The La Porte County Row Crop Food Producers, along with La Porte County Farm Bureau Young Farmers, conducted its annual ag tour and barbecue on Tuesday, August 4, at Helena Chemical and Sims Meat Processing in Kingsbury Industrial Park. Started in 1976, the purpose of the agricultural tour and barbecue is to foster a greater appreciation for the county’s production agriculture and a better understanding between the rural and urban citizens of LaPorte County. About 200 invited guests from ag and non-ag businesses, academic and financial institutions, elected officials, as well as former tour hosts, Row Crop and Farm Bureau members participated in the farm tour.
Participants learned about several aspects of agriculture during four stops on the evening’s walking tour around Helena Chemical – La Porte. Guests learned about the technology that modern agriculture employs to produce the abundant crops grown in this area, including a corn variety test plot that demonstrated traits that help protect the growing crops. They also saw demonstrations of the ability of custom applicators to match fertilizers and protectants to crop needs and deliver them precisely during the growing season. At Sims Meat Processing, guests learned about the food livestock harvesting and custom processing business and even were invited to sample some processed meats.
After the tour, guests were treated to a pork chop dinner, prepared on site by Row Crop members. The menu also included fresh sweet corn and baked potatoes prepared at the site, fresh salad, bread and ice cream treats. The meal was sponsored by farm organizations and local bank branches that support agriculture through their loans and financial services.
A short program following the meal gave a chance for Greg Werner, Row Crop president, to acknowledge and thank the meal sponsors. La Porte Librarian Mary Hedge gave a brief history of how the Kingsbury Ordnance Plant, also known as “KOP,” came into being to support the Allied efforts during World War II. Businesses such as Helena and Sims now are moving into the Kingsbury Industrial Park, the successor to KOP.
Row Crop scholarships were also awarded during the evening to two recipients who are studying agriculture or a related field after high school. In cooperation with the Unity Foundation of La Porte County, which administers the scholarship endowment fund, scholarships were awarded to Brandon Ames of La Porte and Bailey Kiff of Wanatah. Brandon, son of Mike and Joan Ames, will be a junior this fall at Purdue University, West Lafayette, where he is pursuing a major in ag systems management; he is currently completing an internship with Castongia’s in DeMotte, IN, a John Deere equipment dealership. Bailey, son of Amy Lawrence and Brandon Kiff, will be a freshman at Purdue where he will study animal science and animal nutrition. Bailey just graduated from La Crosse High School, completed 10 years in 4-H and has been a student member on the board of La Porte County Farm Bureau, Inc.
The Row Crop group works in cooperation with Purdue Extension – La Porte County to conduct this annual event. They also invite La Porte County’s 4th grade students to learn about agriculture during Ag Days in January and hold an annual business meeting in conjunction with La Porte County Soil and Water Conservation District in February.