To see just how well the U.S. farm economy is performing lately, you will not need to look very far. In Grayslake, Illinois, a town about 45 minutes outside of Chicago, Dea Dia Organics, a farm specializing in organic produce, is thriving amidst a bustling agrarian economy.
Jeff Miller, owner of the farm, works alongside his employees to ensure the produce is harvested with the utmost care. Miller, 33, was not always a farmer: he shied away from farming when he was younger, but returned as commodity prices and farming income started their ascent. To realize his farm life dreams, Miller utilized a grant from the Farming Business Development Center at Prairie Crossing Farms in Grayslake that aids upstart small farmers.
Farm life suits Miller, who jokingly asserts that when it came to the complexity of farming, "I had an idea, but it was a little bit of a naive idea." Miller says that owning his own environmentally-friendly farm was a long-held dream of his. However, instead of loading up on John Deere tractors and other equipment, Miller started out cautiously, planting and harvesting the land with minimal staff until rising demand prompted his hiring of additional staff. Though still relatively small in scope - annual earnings are less than $10,000 - Miller's farm and others like it now account for almost 50 percent of the state's farm population.
Miller attributes the farm's quick success to skyrocketing demand for locally-produced organic fruits and vegetables. His farm participates in programs that deliver foods directly to consumers, bringing healthful food options to local residents.