Before there was a Mill, There was JANIE'S FARM
It all started when...
Harold Wilken was about two years old, and his father put him in a wooden box he'd made to fit next to him so he could take his son on the tractor as he cultivated his fields. For this and many other reasons, farming was Harold's destiny -- although it wasn't until many years later that Harold, together with his wife Sandy and son Ross, became the proprietors of Janie’s Farm Organics. The farm’s name honors Harold and Sandy Wilken’s daughter, Janie, who passed away in a car accident in 2001 at the age of 15.
From the first 33-acre field that Harold farmed organically, Janie’s Farm Organics has grown to include over 2,400 acres of USDA Certified Organic grains.
“One of the things I’m proud of on my farm is that we’re feeding people,” says Harold. “My goal is that everything we raise feeds people.”
At last count, Janie’s Farm Organics was growing wheat, oats, rye, emmer, einkorn, buckwheat, corn, soybeans (for soy milk and tofu), black turtle beans, alfalfa, popcorn, and seed corn. Harold is also growing Kernza, a perennial grain developed by The Land Institute.
Ross Wilken, Harold and Sandy’s son, grew up farming alongside his father, and began farming for himself when he was 15. After graduating from the University of Illinois in 2013, Ross returned to Janie’s Farm to work full-time. The father/son duo and several employees, including Harold’s nephew, work together to orchestrate the complex rotations and timely field work demanded by organic farming.
Harold and Ross are continually looking to the future, and The Mill at Janie’s Farm is bridging the gap between commodity production and the local food movement.