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Slow Spotlight: Weidner Farm

March 18th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in Farmers, Featured, Slow Spotlight

By Alicia Riley

Weidner Farm celebrates its fifth season of farming and beekeeping, thanks to Mary Ellen Raymond. From mortgage banker to farmer, agriculture and beekeeping are part of Mary Ellen’s heritage. Growing up in the small farming community of Bunker Hill, Illinois on the Weidner centennial farm, Mary Ellen learned farming and bee keeping traditions first hand from her family.

Mary Ellen grows a variety of unique heirloom plants, harvests a bounty of honey each year, and produces a line of beeswax products. Organic farming techniques are practiced, including crop rotation and biological pest control. The bees are also kept in a natural and holistic manner. Mary Ellen tends bees in Wildwood, Chesterfield, and Illinois, where most of the produce is grown.

With the assistance of the Slow Food biodiversity grant last year, Weidner Farm grew a variety of heirloom produce not typically available at farmers markets or in local restaurants. The bounty included Toyha and Butterbean Edamame, Cutting Celery, Spigarello, Roquencort French Filet Beans, Valentine and Canada Rhubarb, and Keifer Pears. These unique items were grown in addition to Weidner Farm’s usual crop of garlic, potatoes, leeks, onions, and heirloom tomatoes, peppers, and sweet potatoes.

Honey from spring to fall.

Through farmers markets, local chefs and other avenues, Weidner Farm is exposing foodies to flavorful produce and delectable honey. Most recently, Mary Ellen hosted a Local Honey Tasting & Pairing at Kakao Chocolate in Maplewood where participants experienced many local and varietal honeys, paired with local cheese, yogurt, nuts, and of course, Kakao chocolate and confections.

You can find produce, honey and beeswax products from Weidner Farm at the Schlafly Farmers Market, and typically among local restaurants in the St. Louis area including Farmhaus, and Veritas. Weidner Farm honey is also available at Local Harvest Grocery and Kakao Chocolate.

As the cold weather fades away, Mary Ellen is busy as a bee planting diverse crops and caring for her apiaries. With this hard work, comes a true love for exposing people to unique varieties of produce and raw honey.

The Slow Spotlight is a series of regular blog posts exploring the story of our food. The series reports on local farms, “slow” food products/businesses, and the preservation (or creation) of food traditions with occasional coverage of relevant organizations, issues, and events. Thank you to Chipotle Mexican Grill for a $5000 sponsorship of the 2012 Biodiversity Grant Program.

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