The 2007 Indiana Farm Sustainability Tours feature Hoosier farmers leading the way in a variety of innovative practices that add value to their farms and their communities.

The tours will give educators, farmers and other rural residents the opportunity to investigate ways to diversify their operations and to learn from other diversified Hoosier farmers.

"In today's agricultural economy, there are real opportunities for farmers to take advantage of consumer-driven niche markets in their local communities," said Sarah Yeager, program manager of Diversification for the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. "Through these new opportunities, diversified farming operations can improve family income, reduce reliance on federal farm programs and serve emerging non-traditional markets."

During the tours, participants will have the chance to interact with the farm owners and operators and to learn about their experiences, management styles and how they make important decisions. The tours vary from month to month and focus on topics such as business structure, keeping the family involved, agritourism and niche marketing. The tours also include a specialist from Purdue who will discuss the topic of the day and be available to answer questions.

Not only will participants have the chance to speak with specialists and farm owners, but they will also have the opportunity to learn about available resources and network with others who are interested in diversifying their farms or rural enterprises.

"Moody Meats, one of the farms that we will be visiting, take their product from gate to plate," said Roy Ballard, Purdue University Extension educator in Hancock County and program coordinator. "They raise the animals on their farm, process them at their facility in Ladoga and have their own retail outlet in Ladoga and Avon."

The Indiana Farm Sustainability Tours begin in March and run through November. The tours will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the third Thursday of each month with the exception of August. Due to the Indiana State Fair, the tour will be the fourth Thursday of August.

The tour dates are listed below, followed by the topic of the day and the farm site(s).

• March 15; "Value-Added Processing;" Ohio River Valley Food Venture, the Jennings County Growers Meat Market and Thomas Winery, all of Madison.

• April 19; "Opportunities in Horticulture;" Halters Greenhouses and Retail Market of Vincennes, Apple Hill Orchard of Bruceville and Melon Acres Asparagus of Oaktown.

• May 17; "Farm Business Structures;" Cook's Bison Ranch of Wolcottville and Gunthorps' Pastured Pork and Poultry of LaGrange.

• June 21; "Urban Fringe Marketing: Meeting the Needs of the Urban Consumer;" Tuttle's Orchard and Farm Market of Greenfield.

• July 19; "Organic Production and Marketing;" Bloomingfoods, Stranger's Hill Organic Farm and Bloomington Farmers' Market, all of Bloomington.

• Aug. 23; "Agritourism: Enhancing the Visitor's Experience;" Traders Point Creamery of Zionsville.

• Sept. 20; "Family Farming: Keeping the Family in the Family Farm;" Swiss Connection Cheese of Clay City and Moody Meats of Ladoga.

• Oct. 18; "Specialty-Marketing Partnerships;:Birky Family Farms, Valparaiso Farmers' Market and CrËme de la Crop CSA, all of Valparaiso.

• Nov. 15; "Food Trends, a Look at Consumer Food Expectations and How We Can Meet Them;" Purdue Food Science facilities of West Lafayette.

"The tours are unique in that participants will be able to taste different agricultural products produced right here in Indiana," said Ballard.

For more information and to register, visit Each tour is $15 per person, which includes lunch, refreshments and materials. Individuals have the option to register for all of the tours or to select one or two at a time.

Registration is due seven days prior to a tour.

The 2007 Indiana Farm Sustainability Tours are sponsored by the Purdue Small Farms Team, the Purdue New Ventures Team, ISDA and the North East Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE).

For questions and more information, contact Jerry Nelson, New Ventures Extension educator and tour coordinator, at 812-886-9582 or or Ballard at 317-462-1113 or