The farm season has officially come to an end for 2016. Justin and I pulled up the remaining plastic in the field and I broke down the hydroponic system in preparation for the farmers to shut off the water. Despite a few setbacks with the replanting of our transplants and downy mildew, this was an amazing season. The weather was finally in our favor with a hot, dry summer. Most importantly, after three years we finally secured a BADASS farm crew that will be returning in the spring. I have never had more fun at work than I did this year. The crew worked hard, were reliable and did it all with a smile and a great sense of humor.
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I owe a huge amount of thanks to so many people for this year’s success. Thank you to the University of Illinois Department of Crop Science for allowing us to lease land and supporting our mission. Thank you to Hendrick House and the Hendrick family for encouraging the farm and shared vision to make this dream become a reality. Thank you to the chefs for your support and menuing fresh farm food. Thank you Jeremy Shafer, Eric Kinkelear, Billy (B nizzle) Sharp, Bryan Warsaw, Michael Douglas (not the actor) and Matt Turino for your continued guidance, patience and loyal assistance throughout the year. Thank you to Rick Weinzierl and Mary Hosier for teaching me the ropes of farming and for your continued support through the years. Finally, thank you, thank you, thank you to my fabulous staff (Justin Slade, Terren Gaither and Rey Jackson) for all of your hard work and great laughs.
I will be spending the winter making new and exciting preparations for the 2017 growing season. We will be implementing season extension tools for our 3 acres and I am going to redesign the rooftop garden to increase functionality while implementing education workshops for the chefs and the community, hopefully making us eligible for grant opportunities. I have also been furiously putting together a workbook for the chefs which will serve as a field guide when they are menuing and ordering for the 2017 growing season. There are many exciting things to come in 2017 so please stay tuned!! …….Ann out