Demand is high for organic, locally grown food and some of the best farmers in the region are FBDC alumni! The FBDC is successfully incubating new farm businesses to serve the local food needs of the Chicago region.
Some FBDC alumni have pursued different food-related careers and are no longer directly farming, but utilize their deep understanding of sustainable agriculture to advance local food priorities in a different role.
The following FBDC alumni are producing local food and other farm products within the Chicago foodshed.
Dea Dia Organics joined the FBDC in 2006 as the first farm business. Owners Jeff and Jen Miller operated a successful farm business that offered organic vegetables, eggs and pastured heritage breed pork throughout their CSA and two local farmers’ markets.
In 2011, they joined forces with Sandhill Organics and one year later, renamed the business to Sandhill Family Farms and expanded their business to two farm locations operated as a partnership. The Prairie Crossing Farm location in Grayslake is managed by Jeff and Jen Miller and the Brodhead location in Wisconsin managed by Matt and Peg Sheaffer.
In 2016, the two farms decided to simplify into two separate farming businesses. Jen & Jeff created Prairie Wind Family Farm which continues to serve as the anchor Prairie Crossing farm and Sandhill Family Farms resides in Brodhead, WI.
Grassroots Farm (formerly known as The Outback) joined the FBDC in 2006 and graduated that same year. Owner Lindsey Morris Carpenter launched her farm business in Green County, WI where she has continued to grow her business from a diverse vegetable operation to one that also includes eggs, turkeys, chickens, and more. Grassroots Farm is operated by Lindsey and her mother, Gail.
Grassroot Farm currently serves CSA customers in Chicago (Loop and Andersonville), Evanston, Long Grove, Madison (WI), and Monroe (WI). They also offer select products to the wholesale market.
“The Farm Business Development Center was such a huge part of my education as a farmer, and was a crucial step between working for a farmer and starting my own operation.” – Lindsey Morris Carpenter
Gretta’s Goats joined the FBDC in 2010 and graduated in 2013. Owner Gretta Winkelbauer produces handcrafted artisan soaps and fibers from hand-milked, organically grazed goats. She sells her goat milk soap at the Libertyville, Glenwood, Logan Square, and Morton Grove Farmers Markets. She also sells online and at numerous retail shops including Crate & Barrel, Girl and the Goat, and Cacao Sweets & Treats. Click here for a complete list of retail locations.
In November 2011, Gretta’s Goats was named one of Oprah’s “Perfect Presents” for the holiday season. Gretta graduated from the FBDC in 2013 and purchased a farm near Rockford to accommodate her growing herd of miniature dairy goats and expanding goat milk soap business.
Gretta’s long term business plan includes producing goat milk cheese, and with a permanent farm location she is positioned to pursue this. Cheese is one of the most highly regulated food products in the US. Requirements include building a separate cheese room, milking parlor, animal housing area, and much more.
Midnight Sun Farm joined the Farm Business Development Center in 2009 and graduated in 2014. Owners Nick Choate-Batchelder and Becky Stark produce organic vegetables and more. Their 89-member CSA serves Grayslake, Gurnee, Libertyville, Mundelein, Oak Park, Rogers Park, and Humboldt Park. They sell at the Glenview and Glenwood (Chicago) Farmers Markets.
Midnight Sun’s new farm location is in Harvard, IL where they grow over 40 kinds of fresh vegetables using organic and sustainable farming practices, and raise pastured chickens, turkeys and pigs. Midnight Sun is committed to providing fresh, delicious, beautiful produce and delicious, humanely raised meat and eggs to customers in Chicago and the northwestern suburbs.
Mike and Clare’s Farm (formerly known as Birch’s Berries) joined the FBDC in 2007 and graduated that same year. Owners Mike Birch and Clare Schaecher launched their farm business in Harvard, IL where they continue to grow diverse vegetables for CSA members and farmers market customers.
Mike and Clare’s currently serves CSA members in Harvard and Chicago (Lakeview, Logan Square, and Hyde Park) and also sell at the 61st Street Farmers Market in Hyde Park.
Patchwork Farms grew out of Farm Girl Organics, which was part of the Farm Business Development Center from 2007-2008. One of the owners of Farm Girl Organics, Katie Williams, went on after “graduating” from the FBDC to launch Patchwork Farms in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood. Patchwork Farms grows diverse vegetable crops for their CSA members and also offers farm stand hours during the growing season. Click here to learn more about Patchwork Farms.
Radical Root joined the FBDC in 2010 and graduated in 2013. They produce organic vegetables and free-range eggs at Casey Farm in Libertyville. Their 100 member CSA serves Grayslake, Libertyville, Lakeview, Edgewater, Lincoln Park and Logan Square. They sell at Chicago’s Logan Square and Green City Farmers Markets.
Click here to learn more about the Liberty Prairie Foundation’s pilot land access project with unique partnerships that allowed Radical Root’s transition to Casey Farm, and click here to learn more about Radical Root Farm.
Tempel Farms Organics (formerly known as Red Tail Farm) joined the FBDC in 2006 and graduated in 2009. Owners Chris and Tania Cubberly transitioned their organic vegetable and pastured poultry business to Tempel Farms in Old Mill Creek, IL where they began farm operations in 2010.
Tempel Farms Organics produces vegetables, fruit, cut flowers, eggs and honey for CSA members in Old Mill Creek, Waukegan, Lake Bluff, Mt. Prospect. They sell at the Belmont & Cragin and Logan Square Farmers Markets, and also offer CSA pickups at those locations. Produce from Tempel Farms is frequently featured on the menu at the Ad-Lib Geocafé in Lindenhurst.
Wild Goose Farm joined the FBDC in 2009, and graduated in 2012. While in the FBDC, owner Meg Runyan grew certified organic vegetables for her 30 member CSA, the Libertyville Farmers Market, Northfield Farmers Market (2009 – 2010), and the Lake Bluff Farmers Market (2012).
In 2012, Meg decided to cease farm operations as Wild Goose Farm. She joined the Liberty Prairie Foundation in early 2013 and now uses her farming expertise to co-lead the Prairie Farm Corps youth development program and coordinate the overall Farm Business Development Center. As a former FBDC farmer, Meg brings a unique perspective to her current role with the Liberty Prairie Foundation.