The only vegan-centered farm and B&B in Southern Illinois, La Colina Linda is one of the most unique destinations in our region. It is a cozy farmhouse on an acre of land that Kathy Ward and Jeri Kinser have turned into a lush food forest—one of the hidden gems within our “beautiful hills,” as their name translates from Spanish.
Each quarter we’re spotlighting one of the farms or businesses that got its start with a helping hand from the Southern Illinois Farm Beginnings program administered by Food Works. Farm Beginnings is an intensive one-year program that provides education and information to beginning and transitioning farmers who want to engage in sustainable, entrepreneurial farming. Kathy Ward and Jeri Kinser were students in the Farm Beginnings program during the 2012-2013 year and turned that knowledge and experience into a farmhouse bed and breakfast in Cobden that creates vegan delicacies and seasonal farm-to-table meals.
La Colina Linda is a paradise of sustainable living and farming that visitors live and breathe while staying on site. “We decided to work organically, bio-intensively, and bio-dynamically with the one acre of a former hayfield owned by Jeri outside of Cobden,” says Kathy. “Much work remained to make the parcel productive with intensive applications of organic materials. Additionally, given our vegan eating and cooking, we made the decision to use only veganic materials, meaning no animal inputs such as manure.” This made for a challenge, but the results have been stunning. After opening in May of 2013, Kathy and Jeri followed organic rules and planted “strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, comfrey, and wildflower starts for pollinators, nitrogen accumulators and more. We tilled and double-dug more plots and planted cover crops for our raised beds. We added veganic compost to raised beds, grew garlic, edamame and annual crops, and planted more shrubs and trees.” They also welcomed their first guests and began to grow and sell their strawberries, blackberries, garlic, root vegetables, potatoes, and carrots. With the amount of energy they have you’d think they were 20-something back-to-the-landers. Both are retired educators with doctorates in education and sociology. And no apparent first or second gear.
But not only do Kathy and Jeri serve vegan and gluten-free meals to their guests, they have begun to host farm dinners during seasonal solstices and equinoxes that are open to everyone in the region. The meals utilize as much freshly grown produce from the LCL garden as possible and are complemented with nutritious legumes and grains. Sample meals include:
Butternut squash soup, spring greens salad, vegan quiche, sweet potato pie
Gazpacho, summer green salad, bread, roasted garlic, tapas dishes with new potatoes, sherried mushrooms with beans, strawberry pie with ice cream
Minestrone soup, arugula watermelon salad, roasted ratatouille, apple crisp with coconut ice cream
Bangladeshi Indian Menu
Mulligatawny soup, spicy beet-root salad on greens, kichuri (lentil rice dish), vegetable jalfreezi (stir fried vegetables), pappadum (lentil crackers), vegan yogurt, spicy cookies or biscuits
These incredibly special menus are accessible to vegans and non-vegans alike and would hardly look out of place on the menu of any high-end farm-to-table restaurant in Chicago, San Francisco, or New York. And they’re tucked away here in the hills of Cobden. Lucky us!
Due to demand for their multi-grain baguettes and high-protein gluten-free Belgian waffles, Jeri and Kathy were accepted into both the Carbondale Farmer’s Market and the Winter Community Farmer’s Market held at Carbondale High School. You can find their offerings weekly at the farmer’s market and can keep up to date with more information on the B&B and farm-to-table meals on the La Colina Linda website and Facebook page. The next farm to table dinner is set for March 19th.