm 10 Utopia Wildlife

37 Local Food

14 RJ Honey 18 J.L. Hawkins Family Farm 22 Brownstown Central

Indiana Small Farm Conference

Tips and advice



 Slow Food Indy, Restauration

44 Continuing Education

High School FFA


26 Ice Fishing 28 Tragic Harvest

Read about J.L. Hawkins Family Farm on page 18. Photo by Josh Marshall

Donner Center

Tuesday, February 23rd • 9:00am -3:00pm Registration Cost is $10 and lunch will be provided. To register, or for more information please call the Extension office at 812-379-1665 Space is limited! Registration will close February 16th

Jackson County Learning Center Wednesday, February 24th • 10:30am – 2:30pm Registration Cost is $15 and includes lunch To register or for more information, please call the Jackson County Extension office at 812-358-6101




Free Speech


THE WEEK THAT I write this note I will be attending the Indiana Horticulture Congress, an event that draws thousands of fruit, vegetable, organic and specialty crop growers to Indianapolis each year. I have been asked to speak about Farm Indiana, and one of the topics I was asked to discuss is the reluctance farmers often feel when approached by journalists for stories. This seemed perfectly timed, as we recently had a similar conversation with an Indiana farmer whom we planned to profile in an upcoming issue. This farm owner wanted full control of all photos taken in her livestock barns to protect her operation, she wrote, from possible “anti-ag activists.” As journalists, we, of course, couldn’t agree to this demand, and I wrote her a lengthy email to explain why. After she heard the story would no longer run, this farmer shared her view of the situation with friends on her social media page. This particular farmer has her own blog, which, she explained in her media post, offers a more controlled look into her operation than any journalistic effort might do. Blogging is how she prefers to get the word out about her farm. I was happy she had brought up the difference between journalism and blogging



in her post, because she was indeed correct that there is a difference between the two. As a blogger, she is free to post her opinions, beliefs and values. As journalists, we strive for fair and balanced reporting that is fact-checked and verifiable. Other than the editor’s note that I write here, as well as a few personal columns by farmers in the back of each issue, we endeavor to deliver unbiased reporting. The only opinions, beliefs and values that come through in our feature stories are those that are expressed through quoted material from our story sources. Our integrity as a journalistic institution depends on it. For argument’s sake, let’s say there is a neighboring farm to this woman that is in direct competition with her farm. Let’s also say this neighboring farm uses unsafe production practices or lies to consumers about how food is grown or prepared. She knows this about the farm because she is involved in agriculture, she lives nearby and she personally has seen this farmer’s practices and processes at work. Let’s say this hypothetical farm has the same request of us that she did prior to the story being printed and we agree to the request. Because of the farmer’s requests, then, we may wind up printing a story that doesn’t show the reality of what’s happening on the farm. When she reads the story in print, she knows it isn’t accurate, but average readers — and possible customers of this farm — wouldn’t. As someone abreast of this situation, then, would she see us as a trusted news source? Should our average readers trust what we report? Would our integrity be damaged?  As journalists, our very purpose for professional existence is based on our

integrity and ethics. We cannot cater to our news and story sources any more than we should include our personal biases and opinions in stories not labeled as opinion pieces. Instead, we must put our reading and viewing public’s needs above all else. Out of necessity, we oftentimes recheck facts and clarify any questions or confusion we might have about the subject before a story goes to print. We do the very best we can with the resources available to present our stories as accurately as possible. If this farmer would have visited our website,, she could have perused all of our previous issues over the past three-plus years (more than 40 issues to date), and she would have seen that not once have we intentionally tried to attack a farm or organization profiled within our pages. Farm Indiana is not an anti-ag publication as she had mentioned, but instead, Farm Indiana celebrates and attempts to honor and showcase our state’s wonderful agricultural heritage. Family farms like hers are captured beautifully and respectfully in each issue. The photography, provided by Josh Marshall, is elegant and realistic, and our readers very regularly comment on the beauty he captures through his work. Photographs are not cropped to tell a story other than what is captured through his lenses, as this practice, too, would undermine our integrity as a trusted journalistic news source.  Regularly, I tackle these editor’s notes lightheartedly, often writing about the many joys (and the occasional upsets) of raising farm animals. But it’s good to veer off the expected course once in a while to speak earnestly about what we do. We take our jobs, and our positions within this community, seriously. I hope you do, too. 



Potato Chips AS SEED CATALOGS arrive in mailboxes all across the Midwest, folks are beginning to dream about spring. This is a great time to consider “adding something new to your garden routine,” says Keith O’Dell of Castaway Compost in Fishers. Last year, O’Dell experimented with growing sweet potatoes in a pile of wood chips located on his property. He purchased an organic sweet potato at the Indy Winter Farmers Market and put it in a jar of water on the window sill. As the potato began to sprout, he broke off the splits (sprouts with approximately three inches of roots attached) and planted them in the 3-foot high mound of wood chips, which came from a tree he had felled and mulched. Sweet potato plants are sensitive to cool soils as well as frost and should be planted three to four weeks after the frostfree date, according to the Purdue University Cooperative Extension. To plant his sweet potato slips, O’Dell created a hole in the pile, added a little compost and buried the roots of the slip in it. He then top-dressed the mulch pile with nitrogen-rich coffee grounds and worm tea throughout the season. When harvest time rolled around, O’Dell’s sweet potatoes were easy to access in the wood chip pile, and he ended up with a good yield. He says he also tried growing tomatoes and squash in the wood chips, but with less favorable results. He is planning to experiment with mushrooms in the wood chips next year. For more information about Castaway Compost, visit


The Dirt on Soil There is a tool available to the farmer, backyard gardener or prospective land/home buyer that provides fast and easy access to information regarding soil composition, depth, potential fertility and drainage of soil, according to Robert Zupancic, Southeast area grazing specialist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. The SoilWeb app “will tell you the soil type you are standing on and the characteristics of that

soil type,” Zupancic says. Soil surveys, which contain maps and reports with detailed information about soil types in a specific area, were once available only in print. Now the information can be accessed through this Web-based interactive format after users download the app to their smartphone, tablet or computer. Even better: “The Web soil survey

information is constantly being updated, unlike the old printed copies,” says Zupancic.  “NRCS has soil maps and data available online for more than 95 percent of the nation’s counties and anticipates having 100 percent in the near future,” he explains. The site is updated and maintained online as “the single authoritative source of soil survey information,” according to the USDA’s Web Soil Survey website. Complete information on Indiana and surrounding states is included. The Web-based program allows users to tailor their results to include hydric (water-saturated) soil maps, soil chemical property reports and more. “Farmers or land buyers can get reports of relative crop or hay yields of all the soils of their property,” Zupancic says. Soil surveys also provide soil depth and rock and clay content information.

For more information, visit or FARM INDIANA // FEBRUARY 2016


smart enterprise Maple Valley Farm flips the script on small farm economics By Rebecca Townsend Photography by Josh Marshall

A 1-month-old large black piglet.




MOTORISTS ALONG MAPLE VALLEY ROAD are missing the quintessential Hoosier roadside experience of smelling a nearby hog farm, even though a herd of sows and their offspring are bedded into a bunk of fresh hay a stone’s throw from the Monroe County thoroughfare. Maple Valley Farm’s breeding herd is small by Indiana standards with one boar and 8 sows. (The average in the state, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2012 agricultural census, is 1,375.) The pigs are part of an evolving approach to sustainability, a strategy that places as its ultimate goal the survival of small-scale, family farms without the support of off-farm income. Owners Larry and Tina Howard raise the piglets for sow replacement and farrow-to-finish meat as one of many enterprises they undertake with their children — Ethan, 14, Elena, 12, and Grant, 11 — on their 20 acres of pasture and 30 acres of woodland. Other revenue-generating activities include raising laying hens, turkey, beef cattle, goats and sheep. The family also has established a nonprofit organization, the Agrarian Institute, to support on-farm education opportunities for schoolchildren and other members of the community. In 2016, Maple Valley will begin distributing its meat exclusively to clients who sign on for partnership in risks and rewards of owning their grass-fed, pasture-raised, hormone-and-antibiotic-free livestock. The Howards say that participation in Harvest Partners, the official name of the limited liability partnership in which they are managing partners, offers “a real ownership stake in a revolutionary food distribution model that supports consumer choice, environmental stewardship, farm sustainFrom left, the ability, community, health and animal welfare.” Howards: Grant, So far, 16 families have signed up to dedicate their meat 11, Elena, 12, budgets toward the farm, pledging about $350 a month Larry, Tina and Ethan, 14. to participate in Harvest Partners. The Howards believe Below, pigs eat that once they have 50 partners, the partnership will earn scraps from local enough revenue to support operations while sustaining Bloomington the farm, meaning both Larry and Tina can work at home, area restaurants. running Maple Valley with their home-schooled children, engaging them with the farm’s various enterprises — activities for which all the kids voice enthusiasm and support. “Hopefully someday I’ll be able to take this operation over,” Ethan says. ACHIEVING SUSTAINABILITY The Howards contend that the prices of the food, even items sold at local farmers markets, are not marked at sustainable levels, not enough to truly support local food systems in which farmers can sustain their businesses without offfarm income. “The economics of this thing is critical,” Larry says. “A lot of people talk organic or holistic or naturally raised or conventional. Those are great things to have as choices, but there’s a more fundamental economic choice that I think needs to be made before those choices can be made later.” FARM INDIANA // FEBRUARY 2016


Domesticated mixed-breed Pilgrim and Roman tufted geese used to guard the chickens.



The Howards have seen five farm families experience divorce over the past four years and two or three farms go out of business in the same period. “That’s a sign of economic stress people are feeling,” Larry says. The Howards see peer operations scaling up to service wider distribution areas to reach sustainable income levels, a model that they have come to reject after standing at the brink of such an expansion themselves. In 2009, they began a farm-share program, asking consumers to buy shares of their broiler operation in exchange for a predetermined amount of meat each year. Demand grew more quickly than they had planned for, which meant that they were facing costs associated with scaling up before they had earned the revenue to handle such expenses. (Grain costs also spiked at that time, creating additional pressure on the farm’s bottom line.) They were, for a time, beginning to earn 100 percent of their income from the farm-share, but the need

to expand caused them to step back and re-examine their approach; Larry returned to off-farm work as a software engineer. (Meanwhile, the Indiana Legislature passed a bill preventing the sale of fresh, farmprocessed chicken at farmers markets and limiting on-farm sales to 1,000 birds, a fraction of the 20,000 permitted by federal law. That law has since been eased back to the Ethan uses federal standard, but a tractor to the issue remains in roll out hay play politically.) to match the “We didn’t want contour of to take on loans. … the hill. This helped us realize problems with the economic model: We weren’t basing it on our real costs,” Tina says. When the family analyzed the situation, they determined that the Harvest Partners approach would allow them to meet the needs of the family without taking on debt. “Our goal is not to get bigger; it is to serve a few people very well,” Tina explains. “Sustainability is not just about the environment; there’s something else, and it’s making sure the farms can make it. If the farms can’t make it, then it’s not sustainable.” Right now a Harvest Partner receives rights to all the cuts from: one-fourth of a cow, one-half a hog, 50 meat chickens, eggs from a flock of 400 divided among the partners (about 2 dozen per week), one Thanksgiving turkey, goats and sheep as available, plus stewing hens and any other leftover/ broth parts people may want. Partners can dictate how they want their portion of the animals butchered, as well. Julia Williams, a professor of English and executive director of the Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, first became a customer of the Howards at the Owen Valley Farmers Market. She and her husband are now signed up as Harvest Partners. “We saw in it an opportunity to support local agriculture in a consistent way; we would be putting our money in support of our belief in sustainable meat production,” Williams wrote in a recent email exchange.

