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Born in a Russian orphanage, Anya Irons finds her footing with Illinois farm family

Anya Irons is an absolutely amazing and completely unexpected FarmHer.

Raised in a Russian orphanage from five months of age she was adopted by an Illinois farm family over 15 years ago, Once she stepped foot on the farm she found her home and has never looked back. When she found the family and the farm I would say they found her too. She has not only taken to the farm but has been an integral part of growing and changing the generational operation.

I found my way to Central Illinois and the Ioerger (pronounce yay-ger) family farm on a crisp but sunny early spring day where I was met out in the driveway by Anya.

She was a contrast to the muddy brown spring landscape, dressed in a bright pink sweatshirt bearing the farm name and as I can guess she usually is, she was ready to roll!

We started out the day in one of the many greenhouses on the farm. There she explained that after being adopted into the family at age 15, she really took to the garden where the family had raised produce. Having grown up in a Russian orphanage, the concept of endless fresh produce was a joy for the young woman. She explained that she started school and went about the task of not only school work, but learning the completely new and foreign language of English.

She gradually pushed the Ioerger family, and especially her dad, Lowell, to expand the garden. After high school, Anya knew her future was on the farm, with her hands in the dirt so she set about making that dream a reality with the support of her family.

Today, they grow acres of Dahlia tubers, which are a strikingly beautiful and big flower. In addition to her signature flower, they also grow acres of produce ranging from asparagus to squash out in the fields. They have also expanded the operation to include hanging and potted plants in the series of greenhouses. As the business expanded, the family has worked to expand the network through which they sell their produce - from farmers markets to wholesale accounts.

While the sun was shining strong, the wind outside was brisk so I quickly found myself thankful for the warmth of the greenhouse. Anya walked me from house to house, showcasing the plants she has raised from tiny seeds. Most of the time she was joined by her young daughter who obviously takes to the farm like her mom.

After finishing at the greenhouses we went into an outbuilding where Anya showed me boxes and boxes of Dahlia tubers, waiting to be split, then soon, planted.

Our trip to the Ioerger Family Farm finished up in the warmth of the family kitchen with a wonderful meal for lunch. It not only nourished my body, but it made my heart happy to watch Anya with her daughters, and interacting with her family. It reminded me that there is a plan for everything in life, and the plan for Anya was a great one. From a girl raised in a Russian orphanage with no dreams of the future, to a FarmHer with a family of her own, flourishing a half a world away, at home in the Midwest dirt.