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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 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 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, 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 for details of location and time.  

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

King’s Hill Farm—An Organic Heaven

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


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

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Food for Thought

Friday, May 8th, 2009
Organic cultivation of mixed vegetables in Cap...

Image via Wikipedia

There is an enormous amount of media coverage – newspapers, books, magazines, and television – on the green revolution in the U.S.  It’s about time.

We are certainly behind the Europeans in this area, particularly as it relates to organic food.  However, I was pleased to read recently about the growth of organic food consumption in the U.S.  It is now a $20 billion per-year business, accounting for nearly 5% of total consumption.  The major U.S. food corporations are getting in on the game.  They now recognize that this market is growing and has excellent future potential, and have been buying up successful organic food brands and are bringing their major marketing muscle to bear on them.   

Last week when my wife and I were in Wisconsin, we had the opportunity of getting a first-hand look at an organic farm.  We visited Kings Hill Farm near Mineral Point, Wisconsin, which specializes in the growth of organic vegetables.  The farmers, Joel and Jai Kellum, showed us their greenhouses, washing, packing, and storage facilities. They also detailed their commitment to permaculature methods, which allows their fields to retain their natural nutrients, reject pests and birds, and provide the highest quality of organic vegetables.


We were certainly impressed and are looking forward to this summer’s produce, which they are supplying to various CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture).  For $35 a week, you can collect a large box of certified organic, freshly picked vegetables every week (or biweekly if your needs are less) at a number of pick-up sites in the Chicagoland area, including The Chicago Botanic Garden, with whom Kings Hill have a partnership.  They will also be a regular at the twice-monthly Farmers Market at the Chicago Botanic Garden.


The CSA allows the community to support local organic farmers by applying for a membership, which funds their seeds, labor, and utility costs and then provides the member with a beautiful box of freshly picked vegetables every week.


If you’re interested, contact Kings Hill Farm at


If we want to provide for our family’s health and preserve the planet, we have to support and actively engage in every part of the green revolution.  A CSA Program is a simple, healthy and sensible way of participating.


 We wish you healthy eating.


Ellis M. Goodman, author of Bear Any Burden:


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