INDIANAPOLIS (Dec. 5, 2016) – Red Gold is pleased to announce that Gary Gallup of State Line Farms, located in Lyons, Ohio, and David Keesling of Keesling Farms, located in Middletown, Ind., received the 2016 Red Gold Stewardship Award on August 4, 2016. Now in its eighth year, the goal of the award is to highlight the practices already utilized by conservation-minded tomato growers, along with spurring others to embrace such practices as part of their own farm management. Gallup and Keesling were recognized during a ceremony held at Red Gold’s corporate headquarters in Elwood, Ind.
“I commend Gary and David on receiving this prestigious award and for making soil health a priority in the Midwest,” said ISDA Director, Ted McKinney. “It is encouraging to see members of the industry, like Red Gold, placing high-value on conservation and uplifting the efforts taken by farmers.”
Gallup is a third generation farmer and owner and operator of State Line Farms, which is roughly 11,000 acres and includes everything from crops to hogs. Since the early ‘90s, he has grown tomatoes as part of a four year rotation and planted roughly 500 acres, using reduced tillage this year alone.
The farm is a verified operation of the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program and some of its recent conservation projects include; an equipment wash pad with a grass filter strip and a fertilizer storage facility.
“We're excited to award Gary for the second time, indicating his commitment to outstanding stewardship practices on his entire farm. He is a great representative of Red Gold's commitment to preserving our natural resources in a holistic manner,” said Beau Reichart, a Fourth Generation Owner at Red Gold.
Unique to how most farmers get their start, Keesling graduated from Trine University with a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. Although he had a passion for farming, Keesling worked in the automotive manufacturing industry for nearly a decade and was only able to farm part-time, renting land and working with his father on the weekends. It wasn’t until 1987 that Keesling decided to pursue his life-long dream of becoming a farmer, and began planting corn and soybeans in Middletown, Ind.
Ten years later, Keesling added tomatoes to his rotation and eventually became a Red Gold grower. Today, his farm consists of roughly 2,000 acres; 200 of which are tomatoes on a three year rotation. While he added no-till soybeans in the late ‘90s, this year was his first year of trying cover crops, a conservation practice designed to improve overall soil health. To further sustain the land, he uses soil and tissue testing to verify nutrient application rates as well as GPS technology to ensure correct placement.
“I’m honored to have been chosen for this award,” Keesling said. “The world is dependent on the American farmer to produce enough food for everyone, and we have to take care of the soil in order for that to happen – that’s why conservation is so important.”
The Red Gold Stewardship Award program is driven by Red Gold’s desire to demonstrate their companywide commitment to good stewardship practices. The company encourages their tomato producers, who are located in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, to adopt good conservation practices and has instilled an atmosphere of continuous improvement. This was one of the best years for the competition with nearly 90 percent of Red Gold growers participating.
As the top winner, Gallup received a $1,000 scholarship plus the equivalent price of an extra truck load of tomatoes per day during harvest season. Taking second place, Keesling Farms received a $500 scholarship and an extra half truck load of tomatoes per day during harvest.
ISDA’s role in the competition is to serve as an independent evaluator, which includes judging and scoring. The winners were selected based on their conservation practices and efforts.
For more information about the Red Gold Stewardship Award, or Red Gold in general, visit www.redgold.com. For more information about ISDA, visit www.isda.in.gov
About Red Gold, Inc.
Four generations of the Reichart family have been producing Red Gold premium quality tomato products since 1942, when it began producing tomato products for the soldiers overseas. Red Gold partners with 50 family farms across Indiana, southern Michigan, and Northwest Ohio to sustainably produce premium quality canned tomatoes, ketchup, and tomato-based products for the retail, foodservice, private brand, and club channels of distribution. Exceptional quality and operational excellence are the shared values that contributed to the employee-created mission statement: "To produce the freshest, best tasting tomato products in the world." Visit the award winning website RedGoldTomatoes.com for great recipes, tips and culinary inspiration!
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