A morning at PrairiErth Farm

by Anne Bargar, Produce Assistant Manager PrairiErth Farm sits a few miles outside of Atlanta, IL, about 20 miles southeast of Bloomington-Normal. It’s 350 acres of diversified farm including vegetable crops, grains, pasture, cover crops, and restored prairie. The terrain there is rolling and the whole farm is quite beautiful. Add in the dramatic clouds we had during our visit, and it was quite the visual feast. Sam, Sarah, Gary, and myself ventured over there one day last week, through heavy rain which cleared up as we drove west. We first went to the wrong driveway, and were immediately greeted by Molly, the farm’s very friendly dog. We were soon redirected by Hans Bishop to the right place down the road, where the new packing shed for the food hub is being built. There we met up with folks from Green Top Grocery for a tour of the farm with Katie Bishop. Katie showed us around the new facility, and the old packing shed and coolers it’s replacing, and then we ventured through mud out into some of the vegetable fields. We watched carrots being harvested, wandered past rows of brightly-colored lettuce, munched purslane leaves, and listened as Katie discussed some of the issues that affect small growers. Among those issues are a lack of infrastructure for small growers, something the food hub is meant to help address, and a lack of awareness of local food and why it’s important to support. We then travelled back to the driveway we had originally pulled into, where we walked through hoop houses and cucumber plantings. We were able to explore the restored prairie and wander down the road a short ways to the food forest, which is an interesting experiment, but doesn’t quite work as well as well in this part of the country as it might elsewhere, due to disease. All the while we were followed by Miss Kitty, who demanded as much attention as she could possibly get from us. After we bid farewell to the farm, we stopped at Green Top for lunch with interim GM Tim Sullivan. If you get over to Bloomington-Normal, it’s worth a visit to Green Top. It’s a cool store, and the taco bar is well worth indulging in. All in all it was a lovely day. Well worth the trip to see where our lettuce and bunched carrots are being grown.