Ten years ago, when we were starting what we thought was the only Community Supported Agriculture vegetable farm in LaSalle county, another farm was getting theirs in the ground as well. That farm is Growing Home Farm (aka Les Brown Memorial Farm) in Marseilles, IL just 13 miles east of Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm.
Larry O' Toole
It wasn't until our second season that we were made aware of Growing Home (G.H.). One day, a CSA member brought Larry O' Toole with him when he came to pick up his weekly box of vegetables. Meeting another sustainable vegetable farmer in the endless desert of corn and soybeans was a breath of fresh air, and the beginning of what continues to be a fruitful collaboration between our farms - that continues today. (In fact, I when I finish this post, I'm going out to till compost into our small garden with a tiller borrowed from G.H.)
Over the years, Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm has done A LOT with G.H. We've hosted trainees on our farm, helped put in transplants there, shared seed orders, eaten potlucks, complained, commiserated, and celebrated with Larry an the G.H. staff.
After hurricane Katrina (and the less well know but equally devastaing Rita) I and two staffers from G.H. traveled to southwest Louisiana to volunteer for two weeks. We left just after Thanksgiving 2005, for New Iberia where the Southern Mutual Help Association had a bunkhouse for volunteers set up in a church building. The multiple skills required for farming translated very well to helping with the storm recovery.
In 2008, upon our return from vacation in Texas, our walk-in freezer failed. We called G.H. for help. Larry and a crew of four others showed within an hour and helped move everything to alternative freezer storage. It is not a stretch to say that GH save our business that day! We're grateful to have G.H. as part of our community.