Danny Gill
OPENING THE TOUR: Danny Gill will host the first stop on the 2018 Indiana Farm Management Tour, organized by Purdue University. He and his wife farm near Franklin in Johnson County.

Diversification key on 1st day of farm tour

Learn about raising specialty crops and a different kind of agritourism on the first day of the Indiana Farm Management Tour.

Take time to join the 2018 Indiana Farm Management Tour, June 21-22 in Johnson and Shelby counties. The evening program on June 21 features the Master Farmer banquet.

Diversification is the unwritten theme for this year’s tour, starting with the first two farms in Johnson County. Over the two days, the driving tour will visit four farms, and all have employed one or more forms of diversification.

Jim Mintert and Michael Langemeier, Purdue University Extension agricultural economists with the Center for Commercial Agriculture, helped organize the tour. You need reservations for the Master Farmer banquet on June 21 and lunch on June 22. Otherwise, show up at as many farms as you like without registering.

Call 765-494-4310 by June 15 to register for lunch on June 22. Call 765-494-8593 by June 13 to purchase tickets for the Master Farmer banquet. The banquet will be held at Beeson Hall at the Franklin Parks and Recreation Center in Franklin. You can also register online.

1st-day stops
• Danny and Judy Gill’s farm, 1 p.m. Learn about raising waxy corn at this first stop. Danny and Judy Gill earn a premium for this corn, which features a certain kind of starch.

“We also raise seed corn for Pioneer,” Danny says. “We have some irrigated acres, and that helps in seed production.”

The Gills also have a herd of 20 cows and calves. Their grandson Jacob Thompson is feeding out calves on the farm. He is preparing to graduate from high school and hopes to continue working on the farm.

Danny’s nephew Tim Noel works on the farm full time. In addition, Danny and Judy’s daughter Angie helps during busy seasons. She also operates a boarding kennel for dogs at a facility close to the main farm. Proximity to suburbia provides plenty of clients, especially during vacation and holiday seasons, Danny says. 

The Gills cooperate with seed and farm supply companies, hosting two different research plots on their farm. Expect to learn more about crop fertility during a mini-tour of the Gill operation.

• Norton Farms, 3:30 p.m. You’ll only have to drive a few miles to reach the second stop, Norton Farms north of Franklin. The primary operators are John Norton, son Peter and daughter Jenny Mowrey.

This is the third time in the past 50 years that the tour has visited Norton Farms. “Peter and Jenny are really in charge now, and I’m letting them explain our operation,” John says.

Norton Farms grows waxy corn and soybeans, including soybeans for seed.

John’s father, Chuck, built an elevator complex to receive and store waxy corn for National Starch years ago. That helped promote others in the area who were growing waxy corn. The elevator operation later became Crystal Springs Grain, operated by Brian Marten. He will also participate in the tour.

The Nortons’ latest venture is a building dedicated to wedding receptions and other events on the farm. Jenny and her mom, Linda, manage that growing enterprise, Peter says.

Watch the website tomorrow for a story about the tour’s second-day stops. Check out the map below for directions from the Gills’ farm (green marker) to Norton Farms (checkered marker). There are two possible routes.

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