Local Profile with Living Water Farms
Living Water Farms itself was established in April of 2008. It was an off-shoot of the many years of gardening/truck patch growing that the Kilgus & Schneider families had done. The decision of what we’d name our farm was made by our entire family. We, along with all of our children and the two sons-in-law came up with suggestions for it, and it was then put to a vote! The meaning behind the name “Living Water Farms” has a dual purpose: being a hydroponic grower the water is the conduit for bringing life and vitality to the plants and represents our Christian faith.
Our farm is located on the rolling plains of Fayette Township in Central Illinois. This is approximately 47 miles or a 50 minute drive to/from Common Ground.
Our farm produces a variety of specialty greens 365 days of the year. Most common items are 4 or 5 different varieties of sweet lettuces and 2 varieties of basil. Other greens would include cress, arugula, Italian dandelion, mizuna, pea shoot, pea tendrils, spicy greens, endive, escarole and a large variety of micro-greens.
All products grown at Living Water Farms start with the seed. We do all of our own propagation with most greens completing their specific growing cycle within 5-6 weeks and micro-greens taking anywhere from 2-4 weeks. We have obtained the Good Agricultural Practices & Good Handling Practices certification from the USDA and use natural controls for disease and insect management.
There are several challenges with this type of Controlled Environment Agriculture. Most of them revolve around the atmosphere in the greenhouse (humidity, temperature, etc.), temperature and EC of the water as well as the lack or abundance of natural sunlight. These things all work together and need to be in a good balance for optimal growing conditions. It can be very challenging at times!
In recent years there has been a continual increase of interest in local foods and knowing where your food comes from. Locally sourced food can also be better tasting and have a higher nutrient content because it is fresher, meaning it was not harvested several days before it arrived at the retail outlet.
Our particular growing practice is to ship our product with its grow media intact. This goes a step further in providing a fresher more vibrant product by allowing the consumer to ‘harvest’ and use that product when they’re ready to consume it.
Working together with other local farmers has allowed us to form helpful logistical efficiencies. We all appreciate the opportunity to help and be helped by other farms in order to make our local products more widely available to the consumer.