Thoughts from “Growing Cities”

Photo courtesy of Prosperity Gardens

Last night, the Prosperity Gardens held a fundraiser at the Art Theater in downtown Champaign, with refreshments, t-shirts, the first public appearance of their new bus (still without a name, but I hear that they’re taking suggestions), and a screening of the new documentary “Growing Cities,” about the current state of urban agriculture in the United States. The Urbana Park District screened the film earlier in the summer, and there may be further opportunities to see it during the coming year. Continue reading

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Farm Foundation Forum: The Soil Renaissance

Healthy soil is key to maintaining vibrant, profitable and sustainable natural resource systems. Without healthy soils the challenge of feeding the world’s population becomes more daunting.

The July 16 Farm Fouforumlogondation Forum will examine the Soil Renaissance, an initiative by Farm Foundation, NFP and the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation to make improving soil health the cornerstone of land use management decisions. Continue reading

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Woody Perennial Polyculture Site: Summer 2014 Update

Photo Credit: Rob Kanter

Earlier this summer, I went out with Rob Kanter (writer of Environmental Almanac, instructor in by the School of Earth, Society, and Environment, and also my dad) to the Woody Perennial Polyculture site. The trees were just beginning to bud, and the bushes stretching out green growth.

It’s quite a place: The Woody Perennial Polyculture site stands south of the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and Windsor Road in Urbana, right next to the Sustainable Student farms and University Fruit Research farm. Its two founders, Kevin Wolz and Ron Revord, greeted us out by the fields.

This year is their third planting season, and the first year that they are expecting yield from nearly all of their crops – hazelnuts, currants, grapes, raspberries, and chestnuts, with only the apple trees not yet producing. Continue reading

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NSAC Policy Intern Position

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is currently seeking a Policy Intern for the fall term beginning in mid August to early September, and lasting until December.  This position is full time and is located at NSAC’s DC office on Capitol Hill.

NSAC is the leading advocacy organization for federal policy that supports sustainable agriculture and food systems.  We work towards the vision of creating a safe, nutritious, and affordable food supply produced by a legion of diverse family farmers who make a decent living pursuing their trade, while sustaining the environment and contributing to the strength of their communities.  NSAC’s collaborative work environment offers a unique career opportunity to advance federal sustainable agriculture policy as part of a dedicated and effective team. Continue reading

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ASAP Board Member Update: Richard Weinzierl

Last week, I sat down with ASAP board member Dr. Richard Weinzierl, professor of entomology employed by University of Illinois Extension. He began his description of his work by saying it has  two sides: entomology and non-entomology. The entomology side is easy to understand; that’s the field that he earned his master’s and  PhD in 30 years ago. And as he said,

“When you travel and work with the horticulture guys and the plant pathologists, you begin to sort of build a broader knowledge of what we’re all doing.” Continue reading

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Kanter’s Index

20140606_105917Today, I drove out to central Illinois with three U of I research employees (who, when I asked, said they preferred to remain nameless in this post). I went to interview soil scientist Bill Becker, they to take samples from fields he has been treating. I ended up helping to take the samples, and as I’m now a bit too tuckered out to write a proper post today, I thought that a simple list of our day (à la Harper’s Index) would suffice. Continue reading

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Ceres Trust 2014 Organic Research Initiative Request for Applications

Ceres Trust, a privately administered charitable trust based in the Midwest, announces that our Request for Applications is open for the 2014 Organic Research Initiative (ORI) grant program.

Grants of up to $60,000 per year for up to three years will be awarded. The Trust anticipates that up to ten grants will be made to universities and other nonprofit applicants in the North Central Region. Applicants must be based in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, or Wisconsin to be eligible.

Applications must be entered on the Ceres Trust website and mailed or sent by Federal Express or similar delivery service on or before September 25, 2014.

To view the RFA, visit:

Applicants may either apply directly online or download the application, fill it out, and upload it to our online grant management system. All necessary attachments must be uploaded and submitted for applications to be considered. All applicants must also submit six paper copies of their complete applications to:  Ceres Trust, PMB 125, 479 Mankato Avenue, Winona, MN 55987.

Requests for information should be emailed to:


Continue reading

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Savanna Institute Position Opening: Executive Director

The Savanna Institute (SI) invites applications for an Executive Director. We seek applicants who share our passion for restorative and resilient agricultural practices. The Savanna Institute is a recently established Urbana, Illinois-based organization currently seeking 501(c)(3) status. The Executive Director will fully manage the case study program, maintain outreach and communications, fulfill administrative tasks, and foster SI’s ongoing and potential relationships with farmers, nurseries, etc. This position reports to the president of the Savanna Institute and will work closely with the Board of Directors. Continue reading

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ASAP Board Member Update: Wes King

Wes King, the director of Illinois Stewardship Alliance (and also a member of the ASAP board), enjoys his work a lot. Two weeks ago, I interviewed him about his involvement in the organization and their current projects. Continue reading

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Check out these three grant opportunities

Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program – Funding for organizations who loan to small rural businesses. Notice of funding availability here, and more info here. Deadline June 30, 2014.

Farmers Market & Local Food Promotion Program Competitive grants to promote local food and farmers markets. Check out application info here for farmers markets and here for local food promotion. Deadline June 20, 2014.

Rural Energy for America Program Grants and loan guarantees for rural renewable energy projects. Here’s the notice, and talk to your state rural development office for application details. Deadline July 7, 2014.

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