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Starved Rock Lodge, Whiskey Acres harvest sweet corn for food bank

Volunteers stayed longer to pick corn for food bank

Nick Nagele (left front) along with  Bobby Riahi, Desiderata Ratajczak, Kathy Casstevens (left back), Jen Soberalski and Maureen Stabler picked alomst 65 dozen ears of corn Tuesday at Whiskey Acres in DeKalb that was then donated to the Northern Illinois Food Bank.
Nick Nagele (left front) along with Bobby Riahi, Desiderata Ratajczak, Kathy Casstevens (left back), Jen Soberalski and Maureen Stabler picked alomst 65 dozen ears of corn Tuesday at Whiskey Acres in DeKalb that was then donated to the Northern Illinois Food Bank.

DeKALB – Whiskey Acres got a little help this week when it was time to pick sweet corn, and it was from someone they've known a while. Employees from Starved Rock Lodge came up to the DeKalb County distillery to help with the harvest, then stayed a little longer to help a good cause.

Nick Nagele, co-founder of Whiskey Acres, said he was able to donate 13 burlap sacks of sweet corn to the Northern Illinois Food Bank after the Starved Rock Lodge team picked the ears.

"We've been partnering with them for a couple years," he said. Whiskey Acre products are featured at the bar. And while the lodge has featured the distillery's spirits for years, this year they decided they wanted some of the corn as well for their local fare menu. So Nagele said when the sweet corn was ready, he'd call them to help them pick it.

It was a longer wait than he'd anticipated.

"I planned on doing it the end of July," he said. But this year's weather complicated things, with a wet spring and early summer causing havoc with local farmer's planting schedules.

The picking began with a little lesson, as Nagele taught his volunteers how to select an ear of corn that was ready for picking: If they could wrap their thumb and middle finger around the ear, it's not quite ready, he said. Then, with a yank and twist, the ear should come of the stalk and they put it in a box.

But there was a cooler part to the day, Nagele aid.

After picking corn for Starved Rock Lodge, the volunteers stuck around another hour to pick corn for a donation. Nagele drove the 13 burlap sacks worth of sweet corn to the Northern Illinois Food Bank Tuesday. He said they've donated to the food bank in the past intermittently, but this was the first formal donation.

"Hopefully the first of many," he said.

Whiskey Acres grows all of its own corn to make its bourbon and rye whiskeys, Nagele said. Located at 11504 Keslinger Road, DeKalb, the farm has had guests from 40 states an d 50 countries, he said.

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