Plowing Ahead

 

Plowing Ahead: Portraits of Farming in east central Illinois explains historical trends and current farming practices and sheds light on the lives of farmers through stories of perseverance, hard work, and ingenuity.

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

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?