Larkins have been farming the area for six generations. Driven to immigration by the Irish Potato Famine, Patrick Larkin (b.1835) was drawn to the area by McLean County’s “drummer soil,” which is now considered to be the best in the world. He bought a farm in nearby Merna and raised his family there.

In 1927, Patrick Larkin’s grandson, John Patrick, decided to broaden the reach of Larkin farms beyond Merna and bought 140 acres north of Normal. He and his wife, Alta, grew alfalfa, corn, oats and wheat.

Children John Paul, Ray, Marilyn and Rita were raised on the farm as were a large population of chickens, shorthorn beef cattle, Duroc hogs and draft horses.

John Patrick’s son, John Paul, would eventually take over as caretaker. He and his wife Helen raised their children—Cathy, Theresa, John Paul II and Mary—on the farm, which was eventually repurposed into a full-time corn and soybean operation.

In the late 1960s, Interstate 55 was built along the farm’s southern border, and in the 1990s, Mile 1 of Interstate 39 was built along its western border. Eventually, McLean County saw it fit to rename the city road approaching the farm as “Larkin Lane” in honor of the family.

John Paul and his son, John Paul II, continue to work the land to this day. The farm serves as a gathering place for over 50 of John Paul and Helen’s children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

John Paul’s grandson, Charlie Larkin, grew up around the operations of the farm, and developed a love and passion for taking care of the land. A few years ago, he started raising laying hens for his own kitchen, and now maintains a flock of over 80 happy hens at Larkin Lane Farms. The hens provide the family and community with delicious, farm-fresh, cage-free, non-GMO eggs.

Charlie is proud to tend to his pampered “Above Normal” hens in their brand-new “Chicken Mansion” or in their luxurious Coop On Wheels. You can find him and his eggs every Saturday at the Downtown Bloomington Farmers’ Market on the Museum Square. You can also schedule a visit to meet the hens at the farm!

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