Jessica Toevs of Prairie Creek Homestead lives on a 3-acre homestead in Kansas with her husband and two kids. Her husband is a farmer on his family’s farm that has been in their family for 5 generations. Jessica is an incredible gardener and cook, and she has so much knowledge about preserving and preparing homegrown food. I found Jessica through Instagram, and she provides so many helpful tips about gardening, canning, cooking from scratch, and homesteading. Keep reading to learn more about Jessica’s story and her advice for moms who want to start homesteading with young kids!
Tell me about yourself and your family.
I’m Jessica Toevs! I grew up in a family with 2 older brothers. I enjoy reading, being outside, and spending time with my family. Also, I loved to play sports growing up. It earned me a scholarship to play volleyball in college. I attended and played at Tabor College, where I met my now husband, David. We farm outside of Whitewater, Kansas and have 2 kids–Judah, 6, and Malia, 3. I work part time as a Graphic Designer in Wichita, Kansas.
What are you passionate about and why?
In a world filled with so many wonderful things, it’s hard to pick a few, but I am passionate about my family, books, food, traveling, history, and volleyball.
My #1 priority is my relationship with God, who gave me these blessings and passions. I love my family, I cannot imagine life without my grandparents, parents, siblings, husband and children. One of my favorite quotes is by Mother Theresa- If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.
I LOVE to read. It stems from a genetic hearing disorder I was born with. I am dependent on hearing aids to hear properly, and growing up I was more comfortable being able to read words rather than try to hear them. I practiced reading aloud to myself to improve my speech, and in the process fell in love with the stories. I’d dream of having my own library someday, and while it’s currently splayed throughout my home (we turned the dedicated library into Judah’s room) I have accumulated roughly 1,000 books.
Food is definitely a passion instilled through my grandmother. She made delicious food, especially around the holidays and Sunday family dinners. It’s also a dependency for my family. We live 25 minutes from the nearest grocery store, so cooking is something I practice several times a day! I like to occasionally get creative and try new recipes.
Travel + History
I desire to travel and see the world some day. This ties in with my passion for History. I intended to attend Base Institute out of high school and pursue a degree in archeology. When I began researching I discovered they didn’t have a volleyball program, and also it is difficult to balance a home/family life as a female archeologist. I knew I wanted to be married with children someday, and chose to take a different path in life.
Finally, volleyball. I spent 16 years of my life playing it, and 7 seasons coaching it. While I played many other sports, volleyball had my heart! I loved the life lessons learned and relationships built. I have memories from it that will last forever.
What are your top values?
God, family, hard work, courage, integrity, grace, and love.
Did you grow up homesteading or farming?
My dad got out of farming 3 years before I was born, and he came from a long line of farmers. While I never lived on the farm, my mom and grandma did several homesteading practices, like gardening, canning, sewing, practicing good stewardship with money and possessions etc.
Can you share about your family’s farm and the story behind it?
My husband’s great grandfather Jacob Toevs came to America from Prussia, with the Mennonites fleeing religious persecution. They settled in Kansas and began farming, bringing with them a hard red wheat variety from Prussia, which they still grow today. David is a 5th generation farmer on 1,000 acres. They grow wheat, corn, soybeans and triticale. They also have cattle. He works the farm with his father and brother. David took over his late uncle’s hay farm as well (the hay farm house is the original Toevs’ homestead house, where Jacob Toevs and his family lived), supplying hay for other farmers and several zoos in Kansas and the surrounding states.
What are some misconceptions people have about homesteading?
It is a simpler way of living, and often others can view people who live this way as simple-minded. I find this to be untrue–it takes being knowledgeable in many subjects [and] a driven mind interested in learning, to do what we do. My in-laws are incredibly intelligent, loving people. Out here, neighbors take care of each other, and it’s a beautiful community. Farming and homesteading go hand in hand, and these small families and hard workers are the backbone of every society.
Homesteading also doesn’t mean having to do it ALL. I don’t sew all my clothes from scratch, and I don’t own chickens (although I wish I did lol). You can homestead on 1 acre or 100 acres!
Why is homesteading important to you?
In Genisis God charged Adam to care for the land and animals. I’d like to do the same! One of my favorite Bible verses is Paul’s charge to the church of Thessalonica:
…and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. – 1 Thess. 4:11-12
How did you learn to cook?
Watching my mom and grandma! And of course practice in the past decade of marriage.
What is your favorite recipe?
This is REALLY hard. I would probably say my grandmothers casepierogi (it means cheese purse in German, it is like a filled dumpling) or cranberry apple pie (recipe below).
How do you approach cooking/meal planning during the week?
I usually rotate through our favorite 20 meals, it varies depending the season, if it’s harvest or planting I adjust to do recipes to feed several farmers at a time. I don’t usually meal plan, but I am working on getting better at that! We butcher our own beef and pork, so we eat that throughout the year. We eat the canned and frozen produce from the garden until we run out.
Advice for homesteading moms with young kids who want to garden, can, and cook from scratch?
Give yourself Grace! When they are young you can feel overwhelmed and like you aren’t accomplishing much. Like in life, there are different chapters to homesteading. Tackle what you can, and when a project doesn’t come to fruition or get completed, remember there is grace for the day and new morning mercies.
How do you involve your children in homesteading?
They love to be in the garden, helping me pick or weed! They also like being in the kitchen measuring ingredients and mixing everything. I think it’s important to verbally instruct when you can. My oldest asks a lot of questions about the what and how and why of everything he sees. Lean into that curiosity, both by answering questions for your kids and then also asking them questions, building critical thinking into our little ones!
What is your favorite thing to grow and preserve? Why?
Corn. I love fresh corn on the cob, you can’t beat it. Store bought corn is mundane compared to fresh from the garden. Can I change one of the “things I’m passionate about” answers to corn?
Why do you think preserving generational skills and homesteading are important?
It’s easy to take things for granted in our microwave society. We live in a country of convenience, and it didn’t come without cost.
You can’t know where you are heading if you don’t know where you’ve been! When we forget the past generations, whether it’s their skills, triumphs, or failures, we can find ourselves without moral direction, without purpose or unity or hope. Is that a dramatic answer? It is. I’m just looking around today’s culture and observing.
Where can we find your recipes + homesteading advice?
You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, and my website:
Website – www.prairiecreekhomesteading.com
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