All Grass Farms (formerly Barrington Natural Farms) is a diversified family farm located in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, just 45 miles from the highrise office buildings of the Loop.
Cliff McConville became interested in growing more of his own food in 2010 after watching the documentary Food Inc. and reading Omnivore's Dilemma, among other books documenting the deteriorating quality of conventional food and the toxic system raising it. At the time Cliff worked as an insurance executive in downtown Chicago.
In 2011, Cliff gave up his daily commute to downtown Chicago and began working out of a home office. With an extra 3 hours per day not spent commuting, he purchased four Angus beef calves and 25 Cornish Cross broilers and began rotational grazing on the 8.5 acres in the back yard. Eight Chester White pigs soon were roaming the woods near the house.
The first farm website was officially launched in January 2012, and demand for pastured eggs, chicken, pork, and beef quickly outstripped the production capacity of the backyard. We were fortunate to find 40 acres of vacant farmland available just 5 minutes away, owned by a real estate developer. Dubbed "the Ranch", this land had formerly been a part of a larger organic beef farm, so it was already setup for grazing with fencing, an old cow shed, and a well. The Ranch became home to our small herd of grass fed beef, and the 20 acres of overgrown woodlands on the property were soon occupied by our happy hogs.
After receiving numerous requests for raw milk from grass-fed cows, we setup a small milking operation in the barn on the home property in spring 2012 and began producing raw milk from two Guernsey cows. Requests for the raw milk grew rapidly, and within two years the back yard was occupied by nine Guernseys. We started looking for a new home for the milking operation in summer 2013, and after many meetings and hearings, we finally agreed to a long term lease for 150 acres of pastureland and a historic dairy barn located at the Brunner Family Forest Preserve on IL Rt. 31, just 10 minutes from our house.
The beautiful Brunner Barn, build in 1905, has not been used for dairy operations since the 1960s, so we had a lot of work to do in the summer and fall of 2015 to get it ready to move the dairy cows over for the winter. Once the barn renovations were complete, work began on the farm store attached to the Brunner Barn and it opened for business in May 2016.
Brunner Barn in summer 2015 - Fixing it up to get the cows moved over
Guernsey cows mowing our backyard - notice screened in porch to right