Farm Indiana

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january 2014 | Section A

It’s a new year, and—we believe—an excellent time to build your own small farm. Look inside for how-to tips from local farmers, expert advice and a guide to help you learn the lingo of the land. Plus, you’ll find information on business plans, financial tips and the Indiana organizations that can help you grow.

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Farm Indiana // january 2014

A Change of Heart

Y

ou’ve all been holding out on me. For months now, I’ve been lamenting the coming winter, and — like any new city-country transplant, I suppose — I am now reveling in the season more than I probably should. I suspect I’m enjoying things more than I will in, say, five years, when the newness of this life has worn off. But right now, everything seems extra beautiful: the snow-covered fields, the star-filled skies, the smell of the wood stove and the deer who bed down in our backyard at night. I am loving everything about this season. There is a beauty in this place that you absolutely won’t find in any city. It’s difficult, yes, to also find a snowplow running along these country roads, but I don’t mind that, either. I drive a little slower, and those slowed speeds give me a little extra time to take it all in. It’s really gorgeous out here, isn’t it? A little secret: I think I might be in love. What’s also to love: the world of opportunity in farming right now. When I learned that 90 percent of the food we eat in Indiana is brought in to us from out of state, it opened my eyes to the wealth of possibilities for folks looking to get into the business of growing. Whether you’re hoping to garden on a small, urban scale or farm a larger patch of land in the country, avenues are open for anyone hoping to grow their own food or to go into the business of it. This issue, then, is dedicated to taking some of the guesswork out of starting your own small farm. We have broken down the topics you might need to tackle. We’ve asked experts for their advice. We’ve talked to farmers who have walked these paths before you. And we’ve even given you the lingo you’ll need to learn along the way. A funny side note about that: While editing the glossary of farm terms for this issue, I wanted to look up information about how to determine the gender of baby chicks. Specifically, I needed

to search for the words writer Jeff Tryon used in his glossary. But, puzzled, I sat at my desk and wondered aloud to my co-workers how I might do a Google search for “sexing chicks” on the company laptop without getting a flurry of results that didn’t relate to my desired topic — and which might land me in hot water with the company’s information technology guy. This quandary gave me a good belly laugh for days. But, truthfully, everything is making me smile right now. Maybe it’s just my seasonal good cheer. Maybe it’s because exciting things are coming down the pike for Farm Indiana this year. Maybe, as my husband likes to say, I have an extra spring in my step simply because of my new thermal socks. (He has a good point, you know.) Regardless of the reasons, I have high hopes that 2014 is going to be a terrific year … for fresh starts, new endeavors and certainly a change in attitude for me. With this issue, and the new year, I hope you’ll dig in … and enjoy.

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Farm Indiana // january 2014

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january 2014

A4 Trends in Small Farming A6 Glossary of Farm Terms A10 Financial Advice A13 Equipment A14 Urban Gardening

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B1 WE Farm B5 Advice for Newcomers B7 Local Resources B10 Goals for Sustainability B13 Gardening and Food Preservation B14 Quick Bites: Food News

Comments, story ideas and suggestions should be sent to Sherri Lynn Dugger, The Republic, 333 Second St., Columbus, IN 47201, call (812) 379-5608 or email farmindiana@hnenewspapers.com. For advertising information, call (812) 379-5690.

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©2013-14 by Home News Enterprises. All rights reserved. Reproduction of stories, photographs and advertisements without permission is prohibited.

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Farm Indiana // january 2014

Small Farming

The number of Indiana small farms continues to rise by barney quick and sherri dugger

ecent years have shed light on a growing trend throughout Indiana’s farmlands, and while the trend itself is becoming bigger, its focus, experts say, remains small. Enter: The small farm. In ever-increasing numbers, Hoosier growers are deliberately keeping their farms small, their deliverables local and their relationships with consumers tight-knit, all while finding new and sustainable ways to care for the land … and their pocketbooks. “Statistics tell us that small farms are the largestgrowing segment of agriculture,” says Cissy Bowman, owner of Center Valley Organics in Clayton and president of Hoosier Organic Marketing Education. “We see the trend everywhere.” By “everywhere,” Bowman sites several studies that have been published in recent years. She goes on to discuss general consumer trends, which help to support the existence of small farms. “As we are seeing an increase in the consumers’ demand for local food and a desire to know their farmer, there is an increased need for farmers to stay small enough to keep the personal touch and relationships that folks want,” she explains. From the 2007 Agricultural Census, the number of small farms (less than 50 acres) increased by 21 percent, the first rise in the number of farms since 1935, says Jodee Ellett, Purdue Extension local foods coordinator. She says that almost half of Indiana’s 60,938 farms (29,253) are less than 50 acres in size. An updated United States Department of Agriculture census report is due out in February and is expected to show even higher numbers in these areas. To define exactly what a “small” farm is, however, isn’t easy. “There isn’t a great definition of small farms,” says Tamara Benjamin, sustainable agriculture and natural resources scientist at Purdue University. “Some people do (define) it based on actual total land owned, and others do it based on income.”

Benjamin looks at small farms in relation to the total amount of land. “There are two categories of small farms,” she says. “Some documents will state them as less than 200 acres, while others will say that it is less than 50 acres.” When studying the prevalence of small farms in Indiana, Benjamin says she categorizes small farms as properties with less than 180 acres. “The total number of farmers that have less than 180 acres is around 45,000 farmers, and the percentage of farms that are considered small farms is more than 74 percent,” she says. Benjamin believes this group of farmers is diverse. “Some are just considered lifestyle farmers. They have one or two horses on their property,” she explains. “They don’t need to have ‘sold’ anything. … They are included if they have more than $1,000 worth of something (crops, animals) that has the potential to be sold.” According to Bowman, small farms are cropping up through the work of new farmers, young and old alike, who want to test growing and raising their own food. “A lot of small farmers are young, entering at a time where they must have an off-farm job to support a growing family,” Bowman explains. “Alternately, many new small farmers are at or near retirement age — not looking to get big and often wanting to work in a smaller business (and) be their own boss.” There’s also a segment of large farmers who are choosing to diversify their offerings by setting up small, sustainable or organic farms within their larger operations. “It’s possible for a large commodity farm that might have a child or family member who wants to get into some goats or growing a little produce, and they set aside some of the land for that operation,” says LaGrange County Extension educator Steve Engleking. “Is that a small farm on a large farm? You bet.” Small farms are “a concept,” Engleking adds, rather than a certain number of acres or income amount. Despite the difficulty in defining exactly what a small farm is, experts are seeing increased amounts of these “small-minded” operations, and they’re making names for themselves and their products throughout the region. But

the relative success hasn’t come without its difficulties. In some cases, farmers are finding it hard to reach the very people they are hoping to feed. “Local food farmers, small and mid-sized farms and even larger farms are unable to serve their regional food economies adequately without better food distribution infrastructure (in Indiana),” explains Ellett, local foods coordinator. Leaders in the state, including Purdue Extension, are working to address the issues for beginning farmers, small farms, sustainable agriculture, and local and regional food systems, she adds. Unfortunately, according to Roy Ballard, extension educator for agriculture and natural resources, “there’s nothing tangible (in an organized statewide approach) that I know of right now that’s being done to help people tomorrow.” But the fact that discussions are taking place remains a positive note, he says, and “there are some things (like food hubs and Hoosier Harvest Market, which help to connect consumers and


Farm Indiana // january 2014

Info: farmers) that are emerging.” The other good news? There is still room for more farmers to enter the market. “In Indiana, we import over 90 percent of the food we consume from out of state, capturing less than 0.3 percent of the money we spend on food (greater than $16 billion in 2012),” Ellett says. Which means there are plenty of chances for new growers to get into the business. “These (next five years) are going to be an exciting five years,” Ballard says. “They’re going to chart the course for our future of small farms and growing local food. These are pivotal years. The opportunities are there.”

Second annual

Indiana Small Farm Conference

Workshops and presentations are grouped into a few tracks to facilitate the interests of attendees. The marketing/processing track will cover such topics as setting price points and using social media. The livestock production track will examine regulatory matters, as well as approaches to diversification. The crop production track will cover areas ranging from beekeeping to fruit grafting to high tunnels, among others. The spectrum of topics within the beginning farmer/farm management track will include record keeping, small engine maintenance and a panel discussion titled “What I Wish I Had Known When I Started.”

Attendance costs $100 per person for one day, $150 for two days, with fees of $50 and $75 for attendees from the same farm. Children 12 and younger can attend for free. Two pre-conference workshops will take place on Feb. 20. They are titled “Growing Organic” and “Meat and Dairy Processing and Direct Marketing Tour.” Workshops cost $50 for the first registrant from a given farm, and $30 for additional people from that farm or family. Additional information is available at https://ag.purdue.edu/Extension/smallfarms. *FI

Michael O’Donnell, along with his role as educator in the Delaware County Purdue Extension office, is coordinator for Purdue University’s small farms team, which works to educate small farm growers on agricultural issues. He says that his team’s “big priority is to offer a means for the small farms community to network.” To that end, the team is finalizing plans for its second annual Indiana Small Farm Conference, to be held in February. “There will be some fresh subject matter, and we’re also reoffering some themes from last year that people want to be covered again.” O’Donnell says that one common goal among small farmers is “developing a direct relationship with the consumer. Small farmers are very proud of the practices they use and want consumers to understand them.” The second annual Indiana Small Farm Conference will take place Feb. 20 to 22 at Hendricks County Fairgrounds in Danville. Keynote addresses will be given by Sarah Beth Aubrey, founder of Aubrey’s Natural Meats; Diana Prichard, owner of Olive Hill Farms; and Tom McConnell, program leader for the West Virginia Small Farms Center.

