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Farm Focus Tour

New tour offers non-farmers
a chance to visit a working farm

Three locations to showcase
Jefferson County farms

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

(September 2009) – Gregory Brawner’s family has been in the farm business for four generations. More than anything, he wants to promote community awareness about dairy farming while making his own farm as efficient as possible.
Greg, Teresa and son, Gregory, Brawner operate Organic Dairy Farm, located in 3649 S. Hanover Saluda Rd. in Hanover, Ind. The farm consists of more than 800 acres, said Gregory Brawner. They raise corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa and a variety of other grasses.
“We milk about 120 cows,” said Brawner, which in itself is enough to keep the family busy seven days a week. They raise primarily Holsteins but have been cross-breeding the cattle with Jerseys, Brown Swiss and New Zealand breeds to introduce more components into the herd, he said.
The farm was begun by Brawner’s great-grandfather, B.T. Brawner. Brawner’s father bought the farm in the early 1980s, and Brawner said he is glad for the opportunity to partner with his father for a few more years. He hopes to eventually take over the family farm on his own.
“We take pride in making the farm look nice, making the cows look nice and in raising good crops,” said Brawner. The cattle are raised on a pasture rotation grazing system where the cows are not confined. “It’s a natural, organic farm,” said Brawner. No hormones are added to the cattle, as most cows are a forage-diet animal, he pointed out.
The Brawners will be participating in the upcoming Farm Focus Tour to promote education and community awareness about farming for people who have never seen a dairy. It is also geared for people who may have been raised on a diary but have not been around a farm recently, said Brawner. It will provide a first-hand look at “what takes place on a farm and what goes into producing milk.”
The Farm Focus Tour is “an Open House for people to visit a farm,” said Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Agent Lonnie Mason. The driving tour will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 6, at three area farm locations.
Participants can begin at any of the three farms and travel at their own leisure to Madison Vineyards, Norbert Schafer’s farm and the Brawners farm in Hanover. This free event was held 15 years ago with a turnout of 400 people, said Mason.
Since that time, people have requested that it be held again, he said. “We decided it was finally time and all farms volunteered to be a part of it.”
In addition to the Brawner Organic Dairy, people are welcome to visit the Schafer Farm, located at 4857 East 900 North in Madison. The Schafers’ farm is in Shelby Township near Canaan. The farm was begun on a small scale with one acre of tobacco in 1982. They began to farm full-time two years later.
The farm now produces 16 acres of tobacco, 40 brood cows and 55 stocker calves. In time the couple hopes to grow the cattle operation to match forage resources. The Schafers employ an aggressive rotation grazing system on the farm. On this farm, visitors may get to experience tobacco harvesting.
The Madison Vineyards Estate Winery and Bed & Breakfast is located at 1456 East 400 North in Madison. The 37-acre farm was purchased in fall 1994 by Sandy and Steve Palmer.
The Palmers produce grapes on 13.25 acres from a dozen different varieties. Grapes grown on the property are crushed, fermented and bottled in the winery.
These wines are distributed throughout the state of Indiana. Visitors are invited to tour the vineyards to learn more about the wine, grape-growing process.
Brawner said he is participating in the tour with the community in mind. He wants people to know he is part of a respectful, clean farm environment. In the future it is the family’s hope to have more tours of their farm and to invite more people out to it if there is enough interest shown in the Farm Focus Tour.
Also on display for the tour at the Brawner’s farm will be tractors spanning four generations. Included will be a 1966 John Deer 420 that contains its original paint and is still used on the farm.
The Farm Focus Tour is sponsored by the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service and the Jefferson County Extension Board, in cooperation with the Jefferson County Farm Service Agency, Jefferson County Farm Bureau, Jefferson County SWCD, Madison FFA, Southwestern FFA and the Jefferson County 4-H Junior Leaders.

• For more information, contact Lonnie Mason at the Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Office at (812) 265-8919.

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