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Variety of farm operations host days at Indiana State Fair

Fairgoers visiting the Indiana Soybean Alliance Glass Barn
FARMERS APPEAR DAILY: The featured farmers of the day will appear in the afternoon at the Indiana Soybean Alliance Glass Barn on the north side of the fairgrounds.
All types of farmers, from apple growers to mint growers, host days at the state fair.

What could be more popular than ice cream on a hot summer day? It’s no wonder ice cream is one of the featured food items in this year’s World of Food promotion at the Indiana State Fair. A different food is featured each day, along with an Indiana farm family who has some tie to producing that food.

It’s the third consecutive year that Dow AgroSciences has sponsored farmers as hosts for a day at the state fair. This year’s twist is tying that farming family to a food item.

The host farm families for the start of the final week of the fair have quite varied operations. Here is a closer look.

Day 10
Aug. 13: Jan-Willem and Meagan van de Laar, Geneva
Ice cream

This family runs a large dairy operation in Adams County. Currently, Four Leaf Clover Dairy milks 1,700 cows three times per day.

Jan-Willem van de Laar; his wife, Meagan; his parents, Wim and Maria; and his brother-in-law Bastiaan Oostdijck are involved in the dairy. His late sister, Leontien Oostdijck-van de Laar, helped start the dairy venture after the family left the Netherlands.

They operated a 200-head swine operation there, but couldn’t expand. They started milking cows at their new dairy in the U.S. in November 2007.

Dow AgroSciences

LUCKY MOVE: The van de Laar family left the Netherlands and started Four Leaf Clover Dairy in 2007. From left are Wim and Maria and Jan-Willem and Meagan van de Laar; Bastiaan Oostdijck, holding Gwen; and Meagan Zimmerman.

Day 11
Aug. 14: Tom and Maureen Kercher, Goshen

Tom Kercher is the fourth generation to run this family business. His son Bill represents the fifth generation in the orchard and produce operation. The farm dates back 95 years.

“We are known for raising and selling apples,” says Tom’s wife, Maureen. They also raise and sell produce, including cabbage and sweet corn.

The business name is Kercher Sunrise Orchards Inc. “We call our retail market here at home Kercher’s Market,” Maureen explains. “We’ve been here so long as Kercher’s Market, that’s what local people know us by.”

Dow AgroSciences

MORE THAN A MARKET: Tom and Maureen Kercher (seated) raise and sell apples and vegetables in Elkhart County. Their family includes grandkids Caroline Kieffer, Abraham Blough and Nicholus Kieffer. Back from left are Michael and Laura Blough, Bill Kercher, and Mollie and Nick Kieffer.

Day 12
Aug. 15: Ed Lambert and family, North Judson

The Lambert family began raising mint in the 1930s and has continued raising mint for 80 years, Ed Lambert says. He and his brothers, Dave and Chris, raise both spearmint and peppermint. They also raise corn and soybeans. Mint fits into the rotation with corn and soybeans.

The Lamberts have all of the equipment they need to grow and distill mint on the farm.

“There was a time when there were several people growing 50 to 80 acres of mint and having someone else distill it for them,” Ed explains. “Today most people in the mint business around here raise many more acres than that and have their own equipment, including processing equipment to produce the oil.”

Corn and soybean growers aren’t the only ones who must pay attention to global markets, Ed adds. What happens in other parts of the world also affects mint producers here.

“India and China are our main competitors,” he says. “It is much more labor-intensive there, and their production seems to go in spurts, but we definitely pay attention to how much mint those countries produce.”

Dow AgroSciences

FAMILY TRADITION: Growing mint goes back generations for the Lamberts. From left are Ed Sr. and Diane, Ed Jr. and Lynn, Robyn and Christopher, Kathryn and David Lambert.

Day 13
Aug. 16: Marty Evans and Brad Burbrink, Riley
Corn dogs

Marty Evans, his son Casey and Brad Burbrink grow corn, but not dogs, on their farm near Riley.

“They probably matched us up on the day when the feature food is corn dogs because we grow both white corn and food-grade yellow corn,” Burbrink says. They typically grow a significant amount of white corn, which is shipped to Azteca Milling for processing. Some of the yellow corn they grow is food-grade corn. They also grow non-GMO yellow corn.

You may have visited the land where they farm before BE-N-AG Farms operated there. Much of the land was once part of the Jarvis Farm Operation, Burbrink says. The Terre Haute Farm Progress Show was held there in 1995. The Jarvis family later left farming. BE-N-AG has been in business there since 2005.


Dow AgroSciences

MEET THE CLAN BEHIND BE-N-AG: The Evans clan and son-in-law Brad Burbrink farm the land near Terre Haute that hosted the 1995 Farm Progress Show.
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