October 04, 2022

Red Gold tomato growers awarded for conservation efforts

ELWOOD, Ind. — The Indiana State Department of Agriculture and Red Gold recently announced the winners of the 2022 Red Gold Stewardship award.

Nick Totzke Farms of Stevensville, Michigan, was selected as the first-place winner, and Wischmeyer Farms LLC of Ottawa, Ohio, received second place.

“This award is a wonderful way to recognize producers for the conservation efforts they are implementing on their farms,” said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch.

“The state of Indiana is so fortunate that Red Gold is rooted here in the Hoosier state. I commend each of Red Gold’s tomato growers for their efforts in producing exceptional tomatoes while also advancing soil conservation efforts both here in Indiana and across the Midwest.”

This presentation, now in its 14th year, is a partnership between Red Gold and the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.

The award is presented to Red Gold growers who value improving soil health and water quality on their operations.

“Red Gold is very proud of our tomato growers for continuously practicing good soil and water conservation practices,” said Curt Utterback, director of agriculture at Red Gold.

“Many are generational farms, and they know the importance of being good stewards. We appreciate being partners with ISDA in promoting an annual awards program. It was an honor to be able to formally recognize this year’s winners Nick Totzke Farms and Wischmeyer Farms.”

Located in southern Michigan, Nick Totzke has put a strong emphasis on not only raising excellent crops, but also the conservation of the land they farm. In addition to tomatoes, they grow corn, soybeans, grapes, green beans, peas and banana peppers.

On each of their farms, they have implemented a variety of stewardship practices to reduce nutrient runoff and conservation practices, such as cover crops and grass filter strips.

“Family owned, family grown, being good stewards of the land feeds our family and everyone else,” said the Totzke family.

Wischmeyer Farms is located in northwestern Ohio. On the family farm, the Wishmeyers grow tomatoes, corn, soybeans and wheat.

They have implemented a multitude of conservation practices such as cover crops, filter strips, reduced tillage and grass filter strips, among others, to promote soil health and water quality on their farm.

“In participating in the Red Gold Stewardship Program, we have been made more aware of the different conservation programs available, as well as been more innovate to build soil health for future generations,” said Tom and Brian Wischmeyer.

The Midwest is leading the pack in soil conservation efforts. Specifically in the Hoosier state, farmers utilize a variety of soil conservation practices and planted more than 1.5 million acres of cover crops in 2021.

“Conservation of our soil is top of mind for producers, and the Red Gold Stewardship Award is an excellent way to recognize the work being done in the specialty crop sector,” said ISDA Director Bruce Kettler. “Congratulations to both of this year’s winners on this impressive achievement.”

As the top winner, Nick Totzke Farms received a $1,000 scholarship and the option to ship an extra truckload of tomatoes per day during harvest season.

Wischmeyer Farms was awarded a $500 scholarship and the opportunity to ship an extra half truckload of tomatoes per day during harvest.