You won’t find Halterville on any state maps. And no, it’s not a fictitious name, like Hickory, out of a movie. But there is a large sign just outside of Vincennes declaring that you’ve entered Halterville, population 20.
The farm and surrounding buildings form an immaculate, almost amusing place. It contains refurbished structures, including a grain bin that has a new life as an outdoor social area, rows of greenhouses and an abundance of beautiful flowers growing everywhere — as long as you visit at the right time of the year.
• Five families keep ties to ag and live off niche business.
• Family divides responsibilities into growing and retail selling.
• High-tunnel system helps them get tomatoes off to a fast start.
It’s also home to the Halter family’s produce operation. Five families spanning three generations make up the family business and are living proof you can still carve out a niche in agriculture with hard work and marketing savvy. You won’t find big combines and tractors here. But you will find greenhouse after greenhouse crammed full of plants.
Currently, the family operation has 16 greenhouses that together put more than an acre under cover. Years of developing and marketing have helped them discover their concentration on traditional and newly developed flowers and bedding plants.
Lawrence and Shyla Halter started the business and opened a downtown market, the cornerstone of their retail business, in 1972. Their son, Jay; his wife, Brenda; and their son Bryan manage the growing end of the operation. Jay and Brenda’s son Keith and Jay’s sister, Sandy Woodall, work the retail part.
The Halters grow 25 acres of produce. Still, the labor-intensive business is what they love to do. They have about 20 employees, although they don’t all work at the same time during the year.
A high-tunnel system, a recent development in the produce industry, allows the Halters to start tomato plants in early spring. Tomatoes are planted into the ground for the highest quality taste. The Halters do that rather than risk losing quality and taste, which can occur sometimes with a potted tomato.
Official welcome: You won’t find Halterville on a state map, but you will find a sign at this multigenerational farm.
Young tomatoes: This greenhouse helps the Halters get tomatoes of to a fast start early in the season. Photo courtesy of Halter family
Welcome mat is out: Part of the success for Kevin (left), Margo and Bruce Donnar at the Big Peach Market is making folks feel like they’re at home.
Three generations: Meet more Halters. Bryan (center) is flanked by parents Jay and Brenda (right) and grandparents Lawrence and Shyla (left). Sandy Woodall and Keith, Bryan’s brother, are on the cover.
This article published in the November, 2011 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.
All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.