A sunny, mild day but enough rain the weekend before to prevent farmers from being in the field, plus good publicity and excellent farms, produced a huge crowd at tours last week. Taking away a tour many years ago when a dignitary visited, this had to be one of the larger farm tour crowds on record. Some 340 people were scheduled for lunch at Don Villwock's farm last Wednesday. It required scrambling for extra food and extra tables at the last minute.
Roughly 250 attended each of the first two stops on Tuesday, and they weren't all the same people, since it's a driving tour and you can pick the farms you want to see. The Tuesday stops include Del Unger Farms near Carlisle and Melon Acres in northern Knox County. Wednesday the tour visited Tom and Marsha Boyd farm near Washington, then Dennis Carnahan and family before winding up at Villwock Farms north of Edwardsport.
"It's a great formula to have big crowds," says Donya Lester, executive director of the Purdue Ag Alumni Association. "We had beautiful weather, but it was too wet in many parts of the state for farmers to be in the field, spraying, applying nitrogen, making hay, maybe even finishing planting or planting doublecrop soybeans."
The Indiana Farm Management Association picks the farms, usually in the fall. These farms were picked in September and October. Angela Gloy of the Purdue Ag Economics Department played a major role in finding the farms to visit. The tour is coordinated by Alan Miller, also of the Purdue Ag Econ Department.
The typical formula is to tour farms in about three or four counties. This year featured farms in three counties, with three of them being in Knox County. The tour moves around to various parts of the state to give farmers from different areas a chance to showcase their operations. It also allows farmers who don't typically go on the tour to take in one or more stops and learn what the tour is all about.
The area of the state for next year's tour has not yet been announced. Look for word on where the 2012 tour will be held later this fall. Meanwhile, this one should go down as one of the most successful tours that the Indiana Farm Management Association and Purdue Ag Economics Department have hosted.