With an average price of $9.36 per pound, the Harvest Partners meat price captures a production transparency that few others can offer. The chickens, for example, are slaughtered on-site, a task that Grant is competent to handle. He prides himself on quick, clean kills with minimal blood spatter. To accomplish this, he explains, he eases a bird into a metal cone, holding it just so to keep it as calm as possible, then making two quick incisions for a smooth bleed out. Slaughter for the larger animals is done as close to home as possible. The family utilizes a couple of southern Indiana processors, depending on access to slaughter — a perennial issue for independent livestock producers. It can take months to find an opening in the slaughter schedule. “The thing that has always amazed me is how willing we are as small farmers to just go along with the economic system as it stands, trying to compete with huge conglomerates using exactly the same business model,” Larry says. “It’s not economically feasible unless they want to scale up very large. If that’s their intention, that’s fine, but to try to stay small, to stay artisanal, to provide that level of quality, that local accent — it’s very difficult trying to copy the model of the big players ... so we’re looking for an alternative in what we’re doing.” The Howards are relatively new to farming. When they moved to their Monroe County property, Larry, a Rose-Hulman trained-engineer, and Tina, who studied journalism and political science at Indiana

Larry and Grant

University, had no idea their lives would come to be defined by food systems. Before their kids were born, the Howards ran a business consulting firm together. Once they started having children, however, they realized that the business would suffer if one of them had to stay at home. They also knew from the beginning of their marriage that they wanted to home-school their kids. In 2003, they moved to the Maple Valley property and in response to the need to maintain the pastures, began experimenting with sheep. Even with a supposedly easy-tomanage, parasite-resistant breed, Larry found he was having to use a lot of medications to keep them healthy. In search of more organic, holistic methods, he began to read about concepts such as biomimicry (attempts to solve modern society’s challenges by mimicking strategies found in nature) and using managed, intensive grazing systems to accomplish land regeneration using livestock. Mountaintop shepherds throughout the centuries had managed to stay in business without wormers or antibiotics, and Larry felt as if he could learn to do the same. The family began to embrace managed intensive grazing systems in which “birds follow herds,” moving grazing ruminants through paddocks of fresh pasture, followed by omnivores such as chickens and pigs. A WORK-LIFE BALANCE The dirty straw in which the pigs wallow mixes in with a layer of dirt on top of crushed stone.

“This should make some nice soil,” Larry says on a recent midwinter morning while he and Grant scatter barrels full of overripe produce among the sows and their offspring. The pigs, young and old alike, begin devouring the offerings without delay. The family would like to add a hoop house produce-growing facility nearby for the upcoming growing season. While they don’t plan to grow beyond the borders of their farm, they do aim to increase the productivity of the land while layering in new enterprises that complement ongoing operations. Currently, Ethan is most engaged with farm mechanics, Elena cares for the laying hens and the egg business, while Grant handles the pigs. Bees and honey may come in the future, and Ethan is interested in possibly adding aquaponics. “We’re working together as a family, and we have hopes to replicate the model so more and more people can do it,” Larry says. The children understand that the lifestyle comes with challenges. Ethan notes the difficulty in balancing school work with

Clockwise, a Katahdin sheep and her lamb, less than a week old. An on-site food processing facility used for chickens. Larry and Grant pour out food scraps.

farm work; Elena comments how daunting the task of morning chores can be when the weather outside is bitingly cold. Still, all of them get excited when discussion turns to the fruits of their collective labors. Elena loves homemade shepherd’s pie. Grant is a big fan of the farm’s bratwurst. They also enjoy more advanced gastronomic adventures, such as the open-face sandwich with heart and tongue on sourdough garlic bread and topped with cream cheese and mozzarella. “God has called us to be stewards of the land, and when you see the results of doing it correctly, there’s nothing more amazing than seeing that,” Tina says. “When you can share it with people who are so excited and see the results on your own table, there’s nothing like that.” For more information, visit maplevalley. FARM INDIANA // FEBRUARY 2016


Chai, a 2-year-old fur fox rescued by a family that tried unsuccessfully to make her a pet. “That was a very bad idea,” said Kathy Hershey.

The volunteers at Utopia believe rehabilitating animals offers lessons for life

I The Bigger Picture By Jim Mayfield | Photographs by Josh Marshall



IT DOESN’T TAKE LONG to get through Hope from the north along State Road 9, which is not altogether a good thing for several reasons. First, one needs to start easing off the pedal in any event as State Road 9 ceases to exist just eight miles south. Second, heedlessly ripping through this small burg of just over 2,000 while fending off texts, cellphones and a recalibrating GPS unit provides scant opportunity to inhale a strong scent of Hoosier rural reality. There’s Tonala, aka El Jefe Mexican Restaurant, on Main Street that serves a burrito as big as your forearm; the state’s only remaining Moravian church; and the Swiss Maid Country Market, where graceful Mennonite women create an aroma through the baking of bread that is sufficiently sublime to make one openly weep, grateful and unashamed. More importantly, gliding just marginally over the municipal speed limit before throttling it at the town line, one misses a hope of another kind just south and a bit east of Hope proper: Utopia. Not in the Sir Thomas More sense, but Utopia Wildlife Rehabilitators, where critters from around the region get at least a strong shot at a second chance on a 10acre spread owned by Kathy Hershey and her husband, Jerry. There is little to mark the entrance to Utopia save a mailbox adorned with a wooden rendering of an owl, but approaching the house from the gravel lane, it quickly becomes apparent this is not just another Indiana homestead.

Abutting the Hershey home and blending into the property are pens, cages and a football-field-sized eagle aviary that immediately signal something different is going on here. Utopia is populated with owls, an American eagle named Loki who more than enjoys company, raccoons, foxes, flying raptors of all kinds and Cloud the coyote, who happens to hate men, which keeps Jerry amused to no end while going about the business of freshening up the place. And then there are the giant tortoises basking under a heat lamp in the Hersheys’ basement on a cold, blustery December afternoon. “We handle about 30 calls a day during our heavy season from over 25 counties,” Kathy Hershey said. That’s a lot of animal wrangling and rescuing for a small, volunteer operation. Last year Utopia released over 300 animals back to the wild, a result accomplished primarily on grit and determination, said Utopia co-founder, Franklin-based veterinarian Melissa Newcomb. “It’s a very hard life,” Newcomb said. “But Kathy has the intellect and experience, and our success is mainly due to Kathy.” Hershey, armed with a theater degree and a background in performance that morphed into a stint as a keeper and hospital technician at the Indianapolis Zoo, and Newcomb, who interned with a Florida wildlife rehabilitation clinic, often talked about getting the myriad state and federal permits needed for animal rehabilitation, but nature has a way of nudging things along. The West Nile virus struck Indiana’s raptor population in 2002, and the women answered the call for help. Utopia was

born out of a need to care for the stricken birds, but Hershey said the moniker was more an acronym for “Up to our posteriors in animals.” The refuge weathered the storm and in 2004 obtained its 501(c)3 nonprofit status in its quest to care and, when it can, release animals back to the wild. It currently operates on a budget of about $30,000 annually, which is only a fraction of what is spent. Along the way, Utopia has received an abundance of help from the community, including Eagle Scouts, utility companies that donated trucks and personnel, the C4 Columbus Area Career Connection and a host of volunteers. “We are very fortunate,” Jerry Hershey said. “We couldn’t have done this without all the people that have helped us.” One such helper is John Pugh, a retired corporate human resources vice president who admits to being a bit different from whom one might expect to find scraping hawk droppings off hardwood. “I was looking for something to do and getting cabin fever (after retirement), so I came out and asked Kathy if I could volunteer,” Pugh said. “She gave me the once over because some people come out here for a day and then they’re gone. I told her I wasn’t that kind of person, and I didn’t mind getting dirty, despite my background.” Pugh gets dirty enough, not to mention getting clawed and pecked by the pointybeaked birds that would just as soon be left alone on occasion, and now he’s one of the go-to volunteers at Utopia. Though it strives to rehabilitate when it can, which isn’t always possible if the animal imprints on a human or becomes too

Above: Kathy Hershey with Parker, a 4-year-old male turkey vulture. Left: the sign welcoming visitors to Utopia. Inset, a raccoon that has a cataract and is neurologically blind due to her mother having distemper. Hershey uses her to teach the importance of vaccinations.



Mamma, a red fox rescued after being hit by a car and left in a coma. Hershey believes she could be ready for release soon. Right: the screech owl enclosure built by Dominic Gehring in 2005 as an Eagle Scout project.

dependent, Utopia’s underlying mission is to educate people about the ways and needs of the wild. “Education is the most important thing we do,” Hershey said. “People have never been so detached from the natural world. We see it as a necessity. Unfortunately, schools see it as an option.” “Our primary focus is education,” Newcomb agrees. “I mean saving three bunnies might not make a huge difference in the world of animals, so it has to be about education. That’s what we’ve lost.” In addition to hosting visitors at the center, Utopia volunteers travel to schools, nature centers, libraries and wherever else they can find an audience to teach the song of the wild, which is many times a different melody than the one people are singing. Newcomb recalled one instance of a man who was keeping pet bats. Unfortunately bats can carry rabies, which can be problematic A great horned owl flies in an enclosure built by high school students enrolled at C4 in Columbus.

Hershey and John Pugh. He started volunteering at Utopia after his retirement two years ago.



if one is feeding them by hand. “Compassion can sometimes be misapplied,” she said. The center’s programs, however, have spawned their fair share of properly channeled compassion. “We had a farm kid who used to shoot coyotes out of hand until he met one here, and then he wanted to build an enclosure for them,” Hershey said. So while rescuing, rehabbing and releasing injured animals back to their proper place in the world is a big deal, the philosophy of trying to show us our own place in the bigger picture of where we belong in our own world is actually the lifeblood that pumps through Utopia. “What happens to these guys,” Hershey said, waving a hand across her menagerie, “happens to us. That’s what we’re trying to teach.” For more information on the refuge, its work and how to help, visit

Loki, a 7-year-old bald eagle. Inset, a bird enclosure.



Newly built hives ready for sale.

Hives that Thrive

RJ Honey supports central Indiana beekeepers

By Ryan Trares Photography by Josh Marshall



RJ Honey’s hives.


HARVEST TIME for Richard Walton and Jeff Singletary means donning their heavy protective suits, mesh helmets and thick gloves to brave the bees. With swarms buzzing around their heads, they’ve learned to ward off, or at least ignore, the stings. One by one, they collect thin frames from the hives, each covered in waxy cells filled with honey. Soon, that golden liquid will be spun, filtered, bottled and sold throughout central Indiana. Walton and Singletary are the owners of RJ Honey, specializing in local, raw honey collected from their hives outside Lebanon. From left: Jeff Singletary and Richard Walton


1107 E. Road 325S, Lebanon

Richard Walton and Jeff Singletary WHO:


operation collecting 4,000 pounds of honey each year, as well as supplying beekeeping equipment

They not only then filtered, colraise bees on their lected in buckets HIVES: 59 adjacent farms, and bottled. INFORMATION: but have started “There’s no selling beekeeping heating or treatequipment and ing it. It’s just hosting educational seminars to help new clear, pure honey,” Walton said. apiarists get started the right way. After their first harvest in 2009, Walton “You have to have people go alongside and Singletary collected about 150 pounds you as you’re beekeeping,” Singletary said. of honey in big buckets. They could never “It’s an art, and you have to have someone eat that much honey, so they offered it to who’s practiced in that art.” friends and neighbors. Keeping bees has many advantages — Within six weeks, it was gone. the bees pollinate crops and create bees“As soon as people found out we had lowax. But nothing beats having a ready store cal honey, they wanted it,” Singletary said. of fresh local honey, Singletary said. “We’ve been going strong ever since.” Harvesting at RJ Honey usually occurs in August, though it can be done any time THE BEGINNING the bees have capped off cells in the hive. They have been working together as RJ A frame is pulled out and placed into a Honey since about 2008. Their honey enterspecial centrifuge, which spins it, pushing prise started as an act of neighborly curioshoney to the sides of the tank. The honey is ity. Walton came over to Singletary’s house FARM INDIANA // FEBRUARY 2016



