By STEVE BINDER
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The most extensive offerings of workshops for mid-Illinois farmers are on tap this season thanks to organizers with the Central Illinois Sustainable Farming Network (CISFN), a relatively new group supported by the University of Illinois extension.
Workshops this year range from taking proper care of one’s own body as well as the small farm machine, how to grow a sustainable business and writing and applying for grants.
“We’re very excited about this year’s program,” said Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, a local food systems and small farms educator based in Springfield.
Formed in 2011, CISFN’s mission is to promote the development of local food systems through farmer support and training. It is overseen by an advisory group of farmers and receives programming help from extension.
This season’s workshops will feature extension educators and specialists during the three- to four-hour sessions. All sessions are free to CISFN members, or cost $5 for non-members to attend.
Cavanaugh-Grant said attendance at each session last year ranged anywhere from 15-50 people. She said CISFN expects attendance this year to be the largest yet. Specific workshops include:
•“Small Farm Machinery and Your Body: Use Both Wisely” from 9:45 a.m.-3:30 p.m. May 11 at Spence Farm – Phelps Schoolhouse, 2959 North 2050 East Road, Fairbury, in Livingston County
•“Taking Your Farm to the Next Level: Equipment for Scaling Up Production” from 2-4:30 p.m. June 8 at PrairiErth Farm, 2047 County Road 2100 N. Atlanta, in Logan County
•“Intensive Grazing on 10 Acres” from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. June 15 at the Kraal Farm, 9223 Bell Fountain Road, Dawson, in Sangamon County
•“Growing Your Sustainable Farm Business: A Producers Perspective” from 3-7 p.m. July 13 at the Living Waters Farm, 29695 E. 100 North Road, Strawn; and South Pork Ranch, 32796 E 750 North Rd, Chatsworth, in Livingston County
•“Driving and Maintaining Your Small Tractor” from 3-6 p.m. Aug. 11 at Spence Farm – Phelps Schoolhouse, 2959 North 2050 East Road, Fairbury, in Livingston County
•“Preparing for Extended Season Production” from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Sunset Trail Farms, 12046 E. Gamble Road, Pembroke Township in Kankakee County
•“Farmer Grant Writing Workshop” from 6-9 p.m. Oct. 1 at 700 S. Airport Drive, Springfield, in Sangamon County
Registration for all workshops is required. To register and for more information, go http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lms