Friday, July 25, 2008

Prairie Crossing Farms - Sandhill Organics and Dea-Dia Organics

In Grayslake, IL ... a suburban town in Lake County not an hour from Chicago there is a bit of an oasis called Prairie Crossing, it's a bit of a progressive minded living community. Part of Prairie Crossing is the Prairie Crossing Farms, home to Sandhill Organics and other smaller operations like Dea-Dia farms. The location of Prairie Crossing is sublime considering the surroundings, which are more indicative where this place really is. From different spots on the Prairie Crossing farms you can see and/or smell a nearby landfill, ashphalt factory, railroads and suburban housing developments. This really isn't a bad thing, as a true escape is still pretty far away and this setting really makes you appreciate the developers vision putting a community like this in the middle of the suburbs. That, and unlike more rural farmers, folks at these farms have to travel less, sometimes significantly less to their markets ... making it a less expensive process in getting their food out to the local people.

Smaller farms like Dea-Dia lease the land (5 acres in their case) and see how they do farming a smaller plot of land. It's a starting point for hopeful future farmers where they have a good location, pay a good price to rent the land, and don't have to make the initial investment they would have to if they wanted to start a full fledged farm. Jeff Miller, who with his partner owns Dea-Dia is only looking to grow and learn more about farming while at Prairie Crossing, with the possibility of expanding to a bigger plot of land in the future.

Sandhill Organics owners Peggy and Matt and Sheaffer live on the farm and cultivate much of the land at Prairie Crossing farms. The food from these farms is distributed through a few local farmers markets as well as CSA (community supported agriculture) shares where local folks pay to come to the farm and pick up a nice bag of veggies and fruits every week.

Workers at Dea-Dia farms lay down a cover to protect salad greens seedlings from bugs. Beyond the trees in the background is the landfill.

Kenny (foreground) and Derek Kofoed tend to tomato plants at Sandhill Organics farms. In the background is a windmill that generates electricity for the farm.

A sampling of the produce available for CSA members to come pick up on a Thursday afternoon.

Andy Wunschel works on weeding out the celery plants at Sandhill Organics. The owners' home rests in the background.

Justin Galias (left) and Luis Cruz work on the farm during late afternoon. "You can't deny this...this is the truth" said Galias of the farm's location amidst a different lifestyle.

No comments: