Elburn couple enjoy fruits (and vegetables) of labor

By on September 1, 2013
1.Tyler Strom & Jacalyn Tarr from Strom Family Farm

ELBURN—Carol Clulow has a spot she aims to frequent once a week to get fresh produce to take home.
Clulow, an Elburn resident, goes to the Strom Family Farm veggie stand in Elburn.

“It’s organic, for one,” Clulow said of the veggie stand. “And it’s local. I am interested in supporting local farmers.”

Tyler Strom, principal owner and manager of the stand, and his girlfriend, Jacalyn Tarr, manager of marketing and communications, are partners and co-owners of Strom Family Farm in Elgin, Ill.

The Elburn couple are also farmers and tend to about an acre and a half of land. They bring their picked produce, which is pesticide-free, to Elburn to sell.

Strom, 27, is a fourth-generation farmer while Tarr, 29, has roots that are more of the suburban variety. Although they both have full-time jobs, farming is their part-time work. Yet, they both discovered that farming has full-time hours.

“Work still needs to be done,” Tarr said. “Even if you’re tired and don’t want to do it, it doesn’t mean the plants stop growing.”

Every Saturday and Sunday, Tarr and Strom set up shop on the front lawn of Elburn and Countryside Community Center on 525 N. Main St. They’ll be there until mid-October.

Last Saturday, the couple stood side by side, wearing baseball caps under a blue tent with lots of shiny produce on display. Plenty of tomatoes were there, as well as some cantaloupes. Mostly, the produce is veggies, including garden salsa peppers, bell peppers, zucchini, onions, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, and huge blue containers filled with green husks covering sweet corn.

Christina and Mike Basich of South Elgin, Ill., rolled up on the side of the road on a motorcycle. This was their first time visiting this veggie stand.

“We come to get the meat for the grill for the barbecue,” Christina said. “And then we saw this place and I said, ‘Let’s stop.’ Just on a whim.”

So what did they purchase? Christina selected some cantaloupe, cucumbers, garlic and tomatoes.

“Well, I like organic fruits and vegetables,” Christina said. “So, for me, that’s kind of why I wanted to stop. And because I like to support the local—”

“Farmer,” Mike said.

Jenni Petty, St. Charles resident, also came to town to get some meat from the local market.

“I was coming through to go back home and I saw this,” she said. “And I wanted fresh corn. And I thought, I’m like, ‘Oh yeah. I’m stopping for fresh corn.’”

Petty thought aloud that Strom picked the sweet corn that same Saturday morning.
“That’s right,” Strom laughed. “We did.”

Petty said she knows what makes sweet corn so good.

“It’s always good when it’s picked right that day,” she said, “because it doesn’t sit and it doesn’t have to get ripe.”

Petty calls that fresh sweet corn taste “heaven.”

Another happy customer was Sugar Grove resident Denise VanVliet. She checked out the spaghetti squash selection because she can’t eat gluten in noodles. And she knows what makes those sweet and super juicy cherry tomatoes in the green containers so tasty.

“The explosion of flavor,” VanVliet said. “It’s delightful.”

Meanwhile, St. Charles resident John Matthews, found a two-pound Heirloom Brandywine tomato cluster that had three of the tomatoes connected in the shape of a heart.

“Bigger is better,” Matthews said.

Perhaps. And Strom’s veggie stand is successful because fresh is best.

Photo: Tyler Strom and Jacalyn Tarr. Photo by Lynn Logan