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Visiting King’s Hill Farm

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

gallo family

I’ve always loved visiting King’s Hill Farm, an organic farm that produces a variety of vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, and honey. It’s located near Mineral Point in Wisconsin, more than three hours’ drive from Chicago.

We’ve been to the farm a few times before, but the first time since the Gallos, Mark and Delia, took over the management of the farm this year. Between Francis’ frequent travel schedules and our other activities, we finally made it to the farm last Sunday, with our close friend Mary.

We couldn’t have selected a better time for the visit—beautiful sunshine, perfect temperature of upper 70s, and low humidity.

Mark, Delia, their two young sons, Enro and Nico, and Delia’s mother, Barbara, who was at the farm for a visit, extended their warmest hospitality to us by treating us with a home made eggplant lasagna, green salad and the sweetest “star strip” yellow watermelon I had ever tasted, with all the fresh produce from the farm.

Mark with his melons

Mark with his melons

Mark took us for a tour after lunch, accompanied by their two dogs. Rows of green onions, kale, Swiss chard, cabbage, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans (different colors), tomatoes (different varieties), rhubarb, sweet potato, onions (different variety), melons (different varieties), pepper (different varieties) and etc. extended in the field before us, not to mention many different kinds of fruit trees, including apples, Asian pears, plums, raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries…. We picked berries bursting with juicy along the way and pumped them directly to our mouths.

“I want to show you some melons I’ve never seen before,” Mark said, taking us to the other side of the farm in his jeep.

The sprawling hills cover an area of over 800 acres, and they’ve only farmed a small portion.

I was delighted to see what we call ‘fragrance melon” in Chinese, my favorite, lying on top of the black ground cover. These melons are rarely seen in the U.S. We picked a few among the watermelon row and tasted one immediately when we returned to the farmhouse. The fragrance brought me back home.

 

Asian pears

Asian Pear

As Francis shared his expertise on organic farming with Mark, I took a few small containers and went back to the fruit trees to pick berries. I think I ate as much as I collected.

King’s Hill Farm does a successful Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, making deliveries to their members in the Chicago area every other week. They also set up a booth to sell fresh produce at the farmers market in Lincoln Park and Glenview. Mark gave us a CSA box to take home, with a variety of greens, tomatoes, and melons. We’ve enjoyed them and shared some with a couple of friends. They are so tasty and fresh.

Check out the farm if you are interested in a visit or becoming a member of its CSA program for next year. Enjoy the local and organic bounty!

 

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning feature-length documentary movie by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. Visit www.mulberrychildmovie.com for more information.

 

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A Visit to King’s Hill Farm

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

By Jian Ping

Joel and Jai at the green house

Last Sunday, I joined my husband in visiting the King’s Hill Farm in Mineral Point, WI. We had not been to the organic farm since last fall. We arrived to find the farm a kingdom for vegetables and animals. In addition to the flats of seedlings that were competing to outgrow one another in the green house, we found a mother turkey hatching eggs in a metal barrel in one corner, oblivious to us. The flock of geese out in the field took a different attitude—they squawked loudly as we approached, as if we had invaded their territory. The ducks and chickens stepped away from us when they realized we didn’t bring any food for them. The surprise came when we walked into the house where the young farmers, Kai and Joel Kellum,

Turkey mother busy at work

along with their two children and four interns, live. The two pretty parakeets we saw last year were leading a team of seven birds, with five more tiny eggs being hatched in a cage. The birds flew freely in the house. At one point, a blue-feathered baby bird, who had just learned to fly, landed on Joel’s head. Joel smiled and gently put him on top of the cage.

Making production plans in the field

The Kellums had prepared the field for spring planting. They will sell their produce at two farmer’s markets in the Chicago area this year. They also run a CSA program, which is open for membership enrollment right now. Check out the details at www.kingshillfarm.com and register for their CSA—I’m sure you will enjoy their bounty of organic vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, and a variety of chicken, duck, and goose eggs, in different sizes and colors.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. Visit www.mulberrychild.com, www.moraquest.com for more information. Mulberry Child has been developed into a feature-length documentary film and will be released in 2011.    

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Organic Kingdom

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

By Jian Ping 

Turkey King

Last weekend, my husband Francis and I went to King’s Hill Farm at Mineral Point, Wisconsin, the organic farm we had visited several times over the last three years. We were very pleased to see that Jai and Joel Kellum, who have been managing the farm, have transformed the place into an organic kingdom!

We were greeted by four dogs and half a dozen large turkeys as we pulled up to the farm house from the long gravel driveway. The colorful male turkey, with a few females surrounding him, flared up his feathers as if to show off his beauty. I was amazed they were all running around, totally free.  

Jai and Joel came out of the green house where they had been working flats of seedlings. They proudly showed us around the farm. We stopped first at a fenced area where more than 100 chickens (a variety of species), baby turkeys, geese and ducks were kept. They were all fed with organic food. Seeing a group people step into their territories, they made loud noises as if a chorus singing out of tone. The geese outperformed all others. Two dozens of baby turkeys were the size of full grown chickens and mingled in their pen. They followed Jack, an intern who had fed them for the last two months, and didn’t hesitate to pick food out of his hands. Later, when we stood in front of the farm house, three of the small turkeys flew over the five-foot tall wire fence and landed at Jack’s feet.

