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Thursday, July 15, 2010 09:20 am

A family farm’s market

Sweet corn and much more at Seaney Farms, Tallula

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Roy Seaney
PHOTO BY DAVID HINE

Just a short 15-minute drive northwest of Springfield is a unique roadside market that offers freshly picked sweet corn, a variety of garden-fresh produce and Illinois agriculture products. Seaney Farms, at 10544 State Highway 97, Tallula, is owned and operated by Roy and Beth Seaney.

In 1985, Roy moved from Newfield, N.Y., to a 325-acre family farm in Tallula. Their farm has been in the family since the mid-1800s.

After a few years, Roy had a desire to add to his corn and soybean farming, so he started a three-acre sweet corn patch. For the first four years he sold sweet corn from a self-serve roadside stand. By 2004, the sweet corn patch expanded to 40 acres and Roy built a permanent structure to accommodate his growing customer base. The stand is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Fourth of July weekend is their busiest, selling 200 dozen ears of sweet corn a day. Roy expects to have a supply of fresh sweet corn until the end of September.

While the focus of Roy’s business is still sweet corn, other fresh produce is offered at the market. Cucumbers, zucchini and peppers grown on the farm are supplemented with other Illinois-grown vegetables, including tomatoes, cantaloupe and watermelon. In addition they offer a selection of Illinois products: cheese from Ropp Jersey Cheese located in Bloomington; jams, jellies and salsa from Kathy’s Kitchen located in Virginia; honey from Sasse’s Apiary; and farm-raised beef from Toohill Beef.

From late April to June, Seaney’s offers a wide variety of summer flowering annuals. Roy’s dad moved to the Springfield area in 2004. Robert Seaney, a retired Cornell professor and owner/operator of his own greenhouse, soon grew tired of retirement. So in 2006, Roy and his dad put up a 5,000-square-foot state of the art greenhouse. In the current 20,000-square-foot greenhouse, they grow more than 100 different types of annual bedding plants and perennials. Their best sellers are potted annuals and hanging baskets.

In 2008, Roy and Beth opened Seaney Farms Market at 100 Corvette Drive in Sherman. This store also offers a wide variety of fresh produce and local Illinois products. The market is open from April to October, seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

In addition to a variety of fresh vegetables and local products, Seaney Farms offers family friendly service in a clean open air market. Contact Seaney Farms at 217-652-2175.

Garden Shed Sale and Evening in the Garden

Looking for a unique garden-related gift? Join Sangamon-Menard Master Gardener volunteers for their Third Garden Shed Sale in conjunction with Evening in the Garden. This event will be Thursday, July 22, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Sangamon-Menard Extension office, Building #30, on the Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield.
A wide variety of gently used outdoor garden tools and furniture, garden-related household items, books, clothing, jewelry and one-of-a-kind artwork will be offered for sale as part of this unique fundraiser. There will also be a silent auction area for the higher quality, unique items.

Some of the silent auction and cream of the crop items include salvaged iron art work, hand-painted vases, handmade wooden cutting boards, an antique shovel and handmade greeting cards.

Also offered that evening will be the annual Evening in the Garden, which will feature walking tours of the demonstration gardens in front of the Sangamon-Menard Extension office. This includes a 5,000-square-foot garden featuring a wide variety of annuals, herbs, perennials and prairie plants, and a compost demonstration area. Varieties of flowers planted throughout the State Fairgrounds are featured and labeled in the Identification Garden. The Herb Garden has more than 70 kitchen herbs. The Lorrraine DeSouza Perennial Garden contains plants of interest for every season.

Master Gardeners will be available to answer questions and provide handouts on maintenance issues. After you attend the sale, visit the Illinois Products Farmers Market. For more information call 217-782-4617 or visit www.extension.uiuc.edu/sangamonmenard.

Contact Jennifer Fishburn at fishburn@illinois.edu

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