David and Mert Burgett and youngest daughter Grayce, own and operate Burgett Farms near Sumner, Illinois. Their 47 acre farm is primarily devoted to their goal of becoming as self-sufficient as possible by producing their own food, and making the excess available to customers through farmer’s markets and direct farm sales.
Since 1995, the Burgetts have raised their own beef, poultry, eggs, and produce, and have been raising Large Black Hogs since 2016. In 2017, Mert began working with a family milk cow, to produce their own milk, butter, and cheese.
Growing and preserving as much as possible, they can control the quality of their food by utilizing natural methods of pest control and eliminating the need for commercial pesticides. They strive to revive some of the ways of the past, like fermenting sauerkraut, baking everything from scratch, and smoking meats. Their ultimate goal is to one day be able to make the majority of their meals solely from ingredients produced on the farm.
Hunting and fishing on their farm helps to put food on the table, as does recognizing and taking advantage of the gifts of nature. Gathering from the wild is an essential part of making ends meet. Wild blackberries and raspberries, walnuts and hickory nuts, sassafras, morels; all are nature’s bounty that can be used or sold as needed.
Outside the farm, David works for Jones Lang LaSalle, a real estate services management company, as a Facility Manager for 17 UnitedHealth Group locations in Illinois, Kentucky, Arkansas and Oklahoma. He is also a Lawrence County Board Member, and on the Board of Directors of the Lawrence County, IL, Historical Society and the Lawrenceville Downtown Revitalization Committee. In addition to her duties of managing the farm, Mert works as a full time EMT, and is a volunteer Firefighter with the Christy Fire Protection District in their hometown of Sumner. Grayce attends Red Hill High School, and is active in FFA, 4-H, and on the farm.
David and Mert have five children and seven grandchildren, and strive to pass on their way of life to them and anyone else interested in a sustainable lifestyle. They are always looking to learn new things, and share the knowledge they have acquired. Not a day goes by without an opportunity to learn something new.