Bio and History




Purple Leaf Farms is a farming project owned and operated by Jessica Rinks and is currently located on an acre plot in Elgin, Illinois.  Purple Leaf is not certified organic, but we do not use ANY synthetic chemicals at the farm.  We weed by hand.  We fertilize with compost and other natural inputs.  We add to soil fertility using cover crop and green mulching techniques.

Currently Purple Leaf Farms focuses on annual vegetable, herb and flower crops.  We'd love to expand into perennial veggies, flowers, fruits, and eggs, but that will all have to wait until we find a more permanent (and appropriately zoned) farm location. 

We are happy to continue to serve our customers in the Chicago area.  We attend multiple summertime farmer's markets.  We also offer an affordable CSA program (box of produce each week during the summer).  We sell our flowers to people planning parties or events.  We also sell our produce directly to restaurants looking to bring fresh and local food to their customers.


History




Purple Leaf Farms began as an urban agriculture project started by Jessica Rinks in 2010.  It all started as a restaurant garden project, with all produce being grown in raised garden beds built in a parking lot along Randolph Street in Chicago’s Restaurant Row. 


























In 2012 Purple Leaf moved to a small approximately quarter-acre lot owned by the Village of Forest Park in the near west suburbs of Chicago.  Purple Leaf focuses on sustainably produced vegetables, herbs and cut flowers and although not organic certified, uses chemical-free methods.  There’s no miracle-gro here, just compost for soil enrichment, biodegradable cardboard mulch to prevent weeds and retain moisture, super efficient drip irrigation to conserve water, and the use of non-chemical pest management practices.  In 2013 Purple Leaf again moved locations, this time moving to a full acre of space located in Elgin, Illinois.  This was also a busy year since we participated in four Chicago-area farmer's markets.  For 2014 Purple Leaf is excited to stay on the acre plot in Elgin, to continue to grow veggies, herbs and flowers. Look for us at area farmer's markets this year (we hope to do Hines VA hospital market plus one or two additional markets probably on the weekend).  We will also be implementing a new weed control technique utilizing agricultural grade weed fabric which means less weeds and NO herbicides, as usual. 



About Farmer Jessica

Jessica Rinks grew up a southern gal in Tennessee and moved to Chicago in 2004 to attend graduate school for urban planning, but by 2007 her passion for growing food became clear.  She is a University of Illinois Master Gardener.  She is the founder and President of the Forest Park Community Garden.  She is the owner and one and only farmer at Purple Leaf Farms.  Jessica finally left her urban planning career in 2012 to pursue local urban farming full-time.