An update on Kelly Funk, and an invitation for Saturday, May 21

Kelly Funk, a fellow small farmer, was struck by lightening while working in the field last year.  Following is an update as written by Maria Smietana.  This event touched so many throughout our community of small farms.  It is one thing that is hard to put into words when a tragedy like this strikes so close to home. 

Greetings to all who have supported, prayed for, or asked about Kelly in the last few months. Kelly’s mom Jan updated the blog post in April, so most of what I know is paraphrased from that posting.
Kelly has increasing control of her head, arms and upper body, and the family members have seen some leg movement, although this has not yet been documented by the medical staff. Kelly resides in a nursing home currently, but had been accepted as an outpatient at Rehab Hospital of Indiana to get treatment for the contracture of her wrists (which often occurs in patients who are immobile for long periods of time). The family was waiting on the insurance to agree to the treatment plan. The other significant step forward is that Kelly is breathing on her own without supplemental oxygen or breathing treatments. Her organs are all in good shape, so her physical recovery has been quite remarkable. The next big challenge for the therapists is to improve control over mouth movements and swallowing. If she can pass a swallowing test of liquids of several thicknesses, then her trach tube could be removed, and real food could be introduced back into her diet. Right now, she is on a liquid diet which is infused through a gastric tube directly into her stomach. Other than that, John mentioned to me in winter that Kelly’s eyes followed the images of fields of flowers that were shown to her in a book, which was quite touching. Brought back memories of the beautiful sunflower bouquets she used to bring to the markets. John has a farm manager running the farming operation for him, but still puts in quite a few hours himself each week. You can find them Saturdays at Broad Ripple Farmers Market. Please continue to keep Kelly and her family in your hearts, thoughts, and prayers.

Only a few months after Kelly’s tragic injury, another leading local farm family was struck by disaster. Many of you know by now that the meat processing facility owned by This Old Farm in Colfax, IN was destroyed by fire on December 27, but it’s worth putting some perspective behind that grim news bite.  If you know Erick and Jessica Smith, the owners of This Old Farm, you know that they put their heart and soul into everything they do, and they do it with graciousness and determination. The meat processing facility was no exception. Dedicated to combating the steep nationwide decline in small, local, slaughter houses, and the general shortage of those that process primarily organic and natural meats, the Smith’s had opened this facility just last summer. I was there for the ribbon cutting and the generous dinner that Jessica and Erick had provided for the occasion. There was such a spirit of hope and optimism in the air that evening. Small-scale, sustainable agriculture, it seemed, was alive and well in Indiana, and This Old Farm’s latest accomplishment was more evidence of that.
It’s a testament to Erick and Jessica’s faith and strength that they decided to rebuild the facility almost as soon as the ashes were cool, and they have indeed nearly completed reconstruction. However, it’s no secret that the gap between insurance coverage and actual rebuilding costs are often substantial, and that’s why I’m calling on my lists of supporters to help lighten the Smith family’s significant financial burden. I’ve attached an invitation to a fundraiser that Friends of the Green Market at Traders Point Creamery is hosting on Saturday, May 21. In short, it’s a gala evening of local food and wine tasting, good entertainment, and a chance to meet the Smith’s personally and learn more about what drives them. We hope you can join us. Tickets are available at the Valentine Hill Farm booth at Traders Point, Binford, Zionsville, Broad Ripple, and City Farmer’s Markets or by e-mailing me at I’ll mail you tickets (or hold them for you) if you’ll send me a check to 7549 South Retriever Lane, Zionsville, IN 46077, Attn: This Old Farm Rebuilding Gala. Please make checks out to “Friends of the Green Market”.
If you can’t attend personally, there are many other ways you can help:
1.      Purchase a ticket which we can give to local farmers who would like to come but can’t afford the price
2.      Share the invitation flyer with friends and family
3.      Donate a silent auction item
4.      Donate wine, beer, or organic lemonade
5.      Help with set-up, clean-up, or ticket-taking. We also need a cashier for the cash bar (must be over 21), 3-4 friendly faces to assist guests at the appetizer and beverage tables, and a silent auction monitor.
6.      Let us borrow your card tables, small round patio tables and folding chairs to save us the cost of furniture rental.
Maria Smietana

It is hard for me to have the two disasters in the same message as they can in no way compare.  While our trajedy has been difficult, it is reminders like the one we got through Kelly that show us just how precious life is.  It is those reminders that show us to appreciate all that we have when we wake up in the morning.  I do appreciate the outreach from the same community to lessen our financial strain.  I appreciate Maria’s great effort and the effort of our fellow market vendors.  To make the event possible, we do need a minimum number of ticket sales.  If you have thought about reaching out and being part of the small farm community and the community that supports local farms we would love to spend the evening with you.  RSVP now so that we can finalize the plans. 

Many thanks for your continued support,

Jessica Smith and the This Old Farm team