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Organic farming thrives at Chestnut Cliff Farm in Freeport

By Tony Carton

photo via www.beginningfarmers.org

photo via www.beginningfarmers.org

FREEPORT — There are no herbicides or pesticides used to grow vegetables at Chestnut Cliff Farm. It’s a strategy that’s worked well for the family farm for 60 years.

Every summer, family members cultivate about five acres and sell their produce at farmers markets and to local restaurants and grocery stores and directly from the farm.

“We grow a variety of vegetables and have grass-fed beef,” said longtime Chestnut Cliff matriarch Pat Leininger. “Right now we have cabbage and we’re taking a lot of carrots, onions, garlic, beans, peas and beets to the markets. We will be having a nice selection of tomatoes, but it’s still a little early for them.

“We just use mechanical means or organic products to deal with any problems that come up,” she said. “Over the years, we’ve learned that when you rotate the crops in the soil it’s healthier and the plants tend to resist problems with weeds and diseases.”

Leininger said vegetable farming without the use of chemicals is labor intensive but has its rewards.

“Not only is it expensive to use herbicides and pesticides, but we think it’s better for the environment to grow without chemicals and it makes more sense from a health standpoint,” Leininger said. “There are times when we are out there turning the soil or weeding or pulling off the insects that are bothering the plants. It is more labor intensive, but we feel it’s worth it.”

Chestnut Cliff Farm works in conjunction with the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms organization by feeding and housing interns interested in learning the hands-on process of growing and marketing organic vegetables. It has utilized the services of more than 35 WWOOF volunteers for about five years.

WWOOF volunteer students are of all ages and hold a common interest in alternative lifestyles and production of sustainable healthy foods.

“Right now we have two workers on hand from WWOOF,” Leininger said. “They stay with us here on the farm and have really made a difference in our efforts this year.”

Read the full story via Organic farming thrives at Chestnut Cliff Farm in Freeport – News – Journal Standard – Freeport, IL.

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