specialty crops

New regulations for how big farms handle raw produce won’t affect the hundreds of vendors that sell at Indiana farmers markets.

But small-scale growers still have plenty of rules to follow.

In a trailer at the Lafayette Farmers Market, Graham Rider digs through a freezer stuffed with plastic packages of frozen meat. His family owns Thistle Byre Farm in Burnettsville.

“Here’s our thermometer,” Rider says, pulling it out from beneath totes of ground beef and lamb. “Oh, good. It’s below 20.”

Annie Ropeik / Indiana Public Broadcasting

 

Craft beer now makes up a quarter of the beer market in the U.S., which means brewers are eager for ways to stand out. For some, that means buying hops locally -- even in Indiana.

It's encouraging more and more upstart Hoosier growers to invest long-term in the trendy crop.

Steve Howe is one of them. His Crown Point backyard doubles as Howe Farms. Past a pen of piglets and fluffy Scottish Highland cows, Howe is growing a tiny forest of hops.

Josh Delp/ https://www.flickr.com/photos/repoman/3891445356/

The state Department of Agriculture is looking for new ways to make Indiana specialty crops competitive.

They'll divide more than $380,000 among research and marketing projects for fruit, veggies and more. The federal money comes from the USDA’s specialty crop block grant program.