Nick Choate-Batchelder and Becky Stark own and operate Midnight Sun Farm. We started farming in 2010 on land rented from the Liberty Prairie Conservancy in Grayslake, IL. In 2014, we moved with our son Ray to our current farm home in Harvard, IL. The owners of this farm, which we rent, believe sincerely in the importance of local agriculture and small farms, and have enabled us to grow our business through their flexibility and support.
At our farm, we grow over 40 different kinds of vegetables and herbs, and raise pastured laying hens and turkeys. From May through December, we sell our locally-grown produce, eggs, and meat to folks in the Chicagoland area through our CSA program and through a presence at farmers’ markets in Glenview and Chicago.
We do much of the work of farming and marketing ourselves, and we also have help during the growing season from friends, volunteers, worker shares, and a few employees. We partner with organizations like Oak Park Temple to help distribute CSA shares and connect people with the farm.
We follow farming practices that preserve the ecological integrity of our farmland and the areas surrounding our farmland. Our produce is Certified Naturally Grown, and we are working towards organic certification in 2018. You can read more about our growing practices and how we raise our animals here.
Which brings us to:
There are a lot of reasons that we do what we do.
- We came to farming because we enjoy the work of growing vegetables, we like owning our own business, and we feel that we are providing a useful service to our communities by making fresh, high-quality food more readily available.
- Growing a diversity of vegetables allows us to offer a wider selection of products to our customers, helps us to manage disease and pests through crop rotations, and helps us reduce the economic risk of failure of any one crop.
- We use organic practices because we can produce large yields of high-quality produce without the use of synthetic herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers. We don’t subscribe to the idea that all conventional or non-organic certified farming is categorically wrong, but many conventional farming methods can have severely detrimental effects on the environment. Also, we don’t particularly want to eat vegetables that have been sprayed with pesticides and herbicides.
- We seek organic certification because we feel that a third-party certification system helps consumers more easily identify and support farms that use sustainable growing practices.
- We pasture our animals because we are their stewards, and we have an obligation to provide them with as much opportunity to engage in their natural behaviors as is reasonably possible. Pasturing also allows us to use the grazing animals to improve soil fertility.