FAIR FAMILY FARM: Local farm selected among 15 featured farms at this year’s state fair


PENDLETON — A farm south of Pendleton has been chosen as one of 15 family farms throughout the state to be featured at this year’s Indiana State Fair.
Fair Farms and Produce will be the featured farm on Aug. 11.
Jim and Vicki Fair and their son and daughter-in-law, Jacob and Klaryssa Fair, will be on site sharing their story with the public throughout the day.
Jim and Vicki are first-generation farmers.
Their 500-acre farm at 3019 E. County Road 900N (Hancock County) sells seasonal produce, including a couple of acres dedicated as a u-pick strawberry patch.
The farm was nominated to be featured at the fair by Lick Creek Flower Co., a cut flower grower in Pendleton, which hired Jacob to build a high tunnel greenhouse last year.
“We’re kind of a smaller, diversified farm so it’s nice to be represented,” said Jim, who previously worked as a heavy machine operator at IMI in Greenfield.
His son followed in his footsteps and now holds the same position at IMI while building greenhouses and high tunnels (hoop houses) on the side.
Together, the family farms about 500 acres, 100 of which are certified organic grain.
They specialize in fresh market vegetables and floral hanging baskets they sell at farmers markets throughout Hancock County, including Greenfield, Fortville and New Palestine, as well as Fishers.
“We have a couple acres of asparagus and two or three acres of u-pick strawberries, and then we have sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini — everything from A to Z,” said Jim, 52.
Jim started out raising calves in high school, and his love of farming took off from there.
His and his wife’s two children also fell in love with farming.
Their daughter, Tera Stoddard, works in communications for a large ag cooperative in Wisconsin but still helps out with the technical side of the family farm.
She and her brother attended Greenfield-Central schools while helping out at the farm, and both were 10-year 4-H members.
The love of farming has been passed on to a third generation. Jacob’s 2½-year-old daughter, Lakelynn, can often be found digging in the dirt at the family farm.
“We’ve had her at the markets since she was six months old,” said Jacob, whose wife is a hairstylist in Greenfield.
While he sometimes babysits his granddaughter, Jim has been working the farm full-time since retiring from IMI in 2012.
His wife works full-time at the Fortville post office but also helps out on the farm.
Jim said it’s an honor to be represented at this year’s state fair alongside 14 other family farms throughout the state.
“We’re not the typical big farm, but we’re smaller and more diversified. It takes all of us to feed the world,” he said.
While he devotes some farmland to organic farming, the family patriarch said the cost of organic produce makes it too costly for the average consumer.
“Organic will not feed the world cheaply. It’s harder for lower-income people to eat fresh market because it’s cheaper to eat processed food, but it’s killing them,” he said.
“We try to keep our prices reasonable because we’d just as soon serve everybody, not just those who can afford it, but on the other hand our labor costs and economy of scale costs more to produce than what can be shipped from Mexico or Chile,” said Jim, who encourages younger farmers to join the effort to produce locally grown food.
“We need more of the younger crowd coming in to sell at the farmers markets. We don’t need a bunch of us 50- and 70-year-olds, because someone is going to have to carry on as we retire,” he said.
The elder Fair said he and his wife have benefited from sage wisdom and advice from older farms as they started their own farm basically from scratch.
“I worked for farmers all through high school. We had a lot of help from the bigger grain farmers over the years, and I appreciate that. I’ve still got a couple who are my mentors and go to them for advice,” he said.
Jim enjoys interacting with the public at farmers markets, sharing the inside scoop on what it takes to bring his goods to market.
“We may not even remember all our customers’ names but we’ve dealt with them for years, and we know each others’ life stories, and that’s the best part — the customer relationships,” he said.
“We try to be honest about everything that’s involved with our growing practices, including the fact that we get our melons from a friend in Washington, Indiana. We cannot compete with the sandy soil for growing melons in southern Indiana,” he said.
Jacob also enjoys interacting with customers and hopes to be farming full-time someday along with his dad.
Some of his best memories growing up are of taking care of livestock and bailing hay on his parents’ farm, starting when he was in middle school.
“It’s just a matter of building up our clientele. From the time I was little it’s all I ever really wanted to do,” he said.
Jacob said both farmers markets and the state and county fairs are a great way to help people get more connected with the agriculture community.
“It gives them a little more insight into where their food comes from,” he said.
This year’s featured farmers showcase at the Indiana State Fair is sponsored by Corteva Agriscience.
The annual program, now in its ninth year, celebrates and personalizes local agriculture by connecting consumers with fellow Hoosiers who grow the food they eat.
This year’s featured farms represent a variety of regions throughout the state, showcasing different agricultural products and stories throughout the 15-day Indiana State Fair, Aug. 2-18 (closed Mondays).
“Our mission at the Indiana State Fair is rooted in agriculture and connecting our fairgoers to the farmers feeding the world,” said Cindy Hoye, executive director, Indiana State Fair Commission. “We are proud of our Featured Farmer program and excited to unveil our 2024 honorees … These farmers have incredible stories to tell, and we are grateful to celebrate them with our partners at Corteva Agriscience.”
Heidi Spahn, corporate and community investment leader at Corteva, said the company is committed to helping farmers succeed and connecting them with the families they serve.
“The Indiana State Fair is the perfect place for fairgoers who are also consumers to meet Indiana farmers from across the state who dedicate their lives to feeding all of us,” she stated in a press release.
“We are pleased to once again make this connection happen through the Featured Farmers program.”
Visitors to the Indiana State Fair can attend a live chat at 2:30 p.m. in the Glass Barn with a Featured Farmer every day of the fair, in addition to many other opportunities to talk with that day’s Featured Farm family and learn about their family operation.
To learn more about where the fair will sell produce this year, follow the “Fair Farms & Produce” page on Facebook.
Following is the list of farms to be featured at this year’s state fair:
Friday, Aug. 2: Scarborough Farms, LaPorte County (soybeans)
Saturday, Aug. 3: Paschen Farms Inc., Cass County (pork)
Sunday, Aug. 4: Howe Farms, Lake County (beef, pork, hops)
Tuesday, Aug. 6: Lueken Dairy Farm, Dubois County (dairy)
Wednesday, Aug. 7: Celtic Glen Heritage Livestock, Owen County (beef cattle, goats, sheep, rabbits)
Thursday, Aug. 8: Union Go Dairy, Randolph County (dairy)
Friday, Aug. 9 – Blue Yonder Organic Farm, Hendricks County (organic certified farm fresh products)
Saturday, Aug. 10: Kirk Hoffman & Family Farms, Whitley County (corn, soybeans, wheat, maple syrup)
Sunday, Aug. 11: Fair Farms and Produce, Hancock County (farm fresh produce)
Tuesday, Aug. 13: Advanced Resources Inc., Wabash County (seed corn, seed beans)
Wednesday, Aug. 14: DDH Farms, Randolph County (corn, soybeans)
Thursday, Aug. 15: Winzerwald Winery, Perry County (grapes, wine)
Friday, Aug. 16: Tree City Bee Co., Decatur County (honey, bees)

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