A table with produce - corn, tomatoes, squash, eggplant, and other vegetables

Plowing Ahead

An unending sea of corn and soybeans lies only a few minutes outside any town in east central Illinois. Yet nearly all crops grown on these commodity farms are shipped away to be used on an industrial scale. At the same time, there are numerous small farms which stand in contrast to these massive operations by growing different types of crops and mostly selling locally.

What are the stories behind these small farms? How do the small farmers sell their goods and keep their businesses profitable, and how has this changed over time? How has the change in demand for organic produce modified the process of farming, especially at a local level? What challenges do small farmers face, and how have these problems changed over time? Where do small, local farmers sell their goods? How stable are these farmers' finances, and how has this changed? How has changing technology impacted small farmers?  What strategies do small farmers have for reaching out to the community and/or to one another? How do small farmers impact the local food supply system?


December 29, 2015

Distributing the Fruits of Labor

How do small-scale farmers get products from their fields to our plates? Local farmers talk about their involvements in farmers’ markets, food tours, and other areas of distribution.

Jeff Hake of the Land Connection in Champaign, Lorien Carsey of Blue Moon Farm in Urbana, Traci Barkley of Sola Gratia Farm in Urbana, Nicole Bridges of Prosperity Gardens in Champaign and Wes Jarrell of Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery in Champaign talk about how local farmers and their products reach and impact the community. Diverse interfaces including farmers’ markets, CSAs, food tours, and donations facilitate food distribution.


December 29, 2015

A Taste of Sustainability

How are local farms becoming more sustainable? Local citizens involved in farming describe the facets of their visions of sustainable farming.

Residents of central Illinois describe important aspects of building sustainable food systems. Lorien Carsey manages the organic Blue Moon Farm in Urbana; Shea Belahi owns Heirloominous Farm in Urbana; Cara Cummings is a director of the Land Connection in Champaign; Kevin Wolz is a PhD student studying agriculture and ecology at the University of Illinois; and Alisa DeMarco is a professional chef with Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery in Champaign.


December 29, 2015

Midwestern Traditions

How is conventional farming practiced in east central Illinois? The corn-and-soybeans farming that monopolizes our landscape has been transformed by GPS, drones, and other cutting-edge technologies.

Dale Stierwalt and Linden Warfel, long-time farmers of row crops in central Illinois, discuss conventional farming practices and how they have evolved over time including the introduction of technologies such as GPS, drones, and infrared cameras, all of which have revolutionized farming.


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