Neighborhood Co-op Farm Crawl tours sustainable agriculture in Southern Illinois

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On Sunday Sep. 12 the Neighborhood Co-op hosted their annual Farm Crawl event. 

This year the Farm Crawl was a self guided tour. People traveled to different farms with a farm pass they purchased at the Neighborhood Co-op office.

The farms that the community could have visited included Wichmann Vineyard, Bison Bluff Farms, Rolling Oak Alpaca Ranch and The Flock Farm.

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Wichmann Vineyard is a family owned and operated business. Co-owner Johanna Wichmann said that her family does all the work on the farm from grape growing to wine making.

Attendees Pam Moore and Marshah Foote said they loved the vineyard.

“It is a beautiful place. The owner is very sweet. This is the first time we met him, and [he] is very knowledgeable,” Foote said. 

Moore said that the vineyard’s winemaking process was interesting and she enjoyed watching it.

Bison Bluff. also a family run business, managed by Margaret Kruse  the daughter of owner Clifton Howell

Bison Bluff specializes in raising bison for meat production. They have been a part of the Farm Crawl for two years. Kruse said the bison not only eat grass, they are fed hay that they grow on their farm.

“We make sure they get the extra minerals that they can’t find in the soil and grasses here. Right now it has been so dry they have to stay in the field,” Kruse said.

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Kruse said  to make sure the bison stay healthy they rotate them out to make sure the grass and the bison stay healthy.

Rolling Oak Alpaca Ranch, started by Morgan Stevenson and her mother Judy Horpker, produces quality products with alpaca fur. Stevenson started the ranch after finding out the ancient Incans used alpaca fur products for royalty.

Rolling Oak has been a part of the Farm Crawl for about five years with the exception of last year.

Stevenson said alpacas require a bit more care than other livestock.

“Our pastures were ripped out and reseeded with a pasture mix that is good for them ,and we get special hay… We shear them once a year, trim their toenails about twice a year and we’ll trim their teeth up if they need it at shearing time,” Stevenson said.

Although a lot of work goes into raising alpacas Stevenson said she is grateful that the alpacas bring joy to anyone who visits.

Rodrigo Ramirez, an attendee, said he enjoyed coming to the alpaca ranch and appreciates the Farm Crawl as a great way to bring people together.

“Being able to pet the alpacas was fun. We got to come up close and personal with them, and being able to pet them was nice,” Ramirez said.

Sue Chaney, another attendee, shared Ramirez’s sentiments about the Farm Crawl.

“I think it helps the community know we have many local food sources, and they are easily available at farmers markets and the Leaf Program, and it makes everyone aware they can support their local farms and farmers,” Chaney said.

The final stop on the Farm Crawl was Flock Farm, a family run business that is co-owned by April and Brent Glays.

Flock Farm specializes in raising chickens, goats, sheep and pigs to produce meat.

This was Flock Farm’s first year involved in the Farm Crawl, and the Glays were excited to show their farm to the people of Carbondale.

“It has only been running for about five years now, and this is the first year that we really felt we had enough to show to the community as far as our contribution to the local food economy,” April Glays said.

Farm Crawl allows anyone to go onto local farms, and see how their local food, meat and wine are made and also allows them to try out some locally grown products.

“Plus it is understanding the health of soil. These smaller farms in our region do a lot to supply the people that live here, so that we don’t need big outside farms in order to be sustainable,” Dion said.

Staff reporter Janiyah Gaston can be reached at [email protected] or on Instagram at @janiyah_reports. To stay up to date with all your Southern Illinois news follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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