The PrairiErth Story

 

The Bishop Family has been farming our 300 acres for about 30 years. Located in the center of Illinois,  we operate a diversified farm and raise a bit of about everything.  Having farmed conventionally, we’ve seen first hand the detrimental effects on the soil and to the farm and rural communities. It’s our goal to play a part in limiting our ecological footprint  by caring for the earth, not just for us, but for future generations as well. Organic farming is very special to us, we enjoy working with the land and sharing our products with customers, with whom we develop a very special relationship with. Together, we believe organic is more than just a practice, it’s a way to influence a healthy life in our community and provide a sustainable way of producing food.


Dave, his sons Graham and Hans and Hans’ wife Katie share the work by helping with chores and production. Dave’s daughter Kristin is an elementary school educator and shares her expertise about teaching little ones as she helps facilitate children's tours on the farm.


PrairiErth crops are very diversified and include corn, soybeans, oats, alfalfa and grass hay. As well as a large assortment of vegetables, fruit and flowers. Our livestock operation includes 40 pasture-raised beef cattle and free-range chicken for meat and eggs and heritage breed pigs.  We find the bond between the land and those who live and work on it to be very important. PrairiErth farm also has an acre of of restored native prairie!


Meet your farmers:


Farmer Dave: Dave has over 30 years of experience! His expertise is extensive and has his hands in about every area of the operation, however Dave primarily oversees the corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa, meats and egg production. His wisdom and experience are the backbone of the entire farm, providing guidance for fertility, growing methods and other farm techniques. Dave is very active in the community sharing his knowledge on subjects such as the local food advocacy, successful diversified farming, using cover crops, and conservation practices.





















Farmer Hans: Hans grew up on the farm and with Dave’s guidance started the vegetable production. He brought the farm to the Downtown Bloomington Farmer’s market and implemented one of the few USDA Certified Organic CSA’s in central IL! Hans raises healthy and delicious vegetables year round in our hoop-houses and has been told he grows the best lettuce and carrots! Approachable, humble and full of resources and expertise Hans speaks on subjects such as season extension, seed starting and garden planning, and using mechanization on a diversified vegetable farm.  Hans was selected as one of the 2012 Slow Food Delegates to Terra Madre representing the United States. 






















Farmer Katie: Katie is one of the many PrairiErth Farm successes. Due to the growth of the farm, Katie was able to leave her corporate job of 18 years to farm full time with her family. Together Hans and Katie run the vegetable operation. Katie loves to work in the starter house working with seedlings or washing veggies and getting them ready for the community. Katie also authored the PrairiErth Farm Cookbook and focuses on marketing the farm. She works hard with the community to make sure local and organic food is accessible by all. She speaks on topics such as eating seasonally, food preservation, and using social media on the farm.























Farmer Graham: Graham may not be able to legally vote, buy a beer or even drive a car, but this kid can farm with the best of them. Graham raises heritage breed pigs each year, assists Dave, Hans and Katie with farm chores, and is the resident berry picker (and eater!). Graham intelligently and articulately speaks to groups about raising livestock sustainably and loves to facilitate tours of the farm with Mollie the greatest farm dog in the world. 




























Meet the 2015 Crew

Our staff dedicates an entire season to helping grow healthy food, maintain our fertile soils and uphold the high standards we set for our products. They participate in every action on the farm. It is with the utmost respect that we share a little bit about each one of them and offer our sincere thanks for their hard work to make PrairiErth a better place to live, work and play! 




Jon Clayschute: Jon grew up picking squash, pole beans and juicy raspberries in his family's backyard garden. After college he traveled and pursued work in decorative painting. Five years later he fell in love with cooking and rediscovered good food. He interned on organic farms for 3 years in California and Colorado. For two years he ran a small organic hay and vegetable farm in southwest Colorado. He enjoys a good book, old timey music and the smell of dew rising off freshly cut hay. (We are welcoming Jon as our new Crew Leader!) 
























Craig Tepen: Coming soon! (Craig is our Farmers Market manager as well as a Farmhand)





















Carly Ambrose: Carly lived in Wisconsin most of her life and went to UW-Whitewater where she obtained a degree in Psychology.  In 2012, Carly did an AmeriCorps term in Whitney Point, NY.  As an AmeriCorps member, she co-facilitated a gardening and nutrition education program with preschoolers.  She volunteered with the Lisle Community Garden for about 3 months prior to her AmeriCorps service.  The volunteers who started the community garden in Lisle, NY are an amazing group, who took the time to teach her about what they were growing and inspired her to keep learning and share what she learn with others.  After living in NY, Carly moved to Chelsea, Michigan where she worked at Tantre farm. She was involved in almost all aspects of growing organic veggies on about 40 acres.  She also helped milk cows.Carly is passionate about being more in touch with where her food comes from, being more involved in growing her own food, and helping others to do the same. She look forward to the season ahead and being a part of the Prairierth Farm team! (We are welcoming Carly as our new full season apprentice!)









 









Cassidy A. Dellorto-Blackwell: Cassidy was raised in the village of Downs, Illinois. She spent most of her early years exploring the woods behind her house, hiding in cornfields, and drawing pictures of what she thought the future might look like. After obtaining a visual arts degree, Cassidy began working for a non-profit environmental organization in Saint Louis, Missouri and helped to launch a recycling program for the city that minimizes waste at large public festivals. She has since worked in recycling in Portland, Oregon, taught English in Seoul, South Korea, served in the Peace Corps in northern China, interned at an organic vineyard, and explored a whole bunch of different kinds of landscapes (and woods). (We are welcoming Cassidy as our new full season apprentice!) 
























Leslie Graivvt:  Bio coming soon!  (We are welcoming Leslie as our new Harvest Hand and part of our Farmers Market Team)























Tisha Kosco:  Bio coming soon!  (We are welcoming Tisha as part of our Farmers Market Team!)
























Stephanie Leonard: Stephanie is a local Bloomingtonian. She started coming out to the farm last summer because she was interested in learning the day to day ongoings of a small scale organic farm and Hans needed some extra manpower on harvest days. Stephanie is interested in sustainable agriculture, responsible stewardship of the land, and farming that respects biological diversity, cultural heritage and true cost economics. After the season ended she stayed on to help where she could during the winter months and to pick Hans and Katie's brains about all things farming. Stephanie is passionate about good food, getting dirty and honest hard work (really!). When she’s not farming and baking she’s working her own little garden, hanging out with her husband Lee, and their two supercool kiddos Avery (the little one,she's 6) and Grey (she's 12). She’s also the happy owner of an adorable bunny named Tadashi ( a new addition to the household) and her ponybeast of a dog Frankie. (We are welcoming back Stephanie for her second year as a farmhand!!) 

















Annette McKeown: Annette is excited about the future of the local and organic food movement and hopes to be part of equipping her community to live a healthier more environmentally friendly lifestyle. Her long-term goal is to run her own Organic Farm. In her free time, Annette enjoys photography, encountering the beauty of God in nature and in His word, making coffee for her friends, and traveling. Her favorite  place to hang out is a hoop-house. She is thrilled to be part of this seasons team at PrairiErth! (We welcoming Annette as our new full season apprentice!)