by Sarah Einselen
---- — STAR CITY — Doug Hoffman had just a couple of lines. And most of them were about "the girls."
The business he runs with his wife, Carrie Hoffman, Apple Blossom Honey Farm, was one of several Pulaski County businesses recently visited by a film crew for a show aired on Indiana's Public Broadcasting Service TV stations.
Working in tandem with Pulaski County Economic Development, a team of three from the Indiana PBS show "Savor Indiana" toured businesses in Winamac, Francesville and as far north as the Starke County line, in an effort a Pulaski County leader says is helping the county dip into new forms of marketing.
Hoffman went over his lines with Savor Indiana host Kevin Gardner, a former teacher and school administrator who began hosting the half-hour show in 2010. Then Hoffman was wired for sound and photography director Greg Williams aimed the video camera.
But on the show, "the girls" — honey bees — did all the work pollinating blooms, building honeycombs and keeping the hive clean.
"The area's bounty is so overwhelming that you could be forgiven for thinking the land is flowing with milk and honey — literally," began Gardner, introducing a part of the show focusing on the honey farm and the nearby Jones Dairy Farm of Star City.
It was the third day of filming. Previously, the crew had visited four Francesville businesses — Five Loaves Bakery and Cafe, Prairie Moon Orchard, Patio Drive-In and Stone Wheel Pottery — and Riverside Rentals canoe livery and Fort Knox USA paintball center in Winamac. The crew had also stopped at the Panhandle Pathway trailhead just south of Winamac and the town's park, and planned a final shoot at Tippecanoe State Park to the north.
The economic development organization had plunked down $10,000 for its PBS segment, expected to air sometime late this fall.
The idea "stumbled upon me," said director Nathan P. Origer. Savor Indiana producers had called him to pitch the idea of being on TV. Origer was receptive.
"I thought it had potential because we've been going with the notion of a new marketing brochure," he explained. "I saw this as an opportunity to do something a lot more creative than a brochure."
After initially explaining the idea to the organization's board in late spring, Origer eventually made his way to the Pulaski County Council, where members approved allocating $10,000 for the project.
"They recognize that we really do need to improve our brand, if you will, or if not our brand then the way we market our brand," Origer said.
The nearest Savor Indiana had made it to Pulaski County before was Carroll County, according to an episode listing on its website, savorindiana.com. With each show comes a set of "extended learning" materials designed for teachers to use. Gardner draws on his teaching experience to develop the discussion questions, keyed to Indiana state curriculum standards.
Businesses featured on the segment, said Origer, had been thrilled to participate.
"It's free marketing for them," he explained. He and the economic development board did their best to treat everyone fairly, he added, but narrowed the list of businesses "based on what are going to be the most appealing to out-of-towners" or small establishments that would not likely have the budget to do much marketing on their own.
The appeal of Apple Blossom Honey Farm lay in its exotic animals. Carrie Hoffman estimated that at least 500 colonies of bees called their land home. And the honey they produce is just a byproduct, she added.
Their main business is two-pronged: They rent colonies of bees to pollinate specialty crops and they manufacture or sell equipment that other beekeepers need for their hives.
Origer said he didn't yet know what week the Pulaski County segment would air, citing the show's need of further underwriting and varying air schedules of the different Indiana PBS stations. He expected to announce it at a later date.
Later this year, the county council earmarked another $10,000 for a half-hour spot on a companion show that's in the works, named "Extraordinary Indiana." That spot will focus on the business potential of Pulaski County, said Origer, and will be valuable not so much for the TV exposure but for the raw footage the county will obtain after the segment is filmed.
Sarah Einselen is news editor at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at email@example.com or 574-732-5151. Twitter: @PharosSME