Articles & Publications 

April 12th 2012 

“This Place Will Always Remain Farmland”

By: Leann Landgrebe 

Published: April 19th, 2012 – Post Tribune, Porter and Lake County, Indiana

 

My name is Leann Landgrebe and I am a Farmer and owner of Crème de la Crop; the USDA Certified Organic Farm in Valparaiso, Indiana. I’ve always been surrounded by agriculture in one form or another. Landgrebe has the meaning of, “soil digger”, and we have been farming four generations on the property off of HWY US 30 and 250 West. On my mother’s side of the family, agriculture dates back to our ancestors who made it here in the states by way of the Mayflower. Needless to say farming is flowing in my blood and all of the behavior that goes along with it has become an instinct. But the typical regional row crops, like genetically modified corn or soybean, did not interest me in the slightest. The smells of the chemical fertilizers make me instantly naushious. Naturally organic growing was the only fit for me. 

April 2, 2010

International Panel of Journalists Visit Creme de la Crop
Taking An Inside Look At The Revival Of Organic Farming In The Midwest


Group Photo of International Panel of Journalists with Leann

Valparaiso, Indiana - Ideally located at the NW corner of US 30 and 250 W, Crème de la Crop, a 70 acre USDA certified organic farm in Valparaiso, Indiana is receiving growing local and international attention. On March 14th, the East West Center, a non-profit organization that promotes better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific, brought an international panel of journalists from Afghanistan (BBC), India (Sahara India TV Network), Indonesia (IslamOnline.net), Iran (Iranian Freedom Institute), Malaysia (The Star), Pakistan (The Associated Press), and the Philippines (National Broadcasting Network) to Crème de la Crop for a farm tour and dialogue session. Leann Landgrebe, the farm owner, credits her partner, Lesley Saliga, and John Baum of the International Visitors Center of Chicago for setting up this invigorating connection.

March 31, 2010 Post-Tribune

Farms Gearing Up for the Season
BY AMY LAVALLEY, POST-TRIBUNE CORRESPONDENT

Photo by: Leslie Adkins/Post-Tribune

 

Leann Rennee Landgrebe, with Creme de la Crop, a community-supported agriculture farm in Valparaiso, pulls back a plastic covering that protects spring crops in the greenhouse. (Leslie Adkins/Post-Tribune)

Things are sprouting up all over at Creme de la Crop. Take a walk through the farm in Valparaiso and you'll find a greenhouse with celery, parsley, eggplant, peppers and tomatillos sprouting in black, dirt-encrusted flats.

 

Outside, Egyptian walking onion, sorrel, and a variety of lettuces are breaking through the soil.

"We start gearing up for the season as soon as the season ends," said Leann Renee Landgrebe, who owns 

Purdue University Agricultures Magazine

Buyer's Market 

Indiana producers cater to changing consumer tastes 
By Julie Douglas

 

For most of the 20th century, the Birky farm in Porter County, Ind., supported the family. But by the 1990s, it was evident that the farm might no longer support future generations.

 

"I started noticing some trends," says 40-year-old Chris Birky, whose grandparents Jake and Emma started the farm in 1919. "The facilities were getting older, my brother and I were getting older, and our once-rural community was becoming a suburb of Chicago." Birky could not see a successful future in expanding his family's operation-1,500 acres of traditional row crops and a farrow-to-finish hog operation. But he wasn't ready to forfeit the family's way of life. "Farming has been a Birky family calling for generations," he says.

Going Local Website
December 3, 2009

Creme de la Crop is Now USDA Certified Organic
By Victoria Wesseler

 

Congratulations to Leann Landgrebe Stephens whose farm, Crème de la Crop, is now USDA Certified Organic. I met Leann two years ago and toured her farm in Porter County. The self-taught farmer who left her interior design career to follow her passion for gardening says that she loves the land and takes great pleasure in providing her customers with healthy wholesome food. Always looking ahead, Leann has some very ambitious plans for her operation that include:

 

  • A second heated greenhouse that will be built as eco-friendly as possible.

  • Getting grants for windmills and solar panels.

  • Putting up a retail facility (the building has been already purchased) where customers will be able to purchase local, natural, and/or organic cheeses, honey, meats, dairy, and other local food items.

Sunday, July 5, 2009 Northwest Indiana Times

A Growing Niche 
Times of North West Indiana 
July 5, 2009 
By: Melanie Csepiga

 

When LeAnn Landgrebe Stephens found her chosen field of interior design unproductive, she returned to her roots and the family farm -- planting the seeds for what would become Creme de la Crop in 2003.

Today, Stephens' farming operation in Valparaiso off U.S. 30 organically grows heirloom and unique vegetables on about half the 30 acres she rents from her family. The crops support the Creme de la Crop CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) and, most recently, wholesale ventures as a supplier to Whole Foods in Chicago.

Stephens' evolution is like that of countless other farmers in Indiana whose ventures make up the 79-percent increase in small farms across the state, reported in the most recent census. Small farms are deemed those 

October 16, 2007 Post-Tribune

A Better Sense of Life 
By Amy Lavalley

 

VALPARAISO -- Bob Doblani made the trek from his Schererville home to Valparaiso on a recent Saturday morning with his 5-year-old daughter and yellow lab in tow.

The trip to Creme de la Crop, Porter County's only community-supported agriculture farm, was a mission to learn more about from where food comes.

"I have an interest in agriculture and just farming in general, and food -- I want to see what local food is," Doblani said. "I think this is great. I like to support local farms. Knowing where your food is from is essential."

