Kamp’s Orchards owners and vendors Greg and Agnes Kamp have been married for 52 years. After inheriting their farm from Agnes’ parents, the couple decided to turn it into an orchard, Mrs. Kamp said.
“We planted it over 30 years ago,” she said. “Of course they aren’t all the same trees, we’ve taken them out and replaced them over the years.”
The first thing you’ll see when you drive up to the orchard on Auer Road in Golden Eagle, IL is what Kamp calls the “pole building.”
“That’s where we start the peaches, and it’s where people can come see them on display,” she said. “We also have vegetables and fruits for sale, as well as pickles and preserves.”
Perfect Peaches and More
There’s a reason the peaches that come from Kamp’s Orchards are so highly sought-after.
“It’s the ground,” Kamp said. “It’s the clay hillsides. That’s what we were told by an extension advisor years ago.”
She said that part of the land is also used for gardens for farming various vegetables and fruits.
Kamp said that most of the time, on-site customers can purchase tomatoes, peppers, squash and pickles, but some of the produce isn’t available yet this year.
“It’s a bad year on vegetables due to the extreme heat,” said Greg Kamp. “This is too long of a drought for this season.”
“Maybe if it cools off, it’ll do better,” added his wife.
Meet the Kamps
Greg and Agnes Kamp were married in 1940, and when Patch asked the secret of such a long and successful marriage, Mrs. Kamp offered a single piece of wisdom.
“I guess you put up with one another,” she said.
The couple has four adult children and seven grandchildren, and while all her kids have their own homes, they help around the orchards when they can.
“When they’re not working, my kids come home,” Mrs. Kamp said. “Not all the time, but they help when they do.”
She said one son even comes from Georgia a few times each peach season and spends about 10 days helping on each trip.
“My daughters and granddaughters work in the shed sorting peaches,” she said. “They’ll help on weekends.”
Mr. Kamp spent 37 years doing shift work with Laclede Steel in Alton before retiring in 1997.
“He retired, and a couple of years later, they went bankrupt,” Mrs. Kamp said. “We lost our insurance and everything, and now we’re paying $10 or $11 thousand a year.”
She added that a lot of farmers are in the couple’s predicament when it comes to health insurance.
“The older they get, the more they pay,” she said.
See You at the Market
The Kamps have been going to the Clayton Farmers’ Market since it was first opened.
“I was asked to come that first year, and we’ve been coming ever since,” Mrs. Kamp said. “That was our first market.”
In addition to the Clayton Market, Kamp’s Orchards peaches and produce can be found at a few other area markets.
“We also go to Ferguson, and my son goes to Webster Groves on Thursday nights,” she said. “And my daughter goes to the Highland (IL) market on Thursday nights.”
She said that in addition to peaches, she often brings nectarines and blackberries to the Clayton market.
“And if they don’t freeze out, we have plums,” she said. “Once in a great while I might bring tomatoes, but there are so many others who bring them, so it’s not too often.