3016 Route 173
Richmond, IL 60071
Natural Farm Stand has been in Gary Gauger’s family since 1923, and not once have pesticides or herbicides been used on the land. Gary has farmed the land since 1975, and was joined by his wife, Sue Rekenthaler in 1997.
Sue handles all the off-farm marketing, supervises farm staff, does the book keeping and helps with the planting and the harvesting, while Gary focuses mostly on planting, cultivation and harvesting. Although Sue and Gary’s grown children have not been involved with the farm, the couple does get some help from their two cats Crow and Spalding, as well as their three goats, Zephyr, Keb and Othello. They were joined this winter by Ruben, a mixed-breed dog. With the house cats, Stevie, Rosalita, and Hammer, the four-legged crew on the farm now numbers nine.
Natural Farm Stand specializes in heirloom tomatoes, but also grows a vast array of vegetables including peppers, potatoes, beets, carrots, onions, summer and winter squash, tomatoes, lettuce, pumpkins, leeks and garlic. The farm has been chemical-free since 1960, and certified naturally grown since 2002. Gary and Sue welcome their customers to the farm to learn more about their naturally grown farming methods. They also believe that healthy food should not be so costly that it is available to only those who can afford it.
Why is growing organic a priority for your family?
There is no other way. Once I understood the difference between organic and conventional agriculture in terms of nutrition, society, livelihood and the planet, I realized it had to be done this way.
What is your favorite part of being an organic farmer?
Being part of the process. I especially like working the soil with hand tools and picking tomatoes.
What is your least favorite part?
The days are too short.
Why should people buy organic products instead of other options?
So I don’t have to go out and get a “real job.” If you don’t want to do it for me, do it for yourself. If you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for the planet.
What makes your farm special?
We have a history. This farm has been in the family since 1923. It’s never had pesticides or herbicides used on it, and it’s been organic since 1960.
Where do you want your business to be in the next year? 5 years? 10 years?
Next year we would like to expand our farm stand structure for easier accessibility. In five years we hope to have expanded our off-farm market base. In ten years, we would like to concentrate more on the teaching side of farming.
Where can consumers get your products?
You can purchase our products directly at our farm and at the Woodstock, Crystal Lake, and Grayslake Farmers Markets.
To learn more about Natural Farm Stand, call the Gaugers at (815) 678-7072 or send them an email.