Sarah Farley serves as the Local Food Systems and Small Farms Extension Educator in Lake and McHenry Counties. In her role, Sarah develops and delivers research-based programs to growers, collaborates with community partners and coalitions, and extends University resources to meet the needs of those involved in the local food system. Since joining the University of Illinois Extension in August 2020, Sarah’s key programs focus on community compost and food waste reduction, soil health, and food access. She also provides expert assistance to small farmers and nonprofits.
Sarah collaborates on a number of multistakeholder projects including Building a Culture of Composting in Greater Chicagoland, McHenry County Farm Stroll, co-chairs the Stateline Fruit and Vegetable Conference, and co-leads the Zion Healthy Together Project. She also serves on the McHenry County College Center for the Agrarian Learning Industry Council, McHenry County Healthy Living Coalition (MAPP), Zion Coalition for Healthy Communities, and is Vice President of the Illinois Extension Agricultural Association (IEAA).
Prior to moving to Illinois, Sarah served as an Extension Educator in Pennsylvania and Virginia. She has a myriad of professional experiences including agriculture entrepreneurship, livestock and crop production, sales and marketing, risk management, positive youth development, and farm financial management. She has also contributed countless hours of service as a grant writing and food pantry garden volunteer with the Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati, organic farm volunteer with WWOOF Argentina, and a 4-H volunteer leader with Virginia Cooperative Extension.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Sarah Farley earned a bachelor’s degree in Animal Sciences, Agribusiness Management at Penn State, and a master’s degree in Agriculture and Life Sciences from Virginia Tech. Sarah’s enthusiasm for agriculture is long-standing, rooted in her connection to the family farm, projects and experiences as a 4-H alumna, and notable mentors and teachers to whom she will always be grateful. In her free time, Sarah enjoys traveling, hiking, biking, gardening, and exploring local restaurants and coffee shops.