Morton farmer feeding central Illinois amid pandemic

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MORTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Even with early mornings and scorching heat, one Morton man is finding the farming process rewarding as he feeds central Illinois.

“My hobby turned into more of my job,” Nick Roth laughed.

Every day, you’ll find the Morton native tending to his fruits and vegetables including tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers, green beans and sweet corn. As the owner of Roth Countryside Produce, and an agriculture major, Roth is no stranger to the hard work that comes with farming.

“Our family has always farmed corn and soybeans and some livestock and I just decided to try something different,” said Roth.

After a 10-year-long stint in insurance, Roth decided to return to his roots.

“The farming is in your blood. It’s hard to get away from it,” he said.

Roth started the business in 2006, following his passion for farming.

“I love growing the produce. I love starting the plants from seed. I love watching them grow and nurturing those plants and then having a marketable product during the season,” Roth said.

Fast forward to 2020, he said he never could have anticipated the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was nervous at first when this was all happening. Luckily with ag being essential, I knew I’d at least be able to market my product when it was ready.”

nick roth

Roth’s Countryside Produce was already closed to the public for the season when the fallout from the pandemic hit. But ever since Roth reopened the business for strawberry season, he’s seen strong demand.

Roth said, “I think people are excited to get out and buy something fresh after being held up inside for a while and I think they really like the fact that their produce is coming straight from our farm to them. There’s less hands touching that produce.”

And while Roth said he never expected to go into business for himself, he’s very glad he did.

“I love doing it. I just have a passion for doing it.”

nick roth

Roth said his team will continue following the state’s guidelines at farmers markets. They will be wearing masks and rubber gloves, and not allowing customers to pick their own produce.

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