We are looking forward to the warmer weather Spring will bring mostly because our farm comes alive! Not that it’s dead right now, just sleeping, but we don’t get to reap the rewards of our amazing farm until it awakes from it’s slumber. Our Spring CSA program starts in early May, with great produce like Beets, Radishes, Turnips, Kale, and Chard. We are so proud of our produce, showing it off to our friends in the community who support local farming is the greatest joy. Our program allows you to participate in a Spring share, Summer share (or half summer share), or a Fall share, or all three! You’ll pick up a full box of fresh-picked produce every week (or every other for a half summer share) at our farm. We even have farm fresh eggs to add to any share package for the best in local ingredients in your meals. To learn more about becoming a part of our CSA program, visit our CSA page for the pricing info and specifics. We love our small-scale farm and what we can produce, and we would love to share it with you.
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Farm Dinners at Heritage Prairie Farm have been a Chicago tradition since 2007. Our Farm Kitchen delights in tailoring menus to highlight the best of the season’s fresh flavors. Our most recent dinner, the November Wine Dinner, only strengthened this standard. Chef Nick took great care to craft a menu that not only showed off the bounty of autumn, but also paired excellently with a number of great varietal wines our team selected.
The evening started with over fifty farm friends gathering together on a cool November night in our heated greenhouse. Transformed for events and our farmers’ market during the winter months, the greenhouse offers the area’s most unique atmosphere.
Chef Nick and the Farm Kitchen offered guests multiple options to start off the night with including -
Spiced Butternut Squash Soup Shooter ~ Walnut Crème
Pumpkin Butter Crostinis ~ Drunken Cranberries
Roasted Chestnuts ~ Brown Butter, Cinnamon
As we moved to dinner, guests were greeted by one of our famous Bron’s Bee Company Honey Favors -
We love it when groups of friends or family come together and celebrate at our Farm Dinners.
Chef Nick wanted to showcase the “over-flowing” bounty of the fall harvest!
Dinners are always welcoming to farm friends who choose a plant strong diet,
with vegetarian options such as this Grilled Radicchio
My personal favorite of the night -
Walnut Oil Roasted Brussel Sprouts with
Roasted Parsnip Puree, Salted Walnuts
Always a treat to see guests becoming fast friends when breaking bread together -
But we can’t forget the -
Brown Ale Braised Short Ribs resting on
Stone Ground Grits, Caramelized Cipollini Onions, Potato Thyme Aioli
Throughout the meal, Chef Nick was kind enough to share with everyone some of his choices and a little history of each course. We were also able to drag him out at the end to offer up a much deserved round of applause!
Finishing the night with an -
Apple Mousse dressed with a
Cinnamon Cranberry Biscotti
Glad to see everyone enjoying themselves!
Heritage Prairie Farm also hosts a wide range of private and corporate events and would be happy to help you plan your holiday party on the farm! Contact us today!
Every year Heritage Prairie Farm is blessed to share in the joy of a multitude of wedding celebrations – each couple becoming a life long member of our farm family. Here we are able to highlight just a few of them, but they have all become part of the story of the farm…
Robin & Kevin – http://www.esenamphotography.com/
Michelle & Joe – http://iklikphoto.com
Brooke & Tony – http://www.kinawicks.com
Mel & Dom – http://www.coupleofdudes.com
Shelly & Donny – http://www.ellagraphstudios.com/
Stephanie & Luke – http://blog.melissahayes.net/search/label/weddings
Jillian & Chris – http://thebeautifulvoyage.com/
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The night sky and cool October air greet me as I walk from the barn back to my kitchen. It is shortly after dinner service for the second to last wedding of the season; I’m knocking off for the night but by the sounds of merriment coming from the tent I can tell the reception is in full swing. I come across the bride chatting with some friends, and congratulate her. We hug and I wish her and her new husband all the best; they’re ecstatic and I am honored to have been a part of their union.
