The Baird Family of Washington County is honored as the 2013 Indiana Farm Family of the Year at the Indiana Farm Bureau State Convention in Indianapolis. Pictured (from left) are Jared, Michael, Linda and Kevin Baird. The award is presented annually by Beck’s Hybrids and Indiana AgriNews.
INDIANAPOLIS – The Baird Family now is Indiana’s Farm Family of the Year.
The Washington County family was honored during a presentation at the Indiana Farm Bureau State Convention in Indianapolis.
Kevin and Linda Baird received the award with their sons, Michael and Jared. The Bairds own and operate Cornucopia Farm, an agritourism destination for residents in southern Indiana, Louisville and northern Kentucky, as well as southwestern Ohio.
They grow 20 different kinds of pumpkins, from the small Jack-Be-Quick to the extra-large Atlantic Giant. They also use drip irrigation to raise more than 2,000 mums each year to sell at the farm, farmers markets and hardware stores.
The award is presented annually by two family agricultural businesses, Beck’s Hybrids and Indiana AgriNews. It honors an outstanding Hoosier family for its farming efforts and community involvement and is aimed at increasing awareness of the important contributions all farm families make to everyone’s daily life.
“The Baird family has worked together to diversify their operation, which requires continued learning and a lot of energy, while at the same time, they still pursue their passion for telling their story and the story of agriculture to the communities around them,” said Beck’s Hybrids Vice President Scott Beck.
“We are pleased that they were nominated and that we have the opportunity to recognize them as the 2013 Indiana Farm Family of the Year.”
Linda said her family is grateful to simply be nominated.
“Frankly, we were just honored to be nominated, especially when we found out that it was two young people who made the nomination for us, that they actually took the time out of their busy schedule and their busy college and young career lives to do that,” she said, citing Indiana Farm Bureau regional manager Seth Harden and Purdue University student Morgan Dawson.
“It makes us excited for the future of agriculture when we see young people such as Seth and Morgan choosing agriculture as a career and also our own two sons choosing agriculture as a future career.”
Michael and Jared raise five acres of produce, including sweet corn, tomatoes, green beans, okra, potatoes, squash, melons and strawberries.
The family, which also farms about 350 acres of corn and soybeans, is looking to the future, considering plans to add an orchard, grass-fed beef and Christmas trees to the operation.
Michael, a senior majoring in horticulture production and marketing and agribusiness management, and Jared, a freshman majoring in agribusiness, return knowledge of progressive technology and management styles from Purdue University to the farm.
Cornucopia Farm, located between Salem and Scottsburg, is open to the public each fall, giving people a special opportunity to shop for pumpkins along with gourds, mums, squash, apple butter, Indian corn and other products – as well as the chance to talk to a farmer and make a connection to agriculture.
Special attractions include a slide made from recycled milk jugs; a petting farm with goats, calves, pigs, sheep and chickens; wagon rides to the U-pick pumpkin patch; a beehive; cow milking; a straw house play area; and several games.
In elaborately designed mazes in the corn and soybean fields, signs with Bible verses and agriculture trivia share the family’s faith and educate people on food and farming. The Bairds are active at Little York Christian Church.
“We do believe in the future of agriculture and believe that we should be advocates for agriculture. We’re our own best storytellers,” Linda said.
“When we open our farm to visitors in September and October, we try to take the time to answer questions and let them know our side of the story.”
More than 3,000 students visit the farm each year to learn about farm safety, bee pollination, livestock production, fruit and vegetable production and more.
Kevin helped create the annual Washington County Ag Day. On the farm, Linda teaches lessons about agriculture using the props and a curriculum she has developed, which even includes a puppet show.
Kevin and Linda serve as 4-H club leaders of the Gibson Township Super Stars and the county 4-H Goat Club, and they are livestock superintendents at the county fair. They also are involved in Farm Bureau, Farm Safety 4 Just Kids and other community activities.
“We believe more farmers should engage our consumers to tell our viewpoint, but also to find out what they expect,” Linda said. “If we work together to do that, we can accomplish much.”
Kevin, a past president of the Washington County Farm Bureau, works with dozens of farmers as a resource specialist for the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. He also uses conservation and natural resource management concepts on the family farm, which is 100 percent no-till and recently incorporated the use of cover crops.
The family was instrumental in establishing the very popular Washington County Farmer’s Market. Linda serves as the secretary and treasurer of the market.
This year, Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer. Not only is she a survivor, she now is empowering her community to raise funds for cancer research.
Two separate programs at Cornucopia Farm supported this effort this year. The Bairds raised pink pumpkins and donated money from their sales, and they also held the first annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at the farm.
“This year has been challenging on our farm,” Linda said. “But we are very thankful for all the blessings that we have, that we are able to live in a country doing what we love to do on the farm.”
As the 2013 Indiana Farm Family of the Year, the family members received a plaque and a yard sign.
They also have been invited to attend the Farmers Day activities at the Indiana State Fair and will receive an all-expense-paid vacation getaway based on their own personal interests.