Evanston History Center hosts author of sustainable farming memoir


Billy Kobin/The Daily Northwestern

Author Terra Brockman speaks about her book on sustainable, small-scale farming at the Evanston History Center. Brockman described one year on her brother’s central Illinois farm, Henry’s Farm, which sells produce at the Evanston Farmers Market.

Billy Kobin, Reporter

An author spoke Thursday evening about a year spent on a central Illinois farm and the importance of supporting sustainable farming, the subject of her book.

Terra Brockman, author of “The Seasons on Henry’s Farm: A Year of Food and Life on a Sustainable Farm,” spoke at the Evanston History Center, 225 Greenwood St.

Brockman grew up on her parents’ farm in Congerville, Illinois, next to her brother Henry Brockman’s farm, the setting of the book.

“We are in this little organic mecca,” Brockman told The Daily.

Henry Brockman has run Henry’s Farm for more than 20 years, and the farm has sold produce at the Evanston Farmers Market for 23 years, according to Terra Brockman.

“If you haven’t ever tasted their produce, I can’t even describe it,” said Jenny Thompson, the history center’s director of education. “It’s amazing, all organic.”

Congerville is located in the Mackinaw River valley between Bloomington and Peoria.

“It’s a beautiful place,” Terra Brockman told The Daily. “I feel like it’s a little bit of a secret.”

Brockman shared excerpts from her book and pictures of Henry’s Farm during her presentation. She answered questions throughout the presentation from the audience of about 35 people.

Brockman said Henry’s Farm has only ever sold produce at the Evanston Farmers Market.

“It’s a long drive but also it’s a great market,” Brockman said. “(His business is) very sustainable. He’s put three kids through college.”

Brockman said the idea for the book grew from “Food & Farm Notes,” a newsletter she wrote about produce and food. The book, a year-long memoir, focuses on each season on the small-scale, sustainable farm.

Brockman founded The Land Connection, a nonprofit dedicated to training new farmers and supporting sustainable farming in 2001. She is also working on a documentary, “A Season of Change on Henry’s Farm” that was previewed at the history center. She is co-producing the film with director Ines Sommer.

“The intent will definitely be to introduce people to sustainable farming,” Sommer said. “It’s been a really lovely project. It feels like a really healthy project.”

The farm will continue to be a part of Brockman’s life, she said.

“Even when I grew up there, I did not realize how special it was until I left,” Brockman told The Daily.

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