“We didn’t want our kids to have to pay their own way through college,” Ruth said. “But we couldn’t swing it all by ourselves. Our goal was for them to work for their college education and graduate debt-free. That’s what we wanted for them.”
Enter the Hackman Family Farm Market. In 2012, the Hackmans opened their market, selling their homegrown fresh produce at their farm. The kids quickly learned the challenges of operating a produce market. They spent countless hours transplanting watermelon and cantaloupe plants, cultivating and harvesting acre after acre – almost all the labor done by hand.
Over a decade after Thomas and Ruth bought the farm, their dream of getting their kids through college debt-free was on the horizon. The kids had to work for it, but the Hackmans achieved and exceeded that dream.
“I don’t think any of us realized what a big deal that was until we went to college,” Jacquelyn said. “We graduated and all our friends are talking about their loan payments and we’re like ‘that’s so expensive’. We never drew a salary from the farm, but we did it knowing that it was going to pay for college. We got paid a lot better than a salary.”
The Hackman kids weren’t the only employees during those long, hot summers. The family gained community support by turning to their friends and then their friends’ friends. The Hackman Family Farm Market has employed over 200 local high school students.
“The community loves to see the kids out here working,” Ruth said. “The older generation loves to see kids with a work ethic. It reminds them of their childhood.”
Thanks to the market, the Hackman's children returned after college to work on the farm and in their produce business. Now,the farm is managed with the help of Victor, Megan, Jacquelyn and her husband, Klayton Jasinski. Allison lends a hand during busy times but lives off the farm.
The farm market has expanded over the years, now producing about 180 acres of watermelons and 25 to 30 acres of other fruits and vegetables, including zucchini, squash, tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn, okra, potatoes and more. There have been other avenues of growth as well. The Hackmans sell some of their produce in the wholesale market. They sell to local chains, such as JayC Food Stores, and have shipped to 35 states. They have even gone international with their produce.
“We shipped watermelons to Canada last year,” Thomas said with a grin. “Megan wore her maple leaf shirt that day. We’ve also shipped to Montana, New York, Texas and Florida.”
The Hackmans continue to sell their produce at the farm market and at Darlage Custom Meats in Seymour, Indiana.
Their most recent venture is delivering fresh produce to their customers' front porches in Jackson and Washington counties. Their Veg2Table vegetable subscription service began in 2022. Customers can pick a four-, six- or 12-week subscription and have the option to add fresh flowers. Customers can choose a small or large box delivered weekly or every other week throughout the summer.
The Hackmans also like to throw in a recipe or two to give customers more options to use their produce. Boxes sometimes include local goods like spices or jams. To continue expanding, Hackman Family Farm Market has teamed with an Indiana hydroponics producer and an orchard to provide more variety to their boxes. Lettuce, herbs, peaches and apples now make their way into subscription boxes.
What’s next for the Hackman Family Farm Market? Jacquelyn says only time will tell, but the family expects to continue growing the operation with all hands on deck.
“Watermelon is something that we can continue expanding because it’s huge,” Jacquelyn said. “That is the reason us kids have been able to come back and join the farm.”
To learn more about the Hackman Family Farm Market, visit its website, Facebook or Instagram.