February 02, 2023

Fourth-generation farmer Kenny Cain honored for lifetime achievement

WESTFIELD, Ind. — Lifelong Montgomery County farmer, Sugar Creek steward and conservation cropping innovator Kenny Cain received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hoosier Environmental Council at the 2022 Greening the Statehouse event in Westfield.

While developing, modeling and teaching sustainable farming practices, Cain has worked for organizations that educate the community about how to protect soil and water quality.

From hosting an annual fourth-grade field trip at his family farm to serving as regional director for the statewide Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Cain is a proud fourth-generation farmer actively farming with son, brother and three nephews in Darlington.

“Growing and working on our farm along Sugar Creek, I was taught to respect and care for our natural resources by my father and mother,” Cain said.

“I have tried to pass that same respect and care along to anyone who would listen. I have had the good fortune to grow up fishing and farming, and I will continue my quest for clean water and healthy soil.”

The Cain family routinely plants 50% of its acreage in cover crops, a practice that naturally suppresses soil diseases and pests while providing food and habitat for wildlife, beneficial insects and pollinators.

Cain also has been a 100% no-till farmer since 1990, which builds healthier soils while reducing fuel and labor expenses. And he serves on the Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative steering committee, a statewide working group that helps farmers apply science-based methods to improve soil health.

Cain’s stewardship of waterways includes his charter membership in Friends of Sugar Creek, his service on the Montgomery County Sugar Creek Advisory Board and his work on the Upper Sugar Creek Watershed Project.

“Kenny Cain is the epitome of the modern farmer-conservationist — a steward of the land and soil, and the well-known river that runs through it, improved by his stewardship. He inspires those around him, seeking to pass on his experience and wisdom. Indiana has other farmers like him, but needs many more,” said Tim Maloney, senior policy director at HEC.

Katy Rogers, farmer and local food advocate, received the Sustainable Agriculture Champion of the Year Award at the HEC event.

Rogers is a grower, an Indiana native and manager of Teter Organic Farm in Noblesville. The farm’s mission is to increase food security, provide ecological education and build community.

As a child, Rogers witnessed up close the loss of small family farms at the expense of people and the environment.

She studied agriculture at Purdue University and then earned a political science degree from Indiana University, which led her to work in the communications and campaign management fields while maintaining her passion for food justice.

In 2011, she began her own farm and started her first Community Supported Agriculture program — which led to advocacy work for the hungry.

“For the last 11 years, Katy has focused on increasing access to nutritious food and improving the system for human and environmental health through farming, education and advocacy,” said Jeni Jenkins, senior special projects coordinator at HEC.

The HEC Annual Awards is part of Greening the Statehouse, Indiana’s largest annual gathering of environmental-minded Hoosiers, now in its 15th year.

GTS 2022 featured panel discussions on progress toward cleaner waterways in Indiana and the outlook for pro-environmental legislation in the 2022 election and the 2023 state legislative session.

In addition to Cain and Rogers, 10 other entities around the state received awards. Learn more about them at https://tinyurl.com/yjdht3wj.