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The Story of Trogg's Hollow

Each week our Stateline Farm Beginnings® (SFB) class is fortunate enough to have guest speakers come and discuss their farming experience, first-hand. During the third session of SFB, on November 9th, the course topic was land access. We had several farmers come and give detailed accounts of how their farms’ each gained access to land. One of the farmer speakers, Chris Prchal of Trogg’s Hollow in Poplar Grove, Illinois provided the class with transparent and honest information which I and several others in class appreciated. 

Trogg’s Hollow CSA and Market Farm is a family-owned and run microfarm. They offer 25-year-round vegetable Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares to the Chicago area and surrounding suburbs. Their produce, milk, meat, and eggs can also be found at their on-farm stand and local farmers markets. After 10-years of hard work, they are now finally considered an ‘established farm’ based on how the Federal Government defines a new farmer. Congratulations!  

In 2010, a year after starting his farm, Chris took the SFB course through Angelic Organics Learning Center. At this time, he lived in Elgin, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago and began farming in a city setting, unlike his rural location today. New to the farming world from corporate America he took advice from his Grandmother who said, “plant as much as you can and recycle as much as you can back in.” He took his grandmother’s advice with pride but soon realized farming is much more difficult than he had anticipated. On top of the struggles of starting a farm, the family of Trogg’s Hollow encountered several other difficult situations.

At the beginning of his farming endeavors, Chris was a well-established accountant for a major technology company. Soon after starting the farm, his employer made major budget cuts that eliminated his position. With no additional off-farm income, his unemployment ultimately resulted in Chris filing for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy created difficulties obtaining loans for over two years and it took 6 years of working diligently as a farmer for Chris to break even. Now, after 10 years they are “finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel” as Chris puts it. Chris and his wife, Marcy, were fortunate to finally acquire a farm, located in Poplar Grove, with help from Chris' father. Leaving the city has been great for Chris and Marcy who both suffer from anxiety and depression.

Farming isn’t a career to ‘get rich quick’ but the Trogg’s Hollow family believes that farming is far more rewarding than just a way to make money. Chris knows from experience the hardships that come with farming such as, years of struggling to obtain land while not having enough money, as well as dealing with the frustrations that come with inclement weather which have set back crop production over the years. It took strength and commitment from the Trogg’s Hollow family to make farming a priority in their lives. I am grateful to have heard Chris’ story and wish him great success in his future farming endeavors.

Written by Michelle Brady, Farmer Training Program Assistant

SFB is a yearlong program designed to help launch or expand your farm business. Participants learn sustainable farming practices used on real farms, develop a tailor-made farm business plan, and begin to view the farm as an interconnected system. Participants also gain knowledge from some of the most innovative farmers and experts in the Midwest while creating lifelong friendships within a new farming network. The program also offers opportunities to access land and equipment. Click here to learn more about Stateline Farm Beginnings.