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Some Tips on Asparagus

tobrien's picture

Although the chilly weather on Sunday tried to make us think otherwise, Spring is here. Daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths are popping up everywhere. Evil rabbits are starting to decimate the buds and tender new plants popping up in your yard. Squirrels are digging holes in your yard for no apparent reason (there must be something there, you just have no idea what). Forsythia are bursting with beautiful yellow flowers from root to tip. The pink-speckled bark of Redbuds reminds you of the beauty that is right around the corner. And the delicate tips of Asparagus spears begin to poke through the moist soil.

One of the very first signs of Spring in a vegetable garden is the appearance of tender shoots of asparagus. The herbaceous, flowering perennial plant is one of my all-time favorite foods, and so I look forward to this time of year with intense longing. Unfortunately, the season for Asparagus is very short, just a few weeks or a month if you’re lucky, so make sure to track down local asparagus from local farmers, friends, neighbors, random people you see walking their dogs...just ask anyone. Once the season has passed, you can always find it in the grocery store, and with summer grilling season soon upon us there can never be enough of those deliciously tender stalks.

Reporting Herbicide Drift Damage on Wild Plants

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This article was submitted by Kim Erndt-Pitcher, Habitat and Agricultural Programs Specialist at Prairie Rivers Network. Kim can be reached at


The warm weather is arriving!  While you are getting ready to plant, weed, and harvest the fruits of your labor, when you pause to taste some spinach, smell a flower, or watch a bee, please take a moment to look up at your trees.  The last few years, many trees and other broadleaf plants throughout Illinois expressed symptoms of off-target herbicide damage. This was likely the result of exposure to volatile plant growth regulator (PGR) herbicides such as dicamba and/or 2, 4-D that are used for weed control on row crop ag fields. 

When these PGR herbicides volatilize, they can move long distances and land other places at concentrations strong enough to harm trees and plants.  While label restrictions are being made to reduce injuries and complaints due to applicator error, the real problem with many PGR herbicides (volatility) is not being addressed.

Making a Difference in Washington DC with OFA

Mallory Krieger's picture

Last month, I had the privilege to travel to Washington DC and meet with our Federal lawmakers about issues important to organic farmers. I am a newly elected organizational member of the Policy Committee of the Organic Farmers Association (OFA). OFA is a national lobbying organization that represents the voice of organic farmers to the Federal government. Farmer members of OFA gather and set policy priorities each year that guide the lobbying efforts of OFA’s small but mighty staff. As an organizational member, my role is to advise and support the decisions undertaken by the farmer members.

This was my first experience lobbying in DC. I have been to our nation’s capital a number of times as a tourist and to attend marches and demonstrations. This was my first foray into the offices of government, and it was invigorating!

My First Experience at the Good Food Expo

Jacquelyn Evers's picture

A couple Fridays ago I had the privilege of attending the first day of the Good Food Expo hosted by FamilyFarmed in Chicago, Illinois. This event was an opportunity for me to learn more about the Good Food movement and meet a few of the many people working to build a better food system.

The day started with an opening symposium that highlighted a number of entrepreneurs, farmers, and Good Food advocates. I was really drawn to a speech given by Mitchell Davis from the James Beard Foundation discussing the ways that sourcing locally is slowly slipping as a culinary priority. I feel that similar conversations present at The Land Connection on a regular basis and the concern is certainly something we are actively working to prevent in our own community. It was enlightening to hear Mr. Davis’s ideas on ways to re-energize the farm to table movement.

Introducing OGRAIN Compass: Financial Tool for Transitioning or Established Organic Grain Producers

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This week's blog entry is from a guest writer. If you are interested in your article or blog entry being featured on the TLC blog, contact

By: Jody Padgham, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Anyone looking at a transition to or startup in successful organic grain production must be prepared for a significant amount of decision making. What grain crops to grow, in what rotations, what weed and pest management strategies to undertake, what equipment needed, how to build soil structure and fertility, among other decisions will occupy the mind. Many grain farmers we work with at OGRAIN (Organic Grain Resource and Information Network based at UW-Madison) tell us that once they get used to it, they really enjoy collecting new knowledge and digging into the heavy thinking and decision making that leads to organic success.

The decisions that lead to successful organic grain crops must also add up to the operation’s financial success. Resources and tools to assist in understanding the financial consequences of decisions have been hard to find. Until now, as OGRAIN unveils the Organic Grain Compass, and soon available Turning Grain into Dough supporting workbook.

