Asparagus background. White and blue text box with 2020 Small Farms Winter Webinar Series.

DECATUR, Ill. — During winters, farmers may not be out in their fields, but that doesn’t mean they are taking a break. Starting in January, University of Illinois Extension is providing a weekly educational webinar series for the small farm community. This online series will provide small farm producers practical knowledge on the leading practices in emerging topics which advance local food production.

The webinars are free and will be noon to 1 p.m. on Thursdays. They are available to the public to view remotely online from the comfort of home or anywhere with internet access. Sign up online at by the day before the class. Participants will receive a confirmation email with webinar connection details and session handouts.

  • Asparagus Production and Marketing, January 30 – Asparagus is an excellent crop for a small farm operation. It is one of the few perennial vegetable crops out there and once established, it can be productive for many decades. The quality of fresh, local asparagus makes it reasonably easy to develop marketing opportunities. This webinar will cover the basics of establishment, maintenance, harvest, and marketing.

  • Farm Stress and Impact on Health, February 6 – Farmers experience tremendous amounts of stress. Chronic stress can have negative effects on one's physical and mental health. Participants will identify the signs and symptoms of chronic stress, or distress and evidence-based strategies to reduce stress and improve overall health.

  • Updates on Industrial Hemp in Illinois, February 13 – Extension Educator Phillip Alberti will discuss the potential and challenges of this new crop.

  • Soil Organic Matters, February 20 – Organic matters are plant or animal-based products that, when added to the soil, contribute to physical, chemical, and biological properties. The most common ones are manure, leaf litter, cover crops, and compost. By adding different organic matters to the soil, farmers can address soil health problems in both the short and long term. This webinar will help you decide which organic matters to use, how they contribute to the soil, impact soil biology, and add to soil nutrient cycles.

  • Saturated Media Extract, February 27 – For decades the Saturated Media Extract (SME) test has been a routine method used for greenhouse bench crops growing in soil-less mixes and also in irrigated arid production systems. Many protected culture growers and high compost input farmers grow in media or soil that can exhibit very high nutrient levels above the capacity of the soil or media to retain those nutrients. SME represents an option to monitor and manage nutrients at the water-soluble level.

  • Selling through Food Hubs and Co-ops: A Grower’s Perspective, March 5

  • Getting Started in Drip Irrigation, March 12 – Water management is a key component in maximizing yields of specialty crops. Join Bronwyn Aly, Local Foods Systems and Smalls Farms Educator, as she discusses the basics of setting up a drip irrigation system.

  • The Basics for Goats and Sheep, March 19

The Local Food Systems and Small Farms program is a branch of University of Illinois Extension that provides research-based information about agriculture health and safety, environmentally and economically sound pest control and improving profitability and sustainability. Follow Educator Doug Gucker on Twitter.

University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please call (217) 877-6042.

Register Online


Doug Gucker
Extension Educator, Local Food Systems and Small Farms
Macon Extension Office
3351 N. President Howard Brown Blvd., Decatur, IL 62521
(217) 877-6042