WINTER IS A TIME of inactivity for most Indiana beekeepers. Their hives are still, as the bees huddle together for warmth to survive the cold. With honey harvested, there isn’t much for the typical apiarist to do. But for those looking to learn more about their business, or get started in the world of bees, school will be in session. Indiana beekeepers will gather on Feb. 27 for a crash course in proper hive management, bee behavior and honey extraction. Information ranging from beekeeping basics to the most cutting-edge pest prevention is on the curriculum at bee school. “Honey bees are having a lot of trouble surviving in the current environment, with more chemicals and more pests coming in,” said Mike Seib, coordinator of the bee school. “People are getting involved in beekeeping, and they’re getting discouraged if they buy their bees and they die that first year. We trying to Indiana Bee School show them how to prevent that.” WHEN: 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Feb. 27. Folder Bee school is a program of the pickup begins at 7. Beekeepers of Indiana, the state’s WHERE: Decatur Central High School, 5251 primary beekeeping organization. Kentucky Ave., Indianapolis For more than eight hours, parWHAT: An all-day educational meeting ticipants and teachers will gather for beginner, intermediate and advanced to share their knowledge about beekeepers sponsored by the Beekeepers proper techniques and best pracof Indiana. tices in beekeeping, Seib said. COST: Before Feb. 8, $30 for individuals Newcomers can learn the proper or $50 for families; $40 per person and tools and equipment needed to $65 per family after. Lunch is included. start their hives. They discover the Registration is required. best ways to treat mites and help INFORMATION AND REGISTRATION: their bees survive winter, then how to harvest the honey that’s produced in the spring and summer. But even longtime beekeepers can find useful information at the sessions, Seib said. Each round of bee school includes advanced concepts in caring for a hive, from managing your swarm of bees to raising healthier queen bees. “It’s everything from beginning beekeeping to help you know what to do before and when you get your bees, all the way up to artificial insemination,” Seib said. The February session’s guest speaker will be Kim Flottum, a researcher with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Honey Bee Research Lab in Madison, Wisconsin. Throughout his career, Flottum has focused on topics such as hive pests, honey marketing and queen production. He will discuss managing bee nutrition, making honey and preventing bee disease.



to see if he was interested in checking out a program at the Boone County fairgrounds. The event was on local honey and beekeeping. “We thought it might be a fun thing to do, get one or two hives,” Singletary said. “Our properties butt against each other, so it would be easy to do together.” Being novices at raising bees, the pair needed to figure out how to start their own hives. Their education came through “bee school,” a program held by the Beekeepers of Indiana. The all-day class taught about bee behavior, how to help the insects survive and the best ways to harvest honey. “Learning about beekeeping is kind of like taking a drink from a firehose,” Singletary said. “There’s a lot to learn in a short amount of time.” That session helped them not only establish a knowledge base, but also physically start their business. The pair won their first hive in a raffle. “We started with that one hive and just got carried away from there,” Singletary said. At the event, they established connections with more experienced beekeepers. “It’s a lot of observation, getting in the hive, looking at what’s going on there and making adjustments,” Singletary said. A GROWING OPERATION Their operation has grown to include 59 hives. As their honey farm has expanded, they’ve tried different techniques to raise healthier bees. No hive situation is ever the same. “Bees are sort of like people — they don’t all do the same things all the time,” Singletary said. “You would think every hive would look the same, but different hives develop differently.” Probably the most pressing challenge they face in keeping bees is helping them survive the harsh Indiana winters. Walton and Singletary use oxalic acid to treat their hives for mites, which can weaken the bees enough that they cannot navigate the cold.

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Singletary opens the lid to the centrifuge. Below: Walton demonstrates how he uses a jig to help him build frames.

They also weigh the hives and add some food to ensure the bees have enough to eat. “A lot of bees will starve over the winter,” Singletary said. “They don’t hibernate; they stay active in a cluster. If they don’t have food, the cluster won’t move and ends up starving.” Honey production is a major component of RJ Honey. In 2015, they harvested 4,000 pounds of it.

Walton and Singletary have sold their honey at farm markets and partnered with local stores such as Moody Meats and the Garden Table in Indianapolis to carry their products. But as they added more hives to the farm, the pair have encountered difficulty finding cost-efficient supplies. Their only option at the time was to order online and have hive equipment shipped to Indiana. “That shipping kills you,” Singletary said. “We bought two or three hives that way and realized we couldn’t afford to keep doing this.” The solution was to order a whole pallet of beekeeping materials in bulk, then sell that to other beekeepers in the area who needed it. Their fellow apiarists jumped at the chance to get their goods locally, and Walton and Singletary decided to keep selling supplies. Their bee barn is a small pole structure stocked with hive parts, mesh suits, smokers, feed and the basic items that every beekeeper needs. Not only do they outfit the new beekeepers, but they can point them in the direction of area organizations that can support them as they get going. “We really enjoy helping new beekeepers thrive,” Singletary said. “If you go to those local beekeeping places, you have the advantage of experienced beekeepers who can help.”

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holy WORK Jeff Hawkins approaches farming, and feeding people well, with devotion BY JON SHOULDERS PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOSH MARSHALL

THE PARALLELS BETWEEN farming and church ministry are not immediately discernible. However, for Jeff Hawkins, a Lutheran pastor and full-time poultry, cattle, hog and vegetable farmer, the similarities couldn’t be more apparent. “Dealing with nature’s flocks and dealing with human flocks is not that different, and there are forces and systems at play that are identical,” says Jeff, who owns and operates J.L. Hawkins Family Farm in Wabash County with his son, Zach. “There’s a nurturing spirit that you have to have, and both take a certain passion and devotion.” Jeff’s interest in agriculture began as a youngster growing up in Detroit, where he regularly helped his mother tend the large garden and 700 rabbits the family kept on their one acre of land. That interest was sustained through regular childhood visits to Wabash County, where in 1957 his grandparents purchased the 99 acres of farmland that Jeff and Zach now tend on a full-time basis. Even in his capacity as an ordained pastor, a connection to farming was present from the beginning. “My first parish was in Barron County, Wisconsin, and it’s dairy country up there,” he says. “I would help with chores on the land, then come home at night and read The Stockman Grass Farmer (magazine).” In 1988, Jeff was serving several Lutheran parishes in Wisconsin and received a call from Zion Lutheran Church in North Manchester where his grandparents had once attended. He accepted a position as the church’s pastor. “When I first moved here, our housing situation didn’t work out very well, so I said to my wife that we should move to the farm,” Jeff says. “She’s a city girl, but I convinced her. My dad owned it at the time, and after that I slowly took over the farm operations until not long after 2000 when I left the parish and came here full time. ONE WORD THAT A CASUAL observer will hear spoken often around the Hawkins farm is “movement” — something Jeff and Zach feel is crucial to the well-being of a small-scale farming operation. “In nature things are always moving and rotating, like bison moving across the plain,” Jeff says. “On the farm we rotationally graze our livestock. We’ll move the pigs to a different area in a given year because we want them to tend that spot in a certain way that gets it ready for the next thing that’s going to go there. You also see it in the way the chickens move through the fallow areas of the garden, and the way the crops rotate in the garden. It’s succession that’s happening on a narrow scale. We try to ask how nature is moving and then step into the stream of that and move with it.”



Jeff Hawkins with son, Zach.

This philosophy of constant movement for effective agriculture ties into what Zach calls a “beyond organic” approach. Jeff and Zach have never pursued organic certification for their farm and feel such accreditation is less important for small farmers than industrial and factory operations. “We have what I would call a whole-farm approach where every enterprise, though it is to some degree distinct, fits in with and depends on and supports all the other enterprises,” says Zach, who manages the farm’s three-acre vegetable garden. “We’re not really using anything in the traditional sense of sprays and inputs. We’re using chickens and microbes and earthworms and cover crops and compost. And being primarily a CSA

(community-supported agriculture) farm, we have interaction with almost all of our customers face-to-face, so if they have any questions they know they can get in touch with us. Many of them will be on the farm at some point during the year to see for themselves, so third-party certification becomes a bit superfluous.” Such face-to-face interaction occurs in many forms. The Hawkins farm features several CSA weekly pickup programs in the summer and fall, including vegetablesonly shares; full farm shares that include veggies, eggs and meats; and a specialty share that consists of products from the Hawkins farm as well as artisan bread and micro-roast coffee from the Light Rail Village Café in Winona Lake.

Inside one of the hoop houses. Below right, the hoop houses are moved one space over at certain intervals. Below, cover crops.



Clockwise: A cow on the Hawkins farm. The shelter where brick-oven pizzas are made during warm weather. Jeff and Zach Hawkins. The roadside sign.



From June through September, the Hawkinses fire up their brick oven on Friday evenings and welcome the public to what has become a Hawkins farm institution for the past eight years — Pizza Fridays. Each night, with a group of local volunteers, they churn out about 150 pizzas — using ingredients directly from the farm, often picked from the vegetable garden just hours before guests begin arriving — for families who bring along side dishes, beverages, picnic blankets and even flowers to enhance the setting. “It really started blowing up in 2014,” Jeff says. “I think it’s gotten so popular because these kinds of small, Old MacDonald farms don’t exist as much anymore. So for people who come here and bring their children and let

their kids run some and see the animals, there’s some added benefit there.” The event has been covered in the Chicago Tribune newspaper and the USA Today travel publication Go Escape. Pizza Fridays aren’t the only event growing in popularity. Last year Jeff and Zach began a structured internship program, which Zach says started informally several years prior to 2014. For three months, interns spend five or six days per week devoted to hands-on learning, with mealtime conversations every Friday on the progression of each intern’s learning experience. Andrew Chinworth, a friend of the Hawkins family since 1998 who interned through the summer of 2012 and

now works for the Hawkinses as a full-time farmhand, says being at the mercy of nature is perhaps a farmer’s biggest challenge. “Tying everything down during wind storms, opening up the hoop houses during unexpectedly warm fall days, frantically getting as many vegetables under cover when the weather report shows a potential freeze, spreading straw in the chicken shelters when heavy rains are coming to keep them drier to prevent hypothermia, etc. — there is so much care that goes into everything we produce, be it meat or vegetables,” he says. LAST FALL THE Hawkinses found themselves sifting through legal documents in

Eggs are included in some weekly CSA shares.

The Hawkins farm became the first producer of fewer than 20,000 birds in the state to obtain a grant of exemption from the Indiana State Board of Animal Health to butcher and sell chickens to local restaurants.


Hawkins LOCATION: 10373 N. Road 300E, North Manchester SIZE: 99 acres PRODUCTS: A variety of vegetables and pastureraised beef, pork, poultry and eggs INFORMATION:

restaurants, so to have the cease-and-desist order reversed was a big relief. It’s a success story for anyone who wants scale-appropriate regulation that doesn’t hinder small producers who want to make a go of it.”

addition to crops after receiving a ceaseand-desist order in September from the Indiana Department of Health. The order stated that by butchering chickens in their own facility and delivering them directly to Indiana restaurants, the farm was in violation of Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 179, a state law allowing farms processing up to 20,000 birds annually to butcher without a state inspector present and sell poultry at farmers markets, farm stands and directly to consumers on farm property — but not to restaurants. After the state law was written, the Hawkins farm had become the first producer in the state to obtain a grant of exemption from the Indiana State Board

of Animal Health, in accordance with a long-standing federal law, to begin processing and selling poultry to a few restaurants around the state. “To get the exemption you have to follow a number of safety rules, build a facility that is up to code, follow sanitary procedures, be inspected twice a year and so forth,” Jeff says. “Calling it an exemption is kind of confusing, and it’s really a permit of sorts.” After receiving the cease-and-desist letter — which came as the result of pressure from state Sen. Jean Leising, who serves as chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources and expressed during a legislative session last August that any producer butchering

at an on-site facility should sell directly to consumers only — Jeff met with state representatives to discuss the nuances of SEA 179 and the grant of exemption based on federal law. In November, the Indiana attorney general issued an opinion stating that since Jeff obtained the proper exemption from the BOAH, the Hawkins farm is in compliance with Indiana law. Jeff’s poultry processing facility is now operational, and he has resumed selling his chicken to a few Indiana restaurants, including Joseph Decuis in Roanoke. “It was a drag but worth it to be the first in the state to go through the exemption process and kind of set that example,” Zach says. “Thirty percent of our sales are to

ALTHOUGH HIS DAYS are now primarily devoted to maintaining the farm alongside Zach, Jeff has managed to preserve a direct and unique connection between the agricultural and the spiritual. Back in 2003, he founded HOPE CSA — an acronym for Hands-On Pastoral Education using Clergy Sustaining Agriculture — which is a nonprofit educational ministry that brings pastors onto the J.L. Hawkins Family Farm to, as Jeff puts it, “reconnect with creation. The parish industry is becoming pretty industrial minded, not unlike farming has, and we try to help each pastor who comes here see that congregations are organic things that need care,” he adds. Participating pastors spend one day per month toiling on the farm and taking part in Bible discussion and prayer after the day’s labor is complete. “It really feels like holy work. I can’t think of another word for it,” Jeff says. “To feel like you’re about the business of feeding people well and in that way making one of the most fundamental differences in the world seems like holy work to me. Maybe it’s grandiose to say that, but I do see it that way and I’m really honored to be able to do that work.” FARM INDIANA // FEBRUARY 2016


In the Classroom Local FFA chapters


BLAKE HACKMAN HAS been teaching agriculture at Brownstown Central High School for the past 27 years. His students learn and acquire life skills, inside and outside the classroom, through hands-on education, Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE) and numerous community service projects. Hackman likes his students to have fun in the process. Brownstown is a small community, bordered by thousands of acres of farm fields, which are laced with lakes and trees. Each day, approximately 600 students, Grades 9 through 12, make their way to the high school, situated at the edge of town. Approximately 100 students come through Hackman’s agriculture program each trimester; roughly 75 of those are FFA members.

