CHURUBUSCO — One of the largest hog operations in Whitley County received the “River Friendly Award” at the Indiana State Fair.

The Johnson family, owners of Shady Grove Farms, was honored as part of a statewide initiative that recognizes farmers who, through good production management practices, help keep Indiana’s rivers, lakes and streams clean.

Shady Grove Farms, which began in 1947, is mostly located in the Churubusco area, including farmland in Whitley, Noble and Allen counties. The farm is owned by six family members, farming more than 5,000 acres and producing about 20,000 finished hogs per year.

Shady Grove Farms is farrow-to-finish operation, and also has a grain operation consisting of corn, soybeans and wheat. The Johnsons’ property is located in the Eel River Watershed.

Shady Grove Farms utilizes best practices to properly manage crops and manure — the Johnsons use cover crops to keep top soil in place with minimum tillage, which has saved money in fuel costs and decreased compaction of the soil.

Soil testing is completed on a regular basis to monitor soil levels on their property, which has numerous waterways and filterstrips. Shady Grove Farms also has several small woodland acres that provide homes for wildlife.

Not only are the Johnsons committed to protecting the environment on their own property, but in all of Whitley County, as Dave Johnson, part-owner, has been on the Whitley County Soil and Water Conservation District for several years and currently serves on the Whitley County Drainage Board.

Shady Grove Farms is owned by brothers, Dave and Ron, and their sons and a grandson, including Tim, Austin, Kyle and Mark. All were active for 10 years in Whitley County 4-H.