Thursday, October 1, 2015

We Are Indiana Agriculture: The Schoettmers

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Keith Schoettmer and his wife of 33 years, Darla, started Schoettmer Prime Pork, Inc. in Tipton, Ind. in 1987. Their pig farm began when they bought a 450-sow operation on contract from another farmer. “We built aggressively through the 90’s and slowly worked our way up to 1050 sows, which is our current sow inventory.  We place the highest emphasis on herd health.” The first-generation farm is a farrow-to-finish pig farm that raises nearly 23,000 pigs per year from the 1050 sows. “This is a daily inventory of around 12,000 head kept in 13 barns, including three off-site units.” The Schoettmers do not farm any row crops; however, they purchase nearly 225,000 bushels of corn, used for pig feed, from neighbors.

The Purdue University graduate cares strongly about the welfare of his animals. “The first step is to be sure we have the right, well-trained people in place to care for the animals every day, 365 days a year. We constantly monitor the environment the animals live in to make them as comfortable as possible. We are also constantly analyzing the nutrition of the pigs to be sure they have balanced feed every day.”

Keith and Darla are the parents of four children, three of whom are married. They also have four grandchildren with two on the way. Keith says that God is a very integral part of their farm. “We have a staff of eight people on our farm.  This includes a full-time maintenance person and two managers who oversee the production on a daily basis. We value our employees both on and off the farm and start each day with a staff devotion and prayer.”

So, where can you buy pork from Schoettmer Prime Pork, Inc.? Keith explains, “We do not sell direct to consumers, but through Indiana Packers in Delphi, so if you buy Indiana Kitchen Pork, you may have eaten some of our product!”

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

We Are Indiana Agriculture: Pleasant View Orchard

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Conveniently located 1 mile north of Interstate 74 in Northwest Shelby County, Pleasant View Orchard is home to 31 acres of apple trees, as well as a 2-acre pumpkin patch.  As Adria Kemper explains, “The orchard was started in the 1930’s by the Reude family.  It was then purchased by the Anderson family in the early 1990’s, then sold to the Hopkins family in the mid-1990’s, who were friends of the Anderson family.  The orchard remained Anderson Orchard until we purchased it in 2013.  We renamed it Pleasant View Orchard.  We grow over 20 varieties of apples that are harvested from July through October.  We offer U-Pick apples and pumpkins.”

Pleasant View Orchard, owned by brothers Jeff and Duane Kemper and their families, also has a country store that allows people to purchase bagged apples, fresh vegetables, fruit, preserves, apple butter, specialty sauces, and much more.  Tractor rides are part of the fun as families make their way out to the 2-acre pumpkin patch which usually begins the last weekend in September.  There’s also a playground for the kids to enjoy.  As their website says, “There’s something for the whole family.”  Pleasant View Orchard also has a concession stand filled with homemade apple cobbler, elephant ears, fried biscuits with apple butter, corn dogs, hot dogs, nachos, BBQ sandwiches, caramel apples and apple cider slushes.

The orchard is currently open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. 
Free events this season at the orchard include:

September 26th-Live Hammered Dulcimer music from 3-6 p.m.

October 3rd- Live music from Steve Jeffris from 3-6p.m.

October 10th-Live music from Birch Creek Bluegrass Band from 3-6 p.m.

October 25th- Trunk or Treat at 2p.m./ Silly Safaris show at 3 p.m.

For more information, visit their website:

Sunday, September 6, 2015

I am Indiana Agriculture: Satek Winery

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Satek Winery, located near the intersection of I-80/90 and I-69, sees great volume of traffic passing by; most drivers are unaware the winery exists before seeing the road signage, Jason Satek explains.  “Satek Winery is, in a sense, a cautionary tale; what may happen if you follow your passion and let a hobby take over your life.  If that sounds appealing, or even not unappealing, our story may even be inspirational.”

Jason’s father, Larry, began as an amateur winemaker around 1975 in Chesterton, Maryland.  He was a college professor teaching chemistry, and the house that he and his wife rented happened to have a few grape vines in the backyard.  “He had the knowledge, the raw materials, and the curiosity, and he had the time.  He also had a 3-year-old, but I must not have been too time-consuming!  He began with small batches and began the process of gaining experience.  He found that he enjoyed it.”

