Farming 101: Reality Check Results in a Challenge


AphotoofColleenNewquistAh, reality. At this weekend’s Central Illinois Farm Beginnings class, it made a strong appearance.

In the previous two weeks, I’d spent time pondering the vision and mission for my business, with the help of worksheets provided by Purdue Extension. It was time well spent.

I clarified my overall goals and values, deducing that I want to connect people to their food in a meaningful way and create a unique, engaging, and educational experience around my farm. My “farm enterprise,” I’ve been calling it, because it has taken on dimensions beyond farming.

What I envision is not just land that I farm, but plots that I rent to people interested in growing their own food but who might not have access their own land, and who would enjoy learning to farm within a community of like-minded people. The enterprise will include raising livestock for meat and dairy. We’ll have a commercial kitchen for baking, canning, and cheese-making, and a climate-controlled room for aging cheese and sausages. We’ll have a retail shop on premises to sell all that we produce. And, since my husband is an artist, we’ll also have an art gallery—and since he has trained as a barista, maybe even a coffee shop! 

But wait, there’s more! We’ll bring in young chefs to give cooking lessons. Once a month, we’ll host fabulous dinners featuring food from our farm or other local farms. It will be a destination, a magical place that makes visitors feel warm, welcome, and part of a terrific community. 

Don’t you wish you were there right now?

Chuck Mallory
11/1/2011 9:32:44 PM

Go for your dream. I can tell you there are a lot of people in Chicago who are followers of Henry's Farm in central Illinois, and the Prairie Fruits Farms "dinner on the farm" events are always sold out. City people want to learn about canning, growing vegetables, etc. It might seem far away to attract to Chicago-area metro people but believe me, I know they are going to central Illinois for things like this.

Nebraska Dave
10/26/2011 5:54:11 PM

Colleen, I wouldn't lose the dream because that's what keeps us alive and working hard. Life has a way of twisting and turning in the most unusual ways. I've had a dream for years about a large garden. Much larger than my five garden beds in the backyard. It has definitely been a learning experience to get as much as I can from five 4X8 beds. Just this year I discovered my city had a department with a Website called "Land Reutilization Commission." This commission takes the foreclosed property in the city and puts them out for bid. After cruising the list for a couple months, I found the best garden property for the money. It would difficult to build a house on the property but it's great for gardening. It measures 160' by 168'. Not all of it is tillable but enough to keep me busy for years to come. My dream is to have enough food to store away for myself and then give the rest away to others. Possibly supply the homeless shelters with fresh vegetables. The only caveat is there's no water on the property. Ah, but then, there's another dream. I see another bigger gravity feed watering system on the project list. Colleen, all you have to do is start doing something and it just seems to grow from there. Good luck with your dreams that WILL become reality sooner than you think. Have a great planning day.

Almost Country_1
10/26/2011 12:09:03 PM

Thanks, Cindy!I appreciate the support!

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