Andy co-owns and operates Prairie City Farm, an urban farm in Springfield, IL. He and his business partner direct market their produce to local restaurants, a community supported agriculture program, retail outlets, and the Old Capitol Farmers Market. He is also currently employed by Lincoln Land Community College where he is leading a high tunnel demonstration project that aims to assist farmers by extending their growing season. Andy graduated from SIU in Carbondale with a B.S. in biological science, and a secondary teaching certificate. He taught high school and middle school biology, chemistry, and physics for several years, before becoming a full time farmer, and still enjoys substitute teaching during the cold winter months. Andy has been farming in the Springfield area for over ten years, and was named the Illinois sustainable agriculture farmer of the year in 2012.
Rob Davies, Vice President
Illinois Farmers Union
Rob is a newcomer to America, having immigrated to the US from South Africa with his family in 2011. His background is diverse and includes news-resource development, multi-state radio, brand and project management as well as stints as a press photographer, rugby writer, radio host and foreign-language teacher. Rob works as a consultant with the Farmers Unions of Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. He is married to Joanna and they and their two boys live just south of Effingham on a farm that has been in Joanna’s family for over 150 years.
An avid advocate of local food and sustainability, Alex founded Urban Canopy in 2010. Utilizing his background in computer engineering and business administration (B.S., University of Illinois; M.B.A., University of Minnesota), Alex has created a unique company that is technically and business savvy, while remaining connected to the community. Alex is a Chicago Public Schools Education Pioneers Fellowship recipient and serves on a number of committees and boards, including serving as the Board Treasurer of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, a member of the Advocates for Urban Agriculture Steering Committee, and more.
Julie was raised in Ashland, Il and her family includes generational farmers on both sides. She spent much of her childhood on farms. These roots bring her a close feeling to nature and the land. She is passionate about eating healthy and cooking healthy meals for her family, attending farmers’ markets and belonging to local CSAs. Julie currently has her own freelance graphic design business, B.Creative Graphic Design, which she has operated for the past 13 years.
Grants Manager at Puerto Rican Arts Alliance
Born and raised in Iowa, Rebecca has always felt a close connection to nature and enjoys exploring the convergence between environmental stewardship, community engagement and good food. Before moving to Chicago in 2011, Rebecca earned a Master’s degree in Urban Planning and worked for a number of non-profit organizations and municipal departments, gaining a passion for advocacy and local food issues. Currently, Rebecca is an active member of Chicago’s local food movement (as well as its arts community) and continues to look for ways to give back.
Dan Kenney, a retired public school educator and published writer and poet, has spoken widely on the issue of poverty, food security, land stewardship, sustainable agriculture, and community development. Not only has Dan been an advocate for these issues, but he has been actively working in his community and throughout Illinois to improve the current state of affairs. Dan is Founder and Executive Director of the DeKalb County Community Gardens, providing tons of organic produce for local food pantries, schools, community meal sites, senior citizen facilities, and meals on wheels. (www.dekalbgardens.org).
In addition, Dan Kenney also serves as a 2014 Governor Appointee to the Illinois Local Foods, Farms, and Jobs Council, and as a mayoral appointment to the City of DeKalb Citizen Environmental Commission. In his role on the commission he was lead convener of a citizen task force which created a City Sustainability Plan. Dan also serves as president of the Barb Food Mart School Based Food Pantry and the DeKalb County Farmland Foundation Boards, and is an associate director of the DeKalb County Soil and Water Conservation District.
Engrained Brewing Company
Melissa was born and raised in central Illinois and has always had a strong connection to farming and environmental issues. She is an attorney and former human resources manager, having worked in a variety of settings including state and local government, Caterpillar, and St. John’s Hospital. She became passionate about clean, local food when she had her first son in 2010 and has become an advocate for children’s health in the years following. She owns Engrained Brewing Company, a local Springfield microbrewery and farm to table restaurant.
