Know Your Farmer: Three Sisters Garden


We've started a Know Your Farmer series twice a month to get you more connected with our farmers. We're highlighting Tracey Vowell and Kathe Roybal from Three Sisters Garden (Kankakee, Illinois) for the third installation of our series. They'll be at every indoor market through April.

Tracey (left) and Kathe from Three Sisters Garden

1. Why should people care about supporting local and sustainable producers? 
Supporting local, sustainable producers has many benefits. It is an investment in local community as most of the dollars spent with producers stay within the local area. It also ensures higher quality, fresher, more nutritious and diverse products available for consumers, because the shipping and distribution aspects of grocery store shopping are reduced. Taking care to purchase as much as possible from sustainable producers helps to provide the best possible future for our children, and theirs. 

2. How/why did you become involved in farming? 
Working in the restaurant world for many years, we both wanted to make a change that would both allow us to have our own business, and dramatically change the pace of our lives.  Having been exposed to many different farmers in the course of our restaurant careers, we had the opportunity to make observations about the differences in their lives and ours, and we were very interested in what we saw.  We started working towards gaining the knowledge and expertise that would eventually help us make a decision about what kind of farming we wanted to do, and give us the confidence to buy a piece of land and get started.
3. How did you get involved with Green City Market? 
We were invited to participate in the Locavore Challenge in September 2008 and luckily for us, we were allowed to stay on as vendors after the challenge was over. We are very thankful for that invitation as the Green City Market turned out to be a perfect opportunity for us.

4. What is your most popular product? 
It seems that we have been very fortunate with our rolled oats.  They are not like any other oats that we know of, and our customers have become very devoted to them. It is one product that is very different from what you get at the grocery, both because of the freshness and the style of rolling. We try to walk the line between steel cut and rolled, and it seems to have been a good choice for us.

5. Do you have any special products in the next two months that you'd like to highlight?
We have been playing around with sprouts, and hope to have a couple of new products up and running in the near future: mung and adzuki bean, radish, clover and alfalfa sprouts to begin with and then...who knows?

6. What is your favorite Green City Market experience?
We have a great time at every market. After a number of years spent in our own little farming bubble, it has been wonderful to interact with customers and other farmers directly. We love the feel of the market, from customers to other farmers and market management. The whole thing, save a couple of days of torrential rain, has been a wonderful experience for us. 

7. What's the most important thing Green City Market customers don't know about you?
That our name does not mean "three sisters" in the human sense. The three sisters that our name refers to are corn, beans and squash, as they were called by Native Americans.  Because we really focus the bulk of our farm work on New World crops, we wanted our farm to have a name that was reflective of this in some way.  It gives us a simple inroad to talk about what we do and the choices we have made as farmers. 

8. What are your future plans for your farm?
Right now, all of our plans relate to becoming better farmers, better stewards of the land, and working further towards achieving greater sustainability as it refers to both our farm and ourselves. 

9. What do you want your last meal on Earth to be?
Fresh sliced heirloom tomatoes, roasted corn on the cob and fresh shell beans cooked with fresh herbs, a bit of bacon and onion.

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