From left: Leah Bane, junior; Alison Deaton, sophomore; Matthew Stuckwisch, sophomore.

LIFE SKILLS FFA students at Brownstown Central High School learn lessons for the future By Catherine Whittier Photography by Josh Marshall



COMMUNITY SPIRIT The Brownstown chapter has completed numerous landscaping projects, fundraisers and restoration projects. The chapter partnered with Brownstown/ Ewing Main Street to help save the historic Ewing Depot by constructing seasonal decorations, which were sold and raised more than $3,000 for the project. Hackman’s welding students are currently working on a sculpture, which will be added to a landscaping project they recently completed at the nearby middle school. “Every time they drive by the middle school, you know, if they see something out of place they are either going to fix it, take care of it or tell someone because they take pride in it.” Students tackle many diverse projects, from planting trees at the fairgrounds and installing

stone along the local walking trail to feeding impoverished families during the Christmas holiday. Because of the high demand for the chapter’s services, Hackman finds it necessary to pick and choose what they do. “The one thing that I always ask myself when I get a phone call is ‘What are my students going to get out of this?’” he explains. “We get a lot of calls to restore old machinery, which I love, but I do tell a lot of people no because it just doesn’t fit into the curriculum at the time, or it’s going to take too long or I don’t have the knowledge.” Giving back to the community feels good, says Leah Bane, a junior and FFA member. “We are such a small town … giving back to your community (is gratify-

The students built a table that now resides inside the restored Ewing Depot.

A decoration made by the students that was for sale during the Christmas season. Below, Blake Hackman with two students after installing a sculpture that was constructed in welding class.

ing) because they support you in everything you do and have done so much for you,” she explains. Through service projects, students not only develop a sense of community pride, but also a reputation for doing good work, which can lead to future job offers. “I get phone calls weekly from those wanting to hire students,” says Hackman. “It’s hard to find students for those jobs, because we are a small school, and when they’re involved in so much, they don’t have time to work.” Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing has recently agreed to provide metal for Hackman’s welding class in order for students to learn to weld on material used at the Columbus facility. “After the class, Toyota

will interview my students and, hopefully, hire several who are qualified,” Hackman explains. “To me that’s really what we need in a small community — to get those kids jobs, so that they stay in the community and can be productive citizens.” EVENT PARTICIPATION Brownstown FFA members typically compete in two or three contests a year, which include livestock, soils, crops, forestry and parliamentary procedure. Hackman describes the BCHS chapter as diverse. “We don’t participate in particularly one event. We kind of dabble in all of them,” he says. “I want students to learn from the contests, but we don’t have to win. I ask them




initially: ‘How far do you want to go?’ And from that I know how much practice they need. We’re not a state-winning chapter in every contest, because they don’t choose to be, and that’s fine with me.” Students are encouraged to decide how they spend their time. “Mr. Hackman doesn’t require that you do a set number of contests or fundraisers or anything like that,” explains Jordan Trowbridge, senior and president of the Brownstown chapter. But they are encouraged to do their best in whatever they tackle. “There are a lot of early mornings and a lot of hard work, but in the end, it pays off,” says sophomore Matthew Stuckwisch. “You learn a lot.” Hackman believes his students learn leadership principles through FFA competitions. “I discipline rather strictly, because to me, that’s part of leadership; it’s taking on the role,” he says. “You need to act the role as well. My students know how to act in public. They dress properly; they speak properly; they’re not loud; they’re polite; they show up on time; and they’re repri-



manded if they don’t. I’m not a slave driver, but I expect them to be respectable young men and women because they are representing the chapter.” CLASSROOM STRATEGIES Many BCHS agriculture students enjoy studying animals and showing them through 4-H. Others are drawn to the program to learn about conservation through forestry classes or to study landscaping

Welding equipment. Inset, metal used for welding projects.

The greenhouse.

through plant science and horticulture classes. Welding classes are also popular. “I still believe in the hands-on (teaching),” says Hackman. “I started teaching 30 years ago, and it was more hands on. It’s changed more to the sciences today, and I understand the relevance of that, but the hands-on (projects) are what the students are begging for. Students want to learn skills, and these are life skills that they won’t forget.” Approximately half of Hackman’s agriculture students have ties to the farm. “The important question isn’t whether students have a connection to the farm, but rather, how many plan to return to it,” Hackman explains. “I bet I have less than 5 percent who will return to the family farm.” Stuckwisch is one of the few. He would like to attend college but also hopes to return to his family’s farm and one day take over the operation. Being a part of FFA is helping to prepare him for that, he says, mostly through education, but also by providing him with the leadership skills needed to “do something like that.”

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Don Campbell and Dean Bickels show their catch of crappie, redear and bluegill. Below, Joe Harner.

Indiana’s lakes offer great winter catches



IT’S PRETTY much a given that when the frost is on Indiana’s pumpkins, the ice will soon be on the lake. And that’s when dedicated fishermen pile on winter garb, grab their gear and make tracks for their favorite fishing spots. Few non-fishermen, perhaps, understand the allure of the mid-winter lure. But for those who do, nothing beats the exhilaration of the first cut of the season, the first line dropped into the frigid water, the welcomed escape from cabin fever. It’s a seasonal sport that, once experienced, hooks zealots for life. Columbia City resident Don Campbell can tell you all about it, having first engaged in the sport as a high school junior. Don and his wife, Helen, live a stone’s throw — or a lure’s toss — from Shriner Lake. The Fort Wayne natives moved to the pastoral Whitley County setting more than 20 years ago and enjoy the serenity and natural setting from the banks of the 120-acre lake. But Don’s affinity for ice fishing began at Big Long Lake in 1958. His fishing companion was classmate Dick Johnson, and, Campbell says, they were searching for perch. “I think we did pretty well,” Campbell recalls, “because I kept going.” Today, he’s still going, although several of his fishing cronies have passed away. And considering his own increasing mobility limitations, 74-year-old Campbell says he goes less often. “Nowadays, I might go just twice a week, or if the weather’s nice, five or six days in a row. A lot depends on the weather. The cold doesn’t bother me, but if it’s too windy, I don’t like to go.”



So what is Campbell fishing for, and where are the fish? Perch remains a mainstay, primarily in February, when he gleans them from the local lake. He also names blue gill, redear and crappie as his favorite target fish. Early season can find Campbell making the rounds of District 3 lakes in northeast Indiana: Little Turkey in Steuben County, and Noble County’s Skinner and Sylvan lakes, the latter one of his favorites. He also drops a line at Round Lake, the Kettle on Blue Lake and in Lake Wawasee’s many channels. FAMILY FISHING FUN Joe Harner and his family live about a mile from Marshall County’s Lake Maxinkuckee in Culver. An avid ice fisherman since his teens, Harner is now joined by his wife and daughter, who also enjoy the winter sport. “I was first taken ice fishing when I was just a little guy — probably 5 or 6 years old,” he says. “On my own, I probably began when I was about 13. There are so many lakes here that a group of guys would either walk or hitch a ride to a lake, and just hop on and go fishing.” Harner says Maxinkuckee is one of the most challenging lakes because it’s so diverse, offering perch and crappie. “Most people don’t really focus on the perch and crappie. There are also walleyes and

smallmouth bass. But the perch are just monsters,” he says. Harner’s family, including his in-laws, also enjoy an annual fishing excursion to Lake Superior. “That’s the thing we do in this family,” he says. Although Hoosier lakes aren’t traditionally touted for ice fishing, the regional focus being on Michigan’s and Minnesota’s waterways, Harner says people don’t realize it’s a huge industry in Indiana. In addition to fishing Marshall County lakes, he suggests Lake Webster and any others in Kosciusko County, Angola’s Tri-Lakes area (Steuben County), and Noble County’s Chain O’ Lakes State Park. “They’ve all got their benefits and are little gems that tend to be overlooked, yet they’re so phenomenal,” he says, adding that fishermen shouldn’t be afraid to leave the crowd. “You may very well get the better stock of fish.” So what’s so much fun about sitting in frigid weather, freezing your booty and hoping you’ll get a hit? Despite the fact he doesn’t fish with gloves, Harner says he doesn’t get cold. “It’s refreshing. I can sit in a deer stand and know I’m not going to see any deer because there are about 35 other guys out there and deer won’t get close. But fish don’t care if you’re there. “The air is nice and bitter cold, and it’s crispy, crunchy and clean. You get that little biting in your lungs, and it’s pretty cleansing.” In the end, ice fishing is all about communicating with nature. “You have to have a passion,” Harner says. “And this is a good way for me, personally, to relate to and challenge nature. You’ve got to find something to get you away from the window. Winters get too long if you don’t. And it makes for some pretty darned good stories.”

Ice Fishing Safely Each winter, thousands of Hoosiers enjoy fishing, skating, hiking or just sliding around on frozen ponds and lakes. And each year, people drown after falling through ice. IF YOU ARE FISHING:

»Drill your own test hole near shore. It should show at least a 4-inch thickness of clear ice like you get from your freezer. »Indiana law limits ice-fishing holes to a 12-inch diameter. »Wear a life jacket for extra warmth and safety. »Fishing shanties must have reflectors on each side so that snowmobilers won’t crash into them at dusk or during snowstorms. »Be aware of various ice strengths and qualities. One area of a pond may be a foot thick, while another spot may be just an inch thick. »Ice strength can also change. New ice is almost always stronger than old. Thick ice is dangerous after rain, as is old honeycombed ice, slush ice or ice with current beneath it. Wind, waterfowl and beavers can also keep areas of ice thin. 1 INCH OF ICE

Stay off! 4 INCHES OF ICE

Needed for safe ice fishing. 5 INCHES OF ICE

Needed for snowmobiling. 8 INCHES OF ICE

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Finding the Fish DNR fisheries biologists from the state’s four northernmost districts shared information about the best Indiana lakes for ice fishing and what, exactly, outdoor zealots can expect to catch. Log on to for a downloadable district map. DISTRICT 1: Tom Bacula, Kankakee FWA (northwest Indiana) Fulton County: Lake Bruce, near Winamac — Bacula says that based on surveys the DNR did last year, bluegill and crappie should be plentiful here, with a huge mass targetable throughout the winter. Marshall County: Maxinkuckee — Pan fish is really plentiful, especially in channels during early ice season. Throughout the season, there should be plenty of walleyes. “It takes a little bit to figure them out, but there are a lot in there,” Bacula says. Lake of the Woods, in Bremen, offers walleye, many of them in the 16- to 18-inch range. DISTRICT 2: Neil Ledet, Fawn River State Fish Hatchery, Orland (northern northeast Indiana) LaGrange County: Big Long Lake is the top spot for bluegill, while Lake Shipshewana is the place to find crappie. Steuben County: Crooked Lake is one of the top picks for walleye. “Dusk to dark fishing is best,” Ledet says. Try Hamilton Lake, which is excellent for crappie, or Lake James and Snow Lake, where bluegill are plentiful.