Jane was born and raised on a small farm in Jackson County, Illinois and has focused on rural economic development throughout her adult life. She participated in the Freedom Summer in Mississippi (1964-65), working in rural African American communities to obtain voting rights and access to federal programs, and to develop “cottage” industries.
Her interest in rural development continued in work with Indígena: News from Indian America, a news journal that covered the 1970s indigenous movement in this hemisphere. While writing her dissertation, she worked with Illinois South Project (now Illinois Stewardship Alliance) on the farm crisis and later served on the Illinois South Project Advisory Council and on the Illinois Stewardship Alliance Board 1992-1997, chairing the board in 1995. In 1987 Jane began work in Southern Illinois University’s Department of Anthropology, where she taught until retiring in 2010
She has been involved for many years in the interdisciplinary organizations, Agriculture, Food, and Human Values; Rural History; and Rural Women’s Studies Association. In the past several years, through Food Works, she has reconnected with the growing local foods movement and worked closely with Carbondale’s two farmers markets and the City government to develop a year-round, permanent market facility. These efforts continue.
Strategic Hourglass Solutions
Maureen, along with four brothers and five sisters, was raised on a farm in Pawnee, IL. She moved to Texas in 1980 and for the next 27 years lived in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. She returned to Illinois 9 years ago after the sudden and tragic loss of her nephew in a house fire. With a finance degree from the University of Houston, and her prior experience as a financial advisor, Maureen founded Strategic Hourglass Solutions which is a local business devoted to helping individuals and businesses organize their paperwork and streamline their files so that documents can be found quickly and easily. After her return to central Illinois, Maureen became involved in the local food movement which led her to the Illinois Stewardship Alliance. She is a proponent of healthy eating and sustainable farming, has been an ISA member for several years and, most recently, was elected to the Board.
Rock Island County
Healthy Harvest Urban Farms
Chad came on to the local food scene in 2013 when he announced the opening of Healthy Harvest Urban Farms in East Moline, Illinois. There he and his son have brought together a place of education, community participation and even a market, all geared towards the local organic/sustainable food movement. In mid summer of 2016 Healthy Harvest is slated to open another location in a food desert located in downtown Rock Island, Illinois. This location has aggregation capabilities giving even more local farmers access to a larger audience. Chad is also the co-founder of the Q.C. Organic Conference in the Quad Cities. This conference provides education surrounding organic and sustainable growing practices and is an ongoing local resource for beginning and transitioning farmers. Chad also serves as the vice-chair on the advisory council for his local University of Illinois Extension that spans four surrounding counties.
Nature’s Farm Camp
Tim Magner is a Chicago-based education entrepreneur. He studied history at Boston College, followed by a career in technology sales before focusing on kids. For the last decade, Tim has been involved in a number of educational and food-related ventures, including as a children’s book author and the founder of Truck Farm Chicago. He’s now a Grant Officer at the Bryan Cameron Education Foundation and Director of Nature’s Farm Camp, a sleep-away summer camp for kids that takes place on a diversified working farm in Livingston County.
Flora Bay Farm
Courtney is an artist, farmer and freelance graphic designer located in Carbondale. Her six acre farm, Flora Bayoffers a diverse landscape of flowers, herbs, hops, fruits and vegetables grown with permaculture and biointensivie practices. After graduating with a BFA in Printmaking from SIU Carbondale, she worked as a graphic designer. Years later, the call of the soil led her and her partner, Steve, to enroll in the Southern Illinois Farm Beginnings program. The farm started the following year and continues to grow. Her hope is to help increase the availability of local foods and further strengthen the ties of community to area farmers and producers. Courtney currently serves on the board of Food Works, markets at the Carbondale Community Farmers Market and is a founding member of a local food hub, L.E.A.F. (Little Egypt Alliance of Farmers). In her spare time, Courtney herds cats, renovates small cottages and dabbles in the arts.