Our summer intern, Dylan Kanner, joined the Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB) during their farm market tour on Thursday, June 30th. The entire tour lasted from June 28th through June 30th. Throughout the three days, about 50 KFB members visited several farms and farm markets across various Illinois counties including Cook County, DeKalb County, Kane County, and McHenry County. The McHenry County farms that were visited were Spears to You and Conifera Christmas Tree Farm, Piscasaw Gardens and Farm, Von Bergen's Country Market, and Richardson Adventure Farm.
Spears to you is an asparagus farm that begins its annual harvest in early May. It covers 7 acres and consists of over 50,000 asparagus plants of two varieties. Owners John and Diana Minalt sell the asparagus both directly from the farm and through the online website (spearstoyou.com). The fresh, nutrient-rich asparagus is sold immediately after it is harvested beginning in May. The asparagus is sold in one-pound increments and has a long shelf life, which is one of the reasons it is so popular. Asparagus in general is also quite low in calories. The Minalts' Christmas tree farm is also a big hit and is located on the same property. Similar to their asparagus, the Minalts sell christmas trees, wreaths, and garland products both directly from the farm and through the online website (coniferatreefarm.com). The Christmas tree farm covers 20 acres and is currently growing all spruce trees. In the past 4 years, the farm has grown and sold almost 8,000 fir and pine trees, which are usually planted in early spring. With beautiful products and reasonable pricing, the Minalts' asparagus farm and Christmas tree farm have proven to be unique and succesful farm markets in McHenry County.
Piscasaw Gardens and Farm, also located in Harvard, grows and sells fruits and vegetables, popcorn, and florals from the 18-acre farm itself and via the online website (piscasaw.com). Their wide variety of produce includes but is not limited to: sweetcorn, onions, tomatoes, squash, peppers, berries, and melons. The popcorn is grown at a parent farm about 5 miles away and is sold at Piscasaw and online. It comes in a variety of flavors including Jalapeño, white cheddar, and caramel. The flowers grown at Piscasaw Gardens end up being made into bouquets, especially for weddings. There are many workers on the farm that construct the bouquets, fertilize and water all the plants, and tend to the greenhouse, which is where the seeding is done. The flowers come from geo seeds and basic fertilizer from FS is used. Hydrogen peroxide is provided to the plants to expose them to extra oxygen and encourage healthy root growth. A fence scales the perimeter of the farm to protect the plants from animals that might try to nibble on them. Piscasaw used to do dairy, specifically goats, for a brief amount of time, but stopped so that the owners would be able to leave the farm when travelling for business. Overall, Piscasaw Gardens and Farm is a great addition to the town of Harvard and offers the community a wide selection of fresh produce, beautiful flowers, and a friendly, welcoming vibe.
Von Bergen's Country Market in Hebron, IL is home to hundreds of acres of different commodities including fresh fruits and vegetables, sunflowers, pumpkins, wheat, and hemp. Amongst its 30 acres of sunflowers is a sunflower maze that attracts many families looking for summer enjoyment. Their pumpkins harvested in the fall are also quite a hot spot for families looking to get into the holiday spirit. This family farm sells all kinds of assortments in their market right on the farm and all of the ingredients and products are processed directly from the facility. From salsas to baked goods, one can easily find delicious foods and condiments to complement their kitchens. Find the products you are looking for by visiting vonbergens.com. Von Bergen's Country Market is operated by Mel and Bobette, who have been farming in Hebron for almost 60 years. Mike and his wife Tracie, along with their four children, are partners in the farm market operation. Ever since the family started selling pumpkins, their vegetable market has only grown. New fruits and vegetabes are added each year, with the sweet corn and muskmelons being some of the more popular additions to the market. During the tour, all the participants ate lunch while Mike and Tracie spoke about the farm and some of the developments they've made over the years. After lunch, everyone checked out the market and many people even purchased some items. Mike then took several people on a wagon ride around some of the fields to show off his crops and provide some information about growing and maintaining each one.
The last stop of the day was Richardson Adventure Farm. Located in Spring Grove, Richardson Adventure Farm is known for its large variety of exciting activities and products. It's the perfect place to bring your family and enjoy the company of farm animals and agricultural attractions. The establishment is home to a pumpkin patch, 13 acres of sunflowers, Christmas trees in the winter, and the world's largest corn maze! The farm has activities for people of all ages, from a petting zoo to a 750-foot long zip line. Grab a donut or some ice cream from concessions and enjoy the pig races! There's plenty of slides, jumping pillows, and play areas located throughout the farm. You can go to the top of a 50-foot observation tower to give yourself an aerial view of the farm and observe the vast farmland stretching as far as the eye can see. Richardson Adventure Farm also hosts a Tulip Festival in the spring each year. The tulips fully bloom between mid-April and mid-May and are planted near their private 36-acre lake. This year, 600,000 bulbs of 30 different varieties were planted. Tulips, along with books, shirts/hoodies, wine, kettle corn, donuts, and other items can be purchased at the Richardson Adventure Farm's gift shop. More information can be accessed through the Richardson Adventure Farm website: richardsonadventurefarm.com.