Larry left academia in 1979 and took a job with Amoco Research in Illinois.  “Amoco was acquired by British Petroleum and there had begun to be a great number of layoffs,” Jason explains.  With three kids in college, Larry and Jason’s step-mother, Pam, decided to look to agriculture as a backup plan. 

“My step-mother was raised in Fremont, in the 101 Lakes region of NE Indiana.  Her great-grandfather had purchased 28 acres of lakeshore property on the third basin of Lake James in 1915—the land that they still reside on today.”

The Sateks cleared two acres of what was an apple orchard in the 1930’s and 40’s.  They planted the original six varieties of grapes, which they tended, sprayed, pruned and harvested to sell to other wineries in Michigan and Indiana.

“In June of 2001, they opened Satek Winery and haven’t looked back.”

Satek Winery offers free wine tasting in the tasting room overlooking the production area.  They usually carry around 20 different wines ranging from dry to sweet, red, white and rose, local and more remote.  “We maintain quality across the board and have won medals for almost every wine ever made.  Our better sellers are sweeter wines, but their success allows us to produce drier, more niche, wines that might appeal to a smaller, select audience.”

“My father and step-mother have long preached, ‘Good wine, good fun’ as a mantra, and we have developed a handful of yearly events: art shows, a holiday open house, a 5K run/walk and 10K run, and a celebration of Steuben County’s namesake Baron von Steuben, to name a few. But we have largely chosen to grow through distribution.  Satek wine can now be found throughout Indiana, and that is a growth pattern any farmer could be pleased with.”

Monday, August 24, 2015

I am Indiana Agriculture: Hoosier Homestead

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Jill Hanson speaks fondly of her Hoosier Homestead farm that sits near the Putnam and Hendricks county line.  She says her “mind is filled with a lot of good memories from growing up near the family farm.”  Jill’s great-great-grandfather originally bought the farm in 1856.  Her mother, Wynona Strietelmeier, passed away nearly 20 years ago, but received the centennial award for the farm before her passing.  “I think it is such a neat award.  I remember my mother getting the 100-year homestead award and when I heard that there was a 150- and 200-year award, I knew that I wanted to apply for the 150-year award.  I’m 67, so hopefully my daughter will get the 200-year award.” 

According to the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, the Hoosier Homestead program began in 1976 to recognize the contributions these family farms have made to the economic, cultural, and social advancements of the state.  In the past 30 years, more than 5,000 farms have been recognized for operating under long-time continuous ownership by the same family.

The homestead used to be the setting of a house and barn, as well as a 20-acre wood and farm ground.  While the house and barn are now gone, the others remain.  “The ground is farmed out.  My mother rented it out to a friend that she grew up with and now his son farms it.  We enjoy mushroom hunting in the woods.”

Jill has two brothers, Jim and Dean Strietelmeier, who did the majority of the planting on the farm growing up.  “I remember hay rides on the farm, feeding the goats and the hogs, fishing in the creek and river, and playing in the woods.  My brother Jim was swinging across the river on a grapevine one time and the vine broke and he fell and broke his arm.  We would also drive the tractors, or just steered the tractor if we weren’t old enough to drive.  Back then, we did so much together.  We used to go to the farm every day, and it was such a good time.  We went to the farm to work, but we also had fun.”

Sunday, August 9, 2015

We Are Indiana Agriculture: Walker Farms

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

“Agriculture has always been a part of my life,” Stacy Walker of Rensselaer says.  The daughter of a farmer, she remembers while growing up her mom always gardened and canned.  “I really got interested in agriculture as something to pursue my 8th grade year of school when we were able to take a vocation agriculture class through our high school.  This is where I knew I wanted to do something in the horticulture area.”   While in high school, Stacy participated a lot in class and did horticulture judging in FFA.  She graduated from Purdue with a degree in Landscape Horticulture and Design with a minor in Food and Agribusiness Management.  In 2005, she married her high school sweetheart, Scott, and they have 3 kids, Ty, 8, Lane, 6, and Brynn, 3.  Scott is a superintendent for a commercial construction company.  “Currently, I am a work-at-home mom with an online newborn photography prop business, and also work part-time for a wedding planner and am a part-time florist, along with managing our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and growing produce on our farm.  I also help my dad and brother in the field with hay and harvest and am the County Education and Outreach Coordinator for Jasper County Farm Bureau.”

