Indiana State Fair Featured Farmers: August 11-14
The Indiana State Fair is the greatest showcase of the past, present and future of Hoosier agriculture and the Indiana State Fair – Year of the Farmer presented by Dow AgroSciences proudly dedicates your Great Indiana State Fair to the farmers who make it happen.
To honor and celebrate those who have committed their lives to innovation in agriculture, each day of the 17-day Fair will highlight a different farmer/farm family who represents a different element of Indiana agriculture. These farmers, who were selected in collaboration with Indiana agriculture stakeholders, will be featured on daily highlight sheets for the Fair as well as participate in various events and exhibits all around the Fair.
We wanted to take the time to highlight these farmers and share a bit more about what makes them love agriculture. Take a moment and get to meet the Featured Farmers that will be at the Indiana State Fair from Aug.11 – Aug. 14.
Phil Overdorf – Poultry, August 11th
Phil Overdorf, with his wife April, and his parents Phillip and Nila, operate Phil Overdorf Farms in Tipton, Indiana (Tipton County). Phil is the fifth-generation of Overdorf farmers and his farm focuses primarily on the production of eggs, corn, and soybeans. The Overdorfs have more than 400,000 laying hens, which are housed in three different buildings. Taking care of 400,000 birds is a round-the-clock job: the family works seven days a week, all weeks of the year but love their work. Phil said what he loves about farming is seeing the results of his hard work and management. He said, “You’re able to actually see it through, whether it is going from spring to harvesting the crops in the fall, or watching a group of your animals start laying eggs and seeing it go well.”
Despite their busy schedule, the Overdorfs remain actively involved in their community. From donating eggs for events like an FFA breakfast, to their involvement in 4-H, to April’s time on the local school board, the Overdorfs continue to engage outside of the farm. Phil volunteers with soil and water conservation efforts and enjoys being involved in his community.
When looking to the future, the Overdorfs hope the farm will continue under the management of their children. Their oldest daughter just finished her freshman year at Purdue and plans to return home to the family farm, and their two younger children just might follow her lead. There is no doubt that to the Overdorfs, agriculture is a way of life.
• Who: Phil Overdorf
• Where: Tipton, IN (Tipton County)
• Type: Poultry
• Day: Tuesday, August 11
• Fun Fact: Phil Overdorf is a fifth-generation farmer and some of the land he owns today has been in his family for over 100 years!
Jerry & Paige McClure – Wine, August 12
McClure Family (L-R): Jason, Alison, Nila Jean and Jerry McClure, Eleanor Bowsher, Megan Bowsher, Paige McClure
Seventeen years ago Jerry and Paige McClure moved their family onto an unkempt, overgrown apple orchard. Today, with the help of their son Jason and his wife Alison, McClure Orchards occupies over 80 acre¬¬s in Peru, IN (Miami County) and has about 5,400 trees that produce more than 100 varieties of apples. In addition to apples, the McClures have pumpkins, hops, honey, and various other commercial crops. Five years ago, the McClures started exploring with wine and hard cider they now bottle more than 35 styles, with more to come, from fruits grown, fermented and bottled on site.
All of those trees, and all of those crops, require a considerable amount of upkeep. The McClures work an average of 60 hours per week in the off-season and can reach more than 100 hours per week in the height of their busy season, which takes place between Labor Day and Halloween. Jason said, “It’s a lot of time, but again, it’s a passion and a love of the lifestyle.” The McClures are not the only ones who enjoy the literal fruits of their labor. Their Apple Dumplin’ Inn sells products made with their produce, and seasonally many visitors come to pick apples, drink cider, and enjoy tractor or horse rides while taking in the beauty of the orchard. They host school groups and even weddings!
With their variety of crops and operations, every day is a learning experience for the McClures. To do it all, the McClures point out one must read, ask for advice and have the work ethic, which they credit for their success. The family wants the best for their orchard and the people who come to enjoy it. Jason said, “We would like folks to walk away saying, ‘Hey, we enjoyed that place, we enjoyed them, and we can see they enjoy each other.’” Alison concluded, “Love for the place, love for the people, love for what is being done; something like this can’t be done without the labor of love.”
The McClure’s will be at the Indiana State Fair on Wednesday, August 12, will be featured in a Live Chat at 2:30 p.m. in the Glass Barn presented by Indiana Soybean Farmers as well as participating in the evening parade at 6:30 p.m.
