Focus

WILL - Focus - August 08, 2013

Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing

The laboratory seems worlds away from the farm, but according to Dr. Daphne Miller, they’re more closely connected than you  might think. This hour on Focus, Lisa Bralts talks with Dr. Miller about her argument that farming can teach us a lot about health.

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(Duration: 51:32)

Dr. Daphne Miller

A recipe for healthy soil is very much like a recipe for a healthy body. That’s according to author and family physician Dr. Daphne Miller. In her new book “Farmcology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing,” she argues that sustainable cattle ranching can teach us a lot of lessons about raising health kids and says that she can see connections between the way certain vineyards manage pests and how we treat and think about cancer. This hour on Focus, Lisa Bralts talks with Miller about her book and the farms she visited while writing and researching it. We’ll also hear about why she says drinking raw milk is having unprotected sex.

Do you see any parallels between farming and health? Let us know! Find us on Facebook or tweet us @Focus580.

You can read an excerpt of the book at the link below.

Categories: Agriculture, Health

WILL - Focus - August 06, 2013

Annie’s Project Turns 10

There are more women involved with the business of farming than ever before. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about “Annie’s Project,” a program designed by an Illinois woman in memory of her mother that works to empower female farmers.

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(Duration: 51:24)

Annie Kohlhagen-Fleck was working as school teacher when she met her husband Frank in the mid-1940’s. He was a farmer, and she spent her life from the time they married in 1947 until her death in 2007 caring for milk cows and chickens and raising her four children. She learned about farming, money management and crop insurance through trial and error, what her daughter Ruth Hambleton calls “the hard way” not having grown up on a farm or having access to resources to help guide her through the complicated world of crop insurance and bookkeeping.

In 2003, Ruth founded Annie’s Project, in honor of her mother, to help women learn to manage farming operations alongside other women.

This hour on Focus, we’ll hear from Ruth about Annie’s story, the project and how it’s helped empower more women to become stakeholders in agriculture. Stephanie Butcher, who manages the business for her family’s 2200 acre grain operation in Mt. Auburn, Illinois, also joins our conversation. She says taking Annie’s Project classes have been invaluable in helping her get involved with farming and learning about agriculture marketing and business. She took over the books and the business side of running her family’s farm in 2008 with her husband after enrolling in an Annie’s Project class. Even though she grew up on a farm, she says she didn’t learn anything about the business aspect of farming.

Are you a female farmer? What appeals to you about the farming lifestyle? How did you learn about life on the farm? We’d love to hear from you this hour. Find us on Facebook or send us a tweet @Focus580.

Categories: Agriculture

WILL - Focus - April 04, 2013

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Calling them unmanned aerial vehicles sounds just as scary as calling them drones, but what do we really mean when we talk about this technology? This hour on Focus, we talked about drones, how they are being used and how they’re not. We also heard from an Urbana man working to advance the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in journalism and to inspire high school students to study math and science.

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(Duration: 55:01)

an unmanned aerial vehicle

The technologies encompassed by the term “unmanned aerial vehicle” are vast and include everything from hobbyist drones that look like toy helicopters to units that are equipped with cameras and are being used to monitor crop damage. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Matthew Schroyer, a graduate of the UIUC who is also the founder of the Professional Society of Drone Journalists. We’ll talk with him about the things drones could help us do, and we’ll ask him about the privacy concerns the technology raises. Chris Anderson, CEO of 3D Robotics, former Wired editor and founder of the website DIY Drones and Nancy Cooke, Professor at Arizona State University and Science Director of the Cognitive Engineering Research Institute in Mesa, Arizona, also join us.

Watch a video of Matt explaining and flying his drone. 

 

 

Are you excited by the possibilities of this kind of technology? Or does it scare you? Why? Join our conversation. Post in the comments section below or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter @Focus580.


WILL - Focus - March 14, 2013

White Nose Syndrome Found in Illinois: Why it Matters

Do you drink tequila? Eat chocolate? Thank a bat. This hour on Focus, we talked about these notorious flying mammals, the role they play in our eco-system and why white nose syndrome is so scary.

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(Duration: 55:01)

Bats are notorious in popular culture, but they play a vital role in our eco-system. Of the more than 1,000 species that exist worldwide, 13 can be found in Illinois, and six of those species are now being threatened by white nose syndrome, a poorly understood disease that's responsible for mass die offs of hundreds of thousands of bats nationwide. During this episode of Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Ed Heske, a mammalian ecologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, a part of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois, about bats, why they’re important and why white nose syndrome is so scary, especially for farmers.


WILL - Focus - August 31, 2012

Farmers Markets

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(Duration: 55:01)

Janine MacLachlan, Food Writer, Blogger, and Founder of The Rustic Kitchen Cooking School

Lisa Bralts, Economic Development Specialist Director, Urbana's Market at the Square City of Urbana

Host: Craig Cohen

We can get our food from most anywhere – restaurants and grocery stores abound in most communities across the country. Even if you live in a small town, many food options are just a short drive away. But much of what we bring home from the grocery store – and much of what many restaurants (especially the fast food variety) serve is processed, pre-packaged, and probably not all that fresh.

