As the final weekend of the 2018 Indiana State Fair approaches, the next three Featured Farmers fit only a broad definition of farming. These Indiana farmers are growing and marketing agricultural products, but their operations are certainly not traditional.
A total of 17 farm families will be featured during the state fair through the Featured Farmers program, sponsored by Corteva Agriscience. The Indiana State Fair is Aug. 3-19 in Indianapolis. Meet some of the families that have already been featured on the website: Days 1-4, Days 5-8 and Days 9-11. Watch for the final families' stories in a couple of days.
Here are the next three operations:
Aug. 14: Jason and Kristen Troike, Hoosier Shrimp Farm
Jason and Kristen Troike were looking for a break from working in a big city, so they moved to Walkerton near Jason’s family farm and started a new venture. They raise saltwater shrimp indoors. Jason says they’re still working to make it a profitable, sustainable business, but they’ve built up a demand for shrimp.
“We have two nursery tanks and 16 grower tanks,” he says. “We receive shrimp when they are 7 to 10 days old, and take them through three stages of growth, covering about five to six months.
“We typically retail them at our location on Friday and Saturday. People buy them live on ice. We tell them all they need to know to prepare them.”
The Troikes offer free tours of their operation. Demand is so strong, they are selling all the shrimp they can grow right now.
HOOSIER SHRIMP FARM: Jason Troike (left) and wife Kristen, holding daughter Zoe, are selling all the shrimp they can produce. Their son, Jackson, stands with Jason’s parents, Debbie and Ed Troike.
Aug. 15: Chuck and Tami Mohler, Sweet Corn Charlie Produce LLC
Chuck and Tami Mohler are serious about sweet corn at their family farm near Millersburg.
“Chuck starts some [plants] in the greenhouse, and we use a transplanter to plant it in the field,” Tami says. “We believe he was the first in the U.S. to do so. It gives us a head start. We were selling sweet corn in late June.”
The Mohlers sell corn from six retail locations during the season, and distribute some through smaller grocery stores.
They also grow a variety of produce, including tomatoes in high tunnels. “We’re on our 33rd year, and things are going pretty well,” Tami says.
SWEET CORN leaders: Charlie and Tami Mohler start some sweet corn in their greenhouse each spring. They transplant it with a transplanter so they have sweet corn to sell early.
Aug. 16: Caleb and Whitney Michalke, Sugar Creek Malt Co.
Sugar Creek Malt Co., Lebanon, is a new kind of ag enterprise. “We operate a malt house,” Caleb Michalke says. “We sprout barley, wheat and rye, and let it germinate for three to four days. Then we produce malt from it.”
Michalke has been working full time at establishing his business for the past three and a half years. He contracts with a handful of farmers in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Kentucky to grow grains for him. He sells his product to distilleries and small brewing companies, including Sun King. He has up to 50 businesses on his customer list.
“My goal is to grow what I need within a 200-mile radius, and sell within that same radius,” he says. “It’s difficult with barley because it’s more difficult to grow here and get the properties we need.”