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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.

Local Events and Webinars

Find out more information about events happening in your area or events you can attend online from the comfort of your home.
Peaches grow on a tree

Tree Fruit Sustainable Living Series

Bronwyn Aly, Local Food Systems and Small Farms Educator, will highlight different tree fruit varieties and discuss tree care and maintenance practices to optimize fruit yields. Learn how to get the most out of growing fruit trees in your backyard
Various cuts of meat arranged together

Selling Meat in Illinois Webinar

While having the skills to raise your livestock is important, another crucial piece is determining how you will market and sell your meat. Join us on Thursday, February 29 at 6 p.m. for "Selling Meat in Illinois."
Photo of a person standing in a wheat field.

Legal Training for Illinois Small Farms web series

University of Illinois Extension partners with Farm Commons for a four-part quarterly webinar series, “Legal Training for Illinois Small Farms,” featuring topics around legal questions for all Illinois farmers.

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. 

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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.

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Private Pesticide Applicator Training

Training modules to prepare for the private applicator test

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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.

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Illinois Agritourism

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