I pack up my things and head to my car; reflecting not only on the day’s work as I do after every event, but also on the season as a whole. Wedding season is almost done, and I remember all the wonderful couples and farm dinner guests, I have met this year. Witnessing their creativity, passion, and love has made all of our hard work worth it. It amazes me to see just how many people share my passion for good food, good company, and good times.
We have had all of those in abundance this past season, and no matter what your reason for visiting us it has been my pleasure to share in them with you. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you; I am forever grateful for the opportunity to be a part of so many wonderful experiences. We have plenty more to come, and I’m looking forward to seeing you all out on the farm!
Guest Blog Submission~Heritage Prairie Farm
by Bonnie T. Summers, Concierge
Whole Foods Market Naperville
I keep a large wooden tray in view in my workspace at Whole Foods Market Naperville. The tray is rough and sturdy, darkened with years of use on a farm where it held grapes becoming raisins in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Arm-length, weighty, lush bunches were spread across rows of trays like this between vines in the dry, 100 degree heat of late summer. The same process is still used, grapes now spread on lengths of paper instead of trays.
David Mas Masumoto writes about growing organic peaches and raisins in that valley. Through him I revisit the places where I grew up just miles from Masumoto Family Farm. And I renew my appreciation for the treasure Bron, Bob and the staff have shaped at Heritage Prairie Farm. Here on the edge of urban sprawl, I can stand on another variety of plowed earth, taste comb honey, see the sweat and satisfaction on the faces of their crew, and ask questions.
These very different farms–both local vendors for Whole Foods Market–are similar in artistry, inventiveness and mission. To succeed, farmers must work in enough harmony with a fluctuating network of seeds, weeds, creatures, weather, laborers, policies, tools and tractors, history, markets, soil and their own intuition. This choreography continues daily on farms around the U.S. and the world daily. Fortunately for us, farmers like Bron and Masumoto are as articulate about their work—and as creative in drawing people, organizations and ideas together—as they are with their farming. Whether Bron is speaking as a Good Food Festival panelist, crediting the chefs who arrange food on platters at farm dinners, or explaining microgreens to kids, her heart for Heritage Prairie Farm and for sustainable food and community is evident, and echoed by each of the staff.
When I began to work with potential local producers, one of the first I met was Bron.She introduced Heritage Prairie Farm to us through exquisite raw and infused honey. Bron and Joel, then Naperville’s Store Team Leader, immediately synced into a creative buzz about labels, recipes, and steps to becoming an effective Whole Foods Market vendor. Our current Store Team Leader Steve continues that support for Heritage Prairie Farm and local producers. Bron and Deb, our Marketing Specialist, have expanded the reach of both our store and the farm through amazing partnerships.
Heritage Prairie Farm’s first Red, White and Bluegrass Festival on June 9th benefits the Farmer Veteran Coalition—another mutual, innovative partner. We’re proud to be a cosponsor of this event. Soon after, they’ll host a retreat with our Health Starts Here partner, Engine 2. Imagine what will sprout up next!
Many dreams and hands are joined behind signs that say “heirloom,” “seasonal,” “organic,” or “Buy Local”. Thanks, Heritage Prairie Farm—and all farmers, especially small artisan farmers—for helping us remember our common ground.
Honey Bear went down to Georgia,
he was looking for some bees.
In a need for speed,
cos’ he had a queen to feed.
Farmer Nate opened up a hive and he said: “I’ll start this show.”
And smoke flew from his fingertips as he fasten up his suit.
And as he sprayed the sugar across his bees they made a joyous buzz.
Then a band of ladies joined in and it sounded something like this.
When Farmer Nate finished, Tony said: “Well you’re pretty good ol’ son.
“But sit down in that chair, right there, and let me show you how its done.”
Bees in the hive, run boys, run.
Honey in the house of the risin’ sun.
Chicken in the bread pan, pickin’ out dough.
“Granny, does your bee sting?”
“No, child, no.”
