(CBS) — A Darien couple has been chosen as Grit Magazine’s “Homesteaders of the Year” for how they live off the land and share their lifestyle with others.
Tucked away behind a stand of trees just off I-55 near Lemont Road, the Ulman farm has been in the same family for about 70 years.
It has shrunk over the years, due to eminent domain by the DuPage County Forest Preserve District, but nearly 40-acres remains and it is there that Jennifer Ulman and her husband Paul Turek live off of the land.
The raise chickens for eggs and meat; they have gardens with corn and peppers and tomatoes, garlic, onion, carrots and on an on.
They’ll teach anyone who wants how to learn how to make cheese and beer and wine; jams, jellies, soups, spaghetti sauces and salsas.
Paul Turek says the Homesteaders of the Year distinction is validation of what they do. He says, ““It’s nice to know we’re not as odd as everyone around here thinks we are.”
They’re surrounded by I-55, a subdivision and forest preserve land.
Their friends, Turek says, are amazed that people today can do things like make their own mayonnaise or wine that’s drinkable.
And, he says, with a little work, it’s fairly easy.
Easy, maybe, but says Jennifer Ulman, not so simple.
“People always talk about getting back to a simpler way of life. And it’s not necessarily simpler, in terms of the workload. It’s simpler in terms of maybe the ingredients.”
And that’s what she says she likes about it. The flavors. The fresh ingredients.
They can and jar all manner of fruits and vegetables grown right there on the farm. They give away a lot of what they grow. They also trade. And they share what they’ve learned with others.
Their gardens and chickens sustain them through the winter months.
Jennifer says, we aren’t necessarily trying to go back to living a hundred years ago, we love all the modern conveniences. We just appreciate the flavors we’re able to get if we do it ourselves.”
Paul Turek says he’ll tell anyone who will listen that one hundred percent of the food produced domestically is produced by three percent of the population and a third of them, small family farmers, are over 65 years old.
“I don’t know where food is going to come from in the future but I always tell people, ‘be your own three percent.”