Renewal Acres, Quincy, Ilinois
Central Illinois Farm Beginnings 2006-2007
An Interview by Terra Brockman
Back in 2006, Rebecca Fischer saw a notice in her local newspaper about a brand new course called Central Illinois Farm Beginnings. “It sounded like exactly what I would want to learn about: chickens and small acreages.”Rebecca had no farming background, and no farming in her family tree, but she had a passion for the earth and for the good food that comes from it.
“I became frustrated with mushy tomatoes, I really did. When I would go to a restaurant, I would get mediocre food that I was still paying for . . . because we just settle for mediocre food without ever tasting really good food. And really good food can only come fresh from the farm in my mind.”
After completing the inaugural year of Central IL Farm Beginnings, Rebecca started farming in her yard, but “got very worried that it would not be an acceptable practice in my neighborhood.”
So after searching for a suitable acreage, she bought a beautiful parcel of mostly wooded land in 2008, and got her first chickens and planted her first fruit trees. She has grown steadily each year, and this year, together with Lucas, her employee, Rebecca has planted lots of tomatoes, potatoes, squash, corn, cucumbers, fruit trees, strawberries, blueberries, and much more.“We’re waiting so see what we are really good at and it seems like potatoes and tomatoes are pretty good . . . . And bees, I have seven beehives. I’m getting better at the beekeeping, I think, and producing honey.”
And there are deeper satisfactions as well, says Rebecca: “Looking at this butterfly out here on this flower out there on the pond, I’m just thinking how thankful this butterfly is that this flower is there. Is that corny or what? And I just get very inspired, emboldened . . . I don’t know what the word is, but this is my slice of heaven out here.”One of Rebecca’s greatest joys since starting to farm has been taking care of the bees and harvesting the honey. “I am just amazed by that. It’s so beautiful. The first time it poured out of the spigot into the jar it was . . . like this? I did nothing except buy these bees and set them up and they give me this amazing honey!”