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Farm Indiana // january 2014

glossary of TERMS

Word Processing compiled by jeff tryon

If you hear your neighbor talking about “drilling” beans (they’re just planting them), or replacing a drainage “tile” (drainage culverts used to be made of clay) or running the “combine” (it’s a “combination” reaper and thresher) and have no idea what they’re saying exactly, you’re not alone.

When starting out in agriculture, whether it’s urban gardening, running a hobby farm or raising small livestock for the table, half the battle is learning the lingo. If a farmer says he “made 25” and he got “a dollar thirty” for his beans, for instance, he means he yielded 25 bushels per acre and was paid $1.30 per bushel for the soybeans he harvested. And how many acres did he have, you wonder? Don’t ask. In farming that is like asking someone how much money they have in the bank; it’s considered impolite. Knowing some basic farming terms will help you better communicate on and off the field. Most farmers learn such terminology growing up on a farm, but for those who don’t, there’s always the classroom. Matt John, the program chairman for agriculture at Ivy Tech Community College and also leader of the Feathered Friends 4-H poultry club, says a lot of confusing terminology centers on livestock. “In 4-H, we get new people who are starting to show livestock, and they may not know certain terminology,” he says. “I also teach at Ivy Tech, and about half of my students don’t come from a farm background, so a lot of this information is new to them. We do spend some time on vocabulary in classes.” People who move to the country or are just starting out oftentimes begin with a livestock project, he adds. “Like chickens for example, you have pullets, which are young chicks that are females who have been sexed (identified by their gender) up until the time they start laying eggs; then they are hens,”

John explains. “You have roosters, mature males; the young males are called cockerels.” John says, for example, if you’ve decided to start raising chickens, it might be helpful to know what a straight run is. “Suppose I go to Rural King and I want to buy straight run chicks, because they are a dollar apiece instead of pullets that are $1.80,” he explains. “Well, straight run means they are straight out of the incubator, and they haven’t been sexed (gender identified). About half of those are going to be cockerels, and if I want eggs, that’s just going to be a waste of feed.” “So you’ve got a lot of words,” he says. “Broilers are used for meat, but layers are just used for egg production.” And that’s only the beginning. Here, some words you may need to know.

Sheep A ram is a mature male sheep; a ewe is the mature female. A wether is a castrated male sheep. A newborn or young sheep is a lamb, and that’s also the term for the meat from a young sheep. Meat from sheep older than one year is called mutton.

Chickens A castrated male chicken is a capon. A baby chicken is a chick or a pullet, a baby turkey is a poult and a baby guinea is a keet. That fleshy piece on the neck of poultry is a wattle; the fleshy top piece on its head is a comb. A chicken tractor is a small, mobile chicken coop, which is moved as needed to keep fresh grass underneath the chickens in a pasture. It is also known as a chicken ark.


Farm Indiana // january 2014

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Pigs A gilt is a female pig under 6 months old, a boar is a mature, uncastrated male hog, while a sow is a mature female. A barrow is a young male pig that has been castrated. A newborn or very young swine is a piglet or a farrow, since farrowing is the process of giving birth to piglets. So a farrowing operation is a farm that breeds pigs and then sells them to a finishing operation, which will raise them to market size. Of course, you may also have an all-inclusive farrow-to-finish operation. A weaner pig is a pig between the age of weaning (when it stops nursing) and when it reaches about 40 pounds in weight. An immature swine is more likely to be called a pig, while a growing or aging swine will more likely be called a hog. A baconer is a finished pig sold for bacon, older and larger than a porker, the youngest adult finished pig sold for pork meat. Shoat is an archaic term for a growing pig less than a year old.

TIP:

If your neighbor knows you are a farming innocent, and he manages to work gilts, barrows, pullets and shoats all into the same conversation, he may just be having a bit of fun with you.

Miscellaneous >> To cull is to remove an animal from the herd, either for lack of production or for reasons of health or injury.

>> To dock is to remove a part. If a farmer is docking his cows, he’s probably removing their tails; if he’s docking his sheep, he’s probably castrating them.

>> A pasture is an enclosed field of plants, such as grass, grown for feeding or grazing animals. It may also serve as a place to feed cattle and other livestock.

>> Animals may eat hay, which encompasses entire dried plants of alfalfa, clover, grass or silage, which is chopped green forage (grass, legumes, field corn) placed in a structure or container designed to exclude air. Animals may also forage, when they primarily eat whole plants, including stems and leaves, fresh out of the pasture.

More Farm Terms

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Farm Indiana // january 2014

glossary of TERMS

Miscellaneous

(cont.)

>> What’s the difference between an animal that is grass-fed and one that is pastured? Pastured usually means that the animal had full access to eating pasture grasses for most or all of its life; grass-fed is a term usually used to describe beef, when the cattle that produced the beef were allowed to eat pastured grasses during their lives. Chickens and pigs are referred to as being “pastured” because they may eat some grass (and chickens eat bugs), but they most likely also received some supplementary feed.

Cattle When it comes to cattle, a cow is a mature female that can reproduce, and a bull is a male that can reproduce. A mature male who has been castrated for better beef production is a steer. A calf is cattle too young to reproduce; a bullocks is a young male that cannot reproduce, while a heifer is a young female that has not had offspring. In all breeding stock, a sire is the father or male parent.

>> Tillage is breaking the ground for seeds; primary tillage, usually with a chisel or moldboard plow, fractures and loosens the soil. Secondary tillage includes disk harrowing or field cultivators. “If you really want to get confused, talk to somebody about all the different types of tillage,” Ivy Tech’s Matt John says. “No till, reduced till, conventional till, strict till, conservation till; there are all kinds of tillage methods.” >> Crop rotation avoids growing the same crop in a field continuously. A regular change of crops maintains soil fertility and reduces the risk of pests and diseases.

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Horses A mature male horse is a stallion, the mature female is a mare. A newborn horse is a foal, a young male horse a colt; a young female horse is a filly. A gelding is a castrated male horse.

>> Subsidies are government payments to farmers for producing certain crops. Most subsidies in the U.S. are for commodity crops such as corn, cotton, wheat, rice and soybeans. Set-asides are areas of land on which a farmer agrees to stop production of a surplus crop in return for compensation. Subsidies and set-asides are controlled by the Farm Bill, the government’s primary agricultural and food policy tool, which is updated by Congress approximately every five years. >> Free-range describes animals raised to roam freely outside instead of being confined in a cage or pen. >> Row crops are those planted far enough apart to be mechanically cultivated during their early growing period, such as carrots, onions, potatoes and tomatoes. >> You may hear farmers talk about rising inputs hurting their profitability. Inputs are everything that the farmer provides to make a crop: labor, land, capital, seeds, soil, machinery, fertilizers, water, etc. Outputs are the products produced, the grains, the calves and lambs and piglets, the wool and meat and eggs, but also the

pollution and agricultural waste. The key output is profit. Farming is a system of inputs, outputs and processes like plowing, spraying, weeding, harvesting, sowing, milking, feeding and irrigating. >> Winter wheat is planted in the fall and harvested the following summer. It is sometimes preferred because yields are higher than for spring wheat. >> A hybrid is produced by combining genetically different parents. Hybrid corn is the classic example, in which two varieties are cross pollinated to produce a third, which has more favored qualities. Hybridization has created higher yields, more disease-resistant crops and plants that produce more desirable food or fiber. Don’t confuse hybridization with biotechnology or genetic engineering. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) refer to organisms that have been altered by genetic engineering. Typically, a gene from one organism is introduced into the genetic material of another organism in order to improve its quality or disease resistance or pesticide immunity.

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Goats A mature male goat is a billy; the mature female is a nanny. A female goat is a doe; a buck is an uncastrated male. A baby goat is a kid, so giving birth to goats is kidding. Increasing the quality of the doe’s diet before the breeding season starts is called flushing, while freshening occurs when a doe gives birth and begins to produce milk. *FI

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Farm Indiana // january 2014

financials

Good Financial Sense

By Robin Winzenread Fritz

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Farm Indiana // january 2014

t’s a dream that has withstood the ages: Find some land, build a home, raise a family and live off the fruits of your labor. But as romantic — and simple — as that notion may be, the reality is more daunting. Farming is a difficult business, requiring a well thought-out and comprehensive financial plan. And for those new to the industry, planning for and building a successful agricultural business can be overwhelming. “Over the past few months we have seen more people wanting to get started in farming,” says Stephanie Hendricks, a financial services officer with Farm Credit Service in the Franklin office, “and a lot of

exist. While many beginning farmers may believe the goal is to just get their hands on some land to farm, doing so at all costs, Hendricks cautions, is a mistake. “A lot of it is financial,” she says, regarding early mistakes made by individuals just entering the agricultural industry. “I think a lot of it could be paying more cash rent than what you can really pencil out just to get the farm rented. I think that’s a big mistake.” While land prices are high, beginning farmers can get creative. Individuals with limited farming experience can offer to apprentice for older farmers who may be retiring in the near future and who lack family willing to take on the operation. In addition to gaining valuable experience, beginning farmers with such an arrangement may be able to secure a “rent-to-own” option until they can afford to buy the property outright.

