I've been trying to keep an open mind and embrace a new experience and remind myself that uprooting myself and readjusting to new surroundings is in my blood, it's what I was born into. But it has been hard.
There are just some things I am used to and won't compromise on because they are important to my parenting style.
One of those things is a local farm. Not just any kind, either. We should be able to feed the animals, get to know some of the animals by name and allow the children to feel comfortable about them. The farmer should be pleasant and a bit chatty (like me!), willing to show me what's fresh or new, talk about the harvest, recipes, etc. in front of the children so that this becomes a natural part of their vocabulary.
We should be able to go picking in the fields for more than the occasional pumpkin, strawberries and apples so that the children have a broad understanding of how their food is grown. Also, I've learned through personal experience that children are more likely to eat vegetables they picked themselves.
And I shouldn't have to pay money to enter either, just for a pony ride or produce or whatever we should do to or purchase.
It should be a farm that won't take every dollar I have for fun for the whole week to enjoy and should be one that makes it easy for us to visit once or twice a week.
We had been missing Hubers Farm and Webers Cider Mill Farm, among others which we were extremely familiar with back in Maryland. Being on a first name basis with your local farmer and knowing that our food is fresh and not several weeks old before we purchase it is important to us.
Well, I'm happy to say we found the perfect local farm! Stiles Vegetable Farm & Greenhouse. It's actually in Wisconsin but it's the closest to us that fit our needs. Perhaps we will find others as well as time continues.
Meet the rooster we are now on a first name basis with...
Isn't he handsome? He likes grapes and when you call his name, he comes running up to you and begs for food.
My toddler found him walking out from behind the counter and started whispering "Mommy! Mommy! Ook*! Ook, a chicken, Mommy! Silly chicken (insert adorable toddler giggle)!"
She kept watching him and feeding him with grapes and corn. She followed him around the whole farm stand like she was his little puppy, constantly stopping to laugh "Silly chicken!" and he kept pausing in his quest for food to allow her to catch up with him.
We purchased fresh ginger (I am hoping to make Thai peanut sauce noodles for myself today), tomatoes, sugar baby and Italian plums, green onions, and local raw honey.
Raw honey straight from the comb on the left...
My toddler ate raw corn and an Italian plum while I paid and found out about other activities around town that I could take her to do.
The lady farmer was knowledgeable, warm, and her husband is Polish so we talked about different types of pierogi.
When we got in the car, my toddler kept talking about the ducks and chicken and the corn until we picked up her sister. She told everyone who would listen outside the school about them. She told her Daddy hours later about the ducks and chicken and showed off the honey she had picked out. She told her Dziadek about feeding the animals and about the baby ducks we saw and gave him a tomato and said "Eat dis, Dziadek!"
I think we will be fine. We are getting back into our groove finally.
* Ook in toddler-speak means look
Some interesting resources about local farms in the Wisconsin and Illinois area
Wisconsin Local Farms (not a complete list but still worth checking out)
American Farmland Trust (Support local farms and check out their current effort "No Farms No Food" and information)
Local Harvest has a great tool for finding local farms, farmer markets, and other "sources of sustainably grown food in your area" including grass fed meats, etc.
The State of Illinois's Agricultural Department has a great Kids Page
I received no compensation for mentioning the farm we went to or for sharing any of the links above.