“There have been great sacrifices in order to pass it on from generation to generation.” ~Mary Beth McDonald Condill
A Little Bit of Patch History
The connection to the land is one we truly hold dear. The land, the weather, our rural community—they all affect our way of life. Our farm has been in our family’s hands for 6 generations—more than 150 years. As owner Mary Beth Condill says, “There have been great sacrifices in order to pass it on from generation to generation.” The farm is our passion, one that each generation has left its mark on, and we’re committed to continuing that tradition. We are blessed to share our story with our visitors, and to share our family’s farm as a place to connect with the land, and each other.
The story begins with Frank McDonald, who came to East Central Illinois from Virginia to purchase land through the Homestead Act in 1859. In 1938, Frank’s grandson, Charles, moved to the tenant farmhouse with his new bride, Madeline, to start their family. Their children, Robert and Mary Beth, grew up here in that farmhouse.
Mary Beth married Bruce Condill in 1967, and they served together for a year in Uganda for the Peace Corps. After Bruce learned farming from Charles for a few years, they moved to the farm in 1971 to begin their family. Mary Beth wanted to add pumpkins to the family garden in 1977, to share with her 4-year old son, Kit, and 1 year old twins, Buck and Mac. They had a few extra pumpkins that they left by the milkhouse, where people could buy them, leaving a little something in an envelope taped to the window. That year, they made enough money for seed to plant the next year’s garden; the following year, they had enough for tennis shoes; and the year after, winter jackets.
By 1989, the corn and bean markets had taken a hard hit and the Condills decided to plant three acres of pumpkins by hand. Bruce remembers sitting on a bench by the milkhouse that fall and watching all the cars come up the drive, and park all over the grounds. Mary Beth turned to him and said, “We’ve created a monster!”
And this “monster” keeps growing—into 14 acres of grounds and gardens and a 63-acre patch that produces over 400 varieties of pumpkins, squash, and gourds. In 2006, Mac and his wife, Ginny added The Homestead Bakery—named as an homage to Frank McDonald’s homesteading of the farm. And in 2008, Mac added The Homestead Seeds. All three companies come together as The 200 Acres, and while they have separate missions, all share the common thread of bringing diverse and quality farm products to you, from dirt to dessert.