Doblani and his daughter, McKenzie, joined about 20 other people for a tour of the farm, led by farm president Leann Landgrebe Pelzel at the behest of the Duneland group of the Sierra Club.

The club, with members in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton, Jasper and Starke counties, asked for the tour 

Wednesday, July 18, 2007 Northwest Indiana Times

Sharing a love of the land 
BY SUSAN ERLER 
serler@nwitimes.com 
219.548.4349

 

Leann Landgrebe Pelzel is rebuilding her small organic foods business after it nearly bit the dust in a 2005 drought.

In a unique arrangement, members invest in Pelzel Creme de la Crop farming operation on 10 acres in Valparaiso.

In return, they get a share of the harvest, including the tender green beans.

"Because we don't have to worry about growing things for transport, we can grow them for flavor and pick them at the peak of freshness," Pelzel said.

She and her husband, Michael, started the business four years ago, originally selling Christmas trees and later running a small farmstand on the acreage.

By 2005, she had made Creme de la Crop part of the Community Supported Agriculture program, which is gaining momentum in the U.S. after 

By Kelly Gates

Country Folks Grower

Midwest Addition - May 2007

Volume 16 - Number 5

 

Leann Landgrebe Pelzel was a stay-at-home wife who had a humble passion. She grew a variety of vegetables organically in her backyard garden, including everything from heirloom tomatoes and chili peppers to bell peppers, arugula and other greens.

 

In 2003, the budding horticulturalist decided to try something new and what resulted was much more than she could have ever expected." I decided to set up a 20 ft. X 14 ft. Tent and have a vegetable stand at my parents' farm which is set just off a busy highway in Valparaiso, in northwest Indiana" she said. That year and she soon began growing her vegetables on a three-acre parcel. Having the fields on site created a convenient outlet for picking more organic produce when her stock started to dwindle. "There was a write-up about my 

From The May 2006 Issue of Lake Magazine

Hope Is A Seedling
By Martha Connelly

 

Winters have traditionally been the farmer's planning time, quiet days spent preparing for the spring crops, taking stock of last year's experiences, readying the farm equipment for the next season. The winter that has just passed was no different for Leann Landgrebe Stephens, although her wide-eyed enthusiasm for agricultural adventure has been tamed by Mother Nature herself. Last summer, she counted herself among drought-stricken Indiana farmers who got a stern firsthand lesson while facing their own Midwestern version of the Dust Bowl.

Stephens spent long, late-winter afternoons taking stock of her bitter education and coming to terms with the realities of farming in the 21st century. "I had to lay off my whole crew," she says. "There was no choice; we were losing our crops." Hers are searing memories of the summer of 2005, not the kind of carefree beach snapshots that 29-year-old women usually collect. There was heartbreak: But she's not part of the mainstream.

Sunday, July 03, 2005 Northwest Indiana Times

Naturally Green
BY BOB KASARDA
bkasarda@nwitimes.com

 

VALPARAISO | Leann Landgrebe-Stephens squatted down in the open field under the late morning sun and touched the ground beneath the low lying plants.

The ground is noticeably cooler there in the shade, she said, which is the reason the weeds are being allowed to grow up and around the peas, potatoes and other vegetable plants at her 21-acre farm just west of Valparaiso.

The more shade, the slower the loss of moisture from the ground.

The ability to see the value of weeds during the current drought-like conditions is part of what Landgrebe-Stephens would call working in harmony with nature.

It is that striving toward harmony that sets the 29-year-old apart from other farmers around the county.

Landgrebe-Stephens ditched a career in interior design to break ground two years ago on a chemical-free vegetable and fruit farm known as Creme da Crop at the northwest corner of U.S. 30 and County Road 250 West. The land has been farmed by her family for four generations, but not this

 

Nov. 19, 2004 Post-Tribune

Organic Farmer Expands Operation
By Mike Truax
Post-Tribune correspondent

 

VALPARAISO - Leann Stephens is taking her business venture in organic vegetables to a new level.

Last summer Stephens opened Crème de la Crop, an organic farm stand with a large stock of home-grown organic vegetables and herbs. The remains of this effort had hardly been plowed under at season's end when she began planning for next year.

Stephens is selling shares for her organic food co-op, limiting it to 60 shares the first year. "It is somewhat new to our area," Stephens said. "Families living on the West Coast have been relying on community-supported agriculture programs for years."

People prepay for vegetables that will be grown the following season. They are guaranteed a better price on fresh seasonal vegetables that they pick up weekly.

Stephens said shareholders will be able to pick up their vegetables from 1 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

She is offering two different share types - a standard market share and an epicurean, which has gourmet vegetables such as winter chickory, fava beans and okra - Stephens said.

Each type is divided into three different share plans - first harvest, second harvest and a winter squash program. Each category runs at a different

 

August 20, 2004 Post-Tribune

Naturally Good
By Mike Truax

 

Leann Landgrebe-Stephens recognized the difficulty of finding organic produce around Valparaiso. Instead of complaining about it, she decided to do something about it.

"I've loved gardening since I was a child," Stephens said. "Some of my earliest memories are of picking string beans at my grandfather's farm."

When she got married, her love of gardening flourished as she and husband, Michael, installed 14 raised beds at their Westville home. They came in handy when she decided to expand and begin Crème de la Crop, supplying the area's first full-scale naturally grown produce. While some produce is grown at their home, most is grown on the old family farm at County Road 250 W. and U.S. 30. Generations of Landgrebes have farmed the land since long before U.S. 30 went through the farm.

"We planted three acres this year and will plant more next year," Stephens said. "We have more than 70 acres available to plant."

There are literally dozens of different vegetables Stephens will have available but because of this year's small planting, not all of them will be

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