Photo of local foods educator teaching children in garden
Local Food Systems and Small Farms

Americans have never been more interested in understanding where their food comes from and how it was grown and prepared. From the use of pesticides during the growing season to the practice of composting food waste, there is a lot of information available through Illinois Extension that provides insight into how fruits, vegetables, and food products move through their life cycle. The Local Foods & Small Farms program provides resources to help consumers and producers better understand their role and responsibilities within the local food movement.

Summer Events

Find out more information about summer events and on-site programs.
Raw steaks on a platter.

Cattle and Hog Production and Customer Processing

Illinois Extension educators are teaming up with Legacy Meats LLC in Sumner, Illinois, to kick off the summer twilight series and share information about high-quality cattle and hog production and custom processing.

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Large Mouth Bass jumping from water.

Largemouth Bass and Diverse Row Crops Farm

McLane Farms is a 3,000-acre diverse farming operation. Mitchell and Amy McLane, along with their children raise corn, soybean, sorghum, and rice and have several ponds where they produce upwards of 75,000 pounds of largemouth bass yearly

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Flowers in a field.

Cut Flower Farm and Market

Blessed Blooms is a cut flower farm providing fresh, locally grown flowers for events and everyday enjoyment. Middle school principal by day and a flower farmer by night, April Smith has turned growing flowers into a business, sharing her flower farm experience with others.

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Ears of partially shucked corn in a row.

Intensive Vegetable Production, Processing, and Freezing

Sunnybrook Gardens is a local family-owned and operated specialty crop farm growing fruits, vegetables & flowers. After more than 30 years in the coal mines, Mike Huff retired and made his favorite hobby (gardening) his new career. After taking the beginning farmers course at the University of Illinois Dixon Springs Agricultural Center to learn to grow fruits and vegetables on a larger scale, he teamed up with his son, Brandon, and opened Sunnybrook Gardens in 2004.

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Tomatoes growing in a high tunnel.

High Tunnel Production Field Day

More Illinois specialty crop growers are planting in high tunnels to benefit from the extended growing season, increased crop diversity, higher yields, and improved quality. But high tunnels come with their own unique challenges including deciding on layout and structural design, managing insect pests, balancing fertility needs, and more. Come for a walk through the high tunnels at the Dixon Springs Agricultural Center on July 16th at 6:00pm. There is no cost to attend but registration is required.


Dixon Springs Agricultural Center


The Dixon Springs Agricultural Center was established in 1934 near Simpson in Pope County. It is the largest experiment station of its kind east of the Mississippi River. DSAC links the laboratories and classrooms of University of Illinois and the USDA with the farms in Southern Illinois. Researchers at DSAC coordinate their programs to meet the needs of area farmers.

Learn more about Dixon Springs Ag Center and information about ongoing Ag research in Southern Illinois here:

Quick Links

Picture of a farm with red bards at sunset.

Local Food Systems and Small Farms YouTube Channel

The Illinois Local Foods YouTube channel houses information from Illinois Extension educators on small scale commercial production and management of specialty crops and livestock. With a wide range of topics, this channel is an excellent resource for both beginning and established farmers as well as backyard hobbyists looking to expand their knowledge in the production of food. 

Photo of cupcakes

Be a cottage food seller

Whether for a hobby or as a career, selling food grown or made in your home carries endless possibilities for enjoyment and profit. It also carries substantial responsibilities for the safety of the public who purchases and consumes your food products. Major changes took effect January 1, 2022 in the Cottage Food Operation Law's Home-to-Market Act. Illinois Extension is your guide to operating within the new regulations. Outshine the rest and grow your home-based business. 

Photo of row crops in a field


Get binge-worthy research updated and best management practices about Illinois row crops. CropFlix is streamable content for row crop producers, advisers, and agronomists who want to improve their cropping systems and earn CEUs. These sessions provide research updates and best management practices for row crop production in Illinois.

Photo of a sprayer in a field

Private Pesticide Applicator Training

Training modules to prepare for the private applicator test

Photo of a Strawberry plant

University of Illinois Plant Clinic

Plant disease and injury can be costly. The Plant Clinic provides solutions to what's attacking the health of your plants. We provide plant and insect identification; nematode assays; diagnosis of injury from disease, insects, weeds, and chemicals; and help with nutrient-related issues.

Photo of a combine harvesting corn.

Agriculture Safety and Health

The Agricultural Safety and Health program seeks to provide research-based information and resources that assist individuals and organizations in the understanding and prevention of injury and illness while working in and around Illinois agriculture.

Photo of kids puliing a wagon with pumpkins through a patch.

Illinois Agritourism

Resources for businesses that market farm-raised or produced products and outdoor experiences.