By Lorn Shaum
In 1986, Chuck and Tami Mohler started farming on the Mohler family farm. Since then, their sons have become part of the operation.
The majority of farming techniques used on the 160 acres east of Millersburg were learned in Israel, including shemita, the Torah-mandated seven-year agricultural cycle. These cultivation and land rotation techniques allow the farm to deliver produce earlier than others while cultivating the land for future use.
The farm’s specially made gourmet two-tone sweet corn is started from seed indoors, transferred to the fields in April and covered to protect against late frosts. Corn arrives on their markets at the end of June, which is more than a month earlier than conventional sweet corn.
Besides the area, the family farm has nine greenhouses. Two are for sprouting and grafting (another practice learned in Israel) and seven are for cultivation. Tomatoes, kohlrabi and peppers ripen well in their cozy environments. Sammy’s tomatoes are available in early June.
Grafting is an interesting technique where you splice a plant into the stem of another plant. This technique provides a more robust and disease resistant plant, resulting in higher quality products.
The farm is an education in sustainable land management! Growing fields are abundant with fresh plantations that will soon begin producing for their markets. On this tour, the cornfields are a sea of green.
To maintain produce growth, Stoney Creek meanders through the farm providing a vibrant water source.
The Mohlers are passionate about improving their unique corn species. Over the years, they continued to test improvements in sweetness and flavor. When ready, the maize pickers arrive at 6:30 a.m. each morning to fill bins to be transported to their markets. The first trucks leave before 9 a.m. each day the markets are open. The corn is then bagged on the markets. The farm runs like clockwork throughout the summer and until early October when the last corn arrives.
The farm also produces pickles, cucumbers, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, cabbage, green beans, beets, summer squash, asparagus, and kohlrabi. In 2014, they expanded into selling the Sweet Corn Charlie brand of bottled salad dressings, jams. Jellies, condiments and dressings.
Sammy is also the beekeeper. Bees are extraordinarily important to farmers for pollination,” which is why beehives are maintained both on the farm and in surrounding areas. Honey is harvested and bottled for markets.
The Farm Market is now open and offers rhubarb, asparagus, zucchini, tomatoes, lettuce and watermelon. Later in June, markets will have strawberries and blueberries from Michigan.
Yellow Striped Tents are now open in Middlebury and Goshen. Warsaw arrives the week of June 6 and Syracuse will soon follow. Charley says, “The price increases are staggering. For some items we now pay more than we sold the item for last year! »
I first became friends with the Mohlers interviewing them for my book, Farmer’s in Lake Country, where the story of the farm is told. Since then, I have come to admire the way this family lives through their dedication and courage. For their efforts, the Mohlers received the 2013 Family Farm of the Year Award for Elkhart County.
Sweet Corn Charlie is also a big contributor to the local economy, employing over 100 people during produce season, but all is not perfect. Their biggest problem is keeping workers after school starts. The farm loses the help of its teachers around the first of August and the students follow a week or two later.
It would be a huge boon for supervisors if Indiana required the school year to start after Labor Day and end on Memorial Day weekend. This mandate is now in effect in Michigan, so why not here?
If you are going to
The farm: 11003 CR 42, Millersburg.
Granger: 14108 Cleveland Rd.
Warsaw: 3010 Frontage Road
Syracuse: 203 E. Pickwick Drive.
Dunlap: 23224 Elkhart Road.
Middlebury: US 20 across from Essenhaus Restaurant
Goshen: US 33 near Tractor Supply Co.
North Webster: 705 S. Main St.
Market times vary until corn is available, then times will be posted at each location.