Monday, September 28, 2009

Spence Farms September Feast

September 28, 2009

Last night Keith and I spent the evening at Spence Farms located in Fairbury Illinois. Kris and Marty Travis, founders of Spence Farm , its foundation and the group "Stewards of the Land" hosted a fabulous get together between well-known chefs and the local farmers who have been growing food for those restaurants. We are two of those farmers. Check out their mission and foundation at

The evening was warm, the fields were still full of produce and the setting was beautiful. Only 200 tickets were available for this event and all were sold. Live music played by the trio "November Mondays" made the evening more special while we attendees went from booth to booth sampling the most unbelievable creations of locally grown food. Did you know about Chocolate Chip cookies with BACON in them ? Man O' Man was that a taste sensation out of this world.

Our own personal highlight of the night was watching "our chef" Paul Kahan (Check him out at...
and his partner Chef Mike Sheerin, prepare the hog we had donated to the event. Oh for the love of God and all that is succulent ! Those two men prepared a charcuterie from that little piggie in such a way I swear people swooning in line just from the wafting aroma alone. At one point I saw two grown chefs, who came from another booth, clenching a half eaten pig leg in their mouths and growling like pit bulls. !

We also met many other wonderful chefs including Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo Chicago, Chad Morrow from Bacaro in Champaign and Chris Pandel from The Bristol also in Chicago. I was so proud of my non-risk taking husband who tried every dish offered including Chef Shermans poached egg with shell bean and bell pepper ragout. The other local farmers also had their produce prepared by these talented chefs and wonderful new tastes were erupting all over Marty and Kris farm.

We were able to do quite a bit of networking as well and found the market for pasture raised pork in the Chicago area is rapidly growing. We expect to pick up two more restaurants this week who want our farms products.

The evening closed with a fundraising auction to further support the hard work and education done by Spence Farms. The auction took on a life of its own as local character and Spence Farm Foundation member Jack Kennedy assumed the roll of auctioneer. He sold everything originally up for auction and some things that weren't, like the hat of his best friend. Oh, we farm folk are a laugh a minute. Jacks best work though, was selling a primo quart of Spence Farm Honey for $130 !! Not THAT was one sweet deal.


  1. I believe the small farm direct to restaurant is a great way to go. It' s wonderful that you have a market close at hand. Convert the world, one stomach at a time..

  2. Art, we are so blessed to have the organization Spence Farms so close to us. Several years ago they started by selling their produce and that of several of us other small farmers, to our local grocery store. Then they expanded to the Chicago area restaurants (100 miles from here). We are a group of 25 farmers now working to keep people aware of how GOOD and fresh local food can be. Spence Farms also hosts hundreds of school children every year from schools all over teaching them about farming.

    P.S. Thanks for following my blog !