With its acutely angled roof panels and red awnings, the newest barn at the Indiana State Fairgrounds looks nothing like the traditional outbuildings found on most farms - but that's just what its creators intended.
The Glass Barn - which sits just next to the popular Pioneer Village - is meant to showcase modern agriculture and the building is outfitted with the technology to make it interesting.
- The Indiana Soybean Alliance spent nearly $3 million to construct the Glass Barn, a new exhibit space at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
Visitors can try their hand at planting soybeans through an interactive game, scan groceries at a checkout lane and interact with farmers from across the state.
"With more and more people not being from a farm and having questions about what farmers do on their farms and how their food is raised, we really wanted to open the doors," said Megan Kuhn, communications director at the Indiana Soybean Alliance, which funded the $3 million barn construction.
Designers used glass to create the "thought of transparency so when folks walked in the building they could meet some Indiana farm families, they could see their farms, they could learn a bit more about the crops raised and animals they raise and how they raise them and how that ultimately goes to their food on their tables," Kuhn said.
The featured farmers include the Steinkamp family in Evansville, who raise soybeans and corn used to make tortilla chips; the Kelsay family of Whiteland, who raise dairy cows and grow corn, soybeans, hay and wheat; and the Hill family of Greenfield, who raise pigs and grow soybeans, corn and wheat.
- Kids from the Boys and Girls Club of Indianapolis visited the new Glass Barn last week at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
During the Indiana State Fair - which runs Aug. 2-18 - visitors will interact with the farm families through a live web connection. Those conversations will take place at 11 a.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. each day.
"So while we can't bring the farm totally to the fair, we can take the fairgoers to the farm," Kuhn said. "So that's a very cool interactive."
The Indiana Soybean Alliance paid for the building using what are called "checkoff" dollars. That's money all soybean farmers pay into a fund - based on their sales - to help promote and research soybeans.
The alliance will operate the glass barn through the fair and will then turn the building over to the Indiana State Fairgrounds to be used for programs throughout the year.
Lesley Weidenbener is managing editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.