Mike & Clare’s Farm - Harvard, IL
Mike & Clare's Farm is run by us, Mike Birch and Clare Schaecher. We began farming in 2008, growing vegetables and raising a few chickens on rented land until we finally landed here -- Harvard, IL. In the fall of 2011 we bought a house, barn and 10 acres -- and we're fairly in love with it. It’s a brambly, brushy piece of land, and in the coming years we'll convert 2 acres for vegetable productions, set up a small orchard, make a home for sheep and chickens (and for the first year or two -- pigs!), and attempt to restore a small wetland and pollinator habitat. We believe farmland should be as diverse as possible: green with cover crops and minimally tilled.
List one or two goals for 2015 for you and/or your business.
Hmm... I'd say just keep improving. We love growing found and we love bringing it to our customers and we want to do it a little better every year.
What was your favorite or memorable experience from our 2015 Market?
It was such a rainy year! Having customers come out to shop even in dangerous weather will always stick out in my mind.
Briefly describe your background and current business philosophy/style and how that carries over to your product line.
This will be our 8th year farming. We grow using organic standards with an eye towards high quality and great tasting varieties.
What you wish would change about food access or food systems in general in the world.
I'd like good food to be the norm. I'd like all vegetables to be grown for flavor instead of transportability. I'd like everyone to visit a farm and feel involved in where their food comes from.
Your favorite comfort food.
Macaroni and cheese! Topped with arugula!
Your dream vacation spot.
Any place warm and relaxing.
Do you have a secret talent?
Any go-to recipe you would like to share?
2016 - We made this last night... it's one of my go-tos:
Fennel Compote with Tomatoes, Olives and Fish
¼ cup good olive oil
1 bulb fennel (or 2 smaller ones), trimmed and chopped
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 tablespoon minced garlic
6 plum tomatoes, chopped (canned are fine, but drain excess liquid)
½ cup big, plump olives, green or black or a combination, preferably unpitted
¼ cup capers, optional
4 servings cooked fish, optional
½ cup chopped parsley leaves, for garnish
Put the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the fennel and some salt and pepper, and without browning (adjust the heat as necessary), cook it down, stirring occasionally, until it’s quite soft, about 20 minut