Walker Farms began in 2006 with pumpkins.  They sold wholesale to a local business.  In 2007, the couple added produce and started selling at farmers markets.  In 2008, they added their CSA and have been doing all three ever since.  The Walkers grow a wide variety of produce beginning with cool crops in early spring, followed by summer crops, then cool crops again in the fall.   “We grow about 5 acres of produce and about 8 acres of pumpkins.  We planted several strawberry plants last year and plan to expand that as well as expanding pumpkins.  Pumpkins and Indian corn are our main crops that we grow.  Our favorites are probably the pumpkins and all the fall d├ęcor crops, kohlrabi, potatoes, cherry tomatoes, green onions, sweet corn, and peppers.  We also raise chickens.  They supply us with delicious fresh eggs, and we also sell frozen free-range whole chicken.  We also have some goats, rabbits, ducks, and turkeys on the farm.”

“In between planting and harvest we do a lot of weeding!  We got a Farmall Cub last year and that helps tremendously with keeping between the rows clean.  If we need to haul water to our crops we have a large tank that we fill and put up our irrigation throughout the garden to make sure things are watered.”

The Walkers’ three children love to help, especially with pumpkins.  “Although their attention doesn’t last long, we take any help they want to give.  They are right there along with us, helping and cleaning the produce.  The go play and come back and help more.  They like to help plant the seeds and plants.  I would say their favorite is helping pick pumpkins and gourds.  We make it a family affair!”

Growing produce, just like any other crop, is at the mercy of the weather.  “This year is a difficult one for us and probably our worst year we have had.  We can manage to keep our crops irrigated in drought spells, but this year 20 inches of rain in consecutive days was hard on our crops.  The fields stayed wet, so we couldn’t get in to work ground to maintain the weeds as well.  We are able to supply for our CSA members easily and for our self, but we had to give up the farmers market this year, as we didn’t have a lot of extra produce to have a good variety at the farmers market.  Any extra we have I am canning and freezing. “

The Walkers also have Fall Harvest Days at their farm a few weekends in October.  Started in 2009, visitors can find pre-picked pumpkins and gourds, since the pumpkin field is a few miles from their farm, along with straw, Indian corn, and fall produce.  They do a few kids activities as well.
When asked what she enjoys most about her job, Stacy explains, “A lot of the reason we grow produce is for ourselves.  I like to can and freeze a variety of things.  My mom taught me how to can, so I try to keep several quarts of different things each year.  I love to can green beans, beets, tomato juice and pickles.  I freeze peppers, onions, and strawberry jam.  I like that it teaches my kids to live off the land.  They are seeing, start to finish, how produce is grown.  We love interacting with customers at the farmers markets.  I always enjoy hearing their recipes and what they did with the produce they bought.  Today many consumers want to know where their food comes from and know the farmer.  It is a great feeling that we can make that connection and talk to our customers about our produce.”

You can follow Stacy and her family on her blog: where she shares recipes, gardening, farm life, and her love for vintage things.  She is also on Facebook and @stacyfarmsew on Instagram and Twitter.

Friday, July 24, 2015

I am Indiana Agriculture: Joe Tuholski

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

The Glass Barn is one of the many attractions at the Indiana State Fair.  It opened in 2013 and gives visitors a “vivid experience of what life is like for farmers and their families.”  Visitors can chat with a real farmer throughout the day, test their farming knowledge by playing a game of Beango, and experience the interactive games and exhibits.

Joe Tuholski is one of the farmers visitors will have the chance to chat with and “visit” his farm.  Joe is a third-generation farmer from Mill Creek, Indiana.  He has been married to his wife Cheryl for 17 years and they have two sons, ages 11 and 9.  Joe’s grandfather purchased the original farm in the 50s from Peter Scholl (Dr. Scholl).  “The farm has grown considerably over the past 60 years.  We grow soybeans, seed corn, popcorn, field corn, wheat and alfalfa.  We also raise a few steers.”

On the Tuholskis’ Northwest Indiana farm, they have six family members working full-time.  “There are three second-generation on the farm that include my dad and his two brothers and three third-generation that include myself and two cousins.  We also have some part-time help during the fall harvest, when it gets busy.”

