Ellis Family Farms - Benton Harbor, MI
From the conception of a dream through all the stages of growth our farm strives to bring you the best of our harvest. Ellis Family Farms is verified in MAEAP for all fruits produced and Animal Welfare Approved for our laying flock. MAEAP stands for Michigan’s Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program and certifies environmentally sustainable agricultural practices. Sustainable Agriculture is more in tune with my great-grandfather’s ideals and many farmers of that era. You take care of the land because it in turn takes care of you.
List one or two goals for 2016 for you and/or your business.
Better utilization of the irrigation system
Training others (staff) for the IPM (Integrated Pest Management) program
Briefly describe your background and current business philosophy/style and how that carries over to your product line.
I am the fourth generation of farmers. I have a major in Botany and Agriculture plus a degree in education. With that info in mind, I am always researching and experimenting with plantings, new methods (sustainability, environmental, and marketing possibilities) plus I love to educate people about the farm. I cannot get farming nor education out of my veins!
What was your favorite memorable experience from our 2015 market?
I would have to ask Al. But the two times I was able to come to market - fall- and see and experience the energy from both customers and vendors.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what one seed or item would you bring? Why?
If the island was more tropical I think that a form of squash would grow well. I would also be able to save seeds easily and replant.
What is your favorite childhood food memory?
ALWAYS being with my elders in the kitchen!!!
Your favorite comfort food.
Old fashioned chicken and mashed potatoes. And any fruit for dessert.
Your dream vacation spot.
Going back to the countries of my descendants. Visually seeing the old farms, touching and feeling the soils, and walking the roads.
What you wish would change about food access or food systems in general in the world.
2015: It's amazing to think that the percentage of food that is purchased from local producers is genuinely increasing; as that percentage goes up, so do health benefits and economic stability. When people are aware of the world that they live in, when they know where their food came from, who made their clothes, what forest produced their home's lumber, they are much more equipped to acknowledge their place in society and use themselves as an amplifier for greater fairness. Food is just the most obvious of these everyday transactions that needs much light shed on it. We can actually change the world, bit by bit.
(2016: Same as last year as it has not changed!! I dream too much.)
What is your favorite restaurant in Chicago?
I would get into trouble if I told you. I deliver to too many chef's and they are all GREAT!
Any go-to recipe you would like to share?
Custard Rhubarb Torte - (Our Families’ Favorite)
2 C. rhubarb, cut into small pieces
1 egg white + 2 eggs
1 small can evaporated milk (1/2C)
1 ¼ C sugar
½ Tsp flour
½ C. margarine
1 egg yolk
¼ C sugar
1 ¼ C flour
¼ tsp. salt
Cream margarine and egg yolk together. Add sugar, cream again and add flour and salt. Mix like pie crust and pat into 8 X 11” pan. Spread rhubarb over crust. Beat eggs, add milk, salt, sugar and flour. Pour over rhubarb. Bake 45 minutes at 350°.