I am from Elgin, Illinois originally. In 2011 I went on to Northland College to get my degree in Environmental Geo-science with an Atmospheric Emphasis.
The surrounding area to where I went to school was an organic farm hub in the middle of northern Wisconsin. I first worked as a crew member at the campus gardens of my college, and eventually was promoted to farm manager. I later worked for Hermit Creek Farm as a crew member, and later as a packing shed manager. I also made a brief stint at Red Fire Farm in Massachusetts, as their Packing shed manager, and learned what it was like to work on a very large farm.
I later moved back to Illinois for work, and met Chelsey who also enjoyed gardening and farming. Here we are today, growing food for the region that raised us, and I couldn’t be more proud!
My first garden in 2014 was a patch of soil, just 10’ x 10’. Besides the rush of running, I had never known a greater joy than the freedom of autonomy. My ears weren’t pierced, I couldn’t do quick math and I had barely used a stove but once or twice at that point in my life. My ears still aren’t pierced, and I think I’ll let Quinton do the quick math, but I can grow some delicious food!
I didn’t go to school for this.
In fact, I graduated from Northern Illinois University a whole whopping five years ago with a Top Scholar Award for highest class ranking as a part of Kappa Tau Alpha National Honor Society in Journalism and Mass Communication. I spent my entire college career devoted to news writing, and learning how to research, edit, integrate photography and present my work on different platforms. My focus fine-tuned while taking an environmental journalism class, as I discovered a tiny flame burning deep within each time I sat down in that classroom. I learned so much that semester about a topic I had seemingly “forgotten” I had such intense emotions toward: the land and our disconnection from it. Serving it. Protecting it. Mindfully cultivating and disseminating correct information about it and its future status. And not just the land, but public health and wellness, as well. As I sat smack dab in the middle of four cringe-worthy white walls, a dozen intrigued and three dozen bored-to-death students, I began energetically charging up. I continued researching and remembering. I researched how to best be informed on what I was eating, what season I was purchasing produce in, determining, speculating, questioning everything. I remembered long summers picking strawberries and black raspberries in my Poppy’s garden. I saw flashbacks of vine-ripened tomato sammy’s at my grandma’s. I couldn’t believe I had forgotten that part of me as I raced to get ahead in the societal rat race. As I inched closer to graduation time, I still felt blocked and couldn’t quite piece together my passions and my need for income, so I took a cubicle job and seriously questioned my life journey for nine straight months. As I mindlessly endured the first winter out of school and with no true joy or track, feeling stifled and uninspired, I happened to come across “The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire” by Deepak Chopra. Something clicked. Each day I sat down for my 50 minute lunch and I read. And read. And read. Until it was done. And when it was, my inner roots were riotous! I told myself truthfully: I get to create this masterpiece of a life. I get to decide what it is I believe I can achieve. And then I get to go do it! Everyone said I was crazy, but that’s where it started getting so good! This heart and mind expansion were the catalysts for my life taking the turns it so adamantly craved – and for the next four years, I would transition from an office job to the farm life. The summer after I graduated college I quit that cubicle position and found myself Googling “local farms in the area.” I had been gardening for two seasons, but I wanted, and I needed, more. Jobless and the most excited I’d ever been for the future, I sat on my living room floor and let the magic come to me. I had no idea what I was doing, but I trusted myself.
The rest cascades. I found WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and tried my hand at the farm life. I lived and volunteered at Pushing the Envelope Farm in Geneva, Illinois. I worked with a young woman named Erin with her veggie subscription, Pleasant Boundaries CSA, and also helped host events and harvest food for the Northern Illinois Food Bank. I loved every second of it. I continued gardening at my own leisure, as well as volunteering for PtEF. Of course, life demanded that I turn my focus back on becoming self-sufficient and financially sound, so I continued on doing different jobs, each one teaching me a little more about where I wanted to go: which happened to be right back on the farm. In 2017 I took another huge leap of faith and quit my retail job to pursue a full-time farming position at Heritage Prairie Farm in Elburn. I learned SO much here and also met my future business partner, Quinton! We spent a lot of time together that summer, learning all about market and CSA farming, harvesting, processing, vending and more! Still, I craved more. I searched and searched for more farms in the area that I could devote my time to, but came up short on all accounts. Life sent a gift to me last January when Quinton asked if I’d be interested in a “just for fun” farm where we’d grow for our friends and family. Feeling the potential growing from years past, I suddenly realized this might be my golden opportunity. The one you don’t pass up for anything. I took his idea and offered up a bit more of an expansive view of what we could create. I was awestruck at the opportunity to be farming again, and on January 29th, 2018 we took ourselves down to the county clerk’s office and submitted an intent to start a business. The rest was a lot of work. And guess what?
Now I use my degree every single day.
I passionately strive to tell this story.
It’s a good one. It’s an important one.
More to come as it unfolds!
January 8, 2019