“It’s about making good business decisions that give you longevity.” —Stephanie Hendricks

that group are not necessarily new to farming — maybe Dad has acreage that is being rented by someone else — and they decide, ‘You know, I think I want to farm.’” For new and existing farmers, figuring out when to do what is crucial to their long-term success, and it depends upon a variety of factors, including financial planning and budgeting as well as a long-term commitment. But new farmers just starting out in the industry first have to get their businesses off the ground — a real hurdle in an industry where available farmland is limited and start-up costs are high. “Land prices and equipment prices are almost just unbelievable where they are and where they’re projected to go,” says Keegan Poe, a state regional manager with Indiana Farm Bureau. “That initial capital outlay is hard to comprehend sometimes.” In short, starting out in farming — like so many other worthwhile enterprises — requires capital, with costs coming in the form of livestock, seed and buildings in addition to acquiring land and equipment. Common options include purchasing or renting land, but even then, pitfalls

According to Farm Aid.org, farmers over the age of 55 control more than half of the country’s farmland. Additionally, the website notes that non-farming landowners own more than 80 percent of the country’s tillable land. For new farmers, this can mean developing new relationships and thinking in new ways about accessing and producing on that land. In addition to renting or leasing acreage, new farmers can also collaborate with other partners, such as siblings, to purchase or rent available farmland in addition to sharing equipment and livestock costs. When the time comes to purchase any acreage, most new farmers need access to capital in the form of personal savings, investments, private loans, commercial loans, grants and/ or government assistance. But while it may be tempting to take out loans to acquire that dream early on, many experts in the agricultural industry suggest that slower, smaller and smarter is the best way to start. “Something my dad always told me,” says Poe who, in addition to his responsibilities with Indiana Farm Bureau, also raises cattle, “you don’t marry the farm. So just be smart

about how much you borrow if you have to borrow, and if you can avoid borrowing, avoid borrowing.” “I think everyone wants to have the big John Deere tractor with all the bells and whistles,” adds Hendricks, who explained that part of her role with Farm Credit Services is financial education for part-time and beginning farmers. “But if you’re just getting started, you probably don’t need to go down that road. So it’s not just about shiny metal. It’s about making good business decisions that give you longevity.” Making sound financial decisions depends upon information. According to Hendricks, developing a business plan and understanding financial tools such as balance sheets and cash flow statements can provide that much needed information for beginning farmers who may need help beyond their personal bank accounts. “From the financial aspect, a huge part of that is the business plan,” says Hendricks. “It has to be more than, ‘I want to farm.’ Tell me specifically why you want to farm, what’s involved in farming, what are you willing to do to put yourself there? That’s what we, as Farm Credit, are doing, is trying to help them put together some of those tools that they will need to be successful. “We have what’s called the Growing Forward Program, and it’s geared directly toward these young beginning small farmers, kids who are — I say kids because they’re all younger than I am — who are wanting to get started in agriculture,” Hendricks says, “Our role really is educating them about creating business plans, how to do a cash flow. We have workshops that we hold for them — a lot of them are through webinars — where they learn what a balance sheet is,

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>> Helpful Links The following additional links to resources for new and existing farmers are only the beginning: Indiana Farm Bureau www.infarmbureau.org

Farm Credit Services of America, Young and Beginning Farmer Program www.fcsamerica.com/products/ young-beginning

Purdue Extension – Purdue University www3.ag.purdue.edu/extension

The National Council of State Agricultural Finance Programs (online directory of state loan programs), www.stateagfinance.org

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA

FSA Beginning Farmer Loan Program www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA

The Greenhorn Guidebook for Beginning Farmers – by Farm Aid www.farmaid.org

Beginning Farmer and Rancher resources, The Center for Rural Affairs www.cfra.org/beginning-farmer-rancher

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Farm Indiana // january 2014

how it works and why it’s important. “Get started with a lender early, even if you’re not sure what you want to do or how you want to do it,” Hendricks continues. “A lot of what we do here, especially at Farm Credit, is what I call education. It’s having people come in, it’s having them going through and creating a balance sheet, and it’s building the relationship with your lender because they will be your best advocate.” When developing a business plan for their agricultural enterprise, new farmers should first determine their short-term objectives — such as the number of hogs to purchase or the number of acres to rent — and long-term goals, such as how and when to transition from part-time to full-time farming or when to transition from renting to purchasing land. Beginning farmers should also take into consideration such items as the different enterprises they expect to pursue, such as raising livestock, organic farming, planting crops, etc.; their experience level; methods of production to be used; the quantity and quality of production they hope to attain; potential markets for their products; expected annual income from the farm enterprises; and any secondary income from outside jobs. “You almost can’t start from scratch in today’s world in farming and have that be your only occupation,” says Poe, who has been a regional manager with Indiana Farm Bureau since 1995. “There’s a lot of guys who start from scratch, but they’ve got to have that second job just to provide for their family and provide for themselves.” According to both Hendricks and Poe, today’s beginning farmers usually need that second income to help offset those initial start-up costs and to make any necessary payments for both living expenses and capital loans. Fortunately more of these secondary jobs can also have ties to farming. “There’s a lot of families where the younger generation is trying to come back to the farm,” Poe says, “and there’s kind of a push in some of the agricultural fields at the university level, and there’s new opportunities opening up and different careers in agriculture so folks are thinking more about coming back to the farm. “All the technology that’s out there now with all the precision planting and precision harvesting

and things like that, it opens up a whole new career avenue for folks that may be interested in computer technology and things of that nature, and they can apply them back to agriculture,” Poe adds. Though new farmers may need a second income when getting started in farming, both Hendricks and Poe offer encouragement, citing the many resources available via the Internet and places like Indiana Farm Bureau, Farm Credit Service and Purdue Extension Agency, which offer both financial advice and educational assistance to new and existing farmers. “I think it’s like any other occupation. It’s networking, it’s talking to people, it’s talking to landlords, working with equipment dealers,” says Hendricks, who, in addition to her role with Farm Credit Service, is also a member of Indiana Farm Bureau. “A lot of it, too, is working with seed dealers because a lot of them, any more, will package seed, chemicals, crop insurance all together and kind of help give you a good package, and it’s just learning as much as you can and be persistent.”

The 2014 Young Indiana Farmer Leadership Conference will be Jan. 24 and 25 at the Marriott East in Indianapolis. For more information on the conference, go to www.infarmbureau.org /programs.

“I think the best advice I can give them,” Hendricks adds, “is really to keep trying, to keep working at it, to use all the resources you can. Talk to people you know who farm, get to know Indiana Farm Bureau — it’s a great organization with classes that can help teach you and guide you along the path to getting started.” “Several of our counties have a young farmers committee within their county,” adds Poe, regarding the resources available via Indiana Farm Bureau. “Also, at the state level, we have a young farmers conference coming up the last weekend in January. We always try to have breakout sessions there with the top leaders in the ag community in terms of finances and whatever the new technology is so they can get all kinds of educational information from us through those avenues.”

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Set realistic short-term and long-term goals regarding income and possible enterprises to pursue. Make a budget including farm expenses, farm income, living expenses and any secondary income. Create a basic cash flow analysis of money coming into and out of the farm on a monthly basis. Plan for cyclical variations such as planting costs in the spring and delayed harvests in the fall. Test farm income for risk, using a 10 percent decline in prices or production as a benchmark. Develop a business plan incorporating farming experience, land use agreements, down payments, cash flow analysis, other sources of income, other sources of available capital, existing assets such as equipment or buildings or land already owned, etc. Identify whether additional capital is needed, how much and potential sources such as personal savings or loans. Determine a reasonable timeline needed to pay back additional capital. Consider a variety of capital sources, including family, local banks, credit service agencies, private contracts, grants, state loan programs and loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA). Update the business plan on a semi-annual basis, taking into account changing variables (such as crop prices) as well as available opportunities (land available for purchase) and challenges (weather, rising interest rates, declining prices, etc.). Use available resources, programs, webinars, conferences, etc. for further financial and educational assistance. *FI

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Farm Indiana // january 2014

EQUIPMENT

By Barney Quick

Getting the Essentials Just starting out in farming?

Prepare yourself (and your wallet) for a shopping trip to get tools.

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he impulse to cultivate the land is deeply rooted in humanity. However, farming is not always easy … or inexpensive. Land and equipment are costly, and time is not cheap. If you’re going to enter the farming business, you need to purchase the right tools and equipment, without spending all of your savings. Fortunately, there are ways to gather good essentials for less than retail price. Ted Everett Farm Equipment in Monrovia is one of the state’s largest farm machinery auctioneers. The business conducts nine auctions a year. “You read about how the little guy is getting squeezed out, but there are a lot of areas in the United States where you’ll still find small-scale farms,” says Ted Everett. He says in the auction business he sees a “high demand for 10-year-old equipment that’s in good shape.” Modern technology, he adds, such as global positioning systems (GPS), is quite important to bidders at his firm’s auctions. “It’s about $20,000 to put a guidance system on a machine, but it will keep ongoing costs down.” Everett says that the most commonly sought-after items include tractors, combines, planters, equipment for fall tillage and harvesting equipment. Much of what he has to sell results from the fact that the largest operations often buy new equipment every year and then auction off their older equipment to newer farmers.

“You read about how the little guy is getting squeezed out, but there are a lot of areas in the United States where you’ll still find small-scale farms.” —Ted Everett

According to Bartholomew County livestock farmer Dave Bonnell, essential livestock equipment would include a bagging system for silage, a bale feeder, a water supplier and hay handling equipment. “You can get a little more complicated, but most cattle operations tend to go with a minimal setup,” Bonnell explains. Area livestock farmers generally get what they need from Townsend Sales in Trafalgar or Cowco in North Vernon, he says. In addition to the basics, these suppliers offer chutes, head gates and crowding tubs. Lori Moses of Bartholomew County makes a good case study in small-scale vegetable farming. She raises a substantial amount of produce on less than an acre. “Your first piece of equipment should be a tiller,” she says. “Then you’ll also want a garden rake, a hoe,

stakes, a trellis for vining plants and a wheelbarrow. “I would advise buying one step up from the cheapest,” she says. “I learned that from having handles come off various tools after a few hours of use.” Fencing, she says, is also important to keep rabbits and deer out of your crops. If you grow your operation, Moses says, you’ll also need a small tractor. “Also, some plastic row covers and ways other than fencing to keep wild animals out.” Moses also recommends a high-tunnel hoop house or greenhouse, which permits a farmer to extend the growing season. “If you can get tomatoes in May or November, you’re going to make more money,” she explains. “You’re going to see more of these.” Margie Strange, who co-owns Schneider Nursery in Seymour with her brother, Grant Schneider, says that a tree spade and a truck spade are must-have pieces of equipment for raising and selling trees. “The tree spade comes up around the tree’s circumference, shoots spades downward and shaves off the bottom,” Strange explains. “The truck spade is used at the location where the tree will be planted. It’s basically the same procedure. It lifts up a plug of soil, which is put back into the nursery soil to compensate for what was taken out.” She also lists shovels, a skid loader, sprayers, tillers and tractors as important for a tree nursery. “We have some mowers, too,” she says. “Keeping our rows tidy is important to us, and mowing keeps insect problems manageable.” Strange says the nursery obtains its equipment from a variety of sources. Frequently, it buys from other nurseries going out of production. The economics of farming in general dictate that anyone considering embarking on this livelihood will operate on a comparatively small scale. “Competition to rent land is really tough,” says Everett. “If you had to go out and purchase land, you’d need a lot of capital. Right now, farm land goes for about $10,000 an acre. Also, cost for inputs such as fertilizer and fuel has doubled in the last few years.” Moses offers one more tip on what new farmers must be sure to have: “The two main things you’re going to need are time and a strong back.” *FI

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Farm Indiana // january 2014

Mari Prior

urban gardens

Local farmers explain the basics and benefits of urban gardening By ryan trares

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very spring and summer, Mari Prior’s small Greenwood backyard turns into a fresh produce paradise. Rows of plants bear tomatoes for summer salads and sandwiches. Clusters of raspberry and strawberry bushes keep her children busy picking juicy fruit. Asparagus pokes out of the dirt to be roasted or grilled. “I like having the fresh food in the summertime,” Prior says. “My kids love to pick raspberries and strawberries, and tending to it is almost as much of a stress reliever than anything.” Local produce is all the rage, and it doesn’t get more local than having been pulled from your own backyard. A growing number of people are bringing farm sensibilities into an urban and suburban setting, raising rows of sweet corn, tomatoes and all varieties of produce. The result: Johnson County’s agricultural tradition is being carried on, even as more people settle into compact and close-knit neighborhoods. At Cardinal Point Farm in southern Johnson County, raised beds stand ready to be planted. In warmer weather, the farm’s owners, Anne and Steve Young, use the beds to demonstrate how to grow vegetables, fruit, herbs and other plants in small spaces. The teaching farm has evolved into a way to demonstrate

to others, particularly those without a lot of space, how they can raise their own food. Each plot has a sign identifying what is planted and when it was seeded. That lets people understand how different plants and crops can progress. The farm has been operating for four years, but before buying their spread in Morgantown, the Youngs were planting raised beds in their Franklin backyard. “A lot of the people who come out want to know how to do it in their backyard,” Anne says. “So when they learn that we’ve had experience doing that ourselves, it gives us some more credibility.” Their selling point is that growing food in the backyard can be easy. They walk interested people through the creation of raised bed gardens, going step by step from lumber to construction to finished product. The Youngs give primers on how to fill the beds with a mix of nutritious dirt to ensure their plants grow well. “We lead them through it so that once it’s built, they can come back and plant every year. They don’t have to do anything else except weed by hand,” Anne says. “We want to make sure it’s a no-fail procedure, because the more fun they have, the more likely

>> What to Grow Figure out what type of garden you want. Options include flowers, seedlings, herbs and heirloom vegetables. Investigate regional climate data, available gardening space, the current season and your dietary needs to determine what you will want to grow. Use the climate hardiness zone map to identify the zone where your garden is located. Use that data to help select plants from seeds. Consider starting small. Test new products and techniques to see what works and what you like. As your garden grows over time, you can adjust to increase productivity.

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they’ll be to come back to it.” The farm has expanded to include raising livestock, such as goats, sheep, pigs and chickens. Chickens, in particular, have captured people’s attention. The couple set up small coops with fenced-in lots, where the birds can wander free eating bugs and other pests in between feedings. Though communities such as Franklin and Whiteland do not allow chickens inside city limits, the Youngs have had people from as far away as Indianapolis come to learn how to set up their own coops. “When I go out and gather eggs from chickens I’ve raised since they were chicks, I know exactly what they were fed. It’s a terrific feeling of accomplishment,” Anne says. “It’s not for everyone. We’ve got lots of friends who cannot imagine spending their time grubbing in the dirt or hauling manure or whatever. But if you want to do that, it’s the most satisfying thing in the world.” According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, around 15 percent of the world’s food is now grown in urban areas. Gardens can be found in backyards, on rooftops and balconies, and in vacant lots and parks. As people have become more conscious of where their food comes from, there is no greater control than planting the seeds, tending the shoots and harvesting food yourself, says Matthew Jose, owner of Big City Farms in Indianapolis. “It gives folks an opportunity to play an active role and really support their own food options available to them,” he says. “I tend to try to encourage folks to — not so much from a healthy perspective, but from an engaging perspective — explore things that they really like to eat.” Jose has been advocating local food efforts for the past seven years. He has helped lead community gardening programs in Massachusetts and New York City, before returning to his hometown of Indianapolis to lead programs here. Since 2009, he has been leading the urban farming movement in the area at Big City Farms. The 3-acre farm is located in downtown Indianapolis and grows specialty heirloom fruits and vegetables for such restaurants as Cafe Patachou, Goose the Market and R Bistro. For Jose, planting food gardens is the perfect way to take advantage of empty city spaces. But turning urban lots into a viable growing patch has required years of work. Soil in these areas can be tainted by industrial run-off or other


Farm Indiana // january 2014

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>> Laying out the Garden

>> Where to Grow You may have a number of different options for where your garden is located, and you may discover that certain environments are better suited for different kinds of crops. Assess your space before you begin, observing where the existing patterns of sun, shade, drainage and soil types occur. If you have dogs or other animals, consider building borders or fencing. Take measurements and make a drawing of your plan before starting.

pollutants. Often, the lots have been graded with backfill dirt, which lacks the nutrients needed to grow food. Jose has spent hours tilling, fertilizing and adding mulch to the surrounding grounds. He’s had tests done to ensure the land is clean and healthy for plants and that no pollutants will go into the cooking greens, root vegetables, onions or sweet peppers that he grows. Using his own techniques, Jose has been advocating urban farming to others throughout central Indiana. He’s found that many people are interested in unique produce or crops that they can’t readily buy at their grocery store. When they find out they can grow baby kale or heirloom tomatoes themselves, it’s an empowering feeling, Jose says. “I encourage people to grow foods that they really like to eat but can’t afford, or can’t find them, or want to try. It’s an exciting way for them to reconnect with food,” he adds. That connection has been part of the appeal for Prior, who has been involved in backyard gardening since she was a child. Even when she lived in an apartment, she would grow tomatoes and green beans on the balcony in the summer. Working with a group of like-minded growers, she helped found the Indy Backyard Growers Network. The group helped advocate the benefits of homegrown food and local produce. One of the main things she advises new gardeners is to start small. “Start with something easy, like tomatoes and peppers, and just dig in the ground and get started,” she says. “I never followed any rules … just get a shovel out and put a plant in the ground.” Prior has found the benefits extend beyond just having fresh food at her fingertips. Raising a garden has allowed her two children, Colin and Danny, to learn about growing and to appreciate local, healthy food. “It’s fun to be able to pick strawberries all spring long,” she says. “We were picking buckets of strawberries every weekend, and it was fun.”

Choosing a type is an important first step that lays the long-term foundation for your garden. Consider logical companion planting strategies. Some plants may deplete nutrients from the soil, while others may replenish those same nutrients. Other plants may have offset maturation times, which allows for increased efficiency from a single plot of land. Low-lying plants that need shade are best planted near taller sun-dependent plants. Planting certain flowers, such as marigolds, next to crops may keep predators away from your produce. Consider where beds will be placed within the garden, being mindful of access, harvesting needs and proximity to other important infrastructure. Consider the aesthetic quality of your garden — what sorts of spatial conditions you envision will establish the height and sectional qualities of what you’re able to plant.

