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Raise, Grow, Harvest, Eat, Repeat

A blog for growers, consumers, and backyard gardeners to grow, eat, and connect in the local food system.
Local Foods

Farmers Market Series: Determining the Need

After visiting a number of farmers markets this past summer, you may find that you are now thinking about starting your own in your community. Many towns and civic groups want to start a farmers market. They see that it could spur economic development, provide community pride and awareness, bring attention to the local foods community, among many other things it can do. Starting a farme...

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Wrapping Up the Summer Vegetable Garden

As summer comes to a close this Labor Day weekend, most of your summer crops are still going/growing strong. The Extension gardens in Jo Daviess, Stephenson, and Winnebago Counties are still producing tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and cucumbers with some fall plantings of cool season crops soon to happen. While our gardens are still active, you may have reached an end to your summer garden (or given u...

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PennyLateSummerFieldDays
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Late Summer Field Days: Recap

This year marks the third year that our offices have held the Late Summer Field Days. Each year since 2014, I have worked with a farmer in our area to showcase their farm and invite the general public out to visit. Unlike a farm tour, these field days have a set time and location. What I've enjoyed with these field days are the responses I get back from attendees: "I didn't know you could grow...

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Tomato Hornworm
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Monthly Report- July 2017

Pest Update As you know, July was extremely wet for us in Northern Illinois. This caused a lot of serious problems for some growers due to the amount of rainwater that we got in fits and spurts. Typically in the growing season, we need 1-1.5 inches of water a week. If your plants received too much, they may have shown wilting symptoms, a physical response to too much ra...

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Summer Vegetable Garden: Top 10 for Beginners

Many backyard growers tend to know how to grow vegetables and what they need to do. Others may be intimidated by getting started. I had a question last week if it was too late to start summer vegetables. Starting a vegetable garden and container gardening is quite easy and if all goes according to plan with warm weather and necessary rain, you'll be on a path toward success in your first gard...

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Sweet Potatoes: Right on Time

Commonly the question I get asked is if it's too late to plant sweet potatoes. Most of this comes from the fact that in Northern Illinois, we are planting potatoes around Easter, March-April. So gardeners tend to think that sweet potatoes should be planted with regular potatoes. That isn't the case of course. Sweet potatoes need to be planted after our frost free date which for us in Norther...

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Squash Blossoms: Something Else You Aren't Eating

Continuing what has become a series of eating things on a vegetable plant you didn't know you could eat, I wanted to profile squash blossoms. In the last couple of growing seasons, I've seen squash blossoms show up at farmers market stands. While you might think that the grower is sacrificing the squash blossom and now means that he/she will not get a squash/zucchini, this is not the case. A sq...

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Pretzel City Kitchens: What It Is and How You Can Help

In the last couple of months, we have been ramping up work on the planned commercial kitchen in Freeport. You can read about some of our activities here in the Journal Standard . Two public meetings were held in Freeport in January. We also visited the FEED Kitchens in Madison. Now known as Pret...

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Foodies and Farm Event

As fall comes in, you're probably done with your gardens and shutting them down. Perhaps you've spent all summer canning and preserving foods. Maybe you also planted some garlic recently. You also might be going to the farmers markets these last weeks and finally getting around to visiting the local orchards for their apples (and the apple cider donuts. It's okay. We eat them too). All of this...

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Recap of our Late Summer Field Days...so far!

If you've not gotten a chance to join us at our late summer field days this summer, you have certainly missed out. We've had two different field days so far this August. We had great turn out at both our IPM/Mixed Vegetable and Hops. Both of these gave new/experienced growers the opportunity to think more about what they are growing and how they are growing their crops especially when it came t...

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Webinar Announced for the new Farmers Market Regulations

In June, Governor Quinn signed into law HB5657 which modifies some of the farmers' market rules and regulations. New regulations included future streamlining of farmers market rules statewide, require a vendor to state the address where the vendor's products are grown, cap the fee a county health department can charge for a vendor registering their cottage food law operation and many other new...

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More Local than Local? Community Food Systems

Recently I was giving an opportunity to speak to a group of community economic development educators and stakeholders at a conference in Dubuque, Iowa. I was part of a mobile bus tour along with UW and Iowa State Extension where we took a bus to Hook's Cheese ( http://www.hookscheese.com/ ), Driftless Market ( http...

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The Blights of Summer

As I mentioned last week, I wanted to wait and talk about both Early and Late blights in a separate post as both of these can have serious consequences if they make it into your yard/operation. Late Blight is such an important disease that the USDA has a website for the mapping of Late Blight in the US ( www.usablight.org ). Not many plant diseases out there...

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The Faces and Places of Local Food in Northwest Illinois

  What perfect timing it was to begin the blog for local foods in Northwest Illinois then to also have a great overview of local foods and agriculture written up in the Rockford Register Star's Rockford River Valley Insider's Agritourism section on June 22 ( http://bit.ly/1lVIYOZ ). This special insert included articles on Farmers Markets, our Open Fiel...

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