Sisters Lorraine Foelske and Meredith Alexander, natives of LaMoille, grew up on a family farm in LaMoille. When they weren’t active on the farm, you might have found them helping out in their grandma’s garden, which they weeded and harvested during the growing season.
“We remember helping her with cucumbers and tomatoes and she always had us working and we loved it,” Foelske said. “We kind of have it in our blood.”
During their college years, both sisters became involved in small, sustainable farms and fell in love with the work. It made for long days, but the work was rewarding.
Following graduation, Foelske’s entrepreneurial spirit helped launched Buzzard Glory Farm near Biggsville in 2019. What started as just a hobby to grow fresh vegetables and flowers, grew into an abundant crop they quickly realized could be sold off.
Last July, the sisters got their LLC and started selling at a small orchid near Monmouth. Even though the growing season was late due to the rainy spring, the sisters sold pretty much everything they grew and had a lot of fun doing it.
Within the last year, Foelske and her husband, Rob, moved to Princeton after she accepted a position at the Bureau County Soil and Water Conservation District. They purchased a house in town near Jefferson Elementary School that came with nearly three acres of land that was once home to a small horse farm.
The Foelskes tilled up the property and planted what many might call, “an urban farm.” Lorraine planted about 50 varieties of vegetables, including carrots, beats, peas, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, peepers, broccoli and much more. While Foelske built her farm in Princeton this past spring, Alexander stayed back in Biggsville and continued to farm the land where they started growing last year.
Lorraine said many of the urban growing techniques she uses on her farm have come from the well-known farmer and author Curtis Stone, who wrote the book, “The Urban Farmer.”
The techniques involve crop rotation to make the most out of the smaller spaces.
“Once I take something out, I’m always planting something new,” she said. “It’s a quick rotation to make sure we use the space as well as we can.”
Both Foelske and Alexander avoid using any synthetic chemicals for weed and pest control on their crops. While Lorraine admits it’s more challenging that way, she has found a good technique to manage the weeds. It simply involves putting down straw and mowed grass around the produce. Not only does it help cut down on the weeds, it also keeps moisture in around the plants.
As for the pests, the Foelskes believe they have it better living in town vs. out in the country.
“You don’t have the farm fields and the critters you do out in the country. We do have a lot of benefits of being in town,” Lorraine said.
The sisters pull their harvest together and sell to members of the Community Supported Agriculture program, which makes up most of their business. The way the program works is that people sign on as a “shareholder” member for a season. Members get a share of the crops throughout the season. Shareholders come on board on a first-come, first-serve basis. People can sign-up on the Buzzard Glory website.
Foelske and Alexander also sell at the Princeton Farmers Market on Saturdays and out front of Optimal Health in Princeton on Thursdays.
Foelske said one of the aspects she loves most about growing is selling to her customers.
“We’ve gotten repeat customers and they like to hear our story. It’s fun to see what they like and what they buy. That’s always a fun part of what we do,” she said.
Foelske is hopeful her growing gig will one day become full-time. It’s nothing for her to spend four to five hours a day out weeding, harvesting and checking on her crops. People can find her out in the early morning hours before work, and most evenings after work. For her, the saying goes: “When you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”