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My First Cup

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This week's blog entry is from a guest writer. Mark Cannon tells us about his experience competing for the first time at our Artisan Cup & Fork Chef Competition in September.
Mark Cannon, Pitmaster at Black Dog Smoke and Ale House, Urbana
I didn’t know what I was getting into when a coworker asked if I might be interested in cooking for an event at the Broadway Food Hall. I said yes primarily out of a desire to take part in something outside the walls of the restaurant – something extracurricular.  I had no idea what the event was.  I was put in touch with Taidghin O’Brien at The Land Connection and found that the event was the Third Annual Artisan Cup & Fork fundraiser.  I was not familiar with The Land Connection and had not been aware of The Artisan Cup & Fork in the two years prior.  I received some initial information about the event and did a little research to familiarize myself with the organization and the event itself.

The Chicken Tractor

Jacquelyn Evers's picture

When I first started at The Land Connection, we had an event on the calendar titled, “Chicken Tractors.” For weeks I thought this had to be an inside joke because I had never come across the term, but I didn’t say anything and knew the meaning would surface at some point. Sure enough, it did, and it turns out a chicken tractor is not a chicken on a tractor, a chicken driving a tractor, or even a tractor made of chickens. A chicken tractor is a chicken coop on wheels that moves around your pasture or backyard every day. It’s called a chicken tractor because the birds loosen up the top inch or so of earth underneath the moving coop... much like a regular tractor. This edition of Grow With Me is to help understand why chicken tractors can be an innovative solution to raising your chickens.

Should I squeeze your tomatoes?: What your vendors would like you to know's picture

The winding down of farmers market season always brings mixed emotions with it. On the one hand, it's getting colder and colder each week and we've been at it for 6 months, and in some ways, we're just ready to be done standing around a parking lot. On the other hand, though, we realize how much we're going to miss seeing each other (vendors, customers, volunteers, and staff) every week, and how much we're going to miss having ready access to this great food on a weekly basis. (Of course you can still get plenty of local food at Common Ground Food Co-op, the indoor Market in the Square in Urbana, Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery's The Real Stand, and other places, but still the offerings are a bit slimmer in winter). 

On Farm Variety Trials: Designing a Replicated Variety Trial

Mallory Krieger's picture

This is Part 4 of a multi-part series on On-Farm Variety Trials. Part 3: "Designing a Screening Trial" can be found here.

Last month, I outlined the design of a screening trial. In this installment, I will discuss the design of a replicated variety trial.

In contrast to screening trials, replicated variety trials can answer more complex questions like yield differences or disease resistance because their design controls for the effects of field variation. This type of trial accomplishes this by repeating or “replicating” the experiment multiple times in different locations, ensuring the results hold across space. Because of the more robust design, replicated variety trials are able to evaluate traits that are likely to be influenced by environmental factors, detect subtle differences between varieties, and obtain much more reliable information in comparison with a screening trial.

Jacob Goldstein - 14 Year Old Winning Farmer

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This week's blog entry is from a guest writer. Jacob Goldstein is a high school Freshman and supplied the lamb for the winning team at our Artisan Cup & Fork Chef Competition in September.
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By: Jacob Goldstein

Hi. My name is Jacob Goldstein, I’m 14 and I live with my family on our farm called Base Camp. I have three brothers (I’m the middle) and we all have our chores. Mine is all the animal and livestock care which I do every morning and night, 7 days a week before school and again before bed. It’s a lot of hard work and I love it a lot, but I’d really like to understand why morning comes earlier on the weekend.

Preservation Tips for the Bounty of the Fall Harvest

tobrien's picture

It’s that time of year when everyone seems to be inundated with fresh, local produce. The late summer / early fall harvest just seems to keep on going and going with this continued warm weather. It’s October and it’s 90° outside...I thought central Illinois already had its week-long second summer?!?! As farmers and gardeners continue to harvest and begin to pull plants for winter planting, it seems that I’m being buried in eggplant, peppers, squash, green tomatoes, and bunching greens (kale, chard, and collards). Last year I was too busy to process all of the produce I bought or was given, and a good amount ended up going to compost (enter ashamed emoji here) but this year is going to be different!

Dispatches from the 2018 National Direct Agricultural Marketing Summit's picture

Last week I flew out east to attend the first ever National Direct Agricultural Market Summit, organized by the USDA, Farmers Market Coalition, Farm Credit Council, Food Distribution Research Society and National Value Added Conference. Held in Arlington, VA, the Summit was designed to pull together farmers market managers, leaders of statewide farmers market organizations, representatives from several divisions of the USDA, researchers, entrepreneurs, market related service providers, and other business and community representatives involved in local food. We were selected to display at the poster session and put together a poster highlighting the ways we have combined project support from various USDA grants to bolster market sales for local farmers and improve access to local food in our community. 

On Farm Variety Trials: Designing a Screening Trial

Mallory Krieger's picture

This is Part 3 of a multi-part series on On-Farm Variety Trials. Part 2: "Planning It Out" can be found here.

Last month, I explored planning your on-farm variety trial. I began with identifying goals. The goals you outlined will guide the next several decisions in executing your variety trial, the design of your experiment.

In order to determine if certain varieties perform better than others with respect to your goals, the trial must account for or “control” for differences in the field, soil, or management conditions. Anyone who has been farming or gardening for at least a season has likely seen how different spots in the field affect plant growth. That wet spot, or shady row will affect performance of your varieties. This is called the “field effect,” or the influence that variable field conditions have on the performance of plants in the field. More examples of field effects include slope, drainage, soil type, pH, wind direction, cold pockets, and irrigation placement. In this blog entry, we will explore how to design the trial so that it emphasizes differences in varieties rather than differences in growing conditions.

It All Started with a Pigtato's picture

Once upon a first farmers market season, I happened upon a funny looking potato that reminded me of the Pigs! In! Space! pigs on The Muppet Show. We put on some googly eyes (because as a farmers market, we're always stocked with the essentials), and lo, Pigtato was born. Admittedly, I received many a doubtful look from my colleagues, but at community events and at the market, Pigtato was a big hit with kids and adults alike. There was usually a double take, and then they loved him. I took that potato around with me for over a month, until he started to shrivel beyond repair. And that inspired one of my favorite Champaign Farmers Market traditions: the annual Ugly Produce Beauty Pageant.  


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