If you haven’t the time, energy, or space to have a vegetable garden or chickens in the back yard, you’re in luck. Just sign up with Cooley Farms in Carlyle, Illinois, and you can have a supply of fresh food every week.
Cooley Farms is a small, family-run farm that uses small, 1- to 4-acre plots for growing up to 25 acres of vegetables, spring through fall. The farm, run by Bryce and Crystal Cooley, takes a sustainable approach to food: animals are free-range or pasture-raised, and no toxic chemicals or genetically modified seeds are used. It’s an old-fashioned way of farming that is gaining more and more interest and followers.
The farm, located outside of Carlyle, produces a wide variety of foods throughout the growing season—salad greens, veggies (spring peas, summer tomatoes and beans, winter squash, and lots more), berries, and herbs. All are available for purchase straight from the farm, and through a Summer CSA program that supplies a weekly delivery of whatever vegetables are at their peak at the time. Another option for consumers is the farm’s Eat Fresh produce boxes, offering a year-round supply of fresh produce from both Cooley Farms and other local farmers.
Another crop is pecans. Years ago, Bryce’s father, George, started planting pecan trees on the farm; there are now more than 3,000 trees. Harvesting begins in early November, and last year’s total exceeded 45,000 pounds, most of which is sold in bulk to larger suppliers. True to the farm’s philosophy, the pecan groves do double duty. The land surrounding trees is planted with legumes, clover, and alfalfa to feed the free-ranging chickens that supply the farm’s brown eggs. A rotation method is used to keep the soil healthy, another tenant of sustainability.
19704 Boulder Road, Carlyle, IL
Cooley Farms is one of many wonderful local farms and businesses that are proud to call Clinton County home. Come visit this Summer and enjoy a little taste of our community.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF COOLEY FARMS.