Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Focus on producers - Crump Family Gardens

For my first focus on a local food producer, I conducted a brief interview with Bob and Joanne Crump, who run the Crump Family Gardens stand at the Metro Centre farmer's market.  The Crumps show up on the first of May and stay for pretty much the entire run at Metro Centre.  

The Crump family farm, which they run along with their son Bryan, is located near Carlock, IL.  They have been farming the same land for the last 21 years. Bob uses organic and sustainable practices to produce their vegetables, but as the neighbors do not, they are not able to gain certification of any sort at present.  They are a focus farm, with a few crops that they specialize in.  At present, many of those crops are not ready, so you will find a fair amount of things that are trucked in from more southern locales, but they do have some excellent early crops, in the form of asparagus, rhubarb, and greens (both lettuce and spinach).  They are also a supplier of southern Illinois strawberries.  

Later on in the season, you will be able to find an excellent selection of their focus crops.  The Crumps grow several tomato varieties, although most are conventional hybrid tomatoes.  They supply several area businesses with summer tomatoes, such as The Firehouse and The Butcher Block.   

The Crumps also put a heavy focus on peppers.  Although Bob couldn't give me the number of varieties that they grow, he did say that they put in 2700 pepper plants this year.  They grow both mild and hot varieties.  

You will also find a few varieties of potato, such as Yukon Golds and Reds, as well as summer and fall squashes, cucumbers, and a variety of herbs, all grown on the Crump farm.

I asked Bob what it was about farming that he enjoyed most, and he told me "I love being out in the field, it's quiet, and I can work at my own pace."  However, he also loves coming to the farmer's markets and interacting with his customers, which explains why the Crumps also maintain stands at the Normal, Lincoln, DeKalb, and Sycamore farmer's markets.  

Overall, the Crumps have a commitment to producing quality local food because they love working the land.  They may not have the flashiest varieties of produce, or subscribe to a particular philosophy of food that is currently trendy, but they want to sell consumers good produce at a good price.  I highly recommend checking out their stand the next time you are at the Metro Centre market.

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