Michael Keefe isn't your average farmer. He still grows vegetables and raises chickens, but his farming expenses are paid for by the people who consume his produce, and they all live in Winnebago County. He is part of a vegetable co-op run by himself and three other local farmers using a new method to put food on our plates.
First Hand Harvest provides an assortment of locally and naturally grown vegetables and eggs as an alternative to more conventional energy and chemical intensive produce. Keefe's business partner Andy Hazzard says their method of natural farming presents them with some unique challenges.
"We have to get a little bit more creative. We use a lot more companion planting, row covers. There are a lot of organic things you can do to your crop." says Hazzard.
Members pay six-hundred dollars, for a box of vegetables every week from mid June through October, which works out to thirty dollars a week.
"We believe that there's a market for this in Rockford, that people in the Rock River valley really want and appreciate food grown locally." says Keefe.
Last year the co-op had fifty members. They are hoping to double that number this year. First Hand Harvest was recently given a Winnebago County green business award. If you are interested in joining the program you can learn more at their website www.firsthandharvest.com