Farmers still growing produce despite record setting cold - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Farmers still growing produce despite record setting cold

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COBDEN -- Despite working more than 40 hours a week at All Seasons Farm in Cobden, owner Jill Rendleman says winter feels like a vacation.

"I think its a lot less work in the winter because there's a lot less things you're fighting against. We have no insects in the winter," said Rendleman. 

And she doesn't have to worry about plants over heating, or summer storms that could bring high winds and hail to damage her crops. She says while the cold can damage them too, she's not worried because she uses high tunnels to keep her crops healthy and warm.

"I'm not sure what the temperature is outside right now but my guess is its in the teens. So if you walk in here, you'll be able to see that its 66 with no heater on," said Rendleman. 

Different than a greenhouse, which is built to create an artificial environment, high tunnels are built to capture the natural energy of the sun. And they're doing a great job keeping her cool season crops in perfect condition. 

"Besides the lettuce and romain, some other things we can grow in the high tunnel in the winter is this lovely looking cilantro," said Rendleman. 

Rendleman says its a common misconception that all vegetables are best in the summer. She says often kale and spinach are more tender and sweet when grown in the winter. 

"It has to do with how the plant converts the minerals from the soil into starches," said Rendleman. 

Rendleman says the same principles, used to keep crops warm, also keep her chickens warm. The slope of the coupe faces the sun, which warms the inside up quickly. 

"These are laying hens, so the warmer they are, the more eggs they produce," said Rendleman. 

Rendleman says, despite winters challenges, she's able to keep up with a consistent harvest no matter what season it is. 

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