Of course, I am going to write about the Chicago Reader this week. This spring, families across Chicagoland voted in the “Best of Chicago” reader’s poll. For those of you living in a very deep cave in northern Siberia and completely out of touch with all of the very most important news in the world, Montalbano Farms was voted “Best Local Farm”. For the second year in a row.
There are lots of folks who make up the farm and contribute to our wildly amazing success. Families like yours, of course, top the list. But today I want to spend a little time talking about the farmers who grow – apparently – the finest produce that Chicago and communities across northern Illinois have ever seen.
As you all know, farming is hard work. There’s the physical toil, for sure, but it’s also a mental game. It’s not easy heading out to the fields on a cold, rainy morning with mosquitoes buzzing around like vultures. It wears on the body but also really forces one to think about what, and why, they’re farming. All of the farmers at Montalbano Farms are here because they’re committed to making this farm work. They are dedicated to organics. They want to grow beautiful produce packed with nutrition. They want to see bees and butterflies and dragonflies. They want to hear crickets and birds and, occasionally, a coyote. Our farm is a refuge for these critters as most farmland in Illinois is, literally, poisoned.
The farmers here want to know the produce they harvest ends up in a great place and isn’t wasted. The farmers want to know that people who are hungry to make a difference in this world know that supporting the farm helps make this difference each and very day. They absolutely love it when we pack for a food pantry delivery. Their eyes sparkle just a little bit on those days.
They are tireless and fearless. Most of the folks on the farm do not come from a farming background. They don’t know two beans about farming (and the ones that do usually need to be un-taught). They learn quickly because they’re motivated and smart and driven.
And – I know you know this but it bears repeating – they work hard. Hauling bags of carrots from the field is not easy. And rainy, muddy days make it even harder. Even the lighter greens require bending and cutting and lifting again and again and again. In all our years of running this farm, not a single person has ever complained (except me, of course).
Your feedback and support is vital to our morale out here. We love hearing stories of your kids eating the snap peas before the car even pulls away. News about your daughter asking for more carrots makes us happier than you could imagine. Knowing that you definitely love rhubarb makes those days when it’s a weedy mess worth it.
The farmers here think about our families all of the time. It’s one reason why our farm is truly special. So when you google “Chicago’s Best Local Farm” and our name comes up, think of the farmers out here and send us a smile.
Lauren and Christina and Kathryn and Jon and Rebekah and Camelia and Hanna and Garrett and Ken and Rob and everybody else out here hope that you enjoy your produce this week and have a fun and safe holiday weekend.