My Mornings with the Does

Rey Dalitto's picture


I moved from Chicago down to Urbana 3 years ago.  I had started getting involved in the local food scene in Chicago but after living there for about 25 years I was feeling burnt out.  I needed a change but at the time I had no idea what that change would look like.

While living in Chicago my husband and I were frequent shoppers at The Green City Market and Prairie Fruit Farms was one of our favorite stops.   So soon after moving down, I reached out to Wes and Leslie.  I started volunteering at the start of the 2016 kidding season.  I was immediately hooked.  Soon I came out for not only my volunteer shifts but any shift where I had free time.  I was odd-jobbing it at the time, so I had plenty of free time.

About a month after I started, I brought my husband out to work with me and he was soon also hooked. This is really when our adventure with the local farms and farming in this area began.

We weeded gardens and bottle-fed baby goats, but mostly we focused on the less glamorous chores such as changing bedding, liming stalls, filling the self-feeders, carrying buckets of feed, and hay to the older does and bucks, pretty much anything that needed to be done that day.  We felt the honesty in getting our clothes and hands dirty, really dirty.

Agroforestry is gaining a foothold in Central Illinois

Mallory Krieger's picture

As Midwestern farmers continue to look to conservation and crop diversification to protect their land and keep their farms profitable, some are seeking innovative cropping systems like agroforestry to meet these goals. One such farmer is Kevin Wolz and his team at Midwest Agroforestry Solutions. ‘Agroforestry’ is a term for an array of agricultural practices that combine trees with crops or livestock. Kevin’s farm business is trying to revolutionize agriculture in the Midwest by creating a cropping system that incorporates perennials like chestnuts, hazelnuts, currents, and berries, and pairs it with annual crops, grazing livestock, or hay production between the rows of these perennials. The crops are arranged in a way that maximizes biodiversity and management efficiency, and assures high productivity across the farm.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Jacquelyn Evers's picture

It’s getting to be that time of the year again… the time when we stop dreaming about the exciting vegetables we plan to grow in our garden and actually start planting seeds. If you are like me and don’t have access to land to plant your garden, you might consider gardening in containers. This year will be my fourth year experimenting with container gardening and I have learned quite a bit about what works and what doesn’t, so I thought I would share a few of my failures (turned successes of course) to help get you going on the right foot. 

Make sure your seedlings are strong/sturdy before moving outdoors. 
It never fails. I get way too excited to get my plants outside and I end up sacrificing some great starts to my careless ways. Maybe we have a particularly windy balcony or maybe this is just a common knowledge in the garden world. We have found great success in starting our seeds in little dirt pods we start in an indoor greenhouse. Those dirt pods get transplanted into slightly bigger containers and then again into slightly bigger containers and then finally into the plant’s final destination outdoors. We have also found success in staking our plants so that they have the extra support they need.  

What do farmers do in the winter?

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This week's blog entry is from a guest writer. If you are interested in your article or blog entry being featured on the TLC blog, contact

By: Traci Barkley, Sola Gratia CSA

Many times over, we hear the question- “What do you/farmers do in the winter?”  The short version is “wrap up the previous year, plan for the next and try to rest our bodies a bit”.  The longer version is much longer…so much so that we wonder why anyone thinks farmers “take the winter off!” 

What we generally do in late fall/winter is 1) review the previous season to inform the next, 2) close out our financials and prepare the next year’s budget, 3) develop the crop plan and order seeds, 4) secure or repair needed equipment and supplies, 5) start recruiting the next season’s labor team, 6) market our CSA, 7) secure wholesale and retail outlets, 8) plan for future membership and community events, 9) write grant proposals for financial support of our farming operation and mission, and 10) partner, partner, partner to continue and enhance our mission work. 

Illinois Food Policy - 2019

tobrien's picture

On Friday, February 15, I attended the Chicago Food Policy Summit in Chicago and got a chance to hear about many of the policy topics that are being addressed in Illinois this year that have a direct impact on our food system. While some of the initiatives were Chicago-centric, many of them were statewide.

Some of the ones that really caught my attention I have listed and linked to below. Many of the groups that I listened to have not yet released their Policy Agendas for 2019 (at least not online) so make sure to check in with your local policy groups to see what their legislative agendas for the year look like and give your support whenever you can.

Here we go...


Illinois Stewardship Alliance (


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