Living the Dream (for a day)
I’ve had a running fantasy the past few years of breaking my technology and material possession chains and buying a farm. We’d grow all kinds of different vegetables and flowers. We’d rehab a barn and put some sort of restaurant in it (“Farm AND Table”) that would be vegetarian only. We’d have a guest chef program where a chef comes to live on the farm for a month to get in touch with the land their ingredients come from and they’d cook at the restaurant that month to earn their keep. Each month the chefs would switch out and we’d bring in someone new. We would do programs with kids and city-goers to have them come out and pick stuff, cook it, and experience rural life for a day. We’d put in a hard day’s work, then come inside and collapse dead tired but knowing we’re having a direct, positive impact on other people.
My wife chuckles when I (frequently) bring up this fantasy, but decided to indulge me for a day, perhaps hoping I would get a taste of farm life and decide the city and all its trappings were not so bad after all.
Unfortunately her plan may have backfired.
85 miles northwest of Chicago sits Angelic Organics, a 90+ acre organic farm supported by a “Community Sustained Agriculture” business model. People buy “shares” in the farm, guaranteeing the farm an income stream, and in return, its shareholders are delivered boxes of the farm’s bounty each week. It’s sort of like Kickstarter, old school. The farm occupies 90+ acres and grows everything from pole beans to kohlrabi to beets and is also host to a few dozen goats, cows, pigs, and chickens.
(Photo courtesy of Angelic Organics)
In addition to a functioning farm, Angelic Organics is a classroom where you can learn more about sustainable agricultural practices, making cheese, raising goats, chickens, pigs, and cows, and cooking techniques for everything grown on the farm. We scheduled an afternoon and evening at the farm where we took a cooking class (with 7 other couples from Chicago,) then went and gathered vegetables. After spending a couple glorious hours in the field, we came back and cooked a meal: quiche with farm fresh eggs, squash, homemade ricotta, shredded beets, a massive salad, and goat milk ice cream for dessert.
While the food tasted marvelous and the ingredients were as fresh as could be, what I appreciated most was the bonding we all did as the day wore on. It was as if just for that short period of time we were getting in touch with who we all were behind the screens and traffic to be a little more human again.
Perhaps I’ll see you again one day, black soils of Illinois.