DISTRICT 3: Jed Pearson, Columbia City (southern northeast Indiana) Huntington County: Salamonie Reservoir is the best ice fishing spot in District 3, Pearson says, and crappie the best catch there. Kosciusko County: Lake Wawasee, Indiana’s largest natural lake, is one of the most popular. Hot spots include some of the channels, where fishermen go early because they’re first to freeze over. The lake offers many different species, with crappie, perch and largemouth bass heading the list. Adjacent to Lake Wawasee is Syracuse Lake, which is best for northern pike. Pearson says a lot of people set up there with live bait. Webster Lake is stocked pretty heavily with muskies, which are plentiful in open water. Warsaw’s Winona Lake has really come on recently for walleye fishing, he adds, and is one of the more popular ice fishing lakes for them. Noble County: Sylvan Lake, Rome City, is good primarily for bluegill, but also for walleye and yellow perch. Pearson says the little basin by the boat ramp and an area known as Cain Basin, at the east end of the lake, are top spots. Bear Lake, north of Columbia City, “is, for

some reason, loaded with plenty of bluegill, some in the 8-inch range,” he says. Finally, Chain O’Lakes State Park, south of Albion, is home to Sand and Rivir lakes, which are good for bluegill. “They get fished pretty heavily all through the season, and because they’re in a state park, fishermen have good access and a natural environment,” Pearson says. DISTRICT 4: Rhett Wisener, Cikana State Fish Hatchery, Martinsville (central Indiana) The ice fishing season is short in District 4, a central Indiana region that spans the state. Nonetheless, Wisener says, there are two popular staples, even if it’s just for three or four weeks. “Every year there’s usually an opportunity to get on those two lakes,” he says. “Some of the others can be sketchy.” Henry County: Summit Lake is primarily good for walleye and pan fish — bluegill, redear and crappie — with periodic catches of white and largemouth bass. Wisener says there’s also the potential for yellow perch. Delaware County: Prairie Creek Reservoir offers walleye, crappie and occasionally, yellow perch. “Bluegill are also certainly there, although I don’t hear too much about them,” he says.

»Although ice harvesting industry operations ceased nearly a century ago, Culver’s Lake Maxinkuckee continues to draw folks throughout winter months, many marveling at the clarity of the water that attracted past generations. In February that translates to the Culver Winter Festival and the North American Ice Fishing Circuit tournament qualifier ( around which the festival was based. Festival organizer Tony Sellers says the NAIFC committee approached the town about holding a tournament there. Culver first hosted the event in 2012, a precursor to the winter festival that was first held the following year. It’s all about getting people outdoors and engaged with Mother Nature, Sellers says. The third annual Culver Winter Fest ( will take place Feb. 12 to 14 in Culver’s Town Park and other locations. Presented by the Culver Chamber of Commerce, the festival features sledding, ice skating and ice sculpture demonstrations. An NAIFC-sponsored Ice Camp for Kids will be held Feb. 13 at the Culver Fire Station. “The kids get fishing poles and get to go out if the ice is safe,” Sellers says. The 1 to 3 p.m. event teaches youngsters about ice fishing and safety. And the best part? They get to keep their fishing poles. The NAIFC Tournament Series is held annually January through March, followed by a three-day NAIFC Series Championship Invitational the following December. The series consists of seven or eight qualifying tournaments, each a three-day event open to a maximum 150 two-member teams. Competition is open to all ages and skill levels that sign up and pay the $200 team entry fee. In conjunction with the winter festival, the fourth annual NAIFC tourney is set for Feb. 14. Sellers says just a dozen or so participants showed up the first year, with about 40 entries in 2015, a number organizers are expecting to double within the next few years. It’s a community undertaking, in which a local restaurant hosts a Friday evening seminar for folks who want to learn about ice fishing and related gear. Saturday night is set aside to explain rules, a tournament kickoff at least one member of each team is required to attend. The Culver Beard Club Polar Plunge will take place that Sunday, immediately following the awards and weigh-in of the NAIFC qualifier. Along with increasing participation in winter sports, the annual February event is drawing tourists to Culver. Sellers says up to 500 visitors passed through in 2015, some having traveled more than an hour. “Ice fishing is definitely a sport that nobody really thinks about, but it’s a great way to get people out and enjoying nature,” he says. “You have to get excited about this, and we’re hoping to continue to create that awareness and interest that will get young people engaged and excited about being outdoors.”




Scott Collier uses a wheelchair on tracks to look at his crops. Collier was paralyzed in a farm accident two years ago. He was able to get back to farming with help from the AgrAbility program by modifying and adding new farm equipment.

Tragic Harvest A job for life, and death


Photos by Renee Jones Schneider STAR TRIBUNE (MINNEAPOLIS)(TNS)



MINNEAPOLIS — They keep farming even when their eyesight is failing and their hearts are going bad. They get back on their tractors after farm accidents have put them in the hospital, sometimes with permanently disabling injuries. Unlike the rest of the working world, where retirement at age 65 is typical and sometimes mandatory, most farmers keep working. Many die on the job, because they gamble with their aging bodies once too often. “I think that is a huge piece of the problem,” said Dennis Murphy, a Penn State professor who studies farm safety.

Serious accidents are a concern for farmers of any age, but the risk only increases as they get older. Physical tasks become tougher than they used to be, and often it’s not easy — or even possible — to slow down. Almost half of the Minnesotans who died in farm accidents in the past decade were 65 or older, according to a Star Tribune review of more than 200 death investigations. In a small town just west of St. Cloud, pigs killed an 82-year-old farmer after he apparently fell into their pen. According to his death certificate, he walked with a cane and was “subject to dizzy spells.” On another farm nearby, an 86-year-old farmer burned to death when he stumbled

while dealing with an out-of-control brush fire. His granddaughter told investigators she tried to talk him out of tackling the chore because he had trouble walking and had fallen several times recently. In western Minnesota, Wayne “Pete” Bright lost control of his tractor while crossing a bridge on his property and fell into the river below, where he drowned in August 2013. Muriel Bright said her 84-year-old husband had trouble seeing things in front of him because of a degenerative eye condition. “He was probably too old to run a tractor,” Bright said. She added that her elderly brother-in-law moved off his farm after the accident because “his wife didn’t want him getting in the tractor anymore.” Across the United States, older farmers are more than twice as likely to die in an accident as younger workers, according to a 2009 study in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. More than 1,800 farmers age 65 and older have died in work-related accidents in the past decade, or 38 percent of the U.S. total. And the farming community is aging with the rest of the population, suggesting that safety will become an even bigger issue. Nationally, the typical farmer was 58.3 years old in 2012, up from 50.5 in 1982. In Minnesota, where a quarter of principal farm operators are now 65 or older, the average age is 56.6. Researchers say older farmers often die in accidents that younger workers can survive. “Lethality increases with age,” said Fred Gerr, a University of Iowa professor who also is a director of the Heartland Center for Occupational Health and Safety. Older farmers are more likely to crack down on safety violations by others, especially their children, than to follow those rules themselves, according to a Star Tribune review of accident reports and in-

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terviews with surviving family members. But almost nothing is being done to raise awareness of the problem. Most safety campaigns focus on accidents involving children, who account for a tiny portion of farm deaths in the U.S. Ruth Meirick, director of the Minnesota Farm Bureau Foundation, said she plans to make safety among older farmers a priority. “We’re tremendously concerned,” Meirick said. “A lot of our mature farmers are not practicing what we’re preaching.” In Minnesota, dozens of farmers have died in accidents related to previous injuries or ongoing health problems. In 10 accidents, elderly workers were killed while riding all-terrain vehicles, often because mobility problems made it too hard for them to walk or ride a horse around their sprawling farms. Nationwide, ATV fatalities among farmers have increased more than fourfold in the past decade. One 78-year-old Minnesota farmer slipped off his tractor, apparently because his prosthetic hook was not working properly. He died after being run over by the machine. A 79-year-old farmer was crushed while working on a tractor in his shed. His wife thinks he probably didn’t hear it slip off the jacks because of hearing problems.

Ray Guenther was still farming at 82 even though he suffered from dementia. “He loved farming, and he just wouldn’t give it up,” said his wife, Ann Guenther. Guenther wore his battle scars proudly. He had been bitten by a rabid mink and accidentally shot by a .22 rifle. He had tipped over several tractors. At age 72, he hit his head on the combine, sustaining a bloody wound. “He always talked about his 13 lives,” Ann said. “But I think that head injury took a toll on him.” Ray tired easily, and Ann said she was always pestering him to take a nap if he planned to work late. She said he usually followed her advice, except on July 6, 2011, when he went out after dinner to bale hay. Ray fell off the moving tractor, probably because he fell asleep, she said. “He never had a fear of the land like I do,” Ann said. “I respect it.” Some safety advocates have virtually given up on older farmers, frustrated by their lack of interest in mechanical advances and training opportunities. “I think you have to work on the younger people,” said Murphy, the Penn State researcher. “You can’t think of changing things in the next couple of years. It’s a generational thing.”

Collier uses a remote lift that moves him from his wheelchair to the cab of his tractor.


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Ann Guenther sits on her front porch on her farm in Waubun, Minn. She used to sit on the porch with her husband, Ray, before he died in a farm accident in 2011.



Others, however, believe more should be done to reach older farmers and their wives, who are often more receptive to safety messages. In Alabama, farm safety specialist Jesse LaPrade uses graphic photos of accident victims to show farmers the consequences of unsafe conduct. “Farmers are kind of hardheaded,” LaPrade said. “You have to get through to them and show them the things that are happening so they say, ‘Oh, I guess that could happen to me.’ You don’t want them to have to see these terrible pictures, but sometimes that is the key.” Some farmers keep working because they can’t imagine doing anything else. Others don’t have a choice. Low or uncertain incomes make it tough for many farmers to save for retirement. Also, with fewer farm children going into the business, some older farmers feel an obligation to continue working the land. Wanda Stark said her husband considered

and suffered other permanent disabilities retiring until he took a personality test. The because of farm accidents. results frightened her. “If we moved off the Since 2010, 152 farmworkers have particifarm, he would not live long,” said Stark, pated in Minnesota AgrAbility, a federally whose husband died last year at age 72 in a funded program that helps disabled farmers tractor accident. “You can’t take farming out return to work by finding technology to deal of a farmer.” with their limitations. Each year, farmers Tractor accidents accounted for about half gather for an annual conference, where they of the fatalities involving older farmers, who trade stories and share safety tips. are less likely to add rollover protection to Al Rasmussen, longtime director of Mintheir aging tractors, which often lack cabs nesota AgrAbility, said that one farm injury or roll bars that can help a farmer survive a often leads to another sometimes more sericrash. A University of Kentucky survey of ous one. “We had to make sure we weren’t more than 8,000 farms in that state showed putting them at more risk by assisting them that one in nine farmers age 55 and older had to go back to work, even though most of been involved in at least one tractor rollover. them had no other way to have full-time Ted Salonek Jr. tried to ease his father employment,” he said. out of farming by offering to rent his land Rasmussen estimated at a “ridiculous” price. that about half the farmers He was worried about the Across the United who have gone through the increasing weakness in his States, older program in Minnesota have father’s arms, the looseness farmers are more later experienced some type of his grip. But his father of injury, but he said no one wouldn’t take the deal. than twice as likely has died in a work-related “I think my dad held on to die in an accident accident. too tightly,” Salonek said. as younger workers, Like most farmers, Scott In October 2010, Ted according to a Collier had no idea the Salonek Sr. was emptying 2009 study in the program existed until a farm the soybeans from one of American Journal of accident left him unable to his grain bins so he’d have Industrial Medicine walk two years ago. He was a place to put his corn, replacing a tire on his auger which was ready to harwhen a metal strut collapsed and pinched vest. But the beans were clumping together his spine. and clogging the auger, so he went into the Collier thought his farming days were bin with a long metal pole to break them up. over, but a county agricultural agent visited The 77-year-old fell in and was asphyxiated. him in the hospital and helped him get into Ted Jr. admits he had his own near-death the AgrAbility program. Altogether, he has experience in a grain silo, when he went in received $68,000 worth of equipment, all of without first clearing out the bad air and it paid for by the government. was overcome by fumes. A friend pulled him He installed lifts on his tractors and his out. A cousin survived a similar incident in a combine, allowing him to continue planting grain bin. But they didn’t swap stories until and harvesting his own corn and soybeans his father’s funeral. Ted Jr. thinks sharing at his farm in Montgomery. He got a $15,000 that information might have persuaded his wheelchair with track wheels that allows father to take grain bin safety more serioushim to ride standing up. He uses it to inspect ly, but he said farmers are often too proud his fields for weed levels without getting and don’t talk about the near misses. stuck, like he did on his first wheelchair. “You don’t say, ‘Hey, want to hear about This past spring, he planted his first crop the dumb decision I made last night?’” Ted since his accident. The rows aren’t as straight Jr. said. as he’d like, but it might be his best harvest For 20 years, there has been one place that in years. injured farmers in Minnesota have been able “I was nervous at first,” said Collier, 54, to go to learn from one another’s mistakes. who still requires help from neighbors to atBut the admission price is steep. The farmtach equipment. “But oh jeez, it was great.” ers who belong to this club have lost limbs

