Skip to main content

Local Foods and Small Farms

Our local food system through the eyes of bread

One recent Saturday morning, I awoke to an amazing aroma coming from my kitchen. It was slightly sweet, yeasty, and tangy, all at once. The smell was like being wrapped in a warm blanket on a cold night. My wife had just baked bread from the dough I made the day before, and it was time to eat—...
Finish this story

Interesting and Brief: A History of Apples & Their Uses

When local orchard branches are laden with delicious jewels of fruit, the apple season has arrived. Before sinking your teeth into this year’s harvest, consider the rich history of this commonplace fruit. When planting America’s roots in the colony of Jamestown... John Smith was pleasantly...
Finish this story
green-blue oat grass with oats maturing

Let plants do the work, it's time to plant fall cover crops

Illinois vegetable growers are entering the toughest six weeks of the year. Despite the seasonal demands, soil health depends on timely planning of a fall cover crop. A fall cover crop is planted in August, grows in fall, and terminates after several hard frosts in winter. Why plant a fall cover...
Finish this story
Tomato plant with yellow flowers

Your patience has paid off, plant tomatoes and peppers now

In late May and early June, folks worry it is too late to plant warm-season crops like tomatoes and peppers. Plant now, the timing is perfect for rapid root establishment and healthy plant growth. With an average high of 76ºF and an average low of 55ºF, chilly nights (temperatures less than 50ºF)...
Finish this story
Green, red and white tomatoes

Local farmers rely on you this spring 

A full return to farmer's market season is upon us. Producers have faced many hurdles in the past few years; they are relying on your support to stay in business. This article is a refresher to local farmer’s markets in McLean county, in case you have fallen out of the loop in recent years. Here...
Finish this story
A single ripening asian pear hangs among green leaves.

Add Agroforestry Plants to Your Garden

I don’t know about others, but I myself am fighting a case of the winter blues. My happy place is in the garden, looking at my growing plants—not snow! As you daydream about your spring and summer garden, consider planting some unorthodox plants that are fueling a growing agricultural trend in the...
Finish this story
bush bean seeds in hand

Order your seed catalogs now; plan better for next year

Here we are, knee-deep in the holidays, and our gardens have finally been tucked in for the long winter nap. It’s a time of year many growers look forward to, a time to finally put up their aching feet, assess how the growing season went, reflect on successes, failures and what to do better next...
Finish this story
Stacked pumpkins in front of a hay bale

Choose local foods this Thanksgiving

Celebrating the year’s crops with a Thanksgiving feast has been a tradition for over 400 years. Likely in 1621, individuals fed their families and communities by growing vegetables in the field. This past summer, Illinois residents went to farmer's markets despite pandemic conditions as America...
Finish this story

Put your garden to bed with fall/winter cover crops!

Like it or not, fall and winter will be here before we know it! During the off-season, too many gardeners leave their vegetable or flower gardens bare over winter. This can cause major problems for the following growing season, especially an invasion of winter weeds and erosion of high-quality...
Finish this story
Oats, Outi Mähönen, via Unsplash

Spring cover crops help start the season weed-free

Do you struggle with weed control in the spring before planting your summer garden? Does your garden lose topsoil after a heavy rain due to slope? Would you like to improve soil structure and add organic matter to your garden? Backyard cover cropping is for you! At the time of...
Finish this story

CSA: What is it, and why should I care?

We have enjoyed some pleasant weather recently, and it makes me think on the coming growing season, and the abundant locally produced fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, cut flowers and everything else available at farmers markets. However, there is another way to get some of these goodies for you...
Finish this story
black currants

Black currant: growing favor for a blast of flavor.

With the end of winter near, it’s time to start planning for the garden season. At the outbreak of COVID-19 last year, many people attempted to grow some of their own food, re-popularizing the concept of WWII “victory gardens.” Increase your victory garden growing capacity by planting some black...
Finish this story
Epiphany farms owner Ken Myszka speaks into microphone

Ephiphany Farms brings 'farm to fork' to backyard gardeners

He’s not just a restaurateur, nor just a farmer, nor just a chef, nor just an entrepreneur. He’s an influencer of sustainable eating. He wants to change the world, one delicious plate at a time. Ken Myszka, owner and operator of Epiphany Farms Hospitality Group, runs four celebrated restaurants in...
Finish this story