Get out to Heritage Prairie Farm
Okay, I’m supposed to be the beer guy on the Local Beet. And that’s fun. But this time I’m not going to be the beer guy. You, Mr. Editor-in-Chief. I don’t have to live by your rules, man. I’m gonna write about an exceptional dinner I just had, at an exceptional place that everyone in the Midwest should know about. And cherish. Even if it has nothing to do with beer.
The place is called Heritage Prairie Farm. It’s way out west of Chicago … in Elburn, IL (driving out, I kept thinking, “Have we reached Iowa yet?”). As farms go, it’s postage-stamp sized – under two acres. But what the co-owners – Bron Weaver and Bob Archibald – are doing here (and yes, I’m on the premises as I write this) is very big. Both Bob and Bron have long histories with organic farming and dealing with – and respecting – the land. Bron’s also a beekeeper – come out to the Heritage Prairie Market and you can get some of the freshest, most local honey available anywhere.
And it’s possible they’re the nicest people you’ll ever meet. But don’t hold that against them.
But first, a disclaimer. Whenever I need credibility within the food community, I use these three little words … “Portia’s my cousin.” And it’s true. Portia Belloc Lowndes co-founded Slow Foods Chicago. She’s been a driving force behind Chicago’s Green City Market. And she’s the Executive Director here at Heritage Prairie Farm. But, probably to her great dismay, we actually are related (she’s my first cousin once removed … we don’t discuss how she got removed). Still, we undoubtedly share a few of the same genes. We’ve spent a lot of family time together. I can even remember her grandfather driving his Rolls-Royce down some of the dirt roads in Northern Wisconsin.
And, as great a story as that might make, what I want to do is tell all you guys about the gem that is Bron and Bob’s Heritage Prairie Farm.
It’s an organic, sustainable farm. It’s an event venue. It’s a market for local, sustainable foods. It’s a place to take a class and learn about making foods of all kinds. Or dump off the kids and let them learn. It’s a fun place to visit.
I was there on for their Bastille Day dinner which included at least seven or eight different courses, most served buffet-style, and all in the same league as what you’d get at any of the area’s restaurants which feature local and sustainable food.
Take a look.
The “Rustic Ratatouille” was a showcase for many of the farm’s veggies, accented by the Black Opal basil.
Mixed fresh beans with pancetta and onion, served over the farm’s potatoes, oven-roasted, with rosemary, thyme, and fleur de sel.
For you meat lovers out there, I didn’t get pix of the Chicken Marbella, or the Charcuterie Table. Deal with it. Suffice it to say the proteins were at least as good as the veggies.
Part of the reason the veggies are so good is that some, particularly the ones that crave heat, are grown under hoophouses, placed directly over the soil, and movable from field to field. It extends the growing season to nearly year-round.
Cousin Portia is smiling, because she just ate a Sunglo tomato from the ten foot tall plant in one of the hoophouse-covered fields. And she’s about to have another Sunglo.
There’s also one permanent, heated hoophouse, growing microgreens of all sorts.
The free-range chickens, various breeds, like to pose for photos, although one in the background seems to be staring at me, questioning why I’m invading their utopia. They don’t know that some day soon, if I’m lucky, I’m going to eat them.
The Market is open every day, for a great selection of local, sustainable food products – many made right on the farm.
Heritage Prairie Farm
2N308 Brundige Road
Elburn, IL 60119