Even though I was born and raised on a farm—on this very farm, as a matter of fact—most of my colleagues are surprised when they learn that I’ve taken some time off from my professional career to get Hoosier Heritage Farm up and running. And that’s understandable—going from business executive to farmer is a pretty big leap after all. On the other hand, this experience has given me new respect for the work that my father put into this land when I was too young to appreciate it. To be a farmer you have to be equal parts engineer, veterinarian, entrepreneur, businessman, visionary, agronomist, laborer, and project manager. To be decent at all those roles takes a pretty special person.
Since moving back to the family farm in early 2012, my wife and I had been wondering about what we should do with this land. We are located only a couple miles from Hamilton Town Center Mall, Klipsch Music Center, and numerous housing developments. Yet for the time being we are still very much in the country (just ask my kids, who complain about the lack of high-bandwidth Internet!). It seemed like it could be more than just a typical Midwestern corn-soybean rotation farm raising commodity products. It could be something that would appeal to all those folks who appreciate the beauty of the countryside and the produce that it could generate and that they could enjoy themselves.
Now enter Chris Baggott, tech guru and more recently, farmer. Chris is a co-founder of ExactTarget and Compendium, two companies based here in Indianapolis with a global reach in the social media marketing space. I had lunch with Chris in late 2012 and his passion for the local food revolution was evident. Chris runs Tyner Pond Farm in Greenfield, Indiana, and has since been one of the leading voices for local food here in central Indiana. He introduced me to the work of Joel Salatin at Polyface Farms in Virginia, who is one of the pioneers of the “family owned, multi-generational, pasture-based, beyond organic, local-market farm” movement, and who has become the national voice for these production techniques.
Well, that conversation occurred at just the right time for me. I had recently left my CEO job to try something different, so for the first time in many years, I had some extra time on my hands. And I was eager to build something that would respect the heritage here on this land that was started by my father and my uncle, and was passed down to me and my brother. So the mission of Hoosier Heritage Farm was born:
The mission of Hoosier Heritage Farm is to provide healthful food in a way that preserves the environment, produces happy animals, and meets the needs of local consumers. Hoosier Heritage Farm is a place for learning and healing for the community.
I am excited by this new beginning, and I can’t wait to see how it grows!