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WHAT A BLESSING the delayed winter weather was on my farm this year. It enabled me to finish just a few more things that I anticipated would have to wait until spring. And the blessings just seemed to continue. While my new farm is nowhere close to finished, it is much further ahead than it would have been. For that, I am very grateful. It hit me, however, when a friend asked if I had read a certain book yet, that the extra work I was able to do on the farm actually took away from the time I would have spent cuddled up beside a warm fire reading the stacks of books that I am so very anxious to get into. I also haven’t gotten to my much-needed planning for next spring. It’s a small price to pay in my book. I am not a fan of cold, winter weather, but I must say that since it is finally upon us, I am looking forward to the time it gives me to stay indoors. Nature gives us a season to slow down a bit … to catch up, plan and take care of ourselves. I think that element is sometimes forgotten.


We live in such a fast-paced world today. We rarely spend enough time thinking about how to take care of ourselves. During the winter, we have more time to cook a proper meal and to slow down and eat with family. Embrace the winter season by enjoying a few home-cooked meals together. Meal time is a perfect opportunity for a family to connect or re-connect. For those of us who carry a few extra pounds year-round, winter can be a time to eat better, more nutritious meals, especially warm healthy soups, rather than stopping for carryout or drive-thru meals on the way to our next destination. If we are eating the right foods, winter can actually be a time to shed some of those extra pounds before spring.

Winter allows us to correct our eating habits, as well as to get more sleep, thanks to shorter days and long, dark nights. Caring for our bodies will help to prepare us for the year’s work that lies ahead.

catch up on what you can and to put yourself in a good position for the spring.


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the best gardens and yields possible, not tools will last longer and will be ready to & keeping Equipment Letts Hardware & Equipment to mention our plants healthy and go when spring hits. It’s also a good time to Letts Hardware 4987 W Countydisease-free. Rd 700 S,4987 Greensburg, W County IN Rd 47240 700 S, Greensburg, IN 47240 organize tools. Just putting things in their (812) 591-2221 (812) 591-2221 Letts Hardware Equipment Letts Hardware & Equipment Yes, it’s&cold outside, but winter offers proper places saves time in the spring. 4987 W County Rd 700 S,4987 Greensburg, W County IN Rd 47240 700 S, Greensburg, IN 47240 us(812) many opportunities. Embrace these I have friends who are going to help me 591-2221 (812) 591-2221 opportunities. It is not merely a time to ready by building walls and covering my greenequipment and catch up on delayed chores, houses. We plan to do it during the winter but more importantly, it is a time to care for months, because it is the only season they ourselves, our most valuable assets. have time for such projects. Use winter to

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

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You’re Invited

Seymour Food Summit


One reason we love the phrase “a rising tide lifts all boats” is because it is pretty hard to lift a boat alone. We love seeing this phrase come to fruition in our local food community. We’re trying to do our part by farming and by participating in community events. This month, community members in Seymour and Columbus are hosting two food summits. These events are clearly helping to lift the boat of local food. We want to invite you to come to these events and join in the work and the fun.



»WHAT The summits are a chance for you to learn about what’s happening with local food in your community. In Seymour, the farmers market is a major topic of discussion, so come ready to learn and give feedback. The Seymour group is also hosting a film at the Jackson County Public Library to build interest and enthusiasm for the food summits. In Columbus, learn about and give input on farm-to-school efforts, food councils and food hubs. If you don’t know what these are, but you’re interested in improving food access and diversity in the Columbus area, this is a great rea-

son to come learn. We’ll be at both summits, sharing and learning right along with you.


Everyone is welcome. We are promoting the food summits because we want as many people as possible to join in the conversation about local food. The summits are hosted by several community organizations, including Purdue Extension. These organizations have invited farmers, chefs, food buyers, the press, hospitals and schools, as well as nutritionists, to attend. Anyone who’s interested in food should come.

»WHY I recently heard Roy Ballard, an Extension agent from Hancock County, talk about local food. He spoke eloquently, saying that food is more than “just calories consumed.” Food encompasses the people who grew the ingredients and the recipe you’re using (whether it’s one of your grandmother’s favorites or one that a co-worker just shared). Food is taste, of course, but it’s also the impact of your meal on the land, your pocketbook and your health. Food is most certainly the connection (or lack thereof) between the ingredients, you and your community. We want you to come to one (or both) of the food summits because food is so central to all of our lives. We all have a stake in the future of food, especially local food. We hope you’ll come join the conversation.  


You must register to attend either food summit. To register for the Columbus Food Summit or for more information, call Kris Medic at (812) 379-1665. Registration closes on Feb. 16. The cost is $10 and includes lunch. For Seymour, contact Sara Bane at or (812) 521-1050. The cost is $15 and includes lunch. You can also learn more about the Seymour Food Summit and the film by visiting the Vision 2025 Facebook page at

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

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Compromise AND Love BY KATIE GLICK

AS THE WINTER NIGHTS have settled in and the farmer has been home more, I have thought a lot about love lately. He loves me enough to ignore my frequent shopping bags and my many lunches and dinners to catch up with friends. He has Katie Glick the patience to listen grew up on her family to the presentations farm in I give each evening Martinsville to report on the day’s and now activities. However, lives with her husband on their I love him enough family farm near Columbus. She to do more loads of is a graduate of Purdue University and has worked in Indiana politics. laundry than I ever She now works in the agriculture could have imagined. industry. She shares her personal, I have enough love work, travel and farm life stories on for him to realize I her blog, Fancy in the Country. will never have clean floors, and I must ignore the cow manure and dirt to get through each day. With love comes compromise. It’s in every relationship we have, our work, our families and even ourselves. I think we sometimes get so wrapped up in ourselves that we forget about the others around

us. With the many issues going on in our community, country and world, I sometimes wonder what would happen if we added a little more compromise in our lives. Maybe, just maybe, there would be a little more love. In regard to agriculture, I wish people would understand the compromises farmers and ranchers have to make in order to sustain the farms they love. Baby animals aren’t on our schedule, so we have to compromise time with family or being away from home to bring more life into this world. During disastrous weather events, farmers and ranchers have to compromise their own lives and homes to save their livestock. Just in the past few months, families have had to decide whether to save their own homes from floodwaters or to move their animals to higher ground and save the lives of their livestock. Farmers also have to compromise their safety for their work and to bring food to your table. My dad died while working on the farm; others have been run over or trapped by equipment or lost limbs while working on the farm. Caring for livestock

can be dangerous as well. You can be trapped or trampled by an animal or drown while trying to save them. At times, we in agriculture are attacked for our way of life and our work. And many times those who seem to judge don’t have the understanding or will to learn about what we love to do each and every day. I always think it would be nice if others could compromise a little of their time to learn because we compromise our time to feed them. In our two and a half years of marriage, I have realized we have had to give a little, take a little and commit to a lot for our love. Compromising isn’t always hard, and many times it is for the best even if we don’t know it yet. We may be on the opposite side of an issue or argument every so often, but we support each other no matter what the outcome is or who may be right. Even though I am right and believe the floors would be cleaner if he took his boots off outside, I compromise and let him come inside with his boots still on. All for the sake of love.

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Purdue Extension turns to technology to raise nutritional awareness By Jon Shoulders

FIVE YEARS AGO ROY BALLARD, an agricultural and natural resources educator at Purdue Extension’s Hancock County location, was attending an annual professional training session and experienced a moment of pure inspiration. Discussion at the event had turned to trends in technology — specifically, the increased popularity of quick response (QR) codes, which are bar codes placed on products or advertising materials that can be scanned by smartphones to be converted into website addresses and other information. During that discussion with his colleagues, Ballard says something clicked. “Around that time, at our annual training session and elsewhere, there were some discussions going on about how we can better provide information to John Q. Public about how to make good food choices,” Ballard recalls. “Someplace in my head there was a connection made between QR codes and that need, and the spark of an idea started.” That idea is now an online educational resource called FoodLink, which will soon be accessible to consumers at participating farmers markets around the state via smartphone. Customers will be able to use their smartphone devices to scan QR codes appearing on vendor signs and advertising materials for individual fruits and vegetables, and the codes will link directly to Purdue Extension’s FoodLink Web page for instantaneous access to nutrition information, pairing and storage recommendations, produce preparation tips, educational video links, recipes, farmers market shopping tips and more. “With farmers markets you see a lot of the traditional buyers that always cook for themselves, and younger folks buying things like sweet corn and tomatoes they can take home and use immediately,” Ballard says. “But when it comes to

Jodee Ellett, local foods coordinator for Pursome other products like kohlrabi and kale, they due Extension, says participating markets will don’t know what to do with those things. They feature banners and signs alerting customers to don’t have time to invest in buying a bunch of the presence of FoodLink QR codes, which will cookbooks, and maybe they didn’t listen to mom consist of trading card-size QR code displays and dad closely enough when they had a chance at individual vendor booths. to learn at home. This tool “The Purdue marketing team gives them immediate acis also currently working with cess to the basic informasome of the larger grocers tion to make some good dePurdue Extension in the state to integrate the cisions. We’re trying to get codes into their existing sigto where there’s no excuse if nage,” she says. “We’re really somebody wants to make a trying to reach a broad audigood food decision.” ence and anyone looking to In 2013, Ballard and sevincrease their consumption eral of his Purdue Extension of Indiana-grown produce colleagues secured funding who are maybe new to a fruit for the project through the or vegetable.” U.S. Department of AgriculBallard says Purdue Exture’s Specialty Crop Block tension representatives will Grant Program, which was be reaching out to farmers created to assist projects markets and grocery chains that support produce growPurdue Extension FoodLink helps throughout the winter and ers. The grant has provided you select fresh fruits and vegetables. early spring months to gauge the organization with the interest for the ensuing funds needed to create the Scan the QR code with your smart market season, ahead of the FoodLink website, generate phone, and: spring media campaign. Farm useful and accurate content, • Get fast, reliable Purdue Extension market and grocery managand starting around April, expertise. ers interested in incorporoll out a media campaign • Learn how to select the best fresh rating FoodLink into their to raise consumer awareproduce. operations can click a link ness as the 2016 farmers • Browse flavorful recipes for healthy on the FoodLink home page market season approaches. meals for each fruit or vegetable. to register to receive further Ballard says the site will Use your smart phone’s QR code reader information and updates. be a continual work in progapp, and scan the code for information “There’s a lot of specialty ress and has primarily been that’s fast, fresh, and flavorful. crops out there, but we the work of Purdue Extenbrought it down to basically sion staff members, Purdue fruits and vegetables,” BalUniversity’s Department of lard says. “But the system is Agricultural Communicadeveloped to where it could tion and a few temporary include other items as well. It employees hired to help depends on how the public edit the material. “We hired The FoodLink rack card features accepts it. Over time, maybe a chef short term to review the QR code where more food somebody goes into the store some of the content and information can be found. and picks up a pork loin, and punch it up a bit,” Ballard there’ll be a QR code on the says. “That was a very good pork loin, and you click on that and up come investment. Every entry is reviewed by at least three recipes for preparing a pork loin. The sysone horticulture person, and it’s also reviewed tem can grow, which is neat.” by a nutritionist for nutritional content, and then it’s reviewed by our editor. So there’s an expert To explore Purdue Extension’s FoodLink resource, visit review process.”




