Join Purdue Extension for their Small Farm Education Field Day on July 25 at the Purdue Student Farm in West Lafayette, IN.

Registration for the field day runs from 8 – 9 a.m. and demonstrations are scheduled for 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Demonstrations will include:

  • “Insect Dynamics in High Tunnels” – Samantha Willden & Laura Ingwell. Purdue University is one of nearly 40 farms participating in on-farm studies under high tunnels to describe how insect communities are influenced by crop diversity, landscape gradients and growing season. This stop will demonstrate common pests found on high tunnel tomato and discuss options for their management using biological control and other sustainable practices.
  • “Companion Plants & Syrphid Fly Recruitment” – Allison Zablah & Laura Ingwell. Interplanting high tunnels with non-crop flowers is becoming increasingly popular to improve plant diversity and beneficial insect recruitment. This stop will discuss how sweet alyssum, a popular bedding plant, can be used to attract syrphid flies and other beneficial natural enemies and pollinators into a high tunnel for tomato and pepper production.
  • “High Tunnel Table Grapes” – Miranda Purcell. This study is testing the feasibility of growing table grapes in high tunnels in Indiana. Studies done at the University of Arkansas have shown increased yield (3x), decreased disease pressure and decreased years until production. Cold hardy table grape varieties were planted in 2022 (Mars and Canadice) and 2023 (Himrod).
  • “Advantages & Considerations of Raised Bed Gardening” – Nathan Shoaf. Many homeowners, backyard gardeners and urban farmers turn to raised beds when faced with challenging soil conditions. Whether dealing with compacted soil, inadequate drainage, pest infestations or contaminants, raised beds offer a solution to enhance vegetable production and reduce exposure to potential contaminants. This presentation explores the benefits and obstacles associated with raised beds. From site preparation and selection of growing mediums to efficient irrigation methods, attendees will gain insights into maximizing the potential of their gardens while minimizing environmental risks.

Photo courtesy of Purdue Extension

  • “High Tunnel Sweet Pepper Production Strategies & Variety Selection” – Petrus Langenhoven & Sofia Catucuamba. High tunnel sweet pepper variety trials have been conducted since 2018 at the Purdue Student Farm. Production techniques, variety selection and 2023 variety performance will be discussed.
  • “Tarps, Fire & Cultivation – Weed Management Updates & Demonstrations” – Stephen Meyers. We’ll share updates from Year 2 of our tarping silage trials which incorporates the use of clear plastic, flame weeding, harrowing and organic and synthetic herbicides.
  • “Strawberry Production & Strawberry Propagation at Small Farms” – Wenjing Guan & Lian Duron Alvarado. We will discuss different strawberry production systems and demonstrate strawberry propagation.
  • “Growing Open-Pollinated Corn on the Small Farm” – Ashley Adair. We will discuss considerations for planting food grade open-pollinated corn on the small farm – what to do if you want to grow multiple varieties, how to plant, how to ensure corn remains healthy through the season and ways to process it at the end of the season.
  • “Postharvest Wash/Pack Design for Small Farms” – Scott Monroe & Amanda Deering. Participants will learn various aspects of what is needed when designing a postharvest wash/pack for small farms.
  • “Bringing the Cuisine of the Andes to Greater Lafayette” – Lori Hoagland, Ada Martinez Ayala & Sophia Mears. Peruvian chefs are world renowned for their gastronomic ingenuity and much of this comes from the use of unique local crops such as “choclo corn,” a fresh corn that is prepared much like our sweet corn but has more of a savory than sweet flavor, and “nuna popping beans,” beans that pop like our popcorn but have a unique flavor and high levels of protein. We are working with plant breeders to trial advanced experimental breeding lines that are being adapted for the U.S. – assessing their agronomic performance, pest pressure and culinary and nutritional qualities in collaboration with local chefs. Results will be used to help identify lines to advance and release as new varieties. We expect that this project will help build better community-level connections, provide local farmers, chefs and consumers with new tasty and nutritious options and help people learn about and appreciate Peruvian culture.
  • “Digital Tools for Small Farms” – Ankita Raturi & Thirawat Bureetes. Participants will learn about a variety of appropriate digital technologies for diversified farm management.
  • “Indoor Production of Leafy Greens & More in a Freight Farm Container Farm” – Brittany Weerts. Come learn about small-scale indoor hydroponic farming at Purdue Student Farm’s brand new Freight Farm growing containers. Discussions will include fertilizers, variety selection, pest and disease management and the pros/cons of vertical farming.

The Purdue Student Farm is located at 1491 Cherry Lane, West Lafayette, IN. To register for the Small Farm Education Field Day, go to