A good field walk gives you fresh ideas for your farm and business. It also provides the opportunity to be inspired and reenergized by the farmers giving the walk and those attending, too.
The free field walk at Tulip Tree Gardens in Beecher, IL (Will County) on Saturday, September 17 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. will be all that and more. Register today for this partnership event between the IDEA Farm Network, Illinois Hemp Growers Association, and Tulip Tree Gardens.
Jesse and Rachael Smedberg (pictured above) of Tulip Tree Gardens are, among other things, growing hemp. Initially, the hemp was strictly for the CBD oil they have the capacity to extract and customize on site. Going forward, they also plan to use hemp as part of the crop rotation preceding the conversion of land to pasture for the livestock that will be rotationally grazed. Because of the way hemp remediates the soil, they believe it can be a great cover crop in addition to producing a cash crop in hemp grain.
“Hemp grain is a great feed supplement, too,” says Jesse.
Their long-term goal is for the farm to be fully regenerative with each farming element contributing to the health of the whole farm ecosystem. This already includes vegetables, honey, and pigs. Over time, Jesse and Rachael will be adding cattle and tree products as well. They wanted to wait to plant any perennial crops on their 80-acre farm until they really knew the land.
What you will also learn on the field walk is how entrepreneurial Jesse and Rachael have been. This has partly been out of necessity.
When they decided to go from part-time micro-farming on ¾ of an acre to buying an 80-acre farm, they went all in. Rather than keep some non-farm income on the side, Jesse sold his industrial engineering business.
“We wanted to prove family farming could make money,” they said.
So they added value through extraction processing and establishing a strong lifestyle brand. They’ve also diversified their income sources, what they call “a lot of the littles.” They do everything from having a farm stand that sells their products and other local goods to hosting yoga retreats and U-picks. They’ve also pivoted and changed direction quickly as conditions and customer demand have changed.
During the field walk, we’ll move from the farm’s fields and outdoor operations to their laboratory and offices where the business is run and managed. During the brown bag lunch that follows, you’ll have the opportunity to meet other attendees and ask Jesse and Rachael more questions.
This field walk is free, but registration is required for our advance planning. Don't hesitate to contact Nathan at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. The Liberty Prairie Foundation, of which Northeast Illinois FarmLink is a program, is one of the planning members of the IDEA Farm Network.
(By the way, Rachael and Jesse’s land access story is also very unique and interesting. They never intended to buy an 80-acre property but were able to work out a mutually beneficial arrangement with the landowner trying to sell it. This involved seller financing initially in exchange for renovation of key portions of the farm house before securing a 20-year fixed rate mortgage from Iroquois Valley REIT. We’ve asked Rachael and Jesse to share their story this winter by Zoom. More to follow. We’ll also ask them to share more about their tips and insights about making a family farm business really work.)