And then there are farmer’s markets. Growers, producers and artisans bring fresh food from their local communities to such markets every week. And some consumers absolutely swear by various seasonal markets and farmstands.

Is the food really all that different? What controls are in place to ensure quality and freshness in farmer’s markets? How do you know you’re really getting the higher quality you pay for? And just what are the advantages for you, your family, and your community in seeing that such farmer’s markets succeed?

We’ll discuss the potential benefits of vibrant farmer’s markets for a community, and seek out your experiences shopping at them – or perhaps bringing your own fare to market, as we talk with Janine MacLachlan, a food writer, blogger and founder of The Rustic Kitchen Cooking School.  She’s the author of Farmers’ Markets of the Heartland. We’ll also be joined by Lisa Bralts, Economic Development Specialist Director for Urbana’s Market at the Square for the City of Urbana. She and Market at the Square are featured prominently in MacLachlan’s book.

This is a repeat broadcast from Wednesday, July 18, 2012, 10 am

Categories: Agriculture, Business, Food

WILL - Focus - July 31, 2012

The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change

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Most of Africa’s farmers are so poor they can’t grow enough to feed their families year round. In January of 2011 a group of Kenyan farmers decided to take a chance--joining the One Acre Fund, a social enterprise set up to help some of Africa’s most neglected people. The hope was that they could feed their families for the year, and have a bit left over to sell.  Roger Thurow brings us the story of a farm community on the brink of change, the subject of his book "The Last Hunger Season."

This is a repeat broadcast from Wednesday, May 30, 2012, 11 am


WILL - Focus - July 19, 2012

Finding Food in Farm Country

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(Duration: 50:24)

Dave Bishop, farmer, PrairiErth Farm

Terra Brockman, founder and executive director of the Land Connection, steering committee member of The Edible Economy Project

Kenneth Meter, MPA, President, Crossroads Resource Center (by phone)

Host: Kimberlie Kranich

Approximately 95% of the food we eat in Illinois, comes from someplace else.  The farmland in Illinois is some of the richest in the nation and the state’s economy is one of the worst. A growing number of people in central Illinois are working together to build clusters of regional food businesses to aid economic recovery and increase residents’ access to fresh food.  We’ll explore the idea of “local” foods as a strategy for economic recovery in Illinois and the nation and dig into specific efforts in central Illinois.

Categories: Agriculture, Food

WILL - Focus - July 18, 2012

Farmers Markets

Listen

(Duration: 51:20)

Janine MacLachlan, Food Writer, Blogger, and Founder of The Rustic Kitchen Cooking School

Lisa Bralts, Economic Development Specialist Director, Urbana's Market at the Square City of Urbana

Host: Craig Cohen

We can get our food from most anywhere – restaurants and grocery stores abound in most communities across the country. Even if you live in a small town, many food options are just a short drive away. But much of what we bring home from the grocery store – and much of what many restaurants (especially the fast food variety) serve is processed, pre-packaged, and probably not all that fresh.

And then there are farmer’s markets. Growers, producers and artisans bring fresh food from their local communities to such markets every week. And some consumers absolutely swear by various seasonal markets and farmstands.

Is the food really all that different? What controls are in place to ensure quality and freshness in farmer’s markets? How do you know you’re really getting the higher quality you pay for? And just what are the advantages for you, your family, and your community in seeing that such farmer’s markets succeed?

We’ll discuss the potential benefits of vibrant farmer’s markets for a community, and seek out your experiences shopping at them – or perhaps bringing your own fare to market, as we talk with Janine MacLachlan, a food writer, blogger and founder of The Rustic Kitchen Cooking School.  She’s the author of Farmers’ Markets of the Heartland. We’ll also be joined by Lisa Bralts, Economic Development Specialist Director for Urbana’s Market at the Square for the City of Urbana. She and Market at the Square are featured prominently in MacLachlan’s book.

Categories: Agriculture, Business, Food

WILL - Focus - July 17, 2012

A Family Farm: Life on an Illinois Dairy Farm

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(Duration: 55:01)

Robert L. Switzer, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry, University of Illinois

Host: David Inge

Over the past hundred years the United States lost two-thirds of its family-operated farms. We’ll bring you the story of one such farm as we talk with Robert Switzer, author of "A Family Farm." The book tells the story of life on a Northern Illinois dairy farm beginning in 1916, the time of the author’s grandparents. The story ends when the farm is sold in 1991. The author says millions of these stories, often sad ones, could be told, but they are rapidly being lost.

This is a repeat broadcast from Monday, May 07, 2012, 10 am

Categories: Agriculture, History

WILL - Focus - May 31, 2012

Insect Pests

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(Duration: 52:18)

If insects are causing problems at your house, we may be able to help.  Our guest will be Phil Nixon, extension entomologist at the University of Illinois. He’s been with us many times before to take questions on a wide range of pests, everything from ants and roaches to silverfish and centipedes: the common pests that cause problems in our homes and gardens. Sometimes the key is just trying to get along, but if it’s a bug you just can’t live with, Phil can tell you how to make it go away.


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