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Central OR Southern IL farms?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
My homeschooled 3rd grader is studying farms this year (Waldorf) and we are just not having any luck finding a farm for her to get hands on experience. We live in the middle of nowhere surrounded by farms, but every single one is a conventional corn or beef farm with no dairies, no sheep, no anything at all.

Our county extension not only could not tell me a single place within an hour of here that would let us come out and see the farm or volunteer, but said even if there was one, they wouldn't let you come to their property for liability reasons. Weird to me, growing up around farming.

But we live in town right now and I am desperately searching. Does anyone know any farms at all that will let kids come out and see them work or do anything hands on? I'm willing to drive pretty far-Champaign, Decatur, Springfield, Carbondale, St. Louis, near Evansville, all around. Even Indiana at this point! I live in Richland county and there's just nothing.

We've been to Curtis Orchards in Champaign, but it's very busy and touristy. And we go to Grissom's in Greenup on occasion, but I don't know if you can pick there anymore. And then there's the Great Pumpkin Patch. Which we are going to in a month, but I want some real farming hands on stuff or just to watch a farm in action.

Please, if you know anywhere, can you pm me or reply.
post #2 of 7
I don't know my IL geography as well as I should, but I do know of

Linden Hill Farms -dairy farm
8412 Middle Road
Bartonville, IL

also an alpaca farm
post #3 of 7
Hi! I was born in Southern Illinois and have lived here my whole life (except for when I now attend college in GA).

I would suggest having your daughter contact Joshua Brown, who owns and operates Farmer Brown's Produce just north of Pamona, IL (near Carbondale). It is the only USDA certified organic farm in Southern Illinois, and Josh works hard with his wife Alexis and their three children. The entire family is extremely warm and welcoming, and I have a feeling they may be happy to help your daughter with her project.

Let me know if you have any questions!

post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 

I found some places up north of Champaign and by Decatur and Springfield. A really far drive. But it's so sad to have nothing closer.

We really wanted to go to Carbondale and visit Shawnee this spring, I will definitely contact that farmer. Thanks!
post #5 of 7
I couldn't tell you about anywhere that will let the kids actually work--you'd have to ask the farmers--but I can think of several places that give tours.

Triple S Farms, rural Neoga. They're certified organic, and Stan is just the best. Very, very cool farm.

Okaw Valley Orchard, rural Sullivan. They have a giant play area, and I know they give tours to school field trips.

Some other places off the top of my head you might try:

Buxton's Garden Farm, rural Sullivan. They live on a large pumpkin and squash farm.

Pontious Farm, rural White Heath. Berry, herb, and vegetable farm, but they're especially known for their U-pick berries. I've never been there, but I keep meaning to.

There are over 100 vineyards in the southern half of the state. Here are some pretty close to you. (Zoom out if you need to see more of the map.)

Have you attended the Urbana Farmer's Market? It's the biggest downstate FM, and you could probably talk to a couple dozen farmers there. I can think of several large organic farms there, ranging from produce to dairy goats to bison to honey. Keep in mind that the Market is crazy-busy, so you'd want to get there right at opening before it gets too packed, but even then, you may just have to collect business cards and contact the farmers later.

Oh, and search IllinoisFarmDirect.org. I bet you'll find dozens of farms closer than you realize. In fact, I just put in the zip code for Olney and got 10 hits within 20 miles. I probably should have just started with that, LOL.

And feel free to PM when you're going to the Great Pumpkin Patch! I live less than 30 minutes from there. I also know of some smaller farms around Moultrie County that I didn't list here, including a dairy goat farm, pig farm, deer farm, and blueberry farm.
post #6 of 7
And I think these people can arrange a tour of an Amish farm, although I'm not sure what they charge.
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks! We will definitely have to meet up. Years ago I went to the Urbana Farmer's Market (when I worked in town!) but we are two hours away, now.
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