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Howell Family

Building on a Strong Foundation

Like most farm kids, Mary and David Howells’ children learned the value of hard work early in life.

“My husband and I were the first generation on our farm, and as we struggled to get through the agricultural depression of the 1980s, we grew a lot of fresh market fruits and vegetables for retail sale,” Mary says. “Because of that, our children grew up working very hard, picking and sorting green beans, sweet corn, apples and other produce.”

Once opportunities arose to spread their wings, however, all four children chose to attend out-of-state colleges.

Oldest son, Adam, studied economics at Princeton University, while his brother, Aaron, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural business from Texas A&M University and Purdue University. Daughters, Amanda and Audrey, studied at Iowa State University and Texas A&M University, respectively.

After venturing elsewhere to pursue their education in places like New Jersey, Texas and Iowa, all four returned to their roots in Middletown, Indiana.

“They miraculously decided to return home after college at the beginning of the 21st century and they pulled us – and the farming operations – into that century,” Mary says.When Adam and Aaron decided to make farming their careers, Mary says, she and David “made the wise decision to hand the reins over to the next generation.”

“Today, our sons manage the operation,” Mary says. “David and I get to work here and enjoy watching them work to grow and improve what we started.”

While the first-generation Howells focused their effort on fresh-market fruits and vegetables, as well as corn and soybeans, that began to change when their sons took control.

The next generation diversified into new crops. Today the farm grows corn, soybeans, Red Gold processing tomatoes, wheat, barley for malting and non-GMO soybeans for export to Asian markets.

They have also adopted the newest technology and cultural practices, including poly-cropping, which maximizes each field’s per-season productiveness.

The second generation of Howells has adopted conservation measures such as strip-till for wheat and cover cropping, with experimental combinations and varieties of cover crops, some of which double as pasture for beef cattle.They also design on-farm field trials and implement technology and production practices which are evaluated on a stringent cost-benefit basis in relation to the health and productivity of their soils.

In 2022, the farm will also begin planting tomatoes with an automated transplanter. “It will dramatically speed up planting time,” Mary says.

“They are always working to improve our farming methods and production practices ,” Mary says.“Our land is our most precious resource, outside of our faith and our families, and we take every precaution, opportunity and challenge to maintain it at the highest level of fertility every day of every year. It is foremost on our minds.”

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