Specialty crop growers can make money from what they take out of the ground, and not just, for example, lettuce and tomatoes. The Illinois Herb Association had a strong contingent at the just-concluded Illinois Specialty Crop Growers Association conference in Springfield. Cynthia Simpson, of Pleasant Plains in Sangamon County, makes and sells goods as a sideline.
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Her “Crystal City Herbal Products” include lavender spray and catnip. While Simpson’s hobby takes her to Springfield-area farmers’ markets, Ted Biernacki lives a lifetime passion. He has owned Ted’s Greenhouse in Tinley Park for 65 years. He says he’s worked hard enough to be able to ride out some of the difficult economic times. Lately he has branched out into cacti and succulents, and says one difference between now and when he started is in the poinsettia; in the 1940s, there were three kinds. Now there are too many to count.