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Growing a New Generation of Illinois Fruit and Vegetable Farmers

Later this year all the materials we developed for this program will be made publically available on our website: Sometime later this fall we should know what (if any) programs in Illinois received grants and we will post that information as it is available.

Illinois non-profits that run ongoing farmer training programs include: Angelic Organics in Boone County and The Land Connection . Cornell University has a range of quality online courses You might also check with your local community college. In many cases our local foods educators could work with them to put an abbreviated curriculum in place. Should they have any questions please contact us for assistance.

Other programs of interest to small farmers are posted on the Illinois SARE calendar at and on a website maintained by U of I Extension’s Local Food Systems and Small Farms educators at

For social media updates, please keep an eye on our sites: / / and

Another resource that is available at no cost is the Illinois Fruit and Vegetable News newsletter. It is available at A link to the current issue is always provided at the top of the home page, and archived copies are available on the drop-down menu also near the top of the page. You can sign up for this newsletter sending an email to

Programs were offered in southern, central, and northern Illinois

Classes ran one Saturday a month from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm from December to November. Potential participants applied to one of three locations

(1) the University of Illinois Dixon Springs Agricultural Center in southern IL near Simpson
(2) the campus at the University of Illinois in Urbana
(3) at the Kane County Extension Office in St. Charles (in conjunction with the University of Illinois Horticulture Research Center nearby)


Year 1:     December, 2012 – November 2013
Year 2:     December, 2013 – November 2014
Year 3:     December, 2014 – November 2015

Instruction included …

  • land acquisition and transfer
  • business planning
  • legal issues
  • insurance
  • marketing
  • farm safety
  • food safety
  • Farm to School
  • equipment operation & safety
  • transplant production
  • high tunnel construction and operation
  • irrigation
  • soils and soil testing
  • cover crops and tillage
  • variety evaluations
  • pest and disease scouting
  • integrated pest management
  • pesticide application
  • pruning and thinning
  • harvest practices
  • postharvest handling
  • conventional and organic production methods
  • visits to established produce farms
  • discussions with experienced farmers
  • access to incubator plots

Read about some of the students from year one.
Press release

Questions?  Contact:   Dr. Richard Weinzierl   217-244-2126 or
Mary Hosier    217-333-7512

This project is supported by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant # 2012-49400-19565.