“I am a fourth generation working farmer, probably the first in our family that is a woman farmer. We love to tell the kids that,” Kaity said.
The farm dates back to 1909. Back then it had chickens, pigs, cows and crops.
Over the years the family has modified it a bit. They’ve opened it up to the public, and it hass become a family favorite for kids and adults across Chicagoland– especially in the fall.
“There are 10 acres of pumpkins out here; last year we had about 12. This year wasn’t that great of a year for pumpkins,” she said.
But that hasn’t stopped the people from coming out– and the Seigel’s use the land and the farm, not only for selling pumpkins, but for teaching life lessons.
“Many kids who come from Chicago, they’ve never seen a real farm, a working farm. So they get here and they’re super excited,” Kaity said.
Kaity’s dad Paul inherited it from his parents.
“I’ve been here my entire life. I’m 54, soon to be 55,” Paul Seigel said, “Actually; my birthday is the day before Halloween, in the fall.”
On any given autumn day, you’ll find 200 to 1,000 kids here. Paul runs these sessions daily.
“Here on our farm, we try to educate them. I talk to all the kids and I ask them, you know, where food comes from,” Paul said. “Where do you think food comes from…not sure?”
“I mean, a lot of kids who come from Chicago don’t really know where food comes from,” Kaity said, “They really think it comes from a g grocery story or from McDonalds or Burger King— but they don’t know the importance of farmers and if we didn’t have farmers… we wouldn’t have food.”
The farm has evolved through the years. It’s becoming more high tech. Paul says Kaity’s responsible for that, “And she’s brought a different perspective to the farm– because we’re in the technology age.”
Becoming more tech savvy has allowed them to design rather complicated corn mazes. This year, they featured the presidential election
But helping others to enjoy their farm as much as they do, remains the family’s focus.
On Veteran’s day, Veterans and their children got in free– the same for firefighters and police officers earlier this month.
Cottonwood also works with a local program to employ actors for its haunted house. Most of the actors are from low-income families and are otherwise unemployed.
Siegel’s cottonwood farm is located at 17250 S. Weber road in Crest Hill, Illinois
To learn more you can log on to their website Ourpumpkinfarm.com
Or call them at 1.800.304.FARM (3276)
Kaity Seigel and her dad Paul Seigel– Cottonwood Farms. Chicago’s Very Own.