By BOB RIGGS
CHARLESTOWN, Ind. — Dan Cristiani is the farmer and business owner who recently purchased at auction an almost 200-acre historic family farm in Clark County. That property neighbors his own farm off Indiana State Road 62 going toward Charlestown, but not far from Louisville, Ky.
A conservation easement on the purchased property restricts the usage to agriculture, similar to what was there more than 100 years ago, and a family named Spriesterbach had already been working the land for years. “I think it’s a beautiful farm,” Cristiani said, “and the location is really good. Its really close to everything.”
For now he plans to grow row crops on the new farm. He said he has been running a hay and livestock operation on his 65 acres, but that first farm is only one of many business enterprises Cristiani owns in the area. He first sought his fortune decades ago with a small landscaping business.
Now, he has been selling alfalfa and grass hay varieties at his retail stores in Greenville and Sellersburg, Ind. He also has five environment-conscious Earth First stores that sell mulch, quality aggregate and landscaping products to contractors and individuals.
He also owns an excavating company and has a fleet of earth-moving equipment for land clearing, development and specialty projects, such as helping to clean up southern Indiana after tornadoes tore through the area causing widespread destruction in the spring this year.
“I raise a lot of alfalfa and I’ll probably change the new farm over to alfalfa in the next couple of years,” he said. “I’ve got several head of cattle and I’ll start to move some cattle over there and build fences later.”
All of this plan is in keeping with the legally enforceable development restrictions the late Louis Spriesterbach wanted put into his deed to keep the land operating as a farm after his death.
As new owner, Cristiani is in full accord with the deceased man’s wishes, saying he will work with nearby 4-H groups, allowing them to visit the farm for educational purposes. The new farm sits just across the highway from the county fairgrounds.
Bob Allen, Clark County extension director, knows the family and said Cristiani has been helpful to the 4-H grounds and programs for many years. His wife is leader of the Saddle Club and their children are 4-H members.