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[JUNE 14, 2004]  URBANA -- A subdivision of homes may have a neighborhood strip mall with a grocery store, but Prairie Crossing Conservation Community has its own neighborhood farm: Prairie Crossing Organic Farm. On Wednesday, Aug. 4, from 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., a tour sponsored in part by the University of Illinois Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program will visit the farm in Grayslake. The farm is surrounded by a residential development and the Liberty Prairie Reserve -- a rural landscape model that harbors high-quality natural areas amidst active farmland in the rapidly developing central Lake County.

"Residents of Prairie Crossing have an abundant and convenient supply of fresh produce and other farm products," said Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, a U of I research specialist and coordinator of the tour. "It's a very unique community. The farm and the surrounding residents, in a way, help to sustain each other."

Sandhill Organics at the Prairie Crossing Organic Farm offers a variety of fresh produce at a roadside market from late May through October and through a community-supported agriculture program, also called subscription farming, in which customers pay in advance to receive regular deliveries of fresh produce.

"Vegetable farming on the urban edge offers a world of opportunities for both the farmer and the community it serves," said Dave Konrad, the farm manager. "The farmer has a conveniently located customer base, and the customer has the opportunity to purchase fresh, locally grown seasonal produce."

The event will include a wagon and walking tour of Sandhill Organics at the Prairie Crossing Organic Farm, the neighboring conservation community and Liberty Prairie Reserve. Visitors will see fields in transition to organic from conventional farming, the Learning Farm for school children, learn about the Prairie Crossing Conservation Community and enjoy a fresh organic produce lunch while surrounded by prairie, wetlands and oak savanna.

For more information about the community, farm and reserve, visit


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Three additional sustainable agriculture tours are scheduled for 2004.

On Thursday, Aug. 12, there will be a tour of Dennis and JoAnn Dickman's unique pastured poultry farm in Herscher. This tour will include a chicken meal.

On Wednesday, Sept. 15, a western Illinois tour will feature stops at several locations, including John Brook's fee hunting operation, Baxter's Vineyard and Winery, and Warren and Phil Barns' buffalo ranch.

The final tour will be on Friday, Oct. 15, and will feature an agritourism tour at Eckert's Orchard in Millstadt

For additional information or to register, contact Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant at (217) 968-5512 or or register online at A small fee will be charged for each tour. Registration at least one week in advance is required.

For a printable brochure that includes details about all of the tours, visit

The tours are sponsored by the Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois, the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Professional Development Program, and the Illinois Small Farm Task Force.

[University of Illinois news release]

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