By STEVE BINDER
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Two brothers in their twenties who come from a large grain-farming family want to get into the burgeoning local growers’ vegetable market; an attorney is looking to enter the grape-growing business for the competitive wine-making industry in Illinois.
They were among the nearly 50 participants in this fall’s first two “Is Entrepreneurial Farming For You?” workshops sponsored by the University of Illinois extension, on Nov. 14 and 17 in central Illinois. A third session is scheduled for Dec. 3 in the northern Illinois city of Belvidere.
“This workshop is designed to help people thinking about starting a farm to explore things they should consider before jumping in and what it takes to start and manage a farm-based business,” said Ellen Phillips, extension’s local food systems and small farms educator, who will be leading the last workshop.
“It will help them assess whether this is the path they are ready to take.”
Those interested in participating should call 217-333-7672 or to register, go to https://webs.extension.uiuc.edu/ registration
The cost is $20 per person and includes a light dinner. The workshop runs from 5:30-9 p.m. Registration is due by Nov. 26.
Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, a local food systems and small farms educator based in central Illinois and who has organized the sessions for several years, said interest in new ag business ventures has been up recently.
“I think there has been a lot more interest in the last couple of years,” she explained. “What has been good to see is a nice mix of everyone who is interested in either getting started in farming and agriculture or those already involved. Most who have been participating want to get more involved in local food production, and becoming local vegetable and fruit providers for restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses.”
Cavanaugh-Grant said while most of the participants are looking to get into vegetable and fruit growing, a handful are looking to get into livestock ventures, including chicken, turkey and egg production.
The workshops address resource assessment, goal-setting, financial planning and marketing options. She said the next one will also include opportunities to meet experienced growers and other prospective farmers and learn about different types of farm enterprises.