>> Planting Produce Farmers tend to prioritize taste over durability in urban vegetable gardens, which means that heirloom varieties are the obvious choice. These old varieties were cultivated and developed when backyard gardens were the norm, and thus are far better suited to this environment than larger enterprises. Choose the varieties of vegetables you’re most likely to eat and prioritize the produce that is either most expensive or tasteless when purchased from the grocery store. Experiment with different varieties to see what works best for your location. If you’re gardening on a small piece of land, consider planting containerspecific varieties, like dwarf species, to conserve space. —Information from the Tulane City Center and National Endowment for the Arts

>> Raising the Beds Raised beds are an important part of overall garden design, structuring circulation, plantings and access. If your soil on site is either compacted or unsafe, raised beds allow you to import healthier soil. These bottomless sand boxes feature enriched soil with compost and manure, fewer weeds and pests, warmer soil than the earth below, and a water drainage system that benefits from aerated soil. Raised beds can be built from wood, found materials, concrete block or even simple mounds of soil. Dig a shallow rectangular trench around the perimeter of the raised bed. The bed should allow you to reach across it and can be as long as you’d like for your site. Orient the bed on a north-south axis to get equal amounts of sunlight along the length of the bed. Lay in the posts at each of the corners and begin to attach the slats to those posts horizontally. This provides the framework for the walls. Wood should be rotresistant and not a reclaimed railroad tie. Screw corrugated metal panels to this wooden framework, ensuring that there are no gaps where soil can fall out. If you use a wall material other than corrugated metal, it should resist water. If you have gophers, moles or voles in your area, you’ll need to staple in wire mesh along the bottom of the bed before laying in soil. Layer on 18 inches of gravel or sandy soil and then 18 inches of good soil. *FI

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january 2014 | Section B

small farm profile

CARETAKERS of the LAND

Josh Egenolf with his two Great Pyrenees dogs.(Below) Pigs are allowed to roam on open and wooded areas, digging for nuts and acorns while being fed scraps from local restaurants and minerals.

By shawndra miller

photos by josh marshall

Josh Egenolf and Laura Beth Wayne take one day at a time on their young farm


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Farm Indiana // January 2014

Josh Egenolf tends to the younger pigs that are kept in the barn for safety.

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n the chill of a frosty November morning, 11 woolly calves stand behind a thin wire of fencing, awaiting their daily mineral rations. Josh Egenolf and two farm apprentices are making the rounds at WE Farm, tending to the heritage breed pigs, the placid laying hens and the Thanksgiving turkeys guarded by two Great Pyrenees. Now it’s the calves’ turn. “I think it’s going to be a cold winter,” says Egenolf. “Their coats got thick really early this year.” Though born into a farm family, Egenolf never imagined he would wind up raising cattle, pigs and poultry in his own farming operation. “I didn’t really appreciate the childhood I had on the farm until I got older and was thinking about raising my own kids,” he says, surveying the grassy field where the black and brown calves are all eagerness. He left agriculture for 10 years, having been urged by guidance counselors in high school to broaden his horizons. But when he and his wife, Laura Beth Wayne, began thinking of having a family, rural life called him back. Now the wooded ravines and open fields of his native Owen County are home to Wayne-Egenolf Farm, or WE Farm. Here on property leased from Lisa Harris of Indianapolis, he raises the animals on pasture. In the cattle’s case, he maps out a highdensity grazing pattern to maximize both their health and that of the pasture itself. Moving electrified fencing is a daily task that gives the animals access to fresh pasture, and right now they are queued up, awaiting a kelp meal. As the apprentices open a segment of fence, the calves step through and make straight for the supplemental minerals. This brand of farming is just as focused on what’s below the animals’ feet as it is on the livestock themselves. Egenolf is intent on rebuilding the soil, and he uses his hooved and feathered charges to aid in that essential task. Before WE Farm’s livestock came to occupy it, this pasture’s only output was hay, and it was never fertilized. “Basically it was mined for a decade, and now we’re rehabilitating it,” he says. Egenolf favors grazing management instead of using inputs to stimulate the land’s natural biology, addressing soil fertility through the innate behaviors of poultry and cattle in an integrated pasturing system. This means planting forage crops like turnips, wheat and rye for the livestock and choreographing an integrated grazing scheme. At any given moment, most of the pasture is at rest. For the feeder pigs, vegetable scraps from three Bloomington restaurants are part of the diet, too, and toward the end of their 6- or 7-month life span, the “teenagers” roam through the trees to eat acorns, pawpaws, beechnuts and walnuts. “Chefs in particular appreciate nut-finished pigs,” Egenolf says. The clean air and sunshine are absolutely critical to the pigs’ health and vigor. Year-round pork production is not a good fit here, because it doesn’t give pasture enough time

Where to find WE Farm products: Bloomington Farmers Market Traders Point Market CSA Program Feast Finch’s Brasserie Upland Brewery Restaurant Tallent The Rail

The view from Egenolf's morning drive to reach his calves.

to recover between grazing rotations. “We don’t like bare soil on this farm,” he says. “We lease this ground; we’re just guests here. We want to take care of the land.” This concern for the soil is not just window dressing. Egenolf worked in water resources management after college. There he came to see agriculture’s potential as a force for land restoration. Later, while pursuing his doctorate in ecology at the University of Georgia, he had the chance to learn more than just theory. He tested out the principles of ecological farming on land owned by his adviser, starting a grass-finished beef enterprise. That was enough to show him that he was suited to this livelihood. After all, he’d had many varied experiences, developing carpentry and handyman skills along the way. Most significantly, he’d absorbed all the foundational knowledge that comes from doing farm chores as a kid. WE Farm is only 12 miles from the beef, sheep and row crop farm where Egenolf grew up. That proximity is a boon to the young farmer. He sources his calves from his family’s cow-calf operation and regularly talks cattle with his uncle and father. The five-year lease agreement with Lisa Harris cushions his financial risk and allows him to focus on making a go of farming without a mortgage hanging over his head. Harris says the arrangement is ideal from her perspective because she was beginning to lose sleep over the property’s upkeep, especially given the demands of her day-to-day work. She’s CEO and medical director of Wishard/Eskenazi Health. “I don’t think I would ever let go of the property, but I wasn’t sure what I was doing with it,” she says. Egenolf ’s well-thought-out plans impressed her from the start, and his commitment to raising animals humanely and sustainably is entirely consistent with her val-

ues. Now every alteration to the 150-acre property is made in keeping with her long-term vision for the land. The lane that Egenolf drives up every morning to tend to the animals was sited with her eventual house in mind. She praises the integrity and commitment of her tenant farmers. “I’m just very proud of what Josh and Laura Beth are doing,” she says. “They continue to evolve it in a very thoughtful and deliberate manner. I think he’s working hard not to get out ahead of himself, to take a step at a time and do it right. It’s an enormous amount of work.” For his part, Egenolf believes that the single biggest opportunity for beginning farmers lies in connecting with landholders like Harris. “There’s a lot of unlanded farmers … and there’s a lot of landed folks, who pay somebody to mow it, just to make it look a certain way. But a grower can make a property look appealing while putting it to good use, creating value where before there was only expense.” Harris agrees. “Now that they’re making the land productive, I feel much better about it than when I was trying to just keep control of it,” she says. Egenolf ’s strong ties to the region aid in his goal of staying as local as possible in every aspect of the business. A nearby butcher processes the meat, so he doesn’t stress the animals by driving them to a processor hours away. Nor does he drive far to work every day. He, Laura Beth and their young son, Orrin, live in a friend’s house a mile up the road. She works as a teacher in Bloomington, while he gave up an outside income in 2013 to focus on expanding production on the farm.


Farm Indiana // january 2014

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“I didn’t really appreciate the childhood I had on the farm until I got older and was thinking about raising my own kids.” —Josh Egenolf

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Farm Indiana // January 2014

“We’ve been in development mode for three and a half years,” he says. That intensive work extends beyond the on-farm infrastructure to market and relationship development. Egenolf works to keep solid bonds in every connection — from butcher to customer to employee to chef. “There are all these different chains of production in this business, and there are different people you rely on to help you make it all work, and there’s not enough of them,” he says. “So you can’t treat people poorly. You need those relationships to be golden.” He has also cultivated an open line of commu-

>> For more information on WE Farm, visit wefarmlocal.com.

nication with the natural resources management specialist serving Owen County. A USDA cost share program is tied to specific conservation targets. In exchange for keeping eight inches of cover on pasture, for example, the program covers 70 percent of fencing costs. And because the driveway is an erosion control measure, USDA dollars were available to help pay for that, too. He says these types of conservation goals are a no-brainer for the type of farming he practices. He points to the reappearance of the lowly dung beetle as evidence of a return to balance. His animals are not subject to chemical worming, so this insect can play its unglamorous yet critical role — controlling flies and parasites while sequestering carbon and nitrogen in the ground.

