The couple laughs as they remember buying their first tractor, a 1968 Farmall 806, and driving it through neighborhood streets to the cul de sac by their student housing. They remember the questions — “Are those real cows in there?” — from their neighbors when they once brought home a truck full of cows.
Today the couple has 20 cow-calf pairs on an 8-acre farm with a 150-year-old farmhouse in rural Indiana. They both have off-farm jobs and in their spare time sell the meat they raise to local families, with a goal of only growing as fast as they know the market will bear. What makes them unique is every cut of beef that comes from their farm carries a particular label: Homegrown by Heroes.
Indiana’s Homegrown by Heroes program was created in 2016 partly through the financial support from Farm Credit Mid-America’s Secure the Future of Rural Communities and Agriculture Fund. Veterans and active-duty service members can use the program’s logo to market their products and can network with other veteran-farmers. Forty-two states have similar programs. The Crowls were among 16 Indiana farmers to use the Homegrown by Heroes certification in its first year.
Cadel served in the Army and did a tour in Afghanistan. When he came home, he was drawn to work that would give him the same sense of purpose, teamwork and responsibility that he felt in the military. He wanted to continue to serve his community. So he returned to a childhood dream: He became a full-time firefighter.
“I have a reason to go to work every day,” he says. “The farm is the same thing — the teamwork with Becca, the ambition and drive. There’s always something that needs to be done.”
Becca has an off-farm job that she loves, too, but the rest of their free time is devoted to the cows.
“We always say that if we didn’t have cattle, we don’t know what we’d do with our time,” Becca says. “A perfect evening is getting off work and going out to check cows. We would still have cows even if we truly just did this as a hobby.”
As for choosing to use the Homegrown by Heroes, label, Cadel says, “We were looking for a way to be set apart as a business and connect to others who have the same goals. We’ve had customers ask where they can get other Homegrown by Heroes products.”
“You’re not just buying meat,” Becca adds, “you’re helping support what we do.”