Joe says “The goal of The Glass Barn at the State Fair is to educate the public.  Young or old, we want the people of Indiana to know about local farmers and why we do what we do.  As a featured farmer of The Glass Barn, I get to tell the story of my family’s farm and what we are doing to keep our operation sustainable.  The thing I enjoy most about The Glass Barn is knowing everyone leaves there with a better understanding of the agriculture here in Indiana.”

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Top 10 Things To Do at the Indiana State Fair

By Lauren Taylor of Indiana Soybean Alliance

The Year of the Farmer! It’s time to celebrate the hard work of the people behind Indiana agriculture. So what is the best way to do that? Check out the top 10 things to do this year at the 2015 Indiana State Fair! You are guaranteed to have a great time.

10. Be Amaized

Come to the Harvest Pavilion and check out Amazing Maize! Amazing Maize takes visitors on a journey through the centuries, beginning with corn's unlikely origins in a small-eared bushy plant called teosinte. Visitors trace the global spread of the crop following Christopher Columbus' travels, including its social impact in Africa and Europe. Fairgoers return to the shores of America to explore the push to improve productivity and the rise of hybrid corn. The final stop on the journey highlights the modern technology used to improve and grow the crop. 

9. Get Local

ISDA will host the brand-new Indiana Grown booth located within the Harvest Pavilion at this year’s State Fair.  The booth will provide State Fair visitors the opportunity to learn more about the program, as well as where they can buy locally-based Indiana Grown products.

8. Oh Baby

See a baby calf born almost every day at the Indiana State Fair! That’s right every day! Now on its 16th year, the Livestock Nursery is an award winning interactive, educational venue that attracts all ages!

7. Pig Out

The Indiana Pork Producers got a makeover! When you come to the State Fair this year, make sure to stop by and get your pork burger at the new and improved pork tents! They have a new look and a new flavor that won’t disappoint, but the same great hospitality.

6. Go Live

Come to the Glass Barn and talk to farmers LIVE at 11, 2, 4 every day! Prizes will be given away at each and every chat! Throughout the Indiana State Fair, visitors of the Glass Barn will have an opportunity to Skype with Indiana farmers on their farms and ask them questions about their production practices. In addition to talking with farmers, the Glass Barn visitors can enjoy a free photo booth, learn about modern farms through an interactive computer game, and follow the journey a soybean takes from field to table.

5. Dress Up

Superman the llama? Yep you heard right! You can see that at the Indiana State Fair! Check out the llama costume contest where you can see llamas like you have never seen them before! 

4. Fly High

Get in line for the Ferris wheel and go all the way to the top to overlook the beautiful Indiana State Fairgrounds! If it wasn’t for soy biodiesel then you may get stuck up there. The entire Midway at the State Fair is powered by soy biodiesel. That means that Indiana farmers don’t just feed Hoosiers they also fuel your fun! 

3. Be Cool

When the hot, humid weather sets in for the Indiana State Fair, visit the northeast side of the fairgrounds and walk through Pathway to Water Quality (PWQ). The park-like setting is an exhibit showcasing the importance of water quality and soil health. Conservation practices are on display that can be utilized on the farm, at home, and all areas in between. There is plenty of shade to cool you off, and activities for children and adults alike. Pathway also highlights beautiful native plants and flowers, and wildlife such as hawks, ducks and birds. As you leave, grab a cup of cool, free water. PWQ is sponsored by the Indiana Conservation Partnership.

2. Need S'more

Visit the Dairy Bar right across from the Plaza, the new beautiful addition to the Indiana Farmers Coliseum, for a milkshake and a famous grilled cheese at the Dairy Bar. In addition to all the classic favorites, this year’s featured shake is the toasted-marshmallow-flavored S’mores Shake and the featured grilled cheese is Muenster cheese on cinnamon raisin bread. YUM!

1. Meet a Farmer

In celebration of Year of the Farmer at the Indiana State Fair, IFOF challenges you to find a farmer around the Indiana State Fairgrounds and take a picture with them using the official hashtag #FarmerSelfie. You can take a picture with a poster of a farmer, a sign with a farmer on it, or even with 1 of 17 featured farmers. Then post your picture on all of your social media handles! For every #FarmerSelfie posted, IFOF will make a donation to Feeding Indiana’s Hungry! At the end of each day of the fair, Indiana Family of Farmers will be a drawing for a winner that will get a $50 gift card to Kroger! So be sure to find a farmer take a #FarmerSelfie and post it online! Having fun and feeding the hungry! What could be better than that?