The cost share program is just one financial strategy. Egenolf counts himself fortunate that he’s able to keep the business low risk because of the lease agreement. “Making mistakes and having a mortgage hanging over your head are what breaks a lot of new farmers,” he admits. But even with a lowered financial risk, the startup phase is arduous, with long hours and uncertain wages. Egenolf says would-be farmers and their spouses should go into it with their eyes open. “If you’re in a relationship, you have to both be on board with it. Farming is a lifestyle choice; it’s not a job. I have a great partner in that sense.” He further advises new farmers to avoid using credit to fund their startup as much as possible. “We started from a $9,000 loan, and ever since that we try to bankroll the whole thing in profits,” he explains. That practice allows any growth to happen organically instead of building on a house of cards. Among his toughest lessons, even without taking on extensive debt, has been managing the erratic cash flow of his trade. “Your expense liability is huge,” he says. “Before payday you’re shelling out money, buying the animals’ feed, and you don’t get paid till you turn that piece of meat into a dollar. You have to bankroll the business until you can earn that dollar.” Meanwhile, unexpected expenses crop up, and sales may not be as robust as projected. The result can be a painful cash crisis. To temper that risk, he says, it’s important to add new ventures intelligently, while maintaining at least one enterprise that promises a stable source of income. “You’re going to make mistakes. Weird things are going to happen, and you want your failures to be experienced on small scales.” He points to a recent experiment in raising pastured rabbits that was a complete flop, and from a monetary standpoint, this past year’s laying hens weren’t so great, either. “You need to have one enterprise that is foundational, that you can rely on,” he notes. In WE Farm’s case, the core enterprise is embodied in these contented calves, now dispersing onto the fresh grass for a day of grazing. “We’ve lost a few battles this year, but we had those core things in place to take care of us through the year.” *FI

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Farm Indiana // january 2014

Advice for Newcomers

A Word from the Wise Experienced farmers offer advice to newcomers in the field

hen Patty Lange Reding enrolled at Purdue University to study fashion retail, she had no idea she would eventually wear boots to work every day. Reding is the fifth generation to manage the Lange family farm in Decatur County. There, she raises beef cattle and grows grains and hay, certified organic popcorn, small red beans, wheat, and spelt. Langeland Farms Inc. also maintains a certified organic grain cleaning facility. While her life is far removed from fashion retail, Reding says her classes at Purdue, which included marketing and animal science, prepared her for a career in agriculture. “Farming is a lot of work,” she says. “You need to define your goals and have a plan to work from.” Reding believes new farmers need to learn as much as they possibly can about the products they want to produce. “Any good farmer knows that the worst thing to do is to get into something you don’t know anything about,” she says. “You should never pretend to know something that you don’t. Networking and staying current on agriculture news is vital.” Reding is the market master at the Batesville Farmers Market and serves as a spokeswoman for Indiana agriculture through Indiana Farm Bureau. “Farming is a lifestyle that I celebrate,” she says. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

A bottle is filled with syrup at Hickoryworks. PHOTO BY JOSH MARSHALL

story By paige harden

Through her public roles, Reding tries to help new farmers and anyone with farming questions. Last summer she was surprised to hear that a new Indiana resident felt helpless. “A man had recently moved here from Chicago, and he had a real passion for raising healthy food,” she explains. “He said people around here didn’t want to help him very much. I almost had to pick my jaw up off the floor. I thought to myself, ‘This is

“Farming is a lot of work. You need to define your goals and have a plan to work from.” —Patty lange reding

Indiana, where people help each other.’” That conversation served as a good lesson for Reding. “It made me realize that (we) farmers talk our own language. And most of us grew up around here so we know where to go for resources. This man came in and didn’t have the connections.” Reding suggests new farmers and residents start by contacting the local Farm Bureau office. “Farm Bureau is what I consider the umbrella organization,” she explains. She

also recommends contacting the local county Purdue Extension offices, 4-H offices and even high school agriculture programs.

Full of Color Susan Welsand began farming 21 years ago with a dream of providing diverse, clean and sustainable food. Today, Welsand has more than 1,300 chili pepper varieties in her seed bank, and she sells her products to customers all over the

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Farm Indiana // January 2014

“A greenhouse is a nurturing environment to work in. I love every minute I spend in there,” she says. “It is warm, inviting, aromatic, soothing and full of color and life.”

The Greatest Risk

(Above) Sherrie Yarling and Gordon Jones display bottles filled with shagbark hickory syrup. (Top right) An assortment of syrups is available at Hickoryworks website. PHOTOS BY JOSH MARSHALL (At right) Susan Welsand. SUBMITTED PHOTO

country and as far away as Brazil. Most of her business is handled through her website: www.thechilewoman.com. Welsand says she has faced many challenges in the past two decades, including a tornado in 2011 and a drought in 2012. “You have to be able to roll with the punches,” she explains. “You never know what will happen in any given season. “I’ve been through drought, phytophthora (widespread plant disease) and even a tornado smack in the middle of my eightweek plant shipping season,” she says. “Rath-

er than getting upset, you just have to roll up your sleeves and get to work. You have to be flexible and come up with creative solutions to the obstacles that crop up. If you respect the earth and treat it well, it will reward you with all its bounty.” Farming, she adds, requires hard work, commitment and dedication. “The hours are long, and there is never a guaranteed income,” she says. “You have to be prepared to do a lot of physical, dirty work.” While her work requires countless hours, Welsand says she gains more than she gives.

Gordon Jones and his wife, Sherrie Yarling, began making shagbark hickory syrup in 1991. Their company, Hickoryworks, produces more than 1,000 gallons of the syrup every year, selling to more than 300 restaurants nationwide. Their syrup story began in 1990 when they moved from Florida to Trafalgar. They built a log cabin on 64 acres of land and began growing and selling shiitake mushrooms. While out working one day, the couple received a syrup recipe as barter. In exchange for firewood, an elderly man gave Jones his great-great-grandmother’s recipe for making syrup from the bark of a hickory tree. Since opening in 1991, Hickoryworks has grown 100 percent every year, Jones says. The business has been featured in Gourmet magazine, Midwest Living, Taste of Home and even on the Food Network. The president of Meijer personally asked them to supply their syrup in stores across the country. Jones says he loves being his own boss and working for his customers, and his advice for new producers is simple. “Don’t let anyone tell you that it can’t be done,” Jones says. “The greatest risk is not taking one. You go after your dream with fiery determination, armed with confidence of knowing you have the imagination, the ability and the flexibility no matter what the risk, even if it’s some crazy idea like making syrup from the bark of a tree.” *FI

We’re Telling the stories of

Local Farmers, Farm Families & Agricultural Businesses

august 2013 | section a

FAMILY FARMS

John Glick is known around Bartholomew County as both a farmer and a friend

story By sharon mangas photos By josh marshall

R

etired farmer and former longtime resident of Hope, John Glick, 73, has a sense of humor that’s legend in the area. Country magazine named him “America’s Number One Country Character” in 1991 — thanks to a nomination submitted by his wife, Jean, 72, who has been married to him since 1959. The title went to John because of his penchant for playing practical jokes on Hope locals, neighbors and even family members. Nephew Rory Glick, a Columbus funeral director, once farmed with John and knows his uncle well. “Uncle John loves life, loves to be around people … and he loves to tease,” Rory says. John and Jean Glick, with their

daughter, Kathy.

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Farm Indiana // january 2014

indiana resources

B7

Help Wanted Starting a new farm business can be daunting. Several Indiana organizations are here to help. story By paige harden

T

he idea of starting a small farm can sound romantic, but experts say producers must do their homework before jumping into a new farm project.

“I talk to a lot of people who have read an ar-

ticle online or in a magazine and have decided that they want to raise a particular product,” says Richard Leland Beckort, Purdue University Extension county director. “Sometimes a certain product isn’t well-suited for the area or for the person’s skill set. We help them sort out fantasies from realities.” Beckort recommends that would-be farmers talk to representatives at universities (like Purdue) and other organizations that specialize in agriculture to see if their plan is a viable option. “My first question is always, ‘What are you going to do with it?’” Beckort says. “We can give them information about how to produce the product, but they need to know how they are going to sell it. That’s often the number one stumbling block for new producers. It’s not always easy to market agriculture products.” New producers should talk to existing local farmers about successes and failures and how they grow and market their products, Beckort says. Purdue University has extensive resources to

assist would-be farmers in developing the business tools to start and successfully operate a smallscale, sustainable farm. These resources cover topics that include farm planning, goal-setting, developing a business plan, financial record keeping, marketing and creative ways to distribute farm products. Jim Luzar, Vigo County Extension educator, says all new farmers must create a business plan before starting operations. “Not creating a business plan is a fundamental error for an entrepreneur,” he says. The first part of the business plan should be an assessment of the current environment and of the potential enterprise, Luzar says. “You really need to look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats,” he says. “It’s really tempting to just start doing a lot of things and find the answers later, but it’s important to do

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Farm Indiana // January 2014

Plan of Action

the research before you build the chicken house. It’s

Once objectives have been identified, Marshall

easy to get caught up in the mechanics of producing

says, the next step is to break down each objec-

the product, but you need a plan for marketing, hiring

tive into action plans, or all the steps necessary to

labor, following rules and regulations, etc.”

achieve that objective.

Luzar says Purdue University provides numer-

“Think of action plans as small, manageable proj-

ous tools to help farmers objectively evaluate their

ects,” she says. “Make sure the action plans are small

strengths and weaknesses. Purdue also has tools to

enough that they can be accomplished in a few days

help farmers develop a business plan.

or a week at most. Breaking down each objective into

Maria Marshall, Purdue University rural business development specialist, says farmers must also identify goals and objectives early.

action plans will help you make the daunting task of

Business description—

What do you plan to do? Why are you starting the venture?

Market analysis—

Who will be your customers? What do they want from you?

starting a new business manageable and less stressful.” Once the business plan is complete, farmers must

“You must also think about how big you want the

According to an article written by Jay Akridge, Purdue University’s dean of the College of Agriculture, titled “The Elements of a Business Plan: First Steps for New Entrepreneurs,” the business plan helps producers meet goals by following a management plan. Business plans typically include the following:

often find funding to begin operations. Sustainable

business to become. This is important because one of

Agriculture Research and Education is one of the few

the reasons businesses fail is uncontrolled growth,”

programs that offer grants to farmers. SARE is part

Marshall says. “Consider whether you want the busi-

of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National

ness to remain small or grow enough to challenge a

Institute of Food and Agriculture program. It pro-

larger competitor.”

vides grants and education to advance innovations in sustainable agriculture. Roy Ballard is the SARE Indiana state coordinator

Competitor assessment—

Who will you compete against? What do these competitors offer?

Marketing plan—

How will you reach your customers?

