Winchell Farms: Farming Both Sides of the Ohio
Have you ever seen a Winchell Farms truck rolling down the road and wondered where it is going or coming from? Mr. Smith’s Ag Communications class visited their operation and learned how the farm got started. The man behind the scene is David Winchell. David has been involved with Agriculture most of his life. He was an active FFA Member and officer in high school and has been farming full time since 1989.
After graduating from Western KY University, he worked for Ameri-Can Seed company as a Canola seed representative covering Western Kentucky, Southwest Indiana and all of Illinois. David didn’t want to live his life out of a suitcase traveling the highways around the tristate area, so with his parents’ support, he started finding land and expanding his operation. Winchell farms started out producing tobacco, corn, soybeans and wheat. Today they only raise corn and soybeans and farm approximately 2,000 acres between Hancock and Perry Counties.
David has one full time employee, Justin Obenchain. Justin has been working with him for 14 years. Along with being David’s right hand man, he runs a small family farm with his wife and two sons. Justin raises sweet corn and alfalfa hay. Justin has been involved with agriculture all of his life. His family is known for their beautiful tobacco crops. He is also a proud Hancock County FFA alumni. He enjoys being a part of his community by being involved with multiple boards including being the president of the Kentucky Farm Bureau Board Hancock County Location.
Together David and Justin do all the work and maintain their equipment and machinery. Their only hired help is during the harvest season when they hire three truck drivers to transport crops to the grain elevator.
The Winchells moved to the United States from Prussia, Poland before it was part of the German Empire. They later moved to Orrick, New York in the 1630s. The Winchell’s migrated to this part of the country by following the Ohio River, until finally settling in Tobinsport, IN. Tobinsport is located across the river from Cloverport, KY. An interesting fact about the Winchell heritage is that they developed the first hybrid strawberry called the “Winchell Beauty”. This strawberry is still grown and used in the United States today, but mainly in California.
During harvest season you may see some of the Winchell Farms equipment moving across the Bob Cummings Lincoln Trail Bridge connecting Hawesville, KY and Cannelton, IN. They use the bridge to transport trucks and machinery to their farm ground in Tobinsport IN. This is a difficult task considering that the bridge is considerably narrow and most of their equipment is so wide it takes both lanes to cross. So when it comes time to move to Indiana, David makes some phone calls to local law enforcement to close the bridge down just long enough to move their needed equipment across the Ohio River for travel to Tobinsport.
David’s wife Michele, is very supportive of his farming life and attends conventions and conferences dealing with the many associations he’s involved in. Michele is the Women’s chair for Hancock Co Ky Farm Bureau and assists at the state level as well. She uses her education as a mental health and psych nurse practitioner to advocate and assist with farmers and spouses dealing with suicide prevention. Michele also enjoys riding in the combine with David during harvest season. In their free time, David and Michele enjoy taking tours along the Bourbon Trail to some of the fine distilleries across the State.
David has two daughters, Anna and Shelby. They’re also involved with careers in agriculture, but don’t plan on taking over the farm. David said when he is ready to retire, it will be up to Justin whether or not he wants to continue the farm or completely resolve it. Both David and Justin expressed how farm work is not just managing acres and keeping records, but building relationships with the community and other important people in agriculture.
Written by, HCHS Agriculture Communications Class