If variety is the spice of life, well then, Grover Webb’s life is spicy!
Grover, who owns and operates Tanglefoot Ranch in Simpson, Ill., with his wife and brother, brings a whole new meaning to the word diversification. You can find just about anything on his 950 acre farm, including corn, soybeans, sheep, beef cattle, freshwater shrimp, hi-tunnels that house tomatoes and raspberries, peaches, pumpkins and even some ground if you’re prone to deer hunting.
“Some people think I’m crazy because of the variety here,” Grover said. “But I love the variety because I hate just sitting on the tractor and riding in the combine.”
You would think with all of the different products Grover produces, he would be short on time. And, I suppose, he may well be. But that doesn’t mean that he and his staff aren’t up for trying new things — and adding new adventures to the menu at Tanglefoot.
“Next spring, we’re planning to have farm to fork dinners here at the ranch,” Grover said. “We’re planning to invite people not involved in agriculture to the farm to talk to them about where their food comes from. We’ve had students here from the U of I and a number of them had never picked a tomato off the plant and eaten it. The looks on their faces when they ate a fresh tomato was amazing, so we’re hoping to replicate that with our dinners.”
Grover is the epitome of what most people think of when they picture ‘eating locally,’ and Grover is happy to own up to the stereotype. He and his family often sell produce at the Paducah Farmers’ Market and even participate in Golconda’s annual Shrimp Festival with their homegrown freshwater shrimp. But Grover is also quick to point out that he’s a traditional farmer, too, and he’s a farmer that cares deeply about the land.
“If I could tell consumers one thing, it would be that we’re not destroying the environment to produce your food,” Grover said. “We’re not greedy people out there to cut corners and put people’s food supply at risk. The U of I students who visited were in environmental studies. When they were here, we showed them our trees and our swamp and our bluff and told them that’s what the Indians saw — it’s all still here. They were amazed at our swamp and trees and that’s great because they might be working for the EPA someday and realize that farmers don’t need to be regulated so much that we can’t even produce food.”