Founded in 2001 in Evanston, Illinois by author and good food advocate, Terra Brockman, The Land Connection started with a vision of preserving farmland. Though protecting and enhancing farmland remains a core component of our organization, TLC has taken a new programming direction to achieve our mission. Rather than preserving acreage ourselves, we have chosen to expand our farmer training programs. Beginning this expansion in 2004, TLC created Central Illinois Farm Beginnings, a year-long training course for beginning farmers. Five years later, in 2009, TLC became a founding member of the national Farm Beginning Collaborative, which now supports farmer training programs in eleven states. From there, we have added a number of training opportunities for farmers of all backgrounds and experience levels. Since our founding, TLC has been located in Evanston, Sidney, and Bloomington. In 2013, our organization moved to Champaign, where we launched our work in food access.
In our current form, The Land Connection provides farmers the training and education they need to improve environmental and ecological outcomes for our community, and economic and quality of life outcomes for our farmers. We strive to build connections between farmers to create a deep sense of community and social support for regenerative farming. We offer this training through conferences, workshops, field days, and webinars. Our Champaign Farmers Market is the cornerstone for our work in food access. It is a place where farmers can access new customers and the community can access healthy, locally grown and produced food. We organize Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and WIC/Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program incentives at our market to help underserved families enjoy food grown by their neighbors. In addition to our farmer training and food access work, TLC fosters connections with the community at large to provide education on the importance of a local food system. We publish blogs, podcasts, and videos, as well as organize community events to help bring the message of local and healthy food to the public.
The Land Connection’s mission is to train farmers in resilient, restorative farming techniques; inform the public about the sources of our food and why that matters; and work to protect and enhance farmland so that we, and generations to come, will have clean air and water, fertile soil, and healthy, delicious food.
The Land Connection envisions community-based food systems in which every farmer has the opportunity to protect our environment by growing food in a sustainable manner and every person has access to local, nutritious foods.