Jerry & Jason McClure
• Who: Jason McClure
• Where: Peru, IN (Miami County)
• Type: Grapes and wine
• Day: Wednesday, August 12
• Fun Fact: Jason McClure met his wife Alison while they were both serving in the Peace Corps.
Maggie Goeglein Hanna – Urban Farming, August 13
About four years ago, Maggie Goeglein Hanna was given the opportunity to help out at a garden in a neighborhood just north of downtown Indianapolis which had experienced, “a slow deterioration over time with a lot of challenges that faced the neighborhood, like crime and vacancy.” Despite the undeniable obstacles, a community garden initiative was born from a unified desire within the neighborhood to make things better for themselves, and Maggie was excited to become a part of this project.
Today, Maggie is an urban farmer and the executive director of Fall Creek Gardens, a community garden and gardening resource center in the Mapleton-Fall Creek neighborhood of Indianapolis, IN (Marion County). What started as a small project in 2011 has since gained momentum and now even requires a waiting list each spring, full of people wanting to get involved and plant in the raised garden beds. “I love seeing people invest in their community,” Maggie says happily. It is clear that this is something close to her heart. With the help of Maggie and volunteers, the community garden is quickly becoming an anchor in the Mapleton Fall Creek neighborhood, with the vision of being a leader in the cultivation of healthy food, people, and communities.
What makes this urban farming so significant is that the focus of the project is not only to help provide a community meeting space, but educate the general public on the source of their food. From soil to table, education is at the heart of the garden. Maggie explains, “If you want people to eat healthy and not just get something in a box off of a shelf, it is important we teach them how to do it.”
• Who: Maggie Goeglein Hanna
• Where: Indianapolis, IN (Marion County)
• Type: Urban community garden: produces a variety of vegetables, produce, herbs
• Day: Thursday, August 13
• Fun Fact: Fall Creek Gardens has a 3,000 gallon cistern which is enough to capture one inch of rainfall off of the Unleavened Bread café, the building beside the garden. The water is used for the garden.
David Lash – Corn & Soybeans, August 14th
Lash Family: David, Nyla, and Tannon Lash
David Lash is a corn and soybean grower who, with his parents, manages Lash Farm Inc. of Mentone, IN (Kosciusko County). As a fourth-generation farmer, David has been involved in agriculture his entire life, tracing back to his early days as a young 4-Her. He carries on the family tradition today on his family’s land, stating he farms because of the opportunity it provides and the ability to work closely with his family. Family members involved in the operation include his parents John and Darlene, sister Sarah, wife Kyla, and son Tannon.
He wears many hats, from juggling his farm to his family, as well as coaching youth sports and being an active member of his community church. With a big heart for both the kids and for the community, family is very important. In this sense, David wishes that the public understood that the majority of farms are family operated. When speaking of his farm in comparison to what may be misperceptions about what farms are like today, David says, “We try to be very conservation-minded and be stewards of the land God has entrusted to us. We utilize practices including no-till, variable rate fertilizing, and cover crops. These fit with our goal of achieving maximum economic yields.”
David manages the many dynamics of farming, all while remaining on top of the constantly evolving technological landscape of precision agriculture. He explains that there is definitely an edge to be gained from using technology, although it does take some trial and error to find what actually pays off. For example, formerly tedious tasks such as keeping track of field trials have since been simplified thanks to the advancement of GPS devices. “Years ago when I first came home and we were mainly just using flags and equipment markers, it was hard to ensure accuracy, but technology has made that so much easier,” said David, “I love having everything on my iPad; I can just walk out there to check the crops and make notes at marked locations on my device if I want to.”
David and his family will be at the Indiana State Fair on August 14 and will be featured in a Live Chat at 2:30 p.m. in the Glass Barn presented by Indiana Soybean Farmers, as well as at the Dow AgroSciences Booth at 4 p.m., and will be featured in the 6:30 p.m. evening parade.
• Who: David Lash
• Where: Mentone, IN (Kosciusko County)
• Type: Corn, Soybeans, and Swine
• Day: Friday, August 14
• Fun Fact: Every spring the Lash family helps with Ag Day, helping local 4th graders learn more about where their food is grown.