GARDEN PRAIRIE, Ill. — Visitors to Susie’s Garden Patch have
the opportunity to “u-pick” strawberries and “u-pick” vegetables while enjoying
a day at the farm.
“We have been here for 29 years,” said Susie Silberhorn, who
started the operation with her husband, Doug. “I grew up in Belvidere, and Doug
was raised mostly in the Boone County area, so we looked for a place in the area
that was about five acres.”
When their search for a few acres was unsuccessful, they
decided to purchase an 82.5-acre farm.
“It was an abandoned farm with frontage on Highway 20, and
the Kishwaukee River runs through the back 25 acres,” Silberhorn explained. “So
we farm about 55 acres.”
At one time, the farm marketed products wholesale, but today
it is a u-pick operation.
“We have three daughters, and four years ago, our daughter,
Mary Brubach, came back to the farm to help her dad,” Silberhorn said. “Last
year, on the day after Easter, Doug died of a heart attack, so Mary was thrown
into her dad’s role very quickly.”
A variety of products are available at the farm for
customers to pick.
“Strawberry picking officially opens on June 17. We are two
weeks late this year due to the cold spring,” Silberhorn explained.
“Mary runs the business, and I run the store,” she
Other products currently available are asparagus, snap peas,
lettuce, cucumbers, new potatoes and green onions.
“We added a new acre of asparagus this year that is more
winter hardy, and now we have three acres of asparagus,” Silberhorn said.
In addition to the fields, the operation also includes a
greenhouse and two high tunnels.
“We’ve been picking cucumbers for two weeks from the high
tunnels, and we are also close to picking tomatoes from the high tunnels,”
Many more types of vegetables will be available to pick as
the season progresses.
The farm’s store, a converted garage, features products
grown on the farm, as well as fruit, including blueberries and peaches that
Silberhorn purchases from Michigan growers each week.
“I go up to Michigan for the fruit and buy good quality
fruit from people I’ve known for years,” she said.
Other items available at the store are jellies and jams from
the Amish community, local unpasteurized honey and, new this year, eggs from a
“Every year, people have asked about eggs, so I finally
found a lady four miles from me,” Silberhorn said.
Garlic grows on about one quarter of an acre.
“Every year, we expand our ‘u-dig’ garlic, and it’s never
enough,” Silberhorn said. “We need about an acre because the people from Chicago
love to come and dig garlic.”
Garlic is planted in late October to the first part of
November. It is ready for harvest the following July, when about two-thirds of
the plant is dry.
Although Susie’s Garden Patch is not organic, they use
minimal amount of organic chemicals, as well as integrated pest management.
“Mary and I are also certified through the Good Agricultural
Practices program,” Silberhorn said.
Pumpkin Fill Up is held at the farm each year during the
Saturday, Sunday and Monday of Columbus Day weekend.
“This will be our 12th year for this event,” Silberhorn
said. “We sold pumpkins wholesale to the Eagle Grocery Store, and when that
store closed, we started this event.”
For those three days, customers can fill up their vehicles
with pumpkins, gourds, squash, mini pumpkins and pie pumpkins at wholesale
“We sell any pumpkin for $4,” Silberhorn said. “About 85
percent of the pumpkins growing on the 10 acres are sold on those three
A corn maze is available at no charge.
“The kids run around and have a blast,” Silberhorn said.
The also store will feature fresh cider, cider, doughnuts
and fresh-baked pumpkin and apple pies during this time.
The garden patch is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and
from noon to 5 p.m. Sundays and is closed on Mondays.
To learn more about Susie’s Garden Patch and for information
about what currently is picking, visit the website at www.susiesgardenpatch.com.