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INDIANA SUSTAINABLE FARMING

A Pictorial History of the Wisdom of Food Production, Practice, and Provisioning

Images and Voices

Jim Sigman

HI-Acre Farm

County

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My circumstances are that I left the farm in '85. I quit farming at that point in time. I didn't want to [get away from the farm when I was growing up]. It's  just economically it wasn't feasible for me to continue to farm. I had family and that. At that point in time interest rates were 15-16% and it just was not economical for me to farm. The economy was so bad I should have quit two or three years earlier. And so, I just told [my dad] that I can't continue on, so we sold off the cattle and that and he rented the farm out for a few years. And  then, as he got older when he retired, he started breaking down the ground and selling that and that's how it– Farmers, they don't have big 401Ks. So, that's what he lived on. And he'll be 97 here before too long, so.

 

I moved to Arizona for two years. Then I moved back here.

 

Dad, when he basically retired, he started raising a big garden and had more than he could use. And so, he started going to the market. Down there in front of the library, on the street.

 

That's really what it was, he started with from there. I mean, he'd sold off property and stuff and he just had some property left. And it went down to 12 acres. We used to have 370 here, but he sold off all the rest of it. And he had planted these trees back in 1974-75, something like that, a bunch of apple trees. And they started cultivating them and add more to them. I've added up to them, we have about 150 of it now, because that's all I can take care of. And I just ordered another 50. Three[JR7]  to five years [until the trees produce fruit]. You may get a little bit in three years. Four or five years they should start going full production. So, I'll be 70 years old, so I'm gambling that I'm going to make it to 74, 75.

 

The background was I grew up farming, milking cows, so farming, that's what we did. And so, it was a learning experience for me to go into vegetables because I knew how to raise corn and beans and make hay.

 

I spent 37 years as a mortgage banker. So, that's how I spent my time.

 

When I came back from Arizona and I started helping some. And then, when I got ready to retire, I just took it all over full time.

 

I've always picked myself. We've only had 70 [trees] that's in  production. I've always picked myself, and my wife, she's getting ready– She's helping out here now, Patricia is. She's stepped away from her job this year [of the pandemic] because she was going to 12, 15 people's homes every week. And with this stuff going on she said, "I'm not going in though." And I don't blame her. So, she's been helping me, and then getting more into it.

 

What we did was we bought Dad's place, but gave them a lifetime to stay. I drive out here [to the farm] every day. That's 23 miles and he's here.

 

That's the way we farm it.

I leaned on a lot of his knowledge over the years that he gathered for 20, 25 years and he's helped me with that. And I've got one son that I think might end up here before too long, might start to get some interest in it. And if he does, then I'll try to bring him into it.

 

All that growing the vegetables and stuff, fertilization and insecticides. I mean, you got to keep the bugs out of this stuff. With apples, if you don't take care of your apples you've got nothing.

My source doc