Meet the Farmers

Meet the Farmers

Broad Branch Farm is an organic family farm owned and operated by Brian and Anita Poeppel and 3 daughters – Lucy, Susannah and Laura.  All 5 members of our family contribute to the success of this diverse food producing farm.    We share many loves – our beautiful farm, growing food, raising animals, working outdoors, good music, contra dancing, cooking, eating amazing food and loving our pets just to name a few.

We firmly believe local organic agriculture can bring health & wellness to our lives, our communities and our environment.   We believe in knowing where our food is grown, who grew it and what growing practices were used.   Being connected to our food whether grown here or on another local farm is a daily ritual for our family whether it is wholesome BBF meat, eggs or a staple harvested from another local farm.   Eating from dedicated farmers brings us joy, good health and above all, good flavors!

We believe in working with and supporting the type of agriculture best for our environment.   And, we most firmly believe small food growing farms are an absolute necessity for our community.

Our dream is an agricultural community of producers offering real food to hungry consumers that welcome and support local farms.  This can only happen if there is strong support and connection between local growers and the community.  We hope our efforts at Broad Branch Farm help foster the dream of a diverse local food economy.

As parents, we are incredibly proud of our three girls.  The success of Broad Branch Farm is directly related to the dedication and love for farm and family each daughter possesses.  They have been raised since day one in the spirit of our organic farm, immersed in the daily activities of growing vegetables, raising livestock & loving and respecting the natural world.   

As young women, Lucy, Susannah and Laura embrace a respect for their environment, for their fellow human beings no matter their race, color or identity and foster peace and love in our world.   Of all the living things raised at Broad Branch Farm, these three girls are the most amazing!  

 


Anita

 

Anita grew up on the Kinsella family grain and livestock farm east of Wyoming, IL in Stark County.   She has fond memories of growing up a farm kid and helping her mom plant the garden.  She remembers her mom letting her help plant big seeds like lima beans and then letting her walk on the covered rows to press in the seeds – no doubt barefoot!  And, every spring pulling fresh radishes, bibb lettuce and green onions from the garden.

In 1995, after college and while living in Chicago, and feeling a bit lost with a city job, Anita set up a card table full of herbs at the Naperville Farmers Market.  Garden plots were rented through a local park district and the herbs expanded into salad greens and more vegetables.  After a move to a 5-acre farm in Woodstock, IL, Brian joined the effort by producing the first batch of pastured meat chickens and the rest is history. Broad Branch Farm became a popular stop at the Naperville Market for 14 seasons selling organic vegetables, eggs and meat.

Anita heads up the vegetable enterprise and tends the laying hens for those beautiful eggs we sell.  She is responsible for the website, emails, newsletters, photos and social media.  She is committed to producing and eating local organic food.

When not working, Anita loves being a mom to her girls, reading non-fiction, taking a walk, cooking, listening to music and spending a peaceful quiet day on her beautiful organic farm.


Brian

 

Brian grew up in the Chicago suburb of Glen Ellyn, IL and was a city kid most of his life. The change to farming and rural life could have been a rough one, but, instead Brian found a calling to farm, work outside and be his own boss.

In 1993, Brian earned his BS at the University of Illinois in History and Political Science. He worked as a business consultant for a few years but the growing farm business needed his help. In 2001, Brian quit his office job for good and began farming full time with Anita.

Brian tends the farm’s meat chickens,  pastured hogs and grass fed beef. His favorite enterprise is our grassfed beef and he loves the challenge of grass feeding and finishing the calves. He has gone from never touching a calf to grass feeding and finishing 10+ calves per season and building a cow/calf herd where all the beef is born and raised right here on our farm.

Brian also keeps all mechanical things up and running on the farm – a huge help!  He is a self taught amateur electrician, mechanic, plumber – you name it, he can usually fix it.   He’s also responsible for setting up our irrigation system for the vegetable garden and building every hoophouse on the farm.  

Brian is an excellent sailor and grew up sailing on Lake Michigan with his family and later as crew for the racing T-10 fleet on Lake Michigan.  He crewed on countless races including several rides on the annual race from Chicago to Mackinac Island.  Brian also enjoys grilling, eating awesome food, music, traveling, reading, exploring our woods and spending time with his family.


