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Thanks for generous support from Farm Credit.

Growing a New Generation of Illinois Fruit and Vegetable Farmers Application

Aspiring farmers, new growers with less than 5 years' experience, and commodity farmers interested in diversifying to include fruit or vegetable production are invited to apply for our year-long training program.

In the fall of 2012, the University of Illinois began the first year of a 3-year project funded by the USDA NIFA's Beginning Farmer Rancher Development Program to increase the number of commercial fruit and vegetable farmers in Illinois.

We will provide year-long programs of classroom and hands-on in-field instruction on essential skills and information so that new growers have the knowledge to be successful fruit or vegetable farmers. High school and community college agriculture teachers also are invited to apply. There is no registration fee for participants who complete this program.

We will begin reviewing applications for year 3 on July 1, 2014.

When classes begin they will run one Saturday a month from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm from December 2014 to November 2015. Potential participants can apply 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)

Our Goals:

  • Increase the number of new farmers producing fruits and vegetables throughout Illinois and enhance the viability, profitability, and sustainability of new and beginning enterprises to meet increasing demand for local produce and contribute to local economies.
  • In a parallel program, assist a specific target audience – seasonal Hispanic farm workers – in beginning viable, profitable, and sustainable small produce farms.
  • Increase the expertise of university extension educators, high school and community college teachers, and educators in community organizations so they can better aid new farmers.

Programs will be offered in southern, central, and northern Illinois and will include …

  • 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

Contact Information

First Name />

Last Name />

Street Address />

City />

State />

ZIP />

County />

E-mail Address />

Daytime Phone />

Birth Date   /> Month (##)   /> Day (##)   /> Year (####)

Gender     />Male   />Female


If a business partner or family member will attend with you,
please list his/her name: />

How did you hear about our program?

Are you an:

/> Aspiring farmer?

/> Farmer with less than five years of experience?

/> Commodity farmer interested in fruit and vegetable production?

/> Teacher interested in improving their agricultural knowledge?

Program Location

Check which one of our program locations you wish to attend:
/> Dixon Springs, Southern Illinois
/> Urbana, Central Illinois
/> St. Charles, Northern Illinois


Please check your highest level of formal education and indicate your major or discipline:

High School Diploma />

Some College />

Bachelor's Degree />   Major or discipline? />

Graduate Degree />   Major or discipline? />

Farm Experience and Interest

Are you currently farming independently or working
on a farm?   /> Yes   /> No

How many years of commercial fruit or vegetable farming
experience do you have? /> years

Briefly describe your experience in farming

Briefly describe what you want to learn in this program.

What crops are you most interested in producing commercially?

Are you a teacher taking this class to enhance your teaching skills? /> Yes   /> No

Do you...
/> own farm land?
/> plan to buy farm land?
/> plan to rent/lease farm land?

Will you need help/guidance in acquiring land
on which to farm? /> Yes   /> No

How many acres do you hope to farm (in fruit and/or vegetable production)? /> acres

What portion of your household income do you plan to generate from commercial sales of fruits and vegetables?
/> 0-20 percent
/> 21-50 percent
/> 51-80 percent
/> 81-100 percent

Please choose one of the following:
/> I/we plan to establish a certified organic farm
/>I/we plan to use sustainable practices but not establish a certified organic farm

Indicate the way(s) in which you envision marketing the produce you will grow (check all that apply):
/> on-farm market (roadside stand)
/> farmers' markets
/> CSA
/> directly to restaurants
/> directly to grocery stores
/> directly to schools
/> produce auctions and other wholesale markets
/> through grower co-ops
/> Internet sales
/> Other (please specify) />

Please rate your aptitude/experience/knowledge of the following topics...

Farm business planning

Operation of farm equipment

Employee / labor supervision

Capacity to do physical labor

Soils and soil fertility


Horticultural practices

Pest management

Pesticides and application

Postharvest handling

Food safety


Internet and social media

Additional Comments?


We will hold monthly sessions, from 9 am to 4 pm, from December through November.

If you are selected as a participant, we will require a $300 deposit, fully refundable if you attend at least 10 of the 12 sessions and make-up required work for any absences.