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This morning I watched the first snowflake of the season float past me. No more Indian summer weather. The season has changed for good.
And good it is.
Thursday mornings start early for our microgreen harvest. We harvest, wash and pack our microgreens so that when delivered to Whole Foods, they are less than four hours old—talk about fresh!
An early start means coffee at 5AM. This morning I was greeted by a beautiful moon in the west.
Its light cast shadows all over the farm. The air felt crisp and a deep breath awakend me thoroughly. And then I heard him. My owl. It may be a female, but call me old-fashioned, I like to think of him as a him, watching over me and the farm.
For eight years now I’ve heard him—a Great Horned Owl—hoot from up in the trees around the farm house. In January he will begin to call to a mate and the pair will hoot back and forth to each other for a couple of weeks until they nest. Although mated for life, they live a solitary existence most of the year coming together only to raise their chicks.
And they are such magnificent creatures. I’ve even had the honor of seeing one up close.
A couple of years ago I was driving in a snowstorm between Marengo and Rockford on Interstate 90. It was really early in the morning. Heading west, in front of me, a big rig hit something that flew up in the air and landed on the shoulder. The snowfall made it hard to see, but I thought it was a big bird—either a hawk or an owl. I wrestled with my conscience for a few seconds and then pulled over. I had to walk back about a quarter of a mile along the shoulder. There in the snow was a Great Horned Owl. Its penetrating, lifeless eyes stared past me. Such a magestic creature, so tragic. I found myself getting choked up as the owl’s delicate, beautiful feathers blurred in front of me.
I held it in my arms hoping it would come back to life. About a foot and half long, it must have weighed four pounds. Oblivious to the solemn scene, cars and trucks passed us at 70 miles an hour. It’s a felony to drag a bird-of-prey carcass off a roadway, but I couldn’t just leave. It’s so rare to see an owl up close. Children should see this bird to appreciate its beauty—a computer screen image or a picture in a book can’t do it justice. Then I remembered an ecologist friend of mine had a scavenger’s license. The license would enable him to take the owl to a taxidermist and preserve it. I made the call and decided that if I couldn’t get through to him, I would risk it and bury the beautiful owl myself in the woods—to rest in peace. My saga ended well, this regal bird was preserved for all to appreciate in a children’s museum in Chicago.
So this morning I felt blessed to be greeted by my owl.
And the blessing keep coming today. Chef Nathan from Vie (a marvelous restaurant in Western Springs) came out to the farm to pick up spinach. I tasted some of the harvest, and oh my, the freezing weather has brought out the sweetness. I love winter spinach!
Nate and the farm team harvested thousands of pounds of root vegetables from the field before it froze, filling up our walk-in cooler to the brim. Have you ever tasted a watermelon radish? It’s a gorgeous pink on the inside and tastes delicious!
All during the fall, the events team has been busy meeting with prospective brides and grooms. It’s like there is a big happy bubble around Daryn. All of his meetings are filled with MMMMs over menus that Chef Jeremy’s come up with and laughter or giggles over all the plans.
There’s nothing more fun than planning a wedding. And on the farm, couples are free to tailor it to their vision. Some are formal, others more casual, and some are just plain fun.
But the big excitement today was over plans for the farm’s first winter wedding—sleigh bells and wedding bells! Winter events are new this season. We’re all getting excited about decorations and, of course, the wonderful food we’ll feature. Our greenhouse by the barn is hosting our Winter Farmer’s Market on Saturdays. It’s so warm and sunny—even on a grey, cold day. And the bigger greenhouse (site of last year’s Valentines Day Farm Dinner) is getting decked out and decorated for its big launch for the November Farm Dinner on Saturday, the 19th. Bring on the holiday cheer!
A day that begins so happily should end with something tasty, don’t you think? I think I’ll make chicken stew and corn bread soaked in honey. The chicken will be in honor of my owl—as I know for a fact he likes my chickens too!