By Ken de la Bastide Kokomo Tribune
---- — SHARPSVILLE — When members of the Tipton County Young Farmers organization take their harvested corn and soybeans to the grain elevator, they designate a percentage to go to the Encore Food Pantry.
Brady Peters, chairman of Tipton County Young Farmers organization, said in 2013 the group donated $2,900 to the food pantry.
This year, the organization will participate for a second time in the “Hoppers for the Hungry” program.
Peters said at the end of the year, the grain elevator operators provide a check to the pantry.
Peters said the group intends to make donations to other pantries in the future.
“It’s exciting because it’s a Young Farmers Program,” Peters said. “We want to raise more than $2,900 this year. We want people to be aware of the program.”
Melinda Goodnight, director of the Encore Life Center, said the 2012 donation came as a big surprise for the food pantry.
“It was very helpful and wonderful,” she said. “Our numbers continue to grow. Last month we helped 489 people.”
Goodnight said the pantry purchases food it distributes from the Food Finders Food Bank in Lafayette.
The Young Farmers program was started by the Indiana Farm Bureau in 1969.
Peters, 25, took over as chairman of the Tipton County organization about 18 months ago. He was handed the reins when Tim Idlewine turned 35.
He said once a farmer reaches 35, they can’t be a part of the organization.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2007, the average age of the American farmer was 57.1. For Indiana, the average age is 55, and in Tipton County, it is 54.
Since graduating from Purdue University three years ago, Peters has been farming full time. He is the sixth generation of farmers in the family. His wife, Samatha, 25, sells crop insurance.
“Ever since I could walk I was out in the fields, thinking I was helping out,” he laughs. “I always wanted to go to Purdue, farm and be like my dad. I’m blessed to work next to my family every day and enjoy what I do.”
Along with his father, Ben, and an aunt, the family farms 1,200 acres and raises 300 sows to prepare to take to market.
“I know when my dad was my age, there was a good following,” Peters said of the Young Farmers. “It kind of fizzled out as families started to raise children and got busy.”
Young Farmers is a program of Indiana Farm Bureau. Peters said most Indiana counties have a young farmers organization.
“You want people to come back and carry on the family farm,” he said. “The main reason we formed is we would like to give back to the community.
“There is a big bridge between what the consumers think and what the producers actually do,” Peters said. “We want to raise ‘ag awareness’ in the community. Make people aware of what we stand for.”
Most of the members are young married couples, but the organization is open to anyone. Five new couples attended a meeting on Aug. 30, Peters said.
“Anyone who wants to be involved or learn more about agriculture is welcome to attend the meetings,” Peters said.
The group sponsored the Pedal Pull at the Tipton Pork Festival, something it always does at the Tipton County 4-H Fair.
This year, it also awarded a scholarship to a student in the county who wanted to pursue a career in agriculture.
Those interested in the Tipton County Young Farmers can contact Peters at 765-438-6101.