One of the most rewarding parts of coming back to Barrington to raise our family and support our business, The Gentleman Farmer, has been seeing community members embrace a movement Dominic and I are not only passionate about, but have decided to make our livelihood: sustainable farming.
The enthusiasm for educating the community about local food while helping those in need was abundantly clear at the SmartFarm’s recent Farm to Table dinner, which The Gentleman Farmer had the pleasure of supporting by donating some of our freshest produce for the meal created by Barrington area chefs to raise money for Smart Farm’s mission.
The desire for supporting SmartFarm was palpable: Smart Farm co- founder and mastermind of the SmartFarm to Table Dinner, Kathy Gabelman decided only a few months ago that they would give the event “a go” in an effort to raise money for their organization which donates 100% of their produce to local area food pantries. They were sold out within weeks, serving over 150 guests and had a waitlist to boot.
As Kathy said, “We (also) know that growing local food can help build stronger communities. The main message of the night was that community is not just about living together, but about valuing what some neighbors produce and what other neighbors need.”
Since returning to Barrington with our family, Dominic and I have had the privilege of meeting and discovering like-minded community members who are playing their part in the movement: from garden clubs to neighbors, Barringtonians of all ages are growing!
One of the first Barrington residents we were introduced to when we started growing and keeping hens was Peggy Thodos, who is not only an active gardener but also keeps hens for organic eggs.
Longtime community members Edie and Brian McTernan are busy encouraging bee colonies by keeping bees and harvesting honey which they then donate to SmartFarm. It’s a hobby they enjoy as an entire family, even having protective bee-keeper gear for their gaggle of grandchildren.
Connor, Dylan and Peri Keenan of CD&P Produce started their own tomato industry after being inspired by a SmartFarm class. They very wisely grew just the one crop between summer sports and heading back to school.
And though she is no longer based in Barrington, BHS grad Monica Irwin created a curriculum for kids which works parallel to a growing season so they may interact with seasonal produce and the farmers who are growing it with her Budding Farmer’s Program.
This is just a small sampling of community members who share a common passion for the land. After all Barrington does have an agrarian history, so I guess it should come as no surprise that so many us share this interest. But what inspires me, is that they are doing it!
If you grow your own, you too can donate to your local food pantry, we do! All of The Gentleman Farmer’s excess harvests (when we have it) go to the Cuba Township’s pantry located on Merri Oaks Rd just South of Rt 14. Barrington residents Cheryl Tanaka and Kate Formichella (who also prepared food for the Smart Farm dinner) are familiar and friendly Community Liaisons and can guide you in the process of donating to the pantry. To contact the pantry, please call (847) 381- 1921 or go to CubaTownship.com/food-pantry/.
When we sit down as a community to break bread together over food we have grown together in celebration of supporting others, we are saying that we still have time for each other – familiar faces and new friends alike – and that we also have time for the land. Who could say anything but “yes!” to that?!
About the Author
Jessica Green and her husband Dominic run The Gentleman Farmer, a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program from their family farm in Barrington Hills.
You’ll find the Greens selling their freshest fruits and veggies at the Barrington Farmers Market on Thursdays each week from 2 to 7 p.m.
When they’re not working on the farm, Jessica and Dominic keep busy looking after their two young boys, Henry and Oliver.
For more information about Jessica and Dominic’s efforts in local and sustainable farming, visit Gentleman-Farmer.com.