Publication: Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date: Friday, June 22 2007
Byline: Rachel Baruch Yackley
Would you like to get your hands on some fresh produce? I mean really fresh, like grown on a farm in your own community. How about pesticide-free, hormone-free fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy products?
You can tour the farm, shop at the store, or just chat with other patrons and the folks who run the Heritage Prairie Market and Education Center, which just opened last month in Elburn.
The market is the product of two couples: Bronwyn Weaver and Bob Archibald, and Tim Fuller and Beth Propst.
"We're building our business on three different aspects," said Weaver, who lives on the farm with Archibald, her husband, and their twochildren, Margaret, 12, and Grace, 9. Fuller and Propst run Erehwon Farm just down the road.
"First is our CSA (community-supported agriculture) program. This gives a level of predictability to the farm. We have a limit of 150 families that we are going to be growing for," Weaver said. "People can understand and control where their food comes from. They can eat healthier, enjoy what comes in seasonally, and support local farmers atthe same time.
"Most farmers, and we ourselves, go to the local farmers markets. Part of what we're doing is creating a year-round market. The more people who decide to buy local, the better for the farmers, and the better for us."
Customer and CSA subscriber Liz Westberry said, "I like it (the CSA) because we try stuff I never cooked before. I was driving all overthe place for this before. We were in the CSA for three years through Erehwon Farms."
Turning to another customer who was curious about the CSA produce selection, Westberry explained, "We trade. You can pick broccoli if you like broccoli. If you don't like something, you put it in the trade-in box."
The second aspect of this farm is the retail store, which is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.
Inside, customers can find fresh fruits and veggies in season, meat and dairy products, snacks, gourmet food items, garden plants, gardening tools, teas, honey, ceramics and other gift items.
"This is kind of a farmers market environment, but open year- round," Weaver said.
On the farm itself, there is a hoop house in which lettuce, spinach and chard are currently growing. Vegetables, herbs and flowers can be found growing both indoors and out.
"If it's not grown here, it's still local. We currently have eightdifferent family farms, as local as we can get, in Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan," Weaver said.
For example, mushrooms found in the store come from Burlington, Wis. They are fresh as can be, as they actually come to the Heritage Prairie Market before they hit the Chicago markets.
Beyond the store is a barn that houses four horses, a donkey, several chickens, a couple roosters and two cats, which, according to Margaret Weaver, "eat mice and cat food, but they're lazy right now, andare only eating cat food."
A smaller building on the approximately 6-acre farm is home to about half a dozen Nubian goats, including two kids, which visitors are welcome to pet.
Margaret took me around the barn and showed me where she and her sister milk the goats. Outside, she pointed out where seeds are sprouted and explained what vegetables were growing in different parts of the gardens.
"We've lived here five years. Before that, we lived in Antigua in the Caribbean. I was born in Pennsylvania," said Margaret, who attends the Montessori Academy in Batavia when not working on the farm. "Mymom, Grace and I decide what jobs we're going to do over the summer,and how much we're going to get paid. We're saving up to buy a laptop computer."
The third aspect of this farm's business is education. The public is encouraged to come out and learn.
"We want people to walk around, see our fields, see our animals," Weaver said.
Food preservation classes, and gardening classes for individuals, children and families will be offered here. Cooking classes will takeplace in collaboration with Past Basket in Geneva, which has a custom kitchen at its South Third Street location.
Although the Heritage Prairie Market just opened, there are already plans to expand.
"We've got big plans for what we want to do here," Weaver said. "We are planning on building more greenhouses. We plan to expand the store size."
The surrounding community has been quick to embrace all that the Heritage Prairie Market has to offer. Three high-quality Geneva businesses - Movable Feast catering and retail shop, Inglenook Pantry restaurant, and Niche, a restaurant on Third - use produce supplied by themarket.
For information about the Heritage Prairie Market or the CSA, visit www.hpmfarm.com, or call (630) 715-5475.
Better yet, stop by the Heritage Prairie Market, 2N308 Brundige Road, two miles west of Randall Road, just south of Route 38.