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Local Food Frontier

Follow the growing local movement in central Illinois from field to fork
Local Food Systems and Small Farms
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And the Golden Beet goes too…

University of Illinois Extension-Livingston, McLean & Woodford Local Foods & Small Farms Educator, Bill Davison is a 2016 recipient of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance's Golden Beet Award for Local Food Innovators. According to the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, "The Golden Beet Awards, now in their 6th year, are awarded by the Alliance to highlight progressive local food pract...

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Participatory Plant Breeding for Organic Staple Crops in Illinois

Participatory Plant Breeding for Organic Staple Crops in Illinois BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – A diverse coalition is working to rebuild a viable regional food system for staple crops in Illinois. The Grand Prairie Grain Guild began as a Facebook group sharing ideas about growing diverse varieties of small grains. Soon the members, comprised of Universi...

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More Illinois Farmers See Organic Production as a Way to Add Value

With more than $2 million in infrastructure development and investments, and in collaboration with researchers and professional corn breeders, the Grand Prairie Grain Guild is helping farmers in Illinois adopt more sustainable practices. A project of University of Illinois Extension, Local Food Systems Educator, Bill Davison, sees a variety of factors are coming together that will break through...

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Horticulture and Nature Gifts for the Holidays

"Do you have a plant nerd or 'hortiholic' on your buy-for list this holiday season? Here are some plant gifts that will lead them further down the rabbit hole into the wondrous world of horticulture," says University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator, Kelly Allsup. Make a succulent garden with your own personal touch. Buy a shallow pot that is no more than 3 t...

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University of Illinois Dining Services to Source More Local Foods

"The students want to know the story behind the food. Sales increase when there's a story behind a dish," said Dawn Aubrey, Associate Director of Housing for Dining Services, at a recent local food workshop at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. That is good news for Illinois farmers. College foodservice is the birthplace of food trends and increasing university student demand for l...

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Summer Series of Organic Grain Field Days, Part 2

Ag Lender Cites Organic Commodities as Less Risky than Conventional Changes to federal crop insurance over the past few years have put organic commodity growers in a territory that most conventional growers would envy: low risk to lenders. According to Richard Ritter of Flanagan State Bank, organic farmers are generating "more consistent income, more annual net income,...

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Summer Series of Organic Grain Field Days, Part 1

Interest in Organic Farming is on the Rise in Illinois Harold Wilken had been growing conventional grain for nearly 25 years when he decided to make a drastic change. It was 2003. The local food movement was in its infancy and organic foods were premium items found mostly at specialty grocery stores. Despite these challenges, Harold decided to begin to certify his land...

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Food Forest in Normal, Illinois Park Is an Illinois First

The food forest has taken root in Normal, the first of its kind in a municipal park in Illinois. A team of more than 75 volunteers, ranging from preschoolers to great-grandparents, planted 2,500 fruit trees, shrubs, cane fruits, perennial vegetables, herbs, and native prairie plants. A heavy mid-day rain sent a team of approximately 40 volunteers running for shelter before lunch; however, 25 vo...

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Spence Farm Chosen for Slow Food Almanac

  Spence Farm Chosen for Slow Food Almanac Slow Food International selected Spence Farm in Livingston County, Illinois to represent the United States in their yearly Almanac, which features one farm per country.   Settled in 1830, Spence Farm is the oldest family farm in Livingston County. Today the sixth, seventh, and eighth generation run the farm. These...

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Restoration Agriculture Workshop with Mark Shepard

I attended a Restoration Agriculture Workshop at Sun Dappled Farm in Farmington, Il on Saturday.  Mark Shepard from Viola, WI led the event.  Mark wrote the book Restoration Agriculture and has spent the past 20 years managing 100 acres of land using Agroforestry techniques coupled with livestock.  Mark's ideas are being tested by graduate students at the University of Illinois under the name Wood...

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Where are the farm kids in farm classes?

I help teach a class for aspiring fruit and vegetable growers once a month at the University of Illinois. Interestingly, the bulk of the students in the class did not grow up on farms. They are either from the city or a suburb. Clearly, everyone who wants to farm should be able to learn how to do it. However, it does raise the question: Where are the farm kids? As more opportunities open up for...

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Brown Golding Lettuce in a Low Tunnel
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Using Low Tunnels For Season Extension

Extending The Growing Season With Cold Hardy Vegetable Varieties and Low Tunnels in McLean County, Ill...

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