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Woman smiling and standing in greenhouse where fresh produce is grown.

From Orphan to FarmHer Surrounded by Family

Anya Irons is a FarmHer who was raised in a Russian orphanage from 5 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 her 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.

Woman standing in flower field holding fresh picked red, yellow, and purple flowers grown on her family farm.

The first time I visited Anya was a few years ago. I stopped at the family’s Central Illinois farm. It was a crisp but sunny early spring day.  Anya met me in the driveway.   We started out the day in one of the many greenhouses on the farm. 

Another Generation of Farming Continues in the Family

There she explained that after being adopted into the family at age 15, she really took to the garden. This is where the family raises 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 schoolwork but learning the completely new and foreign language of English. 

She gradually pushed the Ioerger (pronounce yayger) family, and especially her dad, Lowell, to expand the garden. 

Hands holding a fresh picked red flower grown on a family farm.

After high school, Anya knew her future was on the farm. She enjoyed 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. The produce ranges anywhere from asparagus to squash out in the fields. 

Expansion on the Family Farm

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.  

On my first trip there we spent most of our time in the greenhouses because nothing was growing in the fields yet.  Anya had me so curious about seeing the rest of the farm that I just had to go back. 

Woman hugging two young girls who are her family members in a greenhouse.

Round two at Ioerger farms landed in the late summer when her flowers were at their finest. 

Yet again, a smiling Anya met me in the driveway, and this time we headed straight to the field.  Row after row of strikingly beautiful and bright flowers met us.  Anya described each one with ease.  She not only sells the flowers at farmers’ markets but also wholesale to flower shops and today was picking flowers for an order. 

I could have stayed in the field photographing for hours. But the work of a FarmHer never stops, so off we went. 

Farm Fresh Flower Arrangements

Back up at the shop, Anya surprised me with a quick flower arranging lesson.  The most exciting part was seeing piles of absolutely gorgeous flowers spread out, just waiting to create a masterpiece.  I had so much fun putting together an arrangement with Anya!  

Fresh flower arrangement with pink flowers and greenery grown on a family farm.

Just like my first trip to meet Anya, my second trip made my heart happy to watch Anya with her family and flowers.  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 half a world away, at home in the Midwest dirt.

4 thoughts on “From Orphan to FarmHer Surrounded by Family

  1. Wonderful story! Anya is a very hard working young lady. We enjoy the fruits of her labor. My grandchildren look forward to our weekly trips to the Ioerger Farm.

  2. Where can I buy some seed for her “brain flowers” as she called them, for my daughter?
    So interesting. I think Felucia flower

  3. Just saw this program on RFD TV. This story is genuinely wonderful to see how one good family that reach out to give Anya a chance has made a real difference to many others.

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