Sunny Acres Farm: Three generations growing chemical-free vegetables and fruits

Bob and Helen Teerlinck have been growing vegetables and flowers in their Columbia garden since 1988, and they have sold under the name of Sunny Acres Farm at the Columbia Farmers Market since 1992. Their daughter, Leanne Spurling, joined her mom and dad in the business in 1996.20160527_Missouristatemeet__kw131 resize

Leanne, who holds a degree in agronomy from the University of Missouri, worked 4½ years at Rodale Institute Research Center in Kutztown, Penn., after college. “We were doing agricultural research, comparing conventional and organic systems side by side,” she said. But she wanted to put what she learned about organic farming into practice. So she moved back home to Missouri to farm with her dad. When she married in 1999, her husband, Bart, joined the crew. The trio does most of the vegetable and fruit farming, while Helen tends to the family’s flowerbeds.15546885084_6c908f5606_o

The family farm consists of two plots, one at “Dad’s place in Columbia, and one at our place” in the Fulton area, Leanne said. “We grow chemical-free, using organic methods, but are no longer certified.” Bob Teerlinck, explained why. “We were certified organic for 6 years. But the fees kept increasing every year.  By then, we knew how to grow organically.  We discussed the matter with our customers and ended up discontinuing certification while continuing to grow organically.”

The family grows lettuce, kale, sweet potatoes, green beans, garlic, cabbage, onions, broccoli, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, carrots, beets, potatoes, okra, winter squash, pumpkins, herbs, leeks and radishes. Leanne is also growing some fruit trees.

CFM_high_res_223drewpiester resizeBesides tending the garden, Leanne and Bart are also parents to five children, a set of triplets, age 11, and a set of twins, age 9. “They all help out. The kids have their own crops. They each pick a couple crops and take care of them,” Leanne said.

For Leanne, growing food is a spiritual undertaking. “As growers, we have a ringside seat, as we experience God’s unfolding re-creation, from seed, to plant, to beautiful harvest. It is an amazing experience that never grows old,” she said.

Selling at the market never grows old either. “We love the friendly atmosphere and the enthusiastic, appreciative, and faithful customers at the Columbia Farmers Market.”

Leanne Spurling enjoys cooking with what she grows. She shared two recipes. This one has been adapted from “Still Life with Menu Cookbook,” by Mollie Katzen.

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SZECHWAN GREEN BEANS
Servings
Ingredients
  • 2-3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 pounds trimmed whole green beans
  • 8 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Crushed red pepper to taste
Servings
Ingredients
  • 2-3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 pounds trimmed whole green beans
  • 8 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Crushed red pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Place a wok or heavy skillet over medium-high heat. After a minute, add sesame oil. After another minute add green beans. Raise heat to high and stir-fry 5 minutes or until beans are well seared. Lower heat. Add garlic, salt, and red pepper. Stir-fry several minutes more, then remove from heat. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 6-8 servings.
Recipe Notes

Makes 6-8 servings.

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SUPPER’S IN THE OVEN- ROASTED ROOTS, SHOOTS AND FRUITS
Servings
Ingredients
  • Roots: Whatever is in season such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, onions, garlic, turnips.
  • Shoots: broccoli, peeled kohlrabi, kale.
  • Fruits: (botanically speaking): zucchini, winter squashes, peppers, green beans, okra, tomatoes. Note: If you add a lot of tomatoes and cut them open, they make the dish saucy and delicious.
  • Optional: sausage or brats cut into bite-size pieces.
Servings
Ingredients
  • Roots: Whatever is in season such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, onions, garlic, turnips.
  • Shoots: broccoli, peeled kohlrabi, kale.
  • Fruits: (botanically speaking): zucchini, winter squashes, peppers, green beans, okra, tomatoes. Note: If you add a lot of tomatoes and cut them open, they make the dish saucy and delicious.
  • Optional: sausage or brats cut into bite-size pieces.
Instructions
  1. Either leave veggies whole, or cut them into large chunks. If you are in a hurry, cut into 2-inch pieces. I do not peel them. Remove the seeds from the winter squashes. I sometimes cut the veggies into the appropriate sizes, so that they cook at approximately the same rate. For example, sweet potatoes cook more quickly than Irish potatoes, which cook more quickly than beets. So the beets could be quartered, and the Irish potatoes could be cut in half. Place all the veggies into a very large bowl. Drizzle them with cooking oil, and generously sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper—approximately 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper per gallon of vegetables. Stir the veggies around with your hands, then rub each piece individually, the cut side as well as the peel side, to further distribute oil and seasonings. Go lighter with the salt/pepper on the veggie shoots with many crevices such as broccoli and kale, as these tend to absorb too much salt. Place veggies on a cookie sheet so that they are crowded, but not layered. Place quick-cooking vegetables like green beans, kale, and broccoli or thin carrots, in the center of the cookie sheet and under some other veggies to protect them from overcooking. If you are using sausage or brats, cut into bite-size pieces and sprinkle on top. Place the cookie sheet into the oven and bake at 325 to 400 degrees, depending on how fast you want supper. Bake until vegetables are fork-tender. Chopped veggies in a hot oven take about 50 minutes. At the lower temperature, whole vegetables will take 2 to 2 ½ hours. Stir once or twice during cooking to distribute flavors and allow for even cooking.
Recipe Notes

Note: I love to simply scrub and rub whatever veggies we have on hand, and throw them in the oven so we can get back to work outside. I leave the veggies whole and/or in big pieces and set the oven low, around 325. Alternatively, if we are in a hurry to eat, I cut the veggies into 2-inch cubes and roast at 400 degrees. Recipe by Leanne Spurling, Sunny Acres Farm.

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