My mom showed me this in the NYT magazine section. Farming must be hot.
Published: August 27, 2009
Losing the family farm is a familiar story. Getting it back less so.
Once Marty Travis’s family was finally able to piece together its 179-year-old farm, buying back the homestead and its parcel of land that was sold by his grandmother and slated for developers, the intention was to rebuild the dilapidated buildings. But over the last decade, Marty and his wife, Kris, have restored not only the farmhouse but the farming community in Fairbury, Ill., as well.
Though the Travises never set out to be farmers, in the five years since they started gathering wild ramps from a cousin’s woods — he had asked them to help get rid of the invasive weed — their Spence Farm has come to sell produce that is obscure or nearly extinct to Chicago’s best restaurants. In saving their central Illinois farm, they’ve managed to save some American crops too.
They sold more than 4,000 pounds of ramps that first spring. The next year they were selling to chefs whom they met through a farming nonprofit. Then Rick Bayless and Brian Enyart of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, respectively, began asking what else they had. “We slowly went from gardening into full-scale farming, which is a whole different issue,” Kris, a trim, bright-eyed woman with cropped hair, told me. “When you start doing 1,500 squash blossoms a week, you’re not talking 10 plants.” In the past year, they have been able to supply restaurants like Paul Kahan’s Blackbird, Avec and the Publican, plus dozens of others from their 10-acre vegetable plot.
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