Lucy

 

 

Lucy joined the family in December 2001 and has been a big part of the farm ever since her first farmers market at 5 months old.   She has always been an enthusiastic member of our farm team.  We can remember setting the CSA vegetable boxes down low so she could reach them simply because she was so young – 8 or 9 years old.

Lucy partners with Anita to manage the vegetable operation.  She is a natural born leader who provides direction and instruction to people twice her age.  Her ability to clearly see the most efficient path to complete a job is invaluable as time is always limited.  She has led the planning and planting of our fruit orchard here at our new farm.   In the spring and fall, you’ll find Lucy mulching and tending the many apples, peaches, plums, cherries and pear trees we hope will produce lots of fruit for a hungry family.

Lucy is also extremely adept at coordinating our home deliveries.  There is an immense amount of coordination, assembling and double checking to make sure the right food ends up on the right doorstep.  She has the attention to detail to connect all the dots so our home delivery days run smoothly.

Lucy is an adventurous and talented cook creating anything from homemade pie to an amazing meal for the entire family – made from scratch with BBF food, of course.  And, she leads the charge each year to can, freeze and ferment food for our family – a huge endeavor!

Lucy enjoys traveling, contra dancing, playing guitar, listening to music, taking walks with our big dogs and being with her sisters.

 


Susannah

 

Susannah joined our family in February 2004 – our first growing season at the Wyoming farm. She also started her selling career early attending the farmer’s market with her family when just 3 months old.

For several years, Susannah’s enterprise was fresh cut flowers.  And, while she’s taken a break from selling her bouquets, she’s still growing flowers and creating arrangements for friends and family – something she’s done since she was 8 years old!   The arrangements are old fashioned, cottage style mixed bouquets with fragrant cultivated and wild grown flowers, fresh herbs and wild harvested materials from around our farm.  Her bouquets often represent what the farm landscape looks like for any given season.  Self taught, Susannah is gifted with a natural talent to create beautiful, natural arrangements.

Susannah is also a key member of our vegetable team from early spring planting to assembling the CSA vegetable shares.  And, with her incredible memory and attention to detail, she is an important part of keeping the records straight for our grassfed beef herd.   You will see her each spring and fall with a clipboard helping document health records for our herd.

Since the summer of 2022, Susannah has taken a job as camp counselor with the Peoria Park District’s Ancient Oaks Day Camp at Sommer Farm.  She loves it!   Known as Catbird (all counselors take a nature name), she blends all the passion of the outdoors with her knowledge, creativity and skills learned from Sun Foundation camp, art lessons and living here on an active farm and rolls it into awesome projects for the kids.  We’re so incredibly proud of her!

Susannah is a self taught fiber artist with a special interest in crochet.  Her projects are gorgeous and she has the ability to start and complete a project over and over.  She loves paper art and uses her creativity to create unique projects.  She is an amateur music historian and loves learning history through music.  She is a walking Beatles encyclopedia!  We call her “the librarian” for her love of books, facts and learning.

She also enjoys contra dancing, reading, playing piano & ukelele, all the animals on the farm, hiking in our woods and laughing with her sisters.


Laura

 

Our family welcomed Laura in February 2008 and she immediately fit right into our busy farm life.  Like Lucy and Susannah, her early pictures are usually outside with an animal, vegetable or just enjoying the farm.

Her enterprise is Fresh Cut Herbs for our CSA Vegetable shares and home delivery orders.  She must have admired her sisters’ work, because she began her herb career at a very young age – 6.  We’ve included one of her earliest pictures harvesting fresh mint.

Laura is meticulous about the quality of her fresh herbs and you will not find a fresher more pungent herb bundle for your recipes.  She is motivated, determined and head strong – a true entrepreneur!

There’s a reason Laura earned the nickname “the lion tamer” when she was 4 or 5 years old.  She has a natural ability with all animals – especially the big ones!   She is second in command with the Grassfed beef herd.   She has an excellent memory for all the mamas and their calves.   She is naturally skilled at handling the cattle when we need to give them a health check, move them to new pastures or provide help to our herd in any way.   Laura will know what to do and how to do it.  She loves her horse Missy and has nurtured a trusting and fun relationship with her quarter horse.

Laura loves all the animals on the farm, hiking in the woods, contra dancing, crochet, music, playing her Martin guitar, reading and spending her days with Lucy and Susannah.