Indiana is known for agriculture; so much so, that when the rest of the country hears “Indiana,” corn is likely one of the first things to come to their mind. As a result, no matter where you are in the state, you do not have to venture far to find a farm. Traveling on Indiana roads, we have become so accustomed to seeing crops, livestock and barns that many of us do not even think about the history. But, have you ever seen an old barn and wondered who owns it, or how long it has been there?
Twice a year, since 1976, the state honors Indiana’s farming families through the Hoosier Homestead Awards. The awards are specifically given to families who have owned and operated the same farm for 100 years or more. While a congratulatory certificate may not seem like a lot, the symbolic nature of these awards is huge not only for the state, but also the families. They are a way to say thank you for the immeasurable contributions farming families have made to the economy, culture and the state’s overall advancement.
This year’s first round of awards were presented at the Statehouse in March, and the second ceremony was recently held in the Farm Bureau Building at the Indiana State Fair. Over the years, numerous members of our community have received the award, but today in particular, I would like congratulate the Knies Family of Celestine for receiving the centennial award for over 100 years of ownership.
The Knies Farm has been in operation since 1907 and now joins the roughly 5,000 farms to have been recognized for their dedication to Hoosier agriculture. As I sat down to write this column and began to think about the magnitude of what it meant to maintain a farm for over 100 years, I was compelled to do some research. I stumbled across a Forbes article which stated that only a quarter of new employer firms stay in business 15 years or more.
These statistics further illustrate what an incredible feat it is to maintain a business, or farm, for more than a century. We also must not forget the importance of the goods that these particular businesses generate. Many of us take for granted the fact that we can go to the grocery store and buy fresh, local goods. We do not often take the time to think about the long hours that someone else spent, often away from their own families, to put food on our family’s table.
I believe it is extremely important that Indiana celebrates its heritage and the families that continue to keep it alive. The Hoosier Homestead Awards honor not only the farm itself but also the families that built them. I again wish to express my sincerest congratulations to the Knies family on receiving the acknowledgment they truly deserve. I personally admire their perseverance, and I am grateful for their dedication to advancing our state’s economy and feeding Hoosier families.