Honeysuckle Farm in Morris, Illinois is a family-owned and operated small-scale, pasture-based farm. We utilize organic and regenerative agriculture methods to produce delicious food with high nutrient density, integrity, and transparency.
We have dreamed of operating a successful farming operation since we were high school sweethearts in 2003 at Culver Academies. Joe was raised on a small farm in Plymouth, Indiana. Rachael grew up in the small, rural community of Hampshire, Illinois. When we met, Joe had already been accepted into Purdue’s School of Agriculture. Rachael followed after graduation from Culver and chose Radiation Health Science as her career path.
Upon graduation from Purdue University in 2007 with degrees in Agricultural Systems Management (Farm Management) and Agronomy (Soil Science), Joe worked for a short time at a John Deere dealer before taking more gainful employment at a commuter railroad in Chicago. Rachael completed her studies in 2008 and began working in nuclear power. But farming was always in the back of our minds.
In 2012, we jumped on the opportunity to purchase a home on five acres. We immediately purchased our first laying chickens to begin our flock. Three years later, in 2015, we purchased thirty adjoining acres of open land in hay production. Honeysuckle grew rampant on both parcels of land. This was the beginning of Honeysuckle Farm.
As of 2020, the farm produces chicken eggs, chicken meat, pork, and honey. We also have a family milk cow and two pet goats for weed control. We breed Mini-Lop rabbits as pets. All of our production animals are raised on pasture and are able to free-range within the protective confines of fencing.
Our laying flock is truly free-range. If they desired, they have the ability to walk to your house! They have unlimited access to forage and insects during the warm months with free-choice, locally milled, non-GMO grain ration available.
Free-range laying hens prospecting for insects.
Cornish Cross broilers are raised for our chicken meat products. Utilizing electrified netting for predator protection and a mobile shade/shelter for aerial predators and the elements, the broilers have access to forage and insects within the confines of the protective netting. The entire setup is moved every few days, with daily rotations of the shelter within the protected netting area.
The marvelous Ms. Hazel guards some pastured broiler chickens.
We have a Berkshire boar and Duroc sows. All of our piglets are birthed on our farm, on pasture, instead of industrial standard farrowing crates. Piglets are naturally weaned from their mother when they are ready, unlike confinement operations which may wean as early as fifteen days. They are able to root and run and express their “pigness”. They are rotated to fresh pasture periodically throughout the growing season. We process all of our retail pork at Bittner's Eureka Locker, as they are the only certified organic butcher in the state of Illinois to date.
"Ms. Piggy" and her family.
Honey is also produced on our farm. Our ten beehives are tucked under a weeping willow tree to provide shade in the hot summer and wind protection in the cold winter months. We use no chemical treatments. We leave in excess of 50 pounds of honey per hive for the bees to overwinter, in order to reduce the chance of needing to feed sugar syrup when food reserves run low in the early spring.
A full-frame of capped honey.
The future of Honeysuckle Farm is looking sweet! We plan to add beef cattle into our production in the coming year in order to provide individual cuts of beef as well as custom bulk orders of quarters and halves. We also hope to expand our small family garden into a larger market garden to provide seasonal vegetables to complement the animal products that we currently offer. Other areas that we are debating about venturing into are pastured Thanksgiving turkeys, pastured meat rabbits, free-range duck, and 100% grass-fed lamb.
In addition to expanding the farm to offer more diverse products and providing clean, nutrient-dense food for our local community and region, we dare to dream of one day opening a farm-to-table restaurant featuring the farm's products on the menu.
We invite you to join our farm family and enjoy this delicious, nutrient-dense food. Please grow with us toward building a healthy, environmentally sustainable local farm movement.