When Barrington resident Jenny Welsh first dreamed up Growing…Continue Reading
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After five years of reverse commuting from the city to their Barrington Hills farm, The Gentleman Farmer, organic farmers Dominic and Jessica Green are relocating their family to Barrington–and returning to Jessica’s roots. As they begin their fourth year growing for their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) members, they’re also expanding their offerings and looking forward to selling their delicious, locally-grown produce at the Barrington Farmer’s Market.
Dominic and Jessica didn’t always plan on becoming farmers, nor did they envision a move to Barrington. It’s home for Jessica, a Barrington High School graduate, but Dominic hails from the South of England–and both are dyed-in-the-wool world travelers. They each had careers in the arts – Dominic as an actor, and Jessica as a dancer and Pilates instructor – but were looking for a lifestyle change. As new parents to their son Henry, born in 2008, they craved a more direct connection to food and community.
They also had access to Jessica’s family’s land in Barrington Hills–beautiful, fertile land just 35 miles from the city. As Dominic and Jessica sought direction for their next move, farming began to emerge as a strong contender.
It was during that time that the couple fell hard for the lifestyle and ethics of the River Cottage, a self-sustaining farming community founded by British chef and journalist Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Jessica began researching the Stateline Farm Beginnings program through Angelic Organics, and the couple decided to apply.
Dominic says that the program provided them with invaluable training, but nothing compares to the farming experience itself. The Gentleman Farmer was certainly born in the Stateline Beginnings program, but has grown only through seasons of work in the field. “I’m like a toddler learning to walk, gaining stability each year,” he says. In his first year, he farmed a third of an acre, and grew vegetables for fifteen families and friends (Dominic and Jessica affectionately refer to that as year zero).
As their farm grew, so did their CSA membership and their following at the Logan Square Farmer’s Market, where loyal customers sought them out each week. Dominic increased his yields, and Jessica managed CSA subscriptions, maintained the website, and crafted newsletters each week.
Now in his fourth official year, Dominic is farming seven acres, two and a half of which will rest each year, planted with cover crops. The Gentleman Farmer is offering 100 twenty-week CSA shares this year (click here to sign up). “I’m planting 130 varieties of about 45 different vegetables,” Dominic says. This diversity is a key component of sustainable farming practices, and also ensures gorgeously varied boxes for CSA members.
Full Share CSA members receive a box each week; Half Share members receive a box every other week. The boxes – which members can either pick up at the farm or at Norton’s USA – each contain about 7-10 fresh, organic, seasonal vegetables. Members also receive a weekly CSA newsletter including notes from the farmer, recipes, nutritional information, photo and video updates on the crops and weekly harvest, and usually a fun farm anecdote.
Dominic and Jessica are also offering a new membership option this year called Worker Shares. In exchange for one shift of work at the farm each week of the season, Worker Share members will receive 1 full Vegetable CSA Share (worth $595). This is a formal commitment to work on the farm for one morning or one afternoon per week (4 – 5 hours). The work will include everything from seeding, planting, weeding, harvesting, washing and packing etc. It’ll be hard work, but the rewards will be delicious–and made that much sweeter by your labor.
Barrington resident Cory Flahaven tried two CSA programs before finding The Gentleman Farmer. “We really think that three times is the charm,” she says. “This is true Barrington local, and the communication Jessica provides is unsurpassed. Her recipes range from simple (which is sometimes perfect) to more sophisticated, and they’re always good.”
Cory and her husband have a four-year-old daughter, Kendall, who adores her weekly trips to the farm……
For six years, Synergy HomeCare has provided home-based, non-medical services to the Barrington area and beyond. Owner Diego Uribe and his dedicated team work around the clock to ensure that Synergy’s team of highly trained caregivers delivers the very best care to their clients. As they celebrate their sixth anniversary this month, they’re taking time to look back on what they’ve learned, and ahead to a growing future.
When Diego Uribe’s mother, Gladys Uribe, began her battle with cancer, Diego knew he would do whatever he could to ease her suffering and maintain her quality of life. “She had gone to the gym twice a day for as long as I could remember–she was a very healthy woman,” Diego recalls. “So to see her in pain, and to watch her health decline…it was a very difficult thing.”
Diego, a longtime Barrington resident, had to piece together resources in the Houston, Texas, area to provide the care his mother needed. Though there were many services available for medical and non-medical care, they were impersonal and required extensive coordination from a distance.
“I was upset by the lack of personal attention my mother received. She deserved better than that.”
It was a few years after his mother’s passing that Diego decided to leave his corporate job to pursue a career in home care services.
As Diego researched the home care industry, he was drawn to Synergy HomeCare’s business structure. “It provided some helpful tools for us as we were just starting out,” he says. So in March of 2008, Diego started the first Synergy HomeCare franchise in Illinois……
Growing Cents of Style will open their doors to the public for their sixteenth seasonal consignment sale this Saturday at 9:00 a.m., and you’ll want to be first in line for their fabulous spring and summer merchandise. From baby gear to big-kid clothes, this sale has it all. You’ll find the crème de la crème of brands at a fraction of retail prices, and a selection that can’t be beat.
When the first Growing Cents of Style (GCOS) sale opened in 2006, in a small retail storefront in Barrington, 47 consignors participated with significantly fewer volunteers. It’s fair to say that, since then, word has gotten out about the twice-yearly sales: this season’s sale boasts 400 consignors, and an astonishing 257 volunteers. When Jenny posted the spring/summer sale’s volunteer slots back in mid-January, they were filled within 45 minutes.
To understand the awe-inspiring scale of the sale, all you have to do is walk into the warehouse space at Lake Barrington’s Treetime Classics. “This is our sixth sale in the Treetime Classics space, and it’s just been an awesome partnership,” Jenny says. It’s a football field-sized space, filled to the brim with the best children’s merchandise–from infant clothing to home accessories, and strollers to trikes.
As GCOS grows, Jenny works continually to ensure that her consignors and customers have the best possible experience. “We try to make it as streamlined, organized, and pain-free as possible,” she says. The best compliment she’s received from her customers is, “‘Why would I go anywhere else? You have the reputation for being the most organized, well-run sale.’ That’s just really nice to hear, because we work so hard to create and implement systems that keep things running smoothly for both consignors and customers.”
With higher volume comes the need for greater quality control, to ensure that brands are in compliance and items are in excellent condition. “We have someone here at all times during check-in doing a very thorough quality check, making sure that clothing is in great shape before it’s allowed on the floor,” Jenny says.
Over the past few years, the sale has become a family affair. Jenny’s mother, Nancy Phillips Heath; and Jenny’s sisters-in-law, Nikki Heath, Volunteer Coordinator; and Michelle Heath, Point of Sale manager, have helped Jenny focus on her increasing management duties.
Consignors, who can sell up to 100 children’s items at the sale, can also volunteer before and/or during the sale. Those who volunteer earn a higher percentage of their sales, and earn pre-sale passes. And the perks increase with the number of shifts worked: volunteers who work a greater number of shifts gain access to prime shopping times, in addition to earning more money back from their sales. Plus Jenny offers other fun incentives, like those who work three or more shifts can win a drawing with an awesome prize: 100% of their sales…
Brooke Anderson, of Fox Point, has consigned at the past ten sales. “It’s the best way to get rid of the piles of great-quality clothes that build up in your house. I have two girls, who are 12 and 13, so it’s just become part of our routine. It’s a great idea–I wish I would have thought of it!”……
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