Farmers

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Ruth Zeldenrust

Ruth Zeldenrust

Glenwood, IL

Produce
Flowers
Corn
Soybeans

About Ruth Zeldenrust

GIVING UP 40-HOUR WEEKS FOR 100-PLUS-HOUR WEEKS

I didn’t exactly think I’d end up farming. After college, I moved to Washington, D.C., and worked for a phone company. I quickly realized I hated being in an office and that I wanted to go home. I love that every day is different, and I get excited about things like seed catalogs and thinking about what we’ll plant next year.

HANDS TOUCH EVERYTHING HERE

Ruth Zeldenrust and her dogThere are no mechanical harvesters on our farm, only people who handpick our produce daily. It’s the only way we’ve ever done it. We take to the farmers markets only what we believe we can sell that day and we supply smaller quantities to Mariano’s so they can assure their customers are getting the freshest produce possible.

RAIL OF WORK

Each day I walk the fields and pick one or two of the best looking vegetables based on size and color and lay them on my porch railing. I call it the “rail of work.” Anyone helping for the day knows easily what needs to be picked.

OUR FARM WAS THOUSANDS OF YEARS IN THE MAKING

We’re on the edge of a glacial area where Lake Michigan used to be to the north and sandy beach used to be to the south. That gave us:

  • Sandy soils, good for onions and potatoes
  • Clay that holds the water longer, which is good for other veggies

The farm started with my grandpa after he emigrated here from Holland. He grew veggies – fresh radishes, greens, celery, beets and other produce – and trucked them to Stony Island on Chicago’s south side every day in the summer. I’ve been at farmers markets since I was 15. Today it’s me, my husband Henry, my mom, and my three daughters and their families who help on the farm, with extra help from employees during the busy times. This place helps hold our family together.