PURDUE IN OUR BACKYARD: Ag center a strong resource for county

COESSE — Citizens of Whitley County have a somewhat unique resource in their backyard that is largely unknown.The Northeast-Purdue Agriculture Center (NEPAC) has been located in Whitley County, south of Coesse, for more than 20 years. Phil Walker has been the superintendent of the center since its opening, and said the center is a big help in the agriculture arena.The farm primarily functions for research. Professors and graduate students make the trek to Whitley County from Purdue’s campus in West Lafayette.There students conduct research on the soils of the area. Having the center in this part of the state is crucial for this sort of research. Purdue University has eight such farms throughout Indiana, and it provides a unique slice of agriculture for those regions of the state.The main section of land at NEPAC is 170 acres and is named the Schrader Farm in memory of Denzil Schrader, the man who donated it. The Kyler farm, located two miles west of NEPAC, consists of 85 acres and was donated by Merle Kyler. This farm aids NEPAC and is a second research location. The third parcel of land is located one mile to the north of the Kyler farm and is 185 acres.Winter is a quieter period at NEPAC. Walker said his time is spent primarily planning for the summer months and working on small projects. One of his main areas of concentration is working with the tiling system at the Schrader Farm.Walker has been working with an intern during the winter months on a system that would offer more consistency.Walker moved to Columbia City in 1991 with his wife, Lynn, and son, Aaron, who was 13 at the time. Now his son lives in Fort Wayne and other things have changed, but Walker is content.Through it all, NEPAC has become part of the community. For the first 10 years of its existence, Walker would put signs along the side of roads to help farmers and others coming to NEPAC’s field days. Now, most of the people who come know how to find the location. “Anyone can find us. More people know us now,” Walker said. For a more in-depth look at this story, see the Jan. 10 issue of The Post and Mail. Don't have a subscription? Call (260) 244-5153 or subscribe to our e-edition. For breaking news, sports updates and additional coverage, bookmark the homepage and find us on facebook.