Welcome to the Local Foods blog for Northwest Illinois. My name is Grant McCarty and I am the Local Foods and Small Farms Educator for Jo Daviess, Stephenson, and Winnebago counties. This blog is set up to provide information on upcoming programs, resources, regional and national issues, and emerging topics for the area. I'll also be spotlighting an Insect of the Week that you should be on the lookout for in your backyard or operation. As you know with a local food system, it is all about connecting grower/producer with consumer and most cases we think solely of the farmers markets.

As I mentioned last week, I wanted to wait and talk about both Early and Late blights in a separate post as both of these can have serious consequences if they make it into your yard/operation. Late Blight is such an important disease that the USDA has a website for the mapping of Late Blight in the US (www.usablight.org). Not many plant diseases out there have their own website devoted to them!

Recently I was giving an opportunity to speak to a group of community economic development educators and stakeholders at a conference in Dubuque, Iowa. I was part of a mobile bus tour along with UW and Iowa State Extension where we took a bus to Hook's Cheese (http://www.hookscheese.com/), Driftless Market (http://www.driftlessmarket.com/), Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen (http://innovationkitchen.org/), and Dubuque Rescue Mission Gardens.

I apologize for the delay in getting back into the blogosphere. As most of you have dealt with this fall, there is unevenness. Some weeks are still allowing for tomatoes and peppers to cling on. Then the first very, very light snow mixture occurred in Freeport on Saturday, October 4. This week has been more mild with temperatures in the 50s and 60s so perhaps there has been a recovery on the part of your plants to still potentially yield this late in the fall.

To kick off Pest of the Week , let's talk about a pest that you may be seeing. This past week I visited a grower that while we were looking at their potato plants we came across juveniles of the Colorado Potato Beetle (CPB).

Image removed.

Source: NC State University

In the last couple of weeks, we've been experiencing a good amount of rainfall that has fulfilled most of our crops' water needs. This is in comparison to last year when we saw drought conditions at this time.

So you might think it's misguided for me to bring up irrigation management at a time when you are not irrigating. But things change fast especially with weather and could easily enter a drought period relying on irrigation. If we get drier and hotter weather, disease could become a serious problem.

In June, Governor Quinn signed into law HB5657 which modifies some of the farmers' market rules and regulations. New regulations included future streamlining of farmers market rules statewide, require a vendor to state the address where the vendor's products are grown, cap the fee a county health department can charge for a vendor registering their cottage food law operation and many other new rules. The full law can be found here.

One of the great programs that has happened for the last couple years has been our OpenFields Farm Tours. I was fortunate to move up here last year a week before this event. For me, it was a great way to see what the farms in our area grow and are dealing with. You don't get these opportunities often, folks.

This marks our 6th annual Openfields Farm Tour which is scheduled from Noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 21, and will feature farms and gardens throughout Winnebago, Stephenson, Boone, and McHenry Counties.