It is a legacy passed down to modern farmers like Joe Steinkamp of Evansville who farms the Ohio River bottoms.
“The neat thing about our climate is we have a nice, long growing season, which gives us a bigger window to plant our crops,” says Steinkamp, whose land is about evenly divided between corn and soybeans. Unlike most Hoosier farmers who grow corn exclusively for animal feed, Steinkamp’s is a white variety that is processed into Mexican-style dishes and tortilla chips.
Steinkamp’s family will be in attendance at the opening of the Glass Barn at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Aug. 2. Sponsored by the Indiana Soybean Alliance, the facility is designed to educate Hoosiers about what life is like for farmers and their families. The building features interactive and high-tech exhibits including a video theater where visitors can connect “virtually” with farmers. It will be open throughout the fair’s run from Aug. 2-18, and long-term plans call for its use year-round as an educational center.
“We feel like the barn is an important step. We need to educate the Indiana consumer about what we are doing on the farm,” says Kevin Wilson of Walton, alliance president and himself a corn and soybean farmer.
As the joke goes, “You know you’re in Indiana when ... all you see are corn and soybeans.” There’s more than a grain of truth to it. It’s an important part of our history and our present.
Andrea Neal is a teacher at St. Richard’s Episcopal School in Indianapolis and adjunct scholar with the Indiana Policy Review Foundation. Contact her at email@example.com.