Anyone who attends the Indiana State Fair on Saturday, Aug. 8, will likely hear about the Russell Family. This family will be featured as the face of the Year of the Farmer program on the first Saturday of the Fair.
The Year of the Farmer program is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences. "We're happy to be a part of honoring farmers in Indiana in this way," explains Kenda Resler-Friend, a communication specialist with Dow AgroSciences.
It's not only a different farmer that will be honored each day, but in most cases, it will be a different facet of agriculture. By the time the 17-day fair is complete, fairgoers will have been introduced to everything from corn farmers to vegetable producers who sell most of what they raise retail, primarily through their own stand on their farm.
Here's a look at the host family for Aug. 8.
Paul and Diane Russell family
Paul and Diane Russell, and son, Jeremy, farm near Muncie in Delaware County. This family puts the spotlight on sheep production. The Russells also raise corn, wheat, alfalfa and barley.
Jeremy is the driver behind the sheep operation, his mom, Diane, says. "Sheep are a vital part of our diversification program," she explains. Diversification is getting a lot of play right now as crop farmers raising corn and soybeans without other income could take a big hit due to low prices and in some cases, poor yields as well this year.
They market lambs as locally grown meat. "We do direct marketing and some wholesale, and also sell lamb to local restaurants," Diane says. The Russells are part of the Indiana Grown initiative.
"The challenge is making use of the whole animal," Jeremy says. He reports they're successful in making that happen.
The Russells promote their product in several ways. They have been a part of Dig In, a celebration held in Indianapolis in August where premier local chefs use locally grown products to prepare their dishes. The public pays a hefty fee to enter White River State Park in Indy and sample the cuisine.
See a full list of family farmers and links to their stories as they appear on the Indiana Prairie Farmer website: Indiana Soybean Alliance's Glass Barn will feature 'Year of the Farmer' hosts