Spartana

Milk

Mikayla Havison, Copy Editor

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Introduction

Ind. and city of Fort Wayne are known for their agricultural nature; however, the extent to which agriculture and more specifically dairy culture influences student life is not as well-acknowledged.

Throughout the city and surrounding areas, many students and staff participate in activities related to dairy. From raising cows to drinking the school cafeteria milk, the influence of dairy and cows on culture is prevalent.

Cows have not only produce milk for the community, but have also defined a culture and united the community of Fort Wayne.

Kuehernt Dairy Farm – Fall Festival

As the temperature makes a steady descent and leaves begin to fall, the spirit of autumn begins to grow within the community. Gathering together and enjoying fall festivities in the spirit of agriculture not only brings people together, but helps develop a true sense of community and family.

The Kuehnert Dairy Farm, located in Allen County strives to do just that. Each fall, the family-run farm brings the community together to enjoy activities, such as a five-acre corn maze, hay rides, delicious dairy treats and a ninja course. The event happens for several weekends each fall.

“They have so many interesting things there, like seeing how the cows are milked, a tour of the farm on a hayride and the haystack that’s really fun to climb on,” Emma Hallman (10), a student said. “My favorite part has always been the corn maze since it’s different each year. They also have great food!”

Although the farm has been apart of the community for six generations, the fall festival is relatively new and began in 2013.

“When we wanted to start the festival we went out to many other farms that were doing agrotourism and we did lots of research to see what kind of activities that we wanted to do,” Sarah Kuehnert, co-owner of the farm said.

The farm’s primary desire is to bring the community together; however, they also strive to teach visitors about the dairy industry.

“I think what brings us together is the relationship that we are trying to build with our community,” Kuehnert said. “As a family…building that relationship and educating people on what we do and why we do it, and the importance of dairy is what benefits the community.”

Additionally, the farm is striving to bring the community of Fort Wayne back to its agricultural roots and provide information on modern-day farming techniques.

“Things have become more convenient to generationst than they have ever been before and I think that sometimes we lose sight of those roots,” Kuehnert said.

After using machinery to milk their cows, the Kuehnert family then sends their milk to the Prairie Farms manufacturing facility in Anderson, where it is combined with milk from 80 other dairy farms in the region.

After being turned into a sellable product by Prairie Farms, the milk is then distributed to any school or business that has a contract with the brand. One such school that has a contract with the company is Homestead.

“I think that it’s good that the school is supporting local farms through a mainstream cooperation,” Brooke Clements (10) said.

Students in Cow Shows-

At five in the morning, the alarm clock begins to shriek loudly. Groggily rolling out of bed, you realize that it’s one of the most important parts of the day: it’s time to take care of your cows.

This is the life of several students at Homestead who participate in agricultural events, such as the Allen County 4-H Fair, where people across the community gather to participate in livestock shows.

One of the most demanding events at the fair is the cow show, where contestants across the county bring their cows to compete in various levels of competition.

“We buy (our cows) when they are a couple weeks old and then we raise them until they are four to six months old,” Cali Christman (10), a student who participates in the fair, said. “Then you go into fair and weight in your cow.”

When being weighed into the fair, cows have to be under a set weight in order to qualify for the show. After being weighed in, the cow has to be raised for a few more months.

Once that period passes, the cows are then brought back to the fair where they are put into classes by weight.

“At fair, you set up your cow (in a barn) and then that whole week you take care of it,” Christman said.

At the competition, there are two categories contestants are judged on.

“There’s showmanship, which is where the judge judges you on how you present the cow and how well you know your animal,” Christman said. “Then there’s your class, which is based on weight and that’s where they judge the cow and its structure.”

After intense judging, a winners are decided upon in each class.

“If you win showmanship, then you move on to senior showmanship and whoever wins that can go to a round robin where every large livestock animal showman competes,” Christman said. “If you win (your class) then you go against all the other class winners and together (the judges) will find an overall winner.”

A lot of work is put in by every participant who strives to win the competition.

“It teaches you a lot about hard work because you have to go out there everyday, twice a day,” Christman said. “(You have to go out) at five in the morning to feed and water your cows. It teaches your to care for something else.”

Although the competition can be serious times, the competitors enjoy having fun when coming up with cow names.

“Right now I don’t have any cows, but I had two,” Christman said. “One’s name was Wrigley  and the other one’s name was Sir Loin.”

Christman is not the only student who raises cows for the fair.

“My best friend, Jayden Gulmeyer shows beef cows, which is a different breed than I show,” Christman said.

The 4-H fair is important to many students at the school and contributes to their daily lives.

“A lot of people at Homestead are in 4-H and many people wouldn’t think that,” Christman said.

Walmart-

As of June 13, Walmart opened its first milk manufacturer in the city of Fort Wayne. Walmart’s creation of their own milk brand was seen as a surprise by many; however, the company sees Fort Wayne as a great place for the start of their milk brand.

“This new plant is a perfect example of the kinds of efficiencies Walmart seeks in our supply chain to benefit our customers,” Walmart said. “Farmers and associates in Ind. have been so important in getting us to this point.”

Although many in the state are fearful, that Walmart will put some local dairy farms out of business, the brand is hoping to become an active provider for the dairy community.

“Milk will be sourced from nearly 30 dairy farms in both Ind. and Michigan with these farms being an average of 140 miles from the plant,” Walmart said.

By sourcing locally, Walmart will be able to help the Ind. economy, which is something that Gov. Eric Holcomb is enthusiastic about.

“This new facility is a vote of confidence in our state, in the northeast Ind. region and the Fort Wayne community,” Holcomb said at the opening of the manufacturing plant. “ Even more, it’s a vote of confidence in our people.”

On top of providing 300 more jobs for the people of Fort Wayne, Walmart has made an effort to further incorporate itself into the community. In total, Walmart has donated approximately $10,000 to important parts of the community, such as local schools and the 4-H Allen County Fair.

“We’re honored to be part of the community here and Fort Wayne, and hope these donations are a symbol of that,” Walmart said.

As far as aiding the culture of the dairy industry, Walmart is hoping to be a leader in the expansion of Ind.’s dairy production.

“We’re working hard to ensure that milk coming in to our facility is coming from cows and farms nearby like Next Generations Dairy in Berne, Ind., who are here with us today,” Walmart said.

In total, Walmart’s first milk manufacturing location will impact the dairy industry in Ind. Although Walmart has hit some bumps in the road creating their own milk brand, the company has hope for what Fort Wayne can do for their company.

“As we begin to bottle milk for our customers in the area, (local farmers) will continue to be the biggest factor in our success,” Walmart said.

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