Column by John Fulton Ag News Elsewhere  (fresh daily from the Web)

Sustainable ag tours foster
alternative farming ideas    
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[MARCH 19, 2004]  URBANA -- Six unique locations have been selected for this year's sustainable agriculture tours, representing the broad diversity of the topic. "Sustainable agriculture includes alternative farming practices, but it's also about ways to provide an adequate and dependable farm income," said Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, a University of Illinois research specialist who is coordinating the tours.

Cavanaugh-Grant said that the tours last year were so successful that the U of I Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program decided to offer them again, this time to new locations around the state. "There are so many wonderful places in Illinois to visit that selecting only six was difficult, but I think the ones we chose represent the wide variety of topics that will give people a chance to see a variety of sustainable agriculture operations in action."

The first tour of the 2003 schedule will be to several ethnic grocery stores in Chicago on June 10. The tour will include an opportunity to meet with buyers and farmers and to tour several local ethnic grocery stores. Tour guide Evelyn Thompson will provide information about the produce, ingredients, cooking procedures and history of the food cultures.

On July 20 a tour will visit a farm composting operation in Hampshire. The visit will provide a discussion of on-farm composting methods, state regulations, how to include compost in a nutrient management plan, and marketing. The tour will also include an equipment demonstration.

On Aug. 4 a tour will visit Prairie Crossing in Grayslake to learn how the farm is collaborating with municipalities and horse manure haulers to have green waste delivered to the farm for composting and field application as a soil enhancer and fertilizer supplement. The event includes a Liberty Prairie Reserve hayride and lunch featuring fresh produce.


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On Aug. 12 a tour will visit Dennis and JoAnn Dickman's unique pastured poultry farm in Herscher. This tour will include a delicious chicken meal.

On 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 Bond's buffalo ranch.

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

For a printable brochure that includes details about all six tours, visit
. [To download the Adobe Acrobat reader for the brochure, click here.]

For additional information, contact Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant at (217) 968-5512 or

A small fee will be charged for each tour. Registration at least one week in advance is required. Registration forms are available by contacting Cavanaugh-Grant at

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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