Joel with his big pet

Down the creek not far from the house, two large pigs avoided the heat under the shade of the trees. Joel proudly padded them as if they were his favorite pets. The sow was very pregnant, and the boar, over 300 pounds, settled at the edge of the water to keep cool.

Out in the fields, a variety of vegetables, herbs, fruit trees covered the ground in neat rows—green onions, spinach, rhubarbs, swisschards, cilantro, lettuce, tomatoes, gooseberries, strawberries…. It was a lovely sight.  We also stopped by the beehives and the wooded area where piles of tree logs were lined up to grow mushrooms.

To me, the beauty of them all: everything is raised organic!

We were planning to return to the farm for another visit even before we took our leave.

Organic produce from King’s Farm are available at several farmers markets in the Chicago area. Check out http://kingshillfarm.com for details of location and time.  

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. Visit www.moraquest.com, www.mulberrychild.com for more information.

King’s Hill Farm—An Organic Heaven

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009
The shoot of a cucumber.
Image via Wikipedia

Over the weekend, my husband Francis and I drove all the way from Chicago to King’s Hill Farm at Mineral Point, Wisconsin. We had been to the farm before and met with the new managers at the farm, Joe and Jai Kellum and their two young sons.

In less than a year, they have transformed the beautiful landscape into an organic heaven. In additions to the acres of vegetables such as scallions, leeks, broccoli, sweet peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, peppers, eggplants, radish, kohlrabi, fennels, celeries, carrots, etc., that are fenced by solar powered wires, there is also a large animal kingdom, with all the creatures fed with organic food. Two large lamas stand tall among the big, fat turkeys, aggressive geese, and squawking ducks. In comparison, the cage free hens and roosters and the two dogs, with their six cute puppies, appeared much friendlier. Jai told me that they would have four piglets in a couple of weeks. As I walked around the large farm, listening to the humming of bees from their beehives, I was so impressed by what revealed in front of me that I kept taking pictures. The Kellums planted 40+ acres this year. With the expansion of their CSA program, I’m sure that they will enlarge the arable area and raise more poultry and other animals on the farm.  

We had the privilege of enjoying a mixed salad freshly picked from the field for lunch and a delicious dinner of slowly cooked goose breasts (raised at the farm) and kale greens over risotto-style barley. Stephen, one of the associates working at the farm used to be a professional cook. It was a joy to watch him cook with the fresh, organic ingredients and produce the mouth watering meals for ten people with art and ease.

Joe packed a bag of fresh produce for us to take home. Francis, who had worked with vegetable and flower seeds all his career, showed Joe and Jai how to save and preserve organic seeds. We like the Kellums and their holistic approach at the farm. Next time we are back, we will roll up our sleeves and dig our fingers into the soil.   

If you are interested in signing up for the CSA program, please do so at www.kingshillfarm.com/csa.htm.

 

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. www.mulberrychild.com.  

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Farmers Market at the Chicago Botanic Garden

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009
Chicago Botanic Garden Edens sign

Image via Wikipedia

On Sunday, my wife and I went to the first of the season’s Farmers Market at the Chicago Botanic Garden, where our farmer friends from Wisconsin, Jay and Joel Kellum of Kings Hill Farm, were selling their produce.  Unfortunately, it was rather a chilly damp day, and so I think the number of patrons were not as numerous as one would have expected.

 

This is the second year that the Chicago Botanic Garden has been putting on an alternate Sunday, Farmers Market throughout the summer.  So far, they have ten participants – a couple of stalls selling vegetables and fruit, a stall selling clay and ceramic pot containers, and an Asian lady selling tomato and other flower and vegetable plants.  There were also baked goods from an organic bakery, and a stall selling preserves and honeys.  All the produce and products were organic, and it seemed the public were very knowledgeable about Organic Foods. 

 

The Kellums, in addition to selling their beautiful produce which this week, included rhubarb, scallions, mini leeks, giant fresh asparagus, field greens, kale, and radishes, also had pre-packed boxes of vegetables for their CSA, as they are partnering with the Chicago Botanic Garden as a pick-up point for Kings Hill members.  CSA (community supported agriculture) members support the farmers by purchasing a box of organic seasonal vegetables delivered weekly or every other week, to pick-up points in the Chicago area.

 

It was interesting to see how discriminating the customers were in looking at the vegetables and choosing carefully.   Most of the offerings were priced at $2.00 to $4.00 – certainly, not enough to “break the bank.”  But it was nice to hear the customers appreciating the look of the produce, its freshness and quality.

 

Jai Kellum also distributes a weekly newsletter from Kings Hill Farm  (http://www.kingshillfarm.com/) describing the week’s activities, detailing the vegetables that are available for that week, and including some interesting recipes. This together with the Kings Hill Farm Brochure seemed to be well received by the buyers.

 

The Chicago Botanic Garden, which has so many great programs for all ages of the family, was also hosting a Wine Tasting Festival.  This also drew the crowds, somewhat dampened again by the weather.  Throughout the summer, The Chicago Botanic Garden Farmers Market and Kings Hill CSA Program will be on display every other Sunday. 

 

I was also told by Jai Kellum that they are hoping to participate in the Green City Market in Chicago on Wednesdays and Saturdays as well.

 

I have no doubt that the Kings Hill Farm customer base will rapidly expand, and my wife and I are looking forward to seeing their next offerings.

 

 

Ellis M. Goodman, author of Bear Any Burden: www.bearanyburden.com

 

 

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