Meet Ginger & Tony Malek of Grandma & Grandpa’s Farm

“Farmer’s markets are a central location where we can connect, educate and build relationships with many people instead of just a few,” says Ginger Malek.

She and her husband Tony operate Grandma and Grandpa’s Farm, and are vendors at Peoria Riverfront Farmers Market and Junction City’s Farmers Market.

Ginger was born and raised on her family farm in Illinois. In the late 70s, the family had to move off the farm because corn was selling for $1.35/bushel and they couldn’t financially make it. She loved farm life, the large family garden, and visiting her grandma’s house to help in her garden, care for the animals, and help cook. She continued in a similar vein, earning her B.S. from the University of Illnois in Foods in Business, and relocated to Orlando, FL where she worked in the food industry as a deli manager, grocery manager, and as an HR director. She met Tony in Florida, where he worked for Walt Disney World in attractions, guest relations, then ticket administration.

In the back of her mind, Ginger always wanted to return to her farming roots in Illinois. The opportunity presented itself in 2011, and she and Tony took up on the last of her family’s farms with a traditional approach.

“Instead of growing GMO corn and soybeans like the other farmers who surround us, we grow garden fresh produce without herbicides, pesticides and chemical additives,” says Ginger. “We also raise pasture raised & organically fed chickens for both meat & eggs. We grow it like my great grandma grew it. We connect with the nearby communities around us to help educate them about fresh produce mostly through farmer’s markets, but also through deliveries during the off season.”

The Maleks love connecting people to their food source, and with their farm off the beaten path, the farmers market is the perfect arena to wow their audience.

“Like all farmers we face challenges with weather, weeds and long hours but we truly know it’s worth it when we see new faces come up to our booth at the farmer’s market and ask us questions like how to cook a whole chicken, ask us what a kolhrabi is, or inquire if beet greens are edible,” explains Ginger. “Then we know we have filled a generational void. You see I learned how to cook fresh produce from grandma and my mom, but so many folks haven’t had that opportunity. That’s one of the reasons we named our farm Grandma & Grandpa’s Farm, so we can share that kind of information to other generations.”