Operating plan—

How do you plan to implement your idea?

and Hancock County Extension educator for agri-

“You really need to look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It’s really tempting to just start doing a lot of things and find the answers later, but it’s important to do the research ... you need a plan for marketing, hiring labor, following rules and regulations, etc.”

culture and natural resources. He says he regularly

—Jim Luzar

do will involve long hours, short nights and a lot of

receives calls from people who want to start producing a new product.

Financial plan—

How much money will it cost, and where will you get the necessary funds?

“People of all ages are showing an interest in agriculture,” Ballard says. “I always tell them that the first thing to do is to figure out what they want to

Executive summary—

What are the fundamentals of the venture?

accomplish through this farm project. If they don’t know what success looks like, they won’t know when they get there. They need to determine what success means to them personally.” Ballard says there are numerous resources for people who want to learn about farming. He recommends SARE, Purdue University Extension Services and USDA Farm Service Agency. “These programs provide technical support, funding and educational programming,” he says. The most important thing to evaluate, according to Ballard, is passion. “Farming has to be something you really have a passion for. If you don’t love raising goats, you shouldn’t do it because everything you hard work,” he says. “When you wake up at 2 a.m. and have to walk through the mud in freezing cold weather, you better love what you are doing.”

COUNTY EXTENSION OFFICES Bartholomew County 1971 State St., Columbus, (812) 379-1665 or (812) 379-1666, www3.ag.purdue.edu/counties/bartholomew/ pages/default.aspx Brown County 802 Memorial Drive, P.O. Box 7, Nashville, www3.ag.purdue.edu/counties/brown/ pages/default.aspx Decatur County 545 S. Road 200W, Greensburg, (812) 663-8388, www3.ag.purdue.edu/counties/decatur/ pages/default.aspx Jackson County 111 S. Main St., Suite 010, Brownstown, (812) 358-6101, www3.ag.purdue.edu/counties/jackson/ pages/default.aspx Jennings County 200 E. Brown St., P.O. Box 365, Vernon, (812) 352-3033, www3.ag.purdue.edu/counties/jennings/ pages/default.aspx Johnson County 484 N. Morton St., Franklin, (317) 736-3724, www3.ag.purdue.edu/counties/johnson/ pages/default.aspx

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Farm Indiana // January 2014

farm goals

story By sherri dugger photos by josh marshall

Farmers, both large and small, share a common goal

Sustainability isn’t a new concept in farming, or in business of any kind. It’s not a difficult concept to understand. The goal of any farmer has long been to turn a profit, to help to feed his or her community (and/or world) and to apply the necessary inputs to the land to care for it (and attempt to leave it unchanged) throughout the growing process. This three-pronged approach remains at the heart of the sustainability movement today, though the methods and processes to reaching those goals are regularly revised and redefined. Roy Ballard, Purdue Extension educator and the Hoosier state’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) coordinator, is quick to point out the essential purpose of economic, environmental and social sustainability. “Almost every farmer is working toward sustainability,” Ballard says. “If they’re not, they’re not aiming to be in business next year.” Put simply, if you’re not sustainable, you’re not going to grow. Farmers both large and small are moving in the direction of sustainability, which at its essence, is about keeping soil healthy … and farmable. If the soil is healthy, the harvest will be

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Farm Indiana // january 2014

healthy, the farmer’s income will be healthy and the community will reap the benefits … in health-giving food. “We have this big farm/small farm dichotomy in Indiana,” Ballard says. “What’s cool is that they have this common ground evolving around soil health — to achieve and work toward soil health — that is common ground that both sides share. They’re seeing the values on economic, environmental and social levels.” But sustainable farming is not an end-all, be-all goal, Ballard clarifies. “It’s a process of moving from where we are, developing and implementing practices that are more favorable to those three things,” he says. “Moving in that direction is what’s important. It’s an ongoing process. This is not simply a magic land of sustainability.” Though, from the outside looking in, it may seem a little like heaven on earth for the animals at Tyner Pond Farm in Hancock County. On 98 acres, grass-fed cows and pasture-fed pigs and chickens roam, eating as they wish and — literally — cleaning up one another’s messes. “We rotate the cows,” Tyner Pond owner Chris Baggott explains. “The pigs come in behind the cows, and the pigs clean up cow poop. Chickens come in and clean up the other poop. They’re going to eat the grass. They’re going to eat the bugs, so you don’t have to add any insecticides. You don’t need antibiotics or shots.” Sustainably raising food, according to Baggott, means stacking streams of income. First, he rents out a four-bedroom farmhouse on his property as a guesthouse to bring money into the farm while his livestock offerings grow. Then, there are the animals: “A grass-fed cow takes two years from a calf, and that’s a slow process. So how do we

pay the bills going into that? Well, it starts with the house and the chickens, which we can grow and sell in eight to 10 weeks,” he explains. “Then come the pigs, which take seven to eight months.” Beyond the farm, remaining sustainable involves getting the food you produce into consumers’ hands, which, for Indiana farmers, is oftentimes difficult. “Beginning farmers and small farms work hard to grow and raise their products and bring them to their customers,” says Jodee Ellett, local foods

coordinator for the Purdue Extension. “Often they work as a farmer, mechanic, local business owner, website developer, marketer, mentor for fellow farmers, source of information for consumers and general agricultural resource, available by phone, email and Web, for the communities in which they live and work.” Local farmers and communities, she adds, “are developing a system for food exchange, where each is reliant upon one another.” Take Baggott, for example. Since starting

B11

Above: Chris Baggott (center), Mark Farrell (right) and Baggott's son, Matt, at Tyner Pond Farm. Opposite page: Much of the food for the animals at Tyner Pond Farm comes from the recovery of discarded items.

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Farm Indiana // January 2014

A windmill on Tyner Pond Farm operates a pond aerator.

his farm, he has found new ways to distribute local food — both his own and that of other local farmers — throughout Hancock County and the region. He started a Greenfield Farmers Market in downtown Greenfield during the summer of 2013, which he plans to continue and grow in 2014. He also partnered on a food distribution company called Husk, which gathers local produce from farms, processes it and distributes it to retail grocery stores throughout the area so that locally grown food is available to Hoosier consumers year-round. Small farms, like Baggott’s, “tend to be more sustainable agriculture by definition,” says Steve Engleking, LaGrange County extension educator. But large commodity farms, he says, are looking more at traditional farming tactics, such as using cover crops and manure to better feed and fertilize their soil.

Richard Beckort, extension agent for Jackson County, agrees. A farmer for large commercial operations, he says, might now regularly conduct soil tests to better determine just how much fertilizer to use (and therefore save money by not using too much) and rotate crops to keep soil from being depleted of its nutrients. “A lot of farmers practice no till,” which prevents soil loss and maintains the soil’s natural profile, he adds. “That’s a very good sustainable practice.” If a farmer “has been farming for 40 years,” Beckort says, “that’s sustainable agriculture.” And sustainability, Cissy Bowman reminds us, is an absolute necessity. “If a business is not sustainable, it’s going to fail,” explains Bowman, owner of Center Valley Organics in Clayton and president of Hoosier Organic Marketing Education. “Sustainable, with regard to agriculture, has taken on a more detailed definition, but basically the word means being able to be maintained, to carry on, and replenishing used (natural) resources so that they can continue. “Additionally, whatever is sustainable must also be adaptable as we face climate changes and changes in available resources,” she says. “I see it as an ongoing learning experience that is providing us with the information we will need to continue. We are still learning about what it really is.” *FI

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Farm Indiana // january 2014

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story and photos By Marcia Walker

For some, gardening and preserving food are not just a hobby — they’re a way of life Reuse, reduce, recycle. That is Cathy Caldie’s mantra. Not only does Caldie preach the concept, but she lives it, adapting her lifestyle so as to leave as little impact on the earth as possible. She and her husband, David Caldie, live in an earth berm passive solar home west of Columbus, in which they rely on the sun and a wood stove to provide heat for their living quarters. They incorporate energy-saving measures wherever possible, using LED light bulbs, unplugging appliances that use “phantom” electricity when not in use and staying away from using chemical-based products as much as possible. The Caldies recycle the usual suspects: aluminum cans, glass, newspaper, plastic, cardboard. But Cathy also recycles in her garden, using coffee grounds, grass clippings and leaves to amend the soil. “I’ve gone to (using) raised beds,” Cathy says. “I think that’s easiest, especially for people in the city.” David used three pieces of cedar fencing to make a rectangular frame for her raised-bed gardens. Two of the 8-foot long rails make up the sides, the third was cut in half to create the 4-foot ends. A 2-by-4 in the center adds stability. In building raised bed gardens, put down four or five layers of newspaper, Cathy advises, to kill whatever is underneath. Add soil, mix in peat moss and you have a garden bed ready for planting. “This is easy, really easy,” says Cathy, who — outside the garden — spends her days working full time with special needs students in Bartholomew County. She uses companion planting, which is useful for pest control and pollination, to attract and repel certain insects. “Marigolds repel insects and a lot of animals because of fragrance,” she says. “Plant certain things together, like basil and tomatoes. … Certain plants repel insects off others.” When she was growing up, she remembers her mother regularly canning food to preserve it, but Cathy says she now prefers freezing food to keep seasonal harvests ready for use throughout the winter. “I do freezing because of how quick and easy it is,” she says. “Tomatoes, green beans, tomato sauce, a soup blend … (and) I do make my own grape juice.”

