Farm fresh food now available by subscription at Brainard

Are you looking to improve your diet with farm-fresh vegetables and fruits?

You might consider taking out a subscription.

The Larry and Yolanda Bailey family have started their third year of offering "subscriptions," not to a magazine, but to naturally-grown fresh produce raised at their Fox Run Farms facility at 124 N. Cleveland Street on the west edge of Brainard.

For a 12-week subscription between May and August, members are entitled to a weekly "Fox Box" containing a variety of fresh, chemical-free produce that the Baileys grow in three different gardens on three acres.

The Baileys sell their produce to individuals and businesses both locally and in Lincoln, with each subscriber choosing their own selection of food items they want boxed and delivered.

Among the approximate 30 types and varieties of vegetables and fruits that Fox Run Farms offers are beets, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, lettuce, radishes and tomatoes.

Fox Run offers its subscribers the option of either having the produce delivered to them or, as preferred by a few subscribers, being allowed to come pick it themselves.

Operating Fox Run Farms and its method of ag production is part livelihood, part rehab therapy and part family heritage for the Baileys.

Both Larry and Yolanda originally grew up in the big city environment of Philadelphia, but the couple have been equally as comfortable with rural life since first moving here following their marriage in 1981.

"Coming out here was a big culture shock for me," Yolanda said. "I had previously worked at a food co-op. I knew about food, but not about farming."

Family was what first brought the Baileys to Brainard. The ground that is Fox Run Farms was once tilled by Yolanda's grandparents, the late Bill and Bessey Kovar.

The farm was later handed down to her parents, Leo and Martha Kovar of Brainard. The farm has now been in the Kovar-Bailey family for about 113 years.

The Baileys have over time helped to operate and renovate the family farmstead. But when traditional farming methods proved financially difficult, the family had to find other employment elsewhere. For about 20 years, Yolanda worked as an accountant.

A near-tragic turning point for the couple occurred in 1999 when both were injured in a car accident while working on a ranch in eastern Colorado. As part of their healing from the accident, a decision was made to return to Brainard in 2001 and to take a different approach to operating the family's farm.

Seventy-three acres of Fox Run Farms are now rented out as traditional crop and pasture ground, with Larry having been hired to oversee it.

The remaining acres are devoted to the subscriber gardens and a vineyard.

"We originally started with an acre of grapes and then got into the vegetables," Yolanda said. For the past two years, the Baileys have harvested both red and white grapes for wineries located at Brainard, Central City and Lexington.

Assisting in the work at Fox Run Farms is the couple's daughter, Kirstin Bailey of Brainard, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate student and East Butler employee. Kirstin helps maintain the garden, makes deliveries and produces a weekly newsletter for subscribers that gives updates on the farm's activities and recipes for its produce.

The couple have three sons. Casey Bailey of Brainard serves as "right hand man" for garden production at Fox Run Farms. Two other sons reside in Lincoln, where Caleb Bailey is manager of the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra and Colton Bailey is an engineering student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

For as many garden products as it now offers, Fox Run Farms is still in a testing and development stage for other varieties of produce, Yolanda said.

"We're only interested in growing things that want to be here," she added. "We don't have time for them otherwise."

Since Brainard currently has no full-scale grocery store, the Baileys try to fill the gap by providing a weekly summer Farmers Market at their farm. Other ways in which they reach out to the community is by providing public tours of their garden operations.

Fox Run Farms also plans to partner with Region V Services on work needed to maintain a large pumpkin patch at the Brainard location. Region V clients will help maintain the patch, and in turn Region V will share in profits from pumpkin sales.

"We want to make it a food adventure for the clients," Yolanda said.

As an unusual side business to its produce, Fox Run Farms also offers "Bailey"s Bubbles." This is a party entertainment service in which Yolanda uses her own secret solution, developed over a 20-year period, to create very large soap bubbles comprised of unique shapes.

"Our business has created a lot of work, but it hasn't created jobs," Yolanda acknowledged. Fox Run Farms will likely continue to be a small family-operated business for the foreseeable future.

The Bailey family has no problem with this.

"We're fine with staying small so that we can treat our customers well," Yolanda said.

More information on Fox Run Farms, their ag products and subscriber services can be found at foxrunfarmsne.com.

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