September 22, 2010

Funds will expand the availability of fresh, locally-grown produce and strengthen state's farm economy

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) Director Tom Jennings today announced that farmers and organizations across the state will receive nearly $650,000 to enhance specialty crops thanks to funding from the United States Department of Agriculture's Specialty Crop Block Grant Program - Farm Bill. 

"Illinois' fertile soil and favorable climate are good for growing a wide variety of crops," Director Jennings said.  " The purpose of these grants is to encourage additional production and access to nutritious, locally grown fruits and vegetables." 

Thirty seven projects will receive a share of the funds, which are intended to strengthen the state's specialty crop industry by expanding the availability of fresh, locally-grown produce.  Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops, including floriculture. 

While best known for growing corn and soybeans, Illinois is the largest producer of pumpkins in the nation and ranks among the top ten states in the production of other specialty crops such as asparagus, cauliflower, green peas and lima beans.  The state devotes more than 117,000 acres of farmland to growing specialty crops, which produces nearly $137 million in sales for Illinois farmers. 

A list of the grant recipients, projects and the amount of their award follows:

  • University of Illinois                                                                          $9,648
    Provide agricultural and good handling practices training to specialty crop producers and retailers and technical support to develop food safety plans for their specialty crop enterprises

  • University of Illinois                                                                         $16,108
    Create the Illinois Organic Growers Association and support the first year of educational and networking opportunities to Illinois specialty crop growers interested in organic and ecologically-oriented growing and marketing techniques

  • Peoria RiverFront Association                                                         $10,000
    Develop a multi-media advertisement campaign to increase awareness of the farmers market as well as the health and nutritional benefits of locally grown specialty crops

  • Carlyle Lake Chamber of Commerce                                            $10,000
    Provide educational demonstrations at the local farmers market; develop and distribute educational specialty crop handouts

  • Jacksonville Main Street                                                                   $6,700
    Develop a multi-media advertisement campaign to increase awareness and access to healthy food products

  • Downtown Bloomington Association                                              $26,000
    Develop an advertisement campaign to increase awareness and sales of specialty crops at Uptown Normal's Trailside Market and the Downtown Bloomington Farmers Market

  • Experimental Station                                                                        $10,000
    Marketing materials for dissemination throughout Chicago; expansion of in-school and after-school educational outreach to low income youth about the nutritional benefits, cultivation and preparation of organic and sustainably grown fruits and vegetable

  • Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association                         $10,000
    Expand viticulture knowledge dissemination at the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association's Annual Conference and Tradeshow through collaborating with neighboring state associations and communicating with experts within the field of viticulture

  • Taylorville Main Street                                                                     $4,087
    Expand the consumption of Illinois specialty crops through an extensive advertising campaign

  • Mt. Carroll Chamber of Commerce                                              $8,546
    In collaboration with Learn Great Foods, provide quality programs/demonstrations specific to locally grown specialty crops in order to increase awareness and consumption; implement an advertising campaign

  • Buffalo Grove Farmers Market                                                     $9,984
    Implement an advertising campaign to teach people about the nutritional benefits associated with Illinois-grown vegetables and encourage them to change their eating habits


  • Jo Daviess County Farm Bureau                                                    $7,583           
    Implement a marketing campaign to promote specialty crops at local farmers markets

  • Batavia MainStreet                                                                           $13,735
    Implement a marketing campaign to promote awareness, education and sales of local specialty crops

  • Champaign-Urbana Public Health District                                   $10,000
    Implement a social marketing, social media and WIC client education campaign that promotes specialty crop growers in the Champaign County region, as well as the nutritional benefits of those crops

  • Village of Lemont                                                                              $6,245
    Develop a marketing campaign to increase awareness and purchases of Illinois specialty crops offered at the Lemont Farmers Market

  • Downtown Springfield, Inc.                                                            $10,000
    Supplement a current advertisement campaign with the addition of promoting individual and familial purchase of specialty crops through the utilization of Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT)

  • Knox County Food Development Council                                     $50,000
    Provide education, resources, technical assistance, and market development for the local specialty crop food industry through a growers' incubator, food consolidator, advertisements for local specialty crops at farmers markets, season extension demonstrations, as well as market research into potential value added processing of specialty crops

  • Geneva Green Market                                                                     $9,700
    Develop a multi-media advertisement campaign for the Geneva Winter Market

  • Lan-Oak Park District                                                                     $10,000
    Marketing campaign, including banners, signs and reusable shopping bags, to generate awareness of specialty crops and the district's farmers market

  • Village of Schaumburg                                                                     $7,829
    Supplement existing advertising campaign for the Olde Schaumburg Centre Farmers Market

  • Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom                                               $10,000
    Develop a new Pumpkins Ag Mag to increase awareness of the specialty crop and introduce more students to the ideas of locally grown foods and the farmers that grow them

  • Land Connection Foundation                                                         $26,220
    Implement a training program that will professionally market and educate the general public about the importance of specialty crops in Illinois

  • Esther's Place                                                                                    $8,680
    Provide education to students and teachers at local schools about the production and preparation of specialty crops in order to help the next generation understand vital aspects of specialty crop origins and nutritional information

  • Illinois Stewardship Alliance                                                           $10,000
    Expand a marketing campaign to increase sales and consumption of central Illinois specialty crops

  • Annie's Project                                                                                 $10,000
    Provide educational opportunities to women that will help them utilize small acreresources through the addition or expansion of specialty crop commodities to their production and marketing practices

  • Land of Goshen Community Market                                              $14,682
    Create a "Market Sprouts" programs targeting children by providing activities promoting fresh, locally grown specialty crops in a centrally located area

  • Chicago Defender Charities                                                            $8,700
    Educate youth in the Englewood community by utilizing the Heritage Garden to produce vegetables and teach residents the importance of nutrition and healthy eating habits

  • Illinois Specialty Crop Growers Association                                  $24,450
    Facilitate a conference in order to educate Illinois specialty crop producers on various topics

  • Southern Illinois University                                                           $13,604
    Implement a farm-to-school program whereby fresh fruits and vegetables will be processed during the summer months for local schools

  • Southern Illinois University                                                         $57,017
    Develop practical management strategies that increase the sustainability of Illinois wine grape production

  • University of Illinois                                                                         $39,962
    Conduct research, demonstrations and deliver educational programs on varieties, production practices and pest management for tomatoes, peppers and salad greens grown in high tunnels

  • Southern Sisters Spirits                                                                   $10,950
    Develop a public education campaign about locally grown grapes

  • National Agricultural Statistics Service Illinois Field Office        $30,000
    Conduct a 2010 specialty crops survey of roughly 3,000 specialty crop growers in order to assist in an estimation of the growth of the specialty crop industry in Illinois

  • Mills Apple Farm                                                                             $23,472
    Develop a demonstration sweet cherry orchard using slanted and trellised trees grown in high tunnels

  •                                                                            $35,000
    Create a business plan for a pack house located in central Illinois that aggregates, stores, markets and distributes specialty crop products from area farms to Illinois wholesale buyers

  • Central Illinois Agricultural Research Farms                               $12,372
    Develop and refine a sustainable and organic vegetable production system

  • IDOA                                                                                                 $66,810
    Provide educational workshops and promotional activities that target new and existing specialty crop producers and at-risk consumers


Back to referring page