Prior to yesterday's Locavore Dinner at StarGrazer Cafe in Grayslake, my friends Gregg (Creative Director) and Danny (Intern) of Big Teeth Productions visited the Prairie Crossing Farm Business Development Center (FBDC) to interview some of the resident farmers, as part of the forthcoming documentary video about this event. (In May, Danny produced a documentary of the first Locavore Dinner at the Hopleaf Bar in Chicago.) Most of the ingredients which Chef Tim Kuck sourced for our meal were grown (or raised) about one mile from the restaurant, so we wanted to know more about who produces food on the fertile soil of Prairie Crossing. Our host Keith Kirley (Business Developer) of the Liberty Prairie Foundation offered us a brief tour of the farm and then introduced us to the farmers.
We interviewed Matt Sheaffer of Sandhill Organics who, with his wife Peg, grows a wide range of vegetables, herbs and flowers on a 40-acre plot of certified organic land. The Sheaffers serve an important role as mentors for the beginning farmers participating in the FBDC "incubator" program. During our interview, Matt emphasized the value of collaboration in the field: "The learning really goes both ways; there is a community aspect [at the FBDC]." Among Matt and Peg's mentees are Meg Runyan of Wild Goose Farm and Jeff and Jen Miller of Dea Dia Organics whom we interviewed, as well. Named for the Roman goddess of growth, Dea Dia Organics has operated since 2006, growing a wide variety of fresh vegetables (including baby greens, lacinato kale, heirloom tomatoes and fingerling potatoes), herbs and flowers. The Miller's heritage breed pigs (Tamworth & Hereford) freely graze on native grasses and are fed a diverse diet of grains, vegetables and fruits. Jeff and Jen also tend a large flock of Rhode Island Red chickens, which produce several dozen eggs daily.
In addition to the farmer interviews and dinner scenes at the restaurant, Gregg and Danny shot some fun footage of the pigs, chickens, hoop houses and crops in the fields at Prairie Crossing. In just over an hour, the Big Teeth team captured the essence of what is so special about this community of sustainability-savvy residents and organic farmers. I look forward to assisting Gregg with post-production on this Locavore Dinner documentary, scheduled for release in mid-September.