Vendor Profile: Kajers Greens
Updated: May 23, 2022
We just really want to thank our customers. We are very grateful and blessed to be able to do this work and make a living for our family.
The Kajer family. Photo from the Kajers Greens website.
Out where the Kankakee River channel slices through fields and forests, where the migrating sandhill cranes congregate in the spring and fall, there is a about a half of an acre of organic micro-greens and vegetables being grown for area markets and restaurants. Free range laying chickens run in their enclosure in the pasture, scooting under the chicken tractor when the rooster warns of a hawk flying overhead. As of May 19th, 2022, the meat chickens are still losing their baby feathers, protected inside one of the farm’s greenhouses, but will be moved outside any day. While they wait, they eat leftover radishes and greens from the farm. “Nothing goes to waste here,” says Kristy Kajer, mother of five and co-owner of Kajers Greens, with her husband, Marcial.
Clockwise from top left: Hoop-houses that are home to lettuces, carrots, radishes, turnips, and more. Open fields getting a drink from the sprinklers. Garlic growing outside. Free-range laying hens in their enclosure. Greens! Meat chickens that will soon outgrow their pen.
Marcial and Kristy have been farming this ½-acre plot on their 10-acre piece of land for five years now. They started with micro-greens, and as Kristy describes it, they can hardly even remember the whirlwind that has led them to where they are now, participating in multiple markets and supplying locally-owned stores and restaurants throughout Northwest Indiana and Southwest Michigan. Beyond the growing space, they have open pasture and forest on their property.
You can learn more about the farm and sign up for their newsletter on their website, here.
Here is what the Kajers say about participating in the Coffee Creek Farmers Market, their own words:
What is your favorite part about the Coffee Creek Farmers Market?
We really appreciate that Coffee Creek is small, and is a true farmers market. We love all of the markets we participate in, but at Coffee Creek you won’t see people reselling produce that they bought from a wholesaler. There are no tomatoes until the local farms harvest their tomatoes, for example. So it’s really a local market, for local farms to sell their produce.
The customers also appreciate that, which is great. People know how to use a radish, and they want local and fresh produce.
It’s also great to share with other vendors. We love when a food truck uses our micro greens in their dishes, for example.
Juicy Tokyo turnips, beautiful radishes, zesty greens, and farm fresh eggs at the Kajers stand at the Coffee Creek Farmers Market.
What are the challenges and joys of your work?
These two things really go hand in hand for us. As a family farm one of the biggest challenges is to balance both aspects of that – family and work. We don’t drive home from work and decompress on the commute – we live at our job! We try to take breaks, like stopping work on Fridays in the early afternoon and just getting away.
The kids help us a lot with our farm, and even though we don’t always want to go out and work, we always end up laughing and enjoying each other when we’re out there. We really feel that this life has been great for our kids – I only ever get good feedback about their behavior at school and everywhere else.
What would you like your customers to know?
We just really want to thank our customers. We are very grateful and blessed to be able to do this work and make a living for our family. It was a hard first couple of years, when Marcial was still working another job and we were building the farm. But now that we have this farm, it allows him to come to all of the kids’ football games, and for us to just be together more as a family. We also love it when our customers travel out here to the farm to see it. We like to have them visit and see how we work. We appreciate such loyal customers.
Why is the local food system important?
I think that people now realize a little more after the pandemic that our food doesn’t grow at Walmart. If trucks can’t drive, for example, there isn’t food. If we can’t support each other we won’t get through things like that. We are able to grow and raise a lot of what we eat. We just have to buy things like cereals, bread, and milk. We eat a lot of chicken, of course, but when we get tired of that, our neighbor raises beef, and we can support him from buying from him.
We should all work together. The small farms are here to help and support each other – we can learn from each other, and we can also provide a well-rounded supply of produce to our customers at the markets. We’re not competing against each other in the local food system, but rather everyone is helping each other.
Find Kajers Greens this week and every week at our Wednesday market at the Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve Pavilion parking lot, April 20-November 2, 2022, from 3-7 PM. Check us out on Facebook and Instagram, and sign up for our mailing list to get notified of all of the vendors' featured products each week.