Purdue University is an equal access/equal opportunity institution.


Tech to Table






in slow motion Indianapolis chapter of global food organization focuses on local fare




RED CABBAGE with egg noodles. A homemade squash galette. Spatchcocked chicken. Arugula salad with goat cheese. Artisan bread. Apple crisp. It might have been any potluck, but what distinguished the spread at Slow Food Indy’s December gathering was the emphasis on seasonal, local fare. Proving that it is possible to source from Indiana farms even as temperatures plunge, Slow Food Indy (SFI) members and friends gathered at Bent Rail Brewery to share an afternoon meal of “good, clean and fair” food — also known as slow food. Slow Food Indy is a local chapter of a global, grass-roots organization devoted to

JoAnn Xiong at Slow Food Indy’s December gathering.

reweaving the fabric of local food systems. Its members value the simple power of meals just like this one. By sitting around a table and savoring a meal made with local, sustainably grown ingredients, they model something counter to the prevailing “graband-go” dinner-on-the-fly. The local chapter began in 2000 when an Italian living in Indianapolis decided to bring the movement to his adopted hometown. Italy is the birthplace of Slow Food International, which started out as a 1986 protest against a McDonald’s being built near Rome’s Spanish Steps. Demonstrating an attractive alternative to “fast food and fast life” became the goal of the worldwide organization.

Slow Food Indy is just one of some 1,500 “convivia,” as the local chapters are known, around the globe, with more than 100,000 members in 160 countries. The international organization maintains a network of approximately 2,000 communities practicing small-scale, sustainable food production. SFI member Sarah Page says she finds Indy’s food scene to be delightfully downto-earth, possibly because residents aren’t as far removed from their agricultural roots. “There’s a certain expectation of quality here,” she says. “People still understand what Attendees sample food food is supposed brought to to taste like.” the group’s SFI aims to December keep that connecgathering. tion alive, with Bottom left: Turnips and farm tours like its lentils. Bottom signature Father’s right: Marisol Day event, where Gouveia and families come to Despi Ross. explore farm life and enjoy good food together. The chapter also co-sponsors the Indiana Small Farm Conference held in Danville each year in March. Back in 2000 though, the idea of going local was relatively cutting-edge in Indiana. Farmers markets in Indy and contiguous counties were few and far between. No one knew that Indianapolis’ food scene was about to explode. Now the region boasts 44 farmers markets and countless independent restaurants, small farms and producers. “Certain ideas have to find the right soil and the right time,” SFI’s incoming board chairwoman Marisol Gouveia says. “I don’t know if it’s a generational thing, (but) all of a sudden it’s cool to care,” she says. “Before, it was like, ‘Oh, just get bunch of meat and throw it on the grill; we don’t care where it came from.’ Now people ask, ‘Where did the meat come from?’ and they don’t mean Kroger. They mean like Gunthorp Farms (in LaGrange, Indiana).” She credits the shift in part to documentaries like “Food Inc.” and books like FARM INDIANA // FEBRUARY 2016


Above, Lesley Jean Saligoe gives a demonstration during the Potluck & Presents event. Below, Slow Food Indy Snail Trail Passport includes Slow Food Indy approved restaurants.



Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” along with movers and shakers at the local level. Several luminaries in the budding movement served on early iterations of the board, among them Chris Eley from Goose the Market, Thom England from Ivy Tech’s Culinary Program and Laura and Tyler Henderson from Growing Places Indy. Each successive board has put its own spin on the organization’s activities. During his tenure, Todd Jameson of Balanced Harvest Farm brought an agricultural focus, with an emphasis on building partnerships with small farms. More recently Ashley Brooks, co-owner of celebrated brunch/lunch restaurant Milktooth, helped ramp up the chapter’s “Snail of Approval” program. This recognition program honors restaurants and other establishments that offer “good, clean and fair” food. Snail of Approval honorees receive a decal to display, as well as a listing online and in a bright red “Snail Trail Passport.” The chapter promotes these establishments

throughout the year via social media as well as at member events. Despi Ross, outgoing board chairwoman, says the program helps fulfill the chapter’s goal of encouraging restaurants to buy from local farms, while also ensuring farmers a market. “There’s a certain flexibility involved in local chefs cooking seasonally,” she says, noting the challenges of adequate supply and consistency. So it’s important for diners to search out those who are making that extra effort and reward them with business. The Snail of Approval program is one more way to spread the word about eateries like Shoefly Public House and Ezra’s Enlightened Café, and grocery stores like Wildwood Market and Pogue’s Run Grocer.

In 2016, the chapter plans to tap agricultural expertise to expand the program, adding farms to its listing. The board looks to recruit people experienced in this arena for an advisory committee that will help shape the criteria. “What do farmers face?” Gouveia says, “and what does a good, clean, fair farm look like, practically?” Those are the questions the group will examine. One farm already benefiting from exposure, thanks to SFI’s work, is Silverthorn Farm. The Rossville farm is owned by Nate and Emily Parks, who grow produce and raise meat in a diversified, nature-friendly way. Silverthorn is the subject of a recent short video that SFI produced in partnership with 12 Stars Media. The couple found this kind of support invaluable in connecting with restaurants and chefs, so they could sell their wares beyond farmers markets. They supply Restauration in Lafayette and Pizzology in Indianapolis, among others, and offer a flexible CSA as well. “It’s easy to get lost out in the countryside,” says Nate Parks. “You wonder, ‘Where do we go to get our products into the right hands?’ But these people are at the forefront in the city. … Slow Food is a really good bridge organization between rural America and urban food outlets.” Today’s potluck attendees include a massage therapist, event planner, grad school

Christina McDougall gives a demo titled “Syrups Made Simple” that provides attendees with ideas for using syrups in the kitchen.

student and others who each bring their own reasons for taking time out of their Sunday to gather. They’re here because eating this way boosts their health, supports the local economy and is just plain fun. It might even net you a life partner, as happened with one former member who met his wife through Slow Food Indy’s events. (“Slow Food will make you healthy and get you a like-minded spouse,” Gouveia jokes.) With no paid staff and little outside In the big picture, supporting sustainfunding (membership dues support the able agriculture builds a more resilient national organization), SFI relies on volunfuture. So says Kirsten Giesting, who’s teers, partnerships and superlastudying environmental scitive working relationships to get ence. With drought and other For more information, things done. climate disruptions on the visit “I just think it’s a really unrise, it’s all the more critical der-supported organization for the amount to look to local agriculture for sustenance. of work and effort they put into supporting That doesn’t happen overnight, and it takes us, as far as small farms,” says Parks. “It’s many people turning their dollars toward unbelievable, the amount of work they do the small farmer. “If we’re able to get our for nothing. They’re all volunteers, and it’s food from a local area, it makes our whole just what they’re passionate about. I would food system more resilient,” says Giesting, a encourage everyone to find a local chapter.” Batesville resident.

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...and your farm




What is your food philosophy?


Kirsten Serrano of Restauration From master gardener to executive chef, Kirsten Serrano’s personal evolution in the farm-to-table scene has fed her passion to produce real food from seed, on the Small Wonder Farm in Tippecanoe County that she co-owns with her husband, Francisco, to plate in the couple’s latest venture, Restauration, in Lafayette. BY TWINKLE VANWINKLE

How did you become an executive chef? What was the biggest factor in starting down this path? In 2000, my husband, Francisco, and I opened an Italian restaurant called La Scala in Lafayette. My husband is the chef, and my role has changed over time. I have always been involved in menu development, keeping the books and behind-the-scenes managerial duties. In 2006, we moved to a five-acre farm, and I began to farm for our family. This came out of a need to feed our very allergic daughter and my own growing interest in food quality and nutrition, the importance of the local food movement, and my own passion for taking food from seed to plate. We soon started growing enough produce to incorporate at La Scala. Over the years, I have become more and more involved and passionate about healthy local food. I have nine years’ organic farming experience, 15 years as a restaurateur, am a trained master gardener, have worked for years teaching gardening in schools, and I am currently in holistic nutrition school. In March we opened our second restaurant, Restauration. This restaurant is my baby.

Why did you choose Lafayette to open your business? We originally moved to Lafayette in 1995 so I could get Indiana residency for grad school. We moved from Barstow, California, where we met. We



both worked at what was then the busiest Denny’s Restaurant in America. What we like about owning a restaurant here is that Lafayette is just big enough but not a big city. It’s a college town, which drives a lot of our business. We also love that it’s only 20 minutes from our businesses to our farm. Lafayette has a really nice downtown that is getting better and better. 

What local sources do you use to supply your ingredients? We use a lot of local sources. From a small urban farm that grows our herbs and microgreens to bigger players like Smoking Goose (Meatery), we source a great deal locally. We list our local sources on our website. Not listed is Sun and Moon Farm (our urban supplier of herbs and microgreens). And our own farm supplies a lot of produce as well.

It’s very simple. Eat real food. Eat as close to the ground as possible (reduce the hands, miles and equipment between our mouths and our food). At Restauration, we make everything from scratch — down to the mayo. When we do purchase a product already prepared, we buy items that only have real food ingredients. A good example is our ketchup. We buy ours from a company called Local Folks Foods. Their product has real food ingredients, and it is a local producer. A large part of what we do is provide transparent ingredient information. Because we make everything and have the highest standards for the few things we don’t, we can tell people exactly what is in their food. We can then cater to the very large amount of people with food allergies and sensitivities. We can also satisfy those who follow special diets like vegetarian, vegan, paleo, etc. The way I feed people at Restauration is with the same high standard I feed my own family. In fact, Restauration exists because I wanted a restaurant where my own family could eat and not have to worry about processed ingredients and allergens.

Ingredients seem to be the most important part of your philosophy. Can you tell me more? I know from years of study how important responsible and local sourcing is, and also, how important it is to consume real food. Local food is trendy now (and will hopefully only increase in popularity). What we do that goes so far above and beyond that is only feed folks real food. We are a nation consuming huge amounts of artificial ingredients and steady diets of wheat, corn, milk, canola and soy. Restauration is all about stopping that. It’s proof, in my opinion, that real food always tastes better. Eating whole foods,

a great variety of them, simply prepared and when they are in season, is the answer to a great deal of the ills in this country.

What are your thoughts about comfort food? I see a lot of it on your menu, intermingled with more trendy or unusual dishes. What’s the purpose of offering it? I’m glad that came through to you. Comfort food is the jumping off point for the menu. As I have said, our approach is to prepare simple yet creative dishes. Restauration is my version of comfort food. We aren’t about overly complicated entrees with novel presentations. We are about giving you the best version of a dish with local seasonal ingredients. It’s my family’s own story of food sensitivities and my daughter’s celiac disease that has made me into a creative cook. If you can’t eat potatoes (like me), you get creative with ingredients like (root vegetable) yuca.