At-home entertainment Patty and Rick Wade, who live near Elizabethtown, are also proponents of using raised beds to grow produce, especially for people just starting out. The couple has five garden beds in addition to two 25-by-50-foot garden plots, which they share with Patty’s brother. “Raised beds are a good way to define space,” she explains. Rick advises picking a location with good sunlight and suggests that container gardens are also a good option for someone hoping to grow food despite not having a lot of land or space. The Wades devote specific areas to specific purposes. For example, one section of their garden is used solely for growing tomatoes that will be canned; another is designated for growing tomatoes that will be eaten fresh. Salsa, marinara, green beans, pickled okra, tomato paste, tomato sauce, pickle relish, dill pickles and bread and butter pickles ... the

Cathy Caldie

Patty and Rick Wade

Wades can much of what they grow to enjoy it throughout the year. They start growing in March with cold weather crops such as lettuce, Swiss chard, kale, beets and radishes, harvesting them throughout the summer until the first frost occurs, usually in late October. The Wades met on a communal farm in Wisconsin, where the residents tried to grow everything they needed. The experience wasn’t anything new for either Rick or Patty; they had been raised in families where gardening was part of day-to-day life. “We were allowed to pick whatever we wanted … peppers, green beans,” Patty recalls of her father’s garden. Rick grew up near Atlanta. His childhood memories include sitting on the back of a pickup truck shucking corn and spending hours shelling beans on Sunday evenings. He remembers his mother working well into the night to freeze and preserve corn. “I was always kind of taken with it,” he says, referring to both gardening and canning. It was only logical that the two continued gardening when they became a couple. Much of their knowledge comes from hands-on experience. When they moved to an area with hard, red clay, which Rick describes as similar to concrete, for example, they benefited from using mulch to preserve “moisture and keep the weeds down,” Rick says. They have also learned to roll with the punches, realizing that some years bring conditions favorable for some crops and not others. “Every year is different; you just get what you get,” Rick says, adding that 2013 was not a good year for tomatoes but produced lots of okra, “with plants as tall as 7 feet.” The Wades now live next door to where Patty grew up, and gardening takes up most of their weekends. Patty works full time at Columbus Regional Hospital; Rick retired from Repp and Mundt architectural firm. “We spend all our weekends gardening, but it keeps us from spending any money,” Rick jokes. “That’s our entertainment,” Patty adds. *FI


B14

Farm Indiana // January 2014

By Clint Smith

Artisanal breads made by Erica Placke Martin.

os Photo courtesy of TrixPix Phot

Corned beef, which the Martins source from Down E Farms Inc. of Hope, is served at Three Sisters Cafe in Shelbyville.

A Nynorsk Farms goat.

Photo courtesy of TrixPix Photos

Reign of Terroir: A Local Farm’s Celebration of Identity and ‘Place’ SERVES With business cards brilliantly emblazoned with a Nordic flag and a horned Viking helmet, Jedediah and Erica Placke Martin of Nynorsk Farms in Shelby County make it clear that Nordic culture is a motivating force behind the philosophy of their farm. Literally translated as “New Norwegian,” Nynorsk references one of the official languages of Norway, a linguistic combination of Western dialects and Old Norse. But for the Martins, the name Nynorsk calls on kindred connections and echoes the philosophies of a current culinary movement in Scandinavian cuisine known as terroir. Jedediah’s affinity for all things Scandinavian began in high school. Citing a particular fondness of the “metal” music genre, his pre-existing love of the culture and his avocation in culinary arts came to an opportune confluence about six years ago while working in a café at the Eiteljorg Museum. This is where he met his future wife, Erica, who shared his affinity for Nordic aesthetics and conventions. Several years and one wedding later, the couple moved from Indianapolis to their current location, sowing the roots of what is now Nynorsk Farms. The farm is, of course, the Martins’ base of agrarian operation, where they raise goats for artisanal cheeses, refine techniques of charcuterie and devote their attention to myriad epicurean endeavors. But the pair has also procured a venue at Three Sisters Café in Shelbyville, which provides a platform to showcase wholesome ingredients and promote the aforementioned concept of terroir, or the identity of “place.”

So how does all this Nordic food philosophy apply to a typical Hoosier? Jedediah believes it’s a concept already being practiced, as terroir is based on tenets that are identifiable to current community food movements: dedication to region-specific ingredients and championing locally sourced, environmentally sustainable products. And the ever-changing menu at Three Sisters Café — a light mix of sandwiches, breads and pastries — honors both seasonality and regional values. “When we do a special, we source local meats,” Jedediah says, giving a grateful nod to Miller Amish Poultry in Orland, Myers Frozen Foods Provisioners Inc. in St. Paul and Down E Farms Inc. of Hope. The weekly sandwich specials feature “purposed” breads created by his wife, Erica, who also posts a separate, artisanal bread menu. Some current highlights include pulla (a Finnish sweet bread with toasted almonds and cardamom), cranberry wheat bread with walnuts, and a marbled rye loaf inspired by a dark, Norwegian rye bread. Customers can place bread orders each Wednesday with products available for pickup on Friday. Like the dine-in menu at Three Sisters Café, the bread roster changes to highlight what is fresh and seasonal, so check in to see the latest available creations.

Nordic Pine Stew

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Recipe provided by Nynorsk Farms 1½ pounds venison loin, cubed Vegetable oil, as needed 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar Fresh rosemary sprigs, chopped, to taste 1 large white onion, quartered (medium dice two of the quarters) 2 medium rutabagas, peeled, medium dice 2 turnips, peeled, medium dice 1 cup dried cranberries As needed, several 4-inch pine needles (Martin assures readers that they’re edible; he recommends white pine needles), plus more for garnish at the end Kosher salt and ground white pepper, to taste Slices of gjetost cheese (recommended) or goat cheese (chèvre), as needed For garnish: toasted sourdough croutons (recommended) or simple toasted croutons Set a large crockpot to high heat. In a large bowl, coat cubed venison with oil, balsamic vinegar and fresh rosemary. Add venison to crockpot and add two quarters of the onion (the diced onion will be added later). Add in rutabaga and turnip, and reduce crockpot heat to low. Cook stew for approximately five hours or until meat is extremely tender. Add cranberries, diced onion and pine needles. If the consistency of the stew requires adjustment, add beef stock as needed. Adjust seasoning as needed with kosher salt and ground white pepper. Serve stew in wide soup bowls and top with several slices of gjetost cheese or goat cheese. Garnish with toasted croutons and a single pine needle.

Jedediah and Erica Martin serve the lunch crowd at Three Sisters Cafe.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/nynorsk.farms.


Farm Indiana // january 2014

was planning a wedding for my aunt,” she says, but as her aunt had already booked a baker for the cake, Heck’s tasks were restricted to organizing everything except catering the food. However, things changed the night before the wedding. “The person my aunt hired to bake the cake backed out at the last minute.” At around midnight, Heck received a frantic phone call from her aunt. The teenager thought fast. There was no way to bake and decorate a wedding cake, but she could make cupcakes. A lot of cupcakes. She called a friend, and the two delivered over 100 elegantly decorated cupcakes to the wedding. Word spread fast. Since saving the day at her aunt’s wedding, Heck has provided cupcake catering for another wedding along with several local church functions. She’s even taken to providing her teachers and classmates with samples of her confections. “I started bringing the pumpkin cupcakes to class,” she says. “My teacher told some of the other teachers, and those teachers told the others.” Typical of the teen perspective, Heck points out that high school has the potential of being tedious. “Bringing in cupcakes makes school exciting for that one minute people are enjoying them.” While Heck hones and promotes her baking ambitions, she’s still taking it one day (and one cupcake) at a time, all the while living up to her small company’s motto: “Baking the world a better place.”

Photos courtesy of Jenna Heck

P

icture it: topping an espresso or hot chocolate with a hit of whipped cream — a slow, steady swirl and a twist of the wrist. Many may take this simple technique for granted. But not Jenna Heck. For this 17-year-old, the fluent motion is the basis for her current passion and possible future success. Heck, a junior at Indian Creek High School, is the proprietor of Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice — a modest catering outfit specializing in pumpkin breads and cupcakes. In 2008, when she was in fifth grade, Heck began working at her grandmother’s coffee shop, Cincinnati Street Coffee, in Nineveh. “My grandma would always let me do the whipped cream on all the coffee drinks,” says Heck. “It’s actually the same technique … that I use when icing my cupcakes.” Heck remembers her interactions with the public and how customers would often compliment her attitude and dessert presentations. Though the coffee shop closed after three years, Heck maintained a devoted interest in baking. And while the teen has other hobbies — she has served on the dance team for the past eight years, and she still hones her hip-hop skills (she enjoys artists like Andy Mineo and Lecrae) — it’s the high-volume cupcake creation that has proven the most fulfilling and the most challenging. It was late last summer that Heck encountered her first impromptu opportunity as junior entrepreneur. “I

B15

Popcorn Bundt Cake Recipe provided by Jenna Heck Jenna Heck

¼ cup butter 1 bag mini marshmallows 2 bags microwave popcorn 1 cup M&M candies ¼ cup unsalted, roasted peanuts Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a Bundt pan. Pop popcorn and pour into a large bowl. Melt butter over medium heat and add marshmallows. Stir constantly. Once there are no more lumps, pour the marshmallows over popcorn. Mix until the popcorn is coated. Add M&Ms and peanuts. Press mixture into the pan and place in preheated oven. After 10 minutes the cake should be set. Flip the pan upside down over a cake stand. For a festive touch add holiday M&Ms Check out Heck’s cupcakes and and switch out the peanuts for cashews. *FI

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