PROPHETSTOWN – A stretch of mild spring weather was just right for a foraging class at Kinwood Farm, which is on Seyller Road outside Prophetstown
With a dozen students in tow, Danielle Olson led the class across the 197-acre farm – identifying native plants, sharing their medicinal benefits and tips on harvesting them.
“What inspires us is to share beauty: the beauty that is the perfect rhythm of nature, including the cycles that flow to make truly healthy food,” Olson says. “The beauty of seeing our children learn and enjoy life in a slower pace. Somehow being in tune with nature helps us become more in tune with ourselves, and others.”
Following the nature walk, the students learned how to use the plants to make a tincture, an infusion and a comfrey balm.
The class was one of many that Danielle and her husband, Isaiah Jones, plan to offer at Kinwood Farm this season.
The have use social media – posting videos on Youtube and Facebook – to share what they’ve learned.
Their homestead has become a thriving oasis in a rural landscape, with a focus on education, community supported agriculture – better known as CSA – as well as free-range livestock and overall health and wellness.
Their mantra: “Taking care of the earth is to take care of each other.”
The couple is passionate about sharing the wisdom of the old ways while cultivating innovation for a sustainable and regenerative future.
Their farm is a family endeavor, rooted in past generations when Isaiah’s great-great-grandparents journeyed to Illinois from Alsace, France in the mid 1800s to settle near Hooppole.
Subsequent generations prospered and eventually bought the land they named Kinwood Farm to honor its multi-generational roots and the forest on it.
Isaiah manages the livestock operations and maintains the infrastructure to keep things running smoothly. Olson manages the produce, as well as marketing, orders and delivery. She’s also the in-house expert on health and wellness. She fills roles as doula, reiki practitioner and wellness consultant.
The couple has three children - Gunner, 10; Benaiah, 3; and Vea, 7 months.
Other family members are devoted to the organic farming mission. Isaiah’s parents, Bruce and Becky Jones, are the landowners. Bruce helps with the orchard and farm maintenance while Becky helps with orders for the meat and produce. Isaiah’s brother, Lael, helps with tasks requiring “brawn,” and sister, Helen, lends her photography skills.
For several decades the farm was cultivated in traditional row crops. But the family is in the process of converting it to silvo-pasture, which means integrating livestock and trees. These practices will bring restoration and healing to the soil and water.
The pasture requires rotational grazing in the summer and using flexible fencing to move the livestock to fresh pasture daily.
Cattle, lamb, and pigs spend their lives in these pastures with access to clean water, fresh air, and an array of forage and free-choice salts and minerals. They’re never given antibiotics, grain or artificial hormones and are 100% grass-fed.
The livestock are humanely processed by a local butcher, Johnson’s Processing in Chadwick.
Chickens raised for meat are set up in a mobile chicken tractor that follows the cattle in their daily rotation, with the “clean-up crew” getting a diverse array of seeds, greens, and insects as they peck and scratch through the grass and cow patties.
They also feast on certified organic feed from a nearby mill. At harvest time, the birds are processed on the farm with mobile processing equipment.
Meanwhile, free-range ducks and geese spend their days by the farm pond. A movable pen is also used for the turkeys.
In 2020, the couple added a CSA market garden to the farm’s offerings, with a focus on high quality, super fresh local produce that regenerates the soil. They don’t till the garden beds and use a practice of situ composting: letting the plants compost right in the garden.
In the fall, they run their livestock and chicken through the gardens to deposit the ultimate fertilizers before using it for cover cropping or hay mulch.
A quarter of the garden beds are dedicated to perennial plants. A stand of oak and hickory trees is a haven for wildlife and an abundance of berries, nuts, mushrooms, timber and ephemeral plants. An orchard of more than 70 fruit trees – none more than four years old – will ensure nature’s bounty for years to come.
The couple’s plans include the renovation of a barn into an event space and farm store.
Farmschool Littles, for children ages 4-12, are classes held in May and June. Children 10 to 18 can enroll in the fall survival classes. Throughout the year there is instruction on intentional living.
Kinwood Farm offers monthly or bi-monthly five- or ten-pound meat CSA packages, seasonal CSA produce, and fresh herbs, dry goods, breads, salts, jellies, balms, and other locally made items. Their eastern delivery route includes Rock Falls, DeKalb, Elburn, Wheaton, and Elmhurst, and their western route includes Geneseo and Colona, all with a $7 delivery fee per order. They also offer $5 home delivery to Tampico, Walnut, Annawan, Prophetstown and Hooppole.
For information about the farm, go to kinwoodfarm.com.