John Parkes and his son Jeff are washing eggs as I walk into their cozy little farm store. The temperature outside is about 20 degrees, but even in the dead of winter, the small barn right off of Route 125 is warm and welcoming. The farm is home to three generations of Parkes men: owner and operator John Parkes, his father Harold, and his sons Jeff and TJ who both help out on the farm part time.
Above: John ushers his chickens into the hen house for the night.
Below: Curiouc chickens move in for their close up.
John grew up harvesting corn, soybeans, and small grains alongside his father, but saw the need to diversify in order to continue supporting his family and farm into the future. In 2010 he put ten acres of land into produce production as well as planted a small orchard of fruit and peach trees and started a small flock of chickens. Today the family grows a wide variety of produce and has expanded to sell cage-free chicken, duck and chicken eggs, pork, and pastured beef (raised on grass pastures with access to grain). All of the farm products are available in the on-farm store, along with pastured lamb that is raised by his niece who farms nearby at Knob Hill Livestock Farm. In addition John supports other area farmers and cottage food entrepeneurs by selling local honey, Amish baked goods, and locally-made barbecue sauce. The great part about stopping at Parkes Family Produce is that it’s a one-stop shop. Stock up on bacon and eggs or steaks and soup bones year round and pick up seasonal goodies like asparagus in the spring, tomatoes in the summer, and pumpkins in the fall. And while you’re there, say hi to their chickens in the back and cows across the road.
“What I love the most is the feedback from our customers. We care for our products just like they were picked for own table,” says John. “We love it when customers come back to us and tell us our chicken or are steaks are the best they’ve ever had.”
But don’t just take their word for it, go try it yourself. Head out to Parkes Family Produce on 9248 State Route 125, Pleasant Plains, IL (about 10 minutes outside of Springfield). For the month of February 2016 any purchase over $10 will receive a dozen eggs free! Now that’s a deal that’s worth a short drive.
Below: various pictures of Parkes Family Produce showcase the farm's fall charm