What would you say to local farmers who are looking to work with restaurants? As a farmer and a restaurateur, I can see this issue from both sides of the fence. It can PHOTOS PROVIDED

be a challenge on either side. Restaurants need product when they need it, and farmers can’t turn supply on and off like a tap. Working with a new restaurant versus an established one is very different. A new restaurant will have a very hard time estimating needs. It takes years to be able to see the real patterns of your business. An established restaurant should be able to tell you their needs pretty reliably. My best advice is to be patient, realize that you are both in the hardest businesses to be found, and be willing to compromise. Restaurants just cannot pay what a retail customer will, but restaurateurs need to value your product and work. Be clear about ordering deadlines, turnaround time, etc. I think being each other’s fan is important. Work with restaurants you dine at, support each other and form real relationships.

How do you deal with the availability of seasonal inventory? We have four menus per year. At some point, you have to draw lines somewhere. Short of being a small boutique restaurant that changes the menu nearly daily (which only works if you are unmarried, live above your restaurant and do nothing but work), you have to circle a day and go with it. Unless you do that, you don’t have a solid print menu that you can market. Spring starts for us when I can get local asparagus. Summer starts when I can get my hand on the first tomatoes. Fall starts when I can buy winter squashes and the tender plants die. Winter is ushered in by citrus. When I can’t get produce from my local farmers, I fill in with the big suppliers.

Ingredients are everything. Running a restaurant is way too hard to do it for any reason other than passion. My goal is to run a successful business, but the larger goal is to change how people eat.

Restauration 731 Main St., Lafayette (765) 250-3970


I’d wager the best way to show someone you hold dear how much you love them is with a gift of food. I traditionally make my loved ones something delicious for Valentine’s Day, and it’s almost always something loaded with chocolatey goodness. This Black Tie Bourbon Cream Custard is a true gift — to me and to my sweeties. It’s dangerously delicious, in that you might just eat more than your share, but it’s almost too rich to proceed past one serving. RECIPE

Black Tie Bourbon Cream Custard 6 large egg yolks ½ cup organic cane sugar 3 ounces dark chocolate 3 ounces white chocolate 1½ cups whole milk 1 cup heavy cream 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon bourbon Fresh raspberries and sage or mint for garnishing


What’s your dream or goal for yourself and Restauration?


Smooth Move


»Prep 6 to 8 ramekins, 4-ounce canning jars, champagne glasses or vessel of your choice. »Chop your chocolates — separately — with a knife until fine. Place each in a nonreactive large bowl and set aside. »In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat milk and cream on medium until you reach a gentle boil, then remove. »Beat egg yolks, sugar, vanilla and bourbon, whisking until light and airy. »Blend into the hot milk mixture and begin to cook

There are two important tricks to championing this custard. First, read the directions. Seriously. Almost all mistakes in cooking can be traced back to incorrectly reading or completely disregarding the recipe’s instructions. This is especially true in baking and creating desserts. The second part of executing this dish correctly is having patience. Cooking the milk and egg mixture takes endurance,

on low, stirring gently with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until the ingredients begin to thicken. Don’t let it come to a boil again and stir continuously. »When the milk and egg mixture coats the back of your spatula or spoon, it should be ready. »Next, strain custard through a fine sieve into a glass bowl. This will remove any bits of egg that may not have emulsified during cooking and ensures that the custard is as smooth as it can be. Separate mixture evenly into the bowls of chocolate, half

into the white chocolate bowl and half into the bowl of dark chocolate. Stir each until chocolate melts and they are both thoroughly combined. »Layer the white chocolate mixture and the dark chocolate mixture in the prepared glasses. Let each layer set in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes before adding next layer. »After your vessels are filled, refrigerate up to two hours for desired consistency. »Serve chilled with fresh raspberries and sage or mint leaves as a garnish.

and stirring continuously to keep the custard from sticking is crucial. Set a timer for 10 minutes to stay on track, but keep your eye focused on the texture of the custard. If it begins to thicken too quickly or begins to burn, you’ll need to remove it from the heat a little early. Check the thickness by removing the spoon to see if it coats it well and doesn’t easily drip back into the pot.

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. PHOTOS BY TWINKLE VAN WINKLE




growing POWER


Small farm conference explores big ideas


Emily Toner



URBAN AGRICULTURE Educator Emily Toner says that after the 2012 U.S. Census showed rising numbers of small farms, vegetable farms and female farmers in Indiana, Purdue Extension was moved to bolster resources for small-scale producers around the state. The result? Purdue Extension’s fourth annual Indiana Small Farm Conference, which is scheduled for March 4 and 5 at the Hendricks County Fairgrounds. (A pre-conference workshop is offered on March 3.) Toner, who is marketing committee co-chairwoman for the conference, says the event is geared toward smallscale, diversified farmers. “We define small scale by acres and revenue,” she explains. “It is a sliding scale, and the cutoff isn’t a hard guideline. Basically less than 200 acres and less than $250,000 revenue are simple ways to think about it, but that isn’t a perfect way to define small farms.”

By diversified, Toner speaks of production that has diversified outside of commodity crops. “This could be vegetable and fruit crops, specialty crops, small animal grazing farms, small-scale creameries, and a host of other types of farms,” she says. “Last year we had aquaponics growers and people doing restoration agriculture, too.” This year’s conference will feature sessions on grant writing, loans and farm financing, crop planning and enterprise budgets, among many others. Featured speakers include Mary Dee Berry, executive director of The Berry Center, which tackles issues facing small farming families in Kentucky and the greater Midwest, and Clay Bottom Farm’s Ben Hartman, author of “The Lean Farm.” Michael O’Donnell, Purdue Extension educator and conference chairman, says challenges facing Indiana’s small farmers are the same that face most of the nation’s small farmers. “The problems vary depending on the farmer’s situation, interests, location, experience, motivations, etc.,” he says. “Are we talking about beginning and aspiring farmers? If so, many of the headline issues we hear about nationwide for beginning farmers also apply to Hoosiers (regarding land access and acquisition, finances, and such).” But there are some Indiana-specific challenges.

“Indiana has been slower than the coasts and larger metropolitan areas to support the growing local food movement, so markets and consumer awareness are lacking in many areas,” he says. “However, this also presents big opportunities for those with the right skills and drive. ... There are tremendous opportunities in local and regional food markets/ systems/sheds for farmers to pursue. They may not be obvious or easy to access and develop, but Ben Hartman, author of “The Lean Farm,” will be one of this year’s featured speakers.

the opportunities exist as compared to some of the more evolved local food systems where competition is intense.” The regulatory landscape is always changing and also can present challenges, he says, referring to the Food Safety Modernization Act, which was signed in 2011 with portions of the legislation still being finalized and implemented by the

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confidence to pursue their farm dreams, asFDA. Access to information about such pirations and goals, or helping them make changes can be challenging for many Hoothe right connection with another farmer, siers. Farmers can find information with a buyer or knowledge specialquick Internet search, but ist to help them develop a deciphering that informanew enterprise,” he explains. tion and applying it can be Overall, new farmers ofchallenging. That’s where tentimes face steep learning conferences can help. curves. “Many of the small Also, O’Donnell adds, farmers we work with often many small and beginning have no background or ties farmers may feel isolated, to agriculture,” O’Donnell particularly when starting, says. “This obviously building and operating a presents challenges, but also farm in a new community brings new fresh perspecwhere they have not estabtives and ideas to small farm lished roots. The conference agriculture. We have seen offers several opportunities many engineers, programfor networking. “We have mers and the like develophad many folks share their Michael O’Donnell ing unique production and stories from attending the marketing systems and solutions for their conference in its first couple years who have farm enterprises.” credited the event with giving them the

Rural Living & Local Food




February Farm Events BY KATHERINE COPLEN

FEB. 2 Planning for Retirement and Estate Management The first day of the workshop will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and includes lunch. The second day consists of a one-hour farm family meeting with the Farm Succession Planning Team. Topics include alternative funds for retirement, planning possible long-term care and accounting for “sweat equity” in business. Registration is due two weeks before the program. Cost is $150 for the first four family members and

$15 for each additional member. Time: 9 a.m. Location: Hendricks County Extension office, 1900 E. Main St., Danville. Information: (317) 745-9260

FEB. 2-4 ARA Management Academy 2016 Develop your management skill set while sharing ideas with peers at the Agricultural Retailers Association Management Academy. Over the course of this three-day program, you will sharpen your management, leadership and decision-making capabilities by engaging in faculty-led presentations, interactive exercises and small-group discussion. Program curriculum includes a broad-based selection of managerial courses chosen specifically to meet the needs of managers in the agricultural retail industry. Location: Purdue University, West Lafayette. Information: (217) 549-2883

FEB. 9 Planning for Retirement and Estate Management The first day of the workshop will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and includes lunch. The second day consists of a one-hour farm family meeting with the Farm Succession Planning Team. Topics include alternative funds for retirement, planning possible longterm care and accounting for “sweat equity” in business. Registration is due two weeks before the program. Cost is $150 for the first four family members and $15 for each additional member. Time: 9 a.m. Location: Vanderburgh 4-H Center, 201 E. Boonville-New Harmony Road, Evansville. Information:

FEB. 10 Jasper Winter Workshop At this winter PARP workshop, organizers will present on weed science

updates, precision agriculture and pest resistance. Private applicators can renew their license at this event. Time: 8 a.m. Location: Community Building, Jasper County Fairgrounds, State Road 114, Rensselaer. Information: (219) 866-4962

FEB. 10 Purdue Extension Marine Shrimp Workshop Interested in starting your own shrimpraising operation? This workshop, which covers intensive shrimp raising practices, environmental regulation in shrimp production buildings and shrimp industry economics, is your ticket. This workshop offers a special rate for couples or pairs who want to attend ($75); individuals can attend for $50 and students can attend for $15. Time: 9 a.m. Location: Indiana Soybean Alliance offices, 8425 Keystone Crossing, Suite 200, Indianapolis. Information:


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FEB. 17-18 Midwest Women in Agriculture Conference There are 20 sessions planned for the 15th annual Midwest Women in Agriculture Conference, where women who work in all sectors of the agricultural industry can experience educational and networking opportunities. Organizers say topics will include farm financial management skills, educating people on modern agriculture, protecting profit margins in an unstable market, addressing meat controversies, and retirement programs and farmstead planning. This conference takes place over two days. Location: Clarion Hotel and Conference Center, 2480 Jonathan Moore Pike, Columbus. Information: (574) 372-2340

FEB. 18 Tree Planting Workshop Purdue’s forestry department will host

this tree planting workshop for those interested in learning about proper planting practices and maintenance; how to ensure success of trees planted for windbreaks; reforestation; and wildlife habitat. Time: 1 p.m. Location: 1009 W. Third St., Rochester. Information: (765) 494-2153

FEB. 19 Farmers Market Forum This farmer boot camp includes 10 sessions packed into one day geared toward market vendors. Topics include how better to market your market, alternatives to traditional farmers markets, state health department regulations, vendor relations and more. Attendees’ $30 fee includes lunch and 2016 membership to the Hoosier Farmers Market Association. Time: 9 a.m. Indiana Farm Bureau; 225 S. East St., Indianapolis. Information:

FEB. 27 Garfield Park Workshop: Peppers This workshop highlights the wonderful world of peppers. Attendees will learn about the pepper family and plant their own pepper seed. Make time before or after the workshop to tour the Garfield Park Conservatory. Time: 10 a.m. Location: Garfield Park Conservatory, 2505 Conservatory Drive, Indianapolis. Information:

space. Time: 6:30 p.m. Location: Council Chambers, City Hall, 401 N. Morton, Bloomington. Information:

FEB. 29 Corn Fertilization Class

FEB. 29 Bloomington Community Farmers Market Space Reservation Meeting

Topics covered at this Purdue Pesticide Program event include weed control timeliness applications, efficient nitrogen management, optimum nitrogen rates, bee awareness pollinator protection, plus lots of corn talk. Private applicators can renew their licenses at this event. Time: 5 p.m. Location: Wabash REMC Building, 350 Wedcor Ave., Wabash. Information: (260) 563-5895

The Bloomington Community Farmers Market is the biggest in the state, open every Saturday from April through November. Those interested in selling at the 2016 market should attend this meeting to reserve their

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





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Farm Indiana | February 2016  
Farm Indiana | February 2016