CORNELL, Ill. — For Erin Vogel, who works in one of the most dangerous parts of Chicago, her grandparents’ farm south of the city is a refuge. Now, it is also the unforgettable place where her fiancé proposed and where they will tie the knot in September.
Vogel has many job skills at I Grow Chicago in West Englewood, from teaching yoga to coaching urban farming for a group including children and grandparents. It is in a part of Chicago with dauntingly high poverty and homicide rates. There, one of the goals is simply “survival,” said Vogel, explaining why visits to the Livingston County farm mean so much.
“There I catch my breath,” she said.
Vogel, who grew up in Bloomington-Normal in Central Illinois, met her future husband, Eddy Mujica, nine years ago when they were both students at University of Illinois in Chicago.
Mujica quickly fell in love with the walnut farm of Jim and Dixie Vogel in Cornell, along with their granddaughter, and knew that was the place to pop the question.
“I knew it was her favorite place in the world,” Mujica said.
Vogel remembered often visiting the farm with her siblings as children, learning to respect nature and the walnut trees.
The “huge craft beer fans” chose a theme for their wedding: “Wooded Whimsy — with Beer,” she said.
“The farm decorates itself,” the bride-to-be said.
They will use many of the plants there as décor. Her grandmother, Dixie, planted sunflowers and is watching over the Queen Anne’s Lace, Black Eyed Susan and colorful chrysanthemums that will brighten the day. The décor will include some of the hops vines they grow on the farm for their craft beer.
“I was raised on a farm and lived there my younger life. We loved it in the country so much are thrilled that our grandchildren love it and want to come here to get married,” Dixie said.
The grandmother is having fun this summer looking around the farm doing lots of “someday projects” so they will be complete when company comes for the wedding. She has mowed the central area between the most mature walnut trees to envision the aisle for the wedding. The reception will be near the pond with a big tent.
“We’ll be dancing under the stars. I’m very excited,” the bride-to-be said.