Spence Farm, AEA Team Up For Near-Perfect Evening

by Anna Kempf

August 3, 2016

A terrific host, informative speakers, good weather, and awesome audience of close to 80 people combined to make a great evening on July 1 at Spence Farm in central Illinois.


Spence Farm is a diversified farm that uses biologically friendly inputs for soil fertility, and grows vegetables, grains, and other crops. The produce is sold to chefs at high-end Chicago restaurants.

Advancing Eco Agriculture

AEA and Spence Farm teams look at the potatoes on Spence Farm.

Chef Dustin Allen, who owns and operates a farm-to-table restaurant called Edge in Peoria, Illinois, served healthy, delicious cake and ice cream made with ingredients sourced from Spence Farm to tour participants. Spence Farm has two greenhouses dedicated to producing herbs and vegetables for Dustin’s restaurant. Greenhouse crops include kale and fennel as well as more unusual foods such as nasturtium flowers and a spiky Italian herb called agretti, which tasted like a grassy spinach. 

John's talk at the pepper patch. 

The audience enjoyed a presentation by Advancing Eco Agriculture founder John Kempf with useful information on brassicas, peppers, and tomatoes, and explaining how nutrient uptake affects disease resistance. Gary Reding and Nathan Harman led discussions on the forage, alfalfa, bean, and squash crops.

The entire evening was educational and brain stretching, as anyone who heard John Kempf’s talk at the pepper patch about the potassium/calcium flip-flopping regulator can attest.


After the tour, Greg Wade, an expert baker from Publican Quality Breads in Chicago, served several varieties of fermented sourdough bread. He attracted a constant crowd as he explained the baking process for the artisanal breads he makes from wheat and rye varieties grown at Spence Farm. “What we think we do really well is our naturally fermented breads with whole grains,” Wade said. “We want to produce a good, natural, healthy product, but also have it be super-tasty.” The grains from Spence Farm are in masterful hands when they go to Greg Wade.


Marty, Kris, and Will Travis, owners of Spence Farm, have been featured in the documentary film “Sustainable,” an in-depth analysis of the American food system which points to farmers like the Travises as the solution to the current food crisis.


For more about Spence Farm, visit the Spence Farm Facebook page.