DANVILLE — More than 200 farmers from all over Indiana attended the Indiana Small Farm Conference held this weekend at the Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds and Conference Complex.
This was the second year for the event, said Steve Engleking, LaGrange County Extension educator and conference coordinator.
“It’s intended for anyone who is currently involved with, or interested in, small farms in Indiana,” Engleking said. “That could be farmers, Extension educators, agricultural agency people or students. We hope to continue building a statewide community of people who have a passion about small farms.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines a small farm as one with no more than $250,000 in annual agricultural commodity sales. They accounted for 91 percent of farms in the nation and half of the farm land, according to the USDA’s 2007 Census of Agriculture.
“We had a few less attend this year but we believe it’s due to the weather,” Engleking said. “The weather has been so uncertain around the state.”
Last year, the conference welcomed approximately 250 farmers to the conference. This year the conference goers were between 225 and 230 individuals.
He said there are many people coming back to run a family farm.
“The Extension started 100 years ago to help farmers learn better practices,” he said. “So many people are returning to family farms.”
He said the Extension has been having somewhat of a difficult time plugging into the “new” farmers.
“The Extension has marketing channels for these types of programs but this clientele is not always tuned into our networks,” Engleking said. “We are looking for ways to reach this new clientele.”
He said he meets people new to the farming industry that does not know about the Extension.
“They say we are the best kept secret,” he said. “We need to find new ways to spread the word about our programs.”