A Purdue Pete barn at Smith Family Farms
An 8th-generation family farm emphasizes Purdue pride and the importance of teaching children about Indiana farming
Over 100 years old and still standing is the Smith Family Farms’ barn, with a distinctive Purdue Pete decorating its side.
This eighth-generation family farm is owned by Purdue alumni and Boilermaker fans Jennifer Smith (BS elementary education ’92) and Neal Smith (BS animal sciences ’92). Located in the small town of Pendleton, Indiana, Smith Family Farms covers 2,700 acres of farmland dedicated to growing corn and soybeans. Along with farming grains and other crops, the farm has been used for livestock and raising shorthorn show cattle. The Smiths even have a beef market where they have been selling meat for seven years.
With this much farming history, how did the Boilermaker spirit become ingrained into their barn?
What’s really cool is our family owns the original deed signed by the seventh U.S. president, Andrew Jackson. I always like to talk about that fun fact when people visit the farm.Jennifer Smith
“Our old barn was originally built in the early 1900s,” Jennifer says. “It was standing when my husband’s great-grandfather bought the farm during the Great Depression. What’s really cool is our family owns the original deed signed by the seventh U.S. president, Andrew Jackson. I always like to talk about that fun fact when people visit the farm.”
Throughout the barn’s lifetime, it has been many things. It started as a dairy barn, then became a home to generations of 4-H livestock projects. It was a lambing barn, kidding barn, and now it is used as a winter calving barn and for the family’s show cattle business.
“We are a family of Boilers! We have over seven family members who went to Purdue, and currently our youngest son is a junior in animal science,” Jennifer says. “We have been big Purdue athletic supporters in the John Purdue Club with season football and basketball tickets. So in the late ’90s I had a family friend paint the barn’s hay mow door as a Christmas gift to my husband.”
The Smith family has continued with Purdue persistence in fun and educational ways.
“I loved my time at Purdue and learned so much when I was studying elementary education. I love teaching kids, so I knew I had to continue that tradition while working on our farm,” Jennifer says.
Every October, Smith Family Farms opens to the public with a petting zoo and pumpkin patch to teach thousands of kids from urban and rural environments about the importance of Indiana agriculture.
“We get many kids and families who don’t live on farms or live in the city, since we are located right outside of Indianapolis,” Jennifer says. “Our farm has been a way to educate and reach a population who may have never been on a farm before and don’t know all the work that goes into growing grains or tending to livestock. It’s rewarding that I can use my Purdue education to create a hands-on learning environment and teach others about farm life.”
Our farm has been a way to educate and reach a population who may have never been on a farm before and don’t know all the work that goes into growing grains or tending to livestock.Jennifer Smith