Going to school in central Illinois means seeing fields is nothing out of the ordinary. Illinois especially is known for growing incredible amounts of corn and soybeans for feed, ethanol and other uses. However, Illinois also has farms that do everything from growing fruits and vegetables to tending livestock and making cheese.
Triple S Farm
Located in Stewardson, Ill., Triple S Farm’s focus is on meat — chicken, turkey, hogs and cattle — and organic produce. Stan Scott Schutte, owner of Triple S Farm, has been cultivating the family farm’s 200 acres for over 30 years. “All the pastures are certified organic, and all the animals are drug free since 1998. The produce is certified organic, the poultry is free range and no GMO grains are used,” according to the farm’s website.
Triple S Farm offers about every cut of meat available, including various types of bacon (peppered, Canadian, apple wood and nitrate-free); already prepared products like bratwursts, sausages, corned beef and hot dogs; uncommon cuts of beef like tri tip and sweetbread (very common in California; tri tip is the triangular end piece of sirloin. Sweetbread is the thymus gland); and poultry products, including free range eggs.
Blue Moon Farm
Only 10 miles north of CU is Blue Moon Farm, a small, 20-acre farm that also grows only organic produce. Blue Moon Farm offers a wide variety of vegetables such as kale, sugar snap peas, beets, garlic, heirloom tomatoes, kohlrabi, potatoes and asparagus.
Blue Moon Farm sells about 70 percent of its produce at the Urbana’s Market at the Square. The rest of its produce is marketed to other restaurants and stores in the CU area, like the Common Ground Food Co-op and Strawberry Fields. Storage vegetables, potatoes and carrots, are available even through the winter months!
The farm also has a winter market where orders are taken online and paid for upon pickup. Pickup is in the area behind the Common Ground Co-op in Lincoln Square Mall. This is a great way to continue eating and buying locally during the winter.
Another certified organic farm, just north of Mahomet, Ill., Tomahnous Farm is a family run farm offering fruits, vegetables, flowers, herbs, flours, honey, eggs, milk and meat — veal, goat, lamb, chicken and turkey. Tomahnous doesn’t use pesticides, herbicides, artificial fertilizers, hormones or antibiotics on any of its products. Its produce ranges from “asparagus to salad mix to zucchini, and both berries and tree fruit,” according to its website. In addition to its produce, Tomahnous sells a wide variety of flowers that are available year round!
Like Blue Moon Farm, Tomahnous products can be found at the Market at the Square in Urbana. Tomahnous Farm also sells products at a farmer’s market called Market on Main in Mahomet. The Mahomet farmer’s market opens sometime in May on Wednesdays from 3–6 p.m.
Prairie Fruits Farm
One of the more unusual local farms, Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery, is the first farmstead cheese-making facility in Illinois. In addition to its cheese and dairy products, Prairie Fruits Farm grows certified organic tree fruits — peaches, apples, pears, cherries — and berries — strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, currants, gooseberries and jostaberries (described as a cross between a blackberry and a gooseberry).
Prairie Fruits Farm’s specialties are its goat cheeses and goat milk. The cheese is sold at the Market at the Square in Urbana, Common Ground Co-op in Lincoln Square Mall and in stores such as Whole Foods in the Chicagoland area. The goats are on a “forage-based diet,” meaning they have free reign of the pastures and land to feed.
When the weather is nice, Prairie Fruits Farm offers a “dinner on the farm,” where the farm’s chef prepares a five-course meal with fresh, local ingredients, most grown on the farm. The dinners give guests a great opportunity to experience local foods and flavors using ingredients grown in Illinois.
Prairie Fruits also hosts Farm Open House Saturdays & Breakfast, where its sells some of its cheeses and local breakfast foods, and visitors are allowed to visit with the baby goats. Blue Moon and Tomahnous Farms also provide spring veggies such as kale, spring onions, shitake mushrooms and spinach.
More information is available on all of these farms at their websites: