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Celebrating a passion for farming

 October 12 marks National Farmer’s Day, honoring the people who work hard to feed the world. This year, we’re celebrating three Purdue Agriculture alumni and their passion for farming. 

Roger Winstead 
Landscape Architecture, Class of 1986
Winstead Family Winstead Family
What do you farm? 

TomatoesMy wife, Mary, and I are specialty crop growers. We grow a pretty large variety of vegetables in Paradise, Indiana, and have an urban mushroom farm in downtown Evansville. We started out as lettuce and tomato growers before transitioning to a market garden that grows a wide variety of greens, brassicas, carrots, onions, herbs, peppers and most of all, tomatoes.  

Edible flowers

Mary describes me as a tomato connoisseur! They take up the most growing space. We try at least 10 new varieties every year, and we grow at least 30 varieties. In the urban farm, it is a close race between oyster and lion's mane mushrooms.

We also grow edible flowers, which is something most people find unique. Not only are they edible, medicinal, and beautiful, they are a source of food for our best employees—pollinators.

Roger Winstead
Why do you farm? 

Health! We grow to feed our family and our community. As consumers, we seek out the healthiest food to feed ourselves, which influences what we do and how we farm. Our soil is our future, and the health of it determines our health and that of our community. We have always used organic practices, and what we put on this land is always gauged by how healthy it will make the land and soil in the long run, versus short gains. 

The other aspect of farming I’m passionate about is the community of farmers and producers that we belong to. We share and trade nutrition, products and knowledge to better ourselves and each other.

Brandon Cooper 
Agribusiness, Class of 2019
Brandon Cooper Brandon Cooper
Brandon Cooper
What do you farm? 

We raise corn, soybeans and have a beef cow calf operation in Rockville, Indiana.

Why do you farm? 

I was born and raised on our family farm and have fallen in love with the industry. It’s fulfilling to me to be able to carry on what my grandfather and father started, and I hope I will be able to pass it on to future generations of our family who intend to continue the family business.

I believe farming not only sustains us, but it teaches very important values in life: hard work, problem-solving and self-sufficiency. Being raised on the farm has made me a better person and who I am today.

Ashley Adair 
Natural RESources and environmental science/Environmental Plant Studies, Class of 2014
Ashley Adair Ashley Adair
What do you farm?

Ashley AdairThis year, I grew dry edible beans and heirloom flint corn at two Purdue research sites: Meigs Horticulture Research Farm and the Purdue Student Farm. 

I have a special place in my heart for growing tomatoes. I like pruning, leaning, lowering and harvesting them. I gained a lot of experience working with tomatoes as an undergraduate researcher for Dr. Celina Gomez when she was a graduate student in Horticulture and Landscape Architecture.

Why do you farm?

Ashley AdairI’m passionate about farming and working for Purdue Extension because I strongly believe in the land grant mission. Providing unbiased advice based on research became a core value of mine as I developed a great respect for Extension professionals and the strong system we have at Purdue. It was a no-brainer to pursue a career in Extension.

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