Farmer Speaker Bureau Profiles

Looking for a public speaker? We’ve got what you need. 

Illinois Stewardship Alliance promotes local food and sustainable agriculture through many avenues, including education. There is no better source for knowledge about conservation, local produce, and other agricultural topics than the people involved in the day-to-day agricultural work. Below you’ll find a list of farmers and others involved in Illinois agriculture that have agreed to be ambassadors and educators for local food and sustainable agriculture.

How does it work?

The Farmer Speaker Bureau was created in order to provide organizations and event planners, as well as the media, with an easily accessible contact list of experts in the fields of local food and farming that are willing to speak publicly about their areas of expertise. Looking for someone who can talk about cover crops? We’ve got them. Looking for someone who can share their knowledge about organic gardening? They’re in there. Looking for someone who can talk about the health and environmental benefits of eating locally? Look no further. Simply scroll through the profile until you find the speaker that best suits your needs. Once you’ve found a speaker, you can call or email using the contact information provided in order to request their services.

Please remember:

Farmers are busy people. Please consider the time and travel expenses that they will incur when speaking at your event and compensate them accordingly. If you feel that you are unable to provide an appropriate compensation, please complete our Time and Travel Stipend Request Form. Stipends will be available up to $500 dollars to offset these costs. Processing a Stipend Request may take up to 2 weeks, so please plan accordingly.

More profiles will be added soon. You can also download and print our Farmer Speaker Bureau Handout.

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Beth and Jody Osmund
Areas of Expertise: Community Supported Agriculture, Specialty Crops, Agricultural Policy
Contact Information: cdrvalleyfarm@gmail.com

More than a decade ago Beth, along with her husband Jody, left corporate jobs in Chicago to start Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm in Ottawa, IL. CSA shares and farmer’s markets are cornerstones of their marketing plan. Education is an integral part of their mission. From how to cook the meat they deliver to the broad social implications sustainable farming, each interaction is an opportunity to teach.

Jody grew up on a diversified grain and livestock farm in northern Illinois. He left the farm in the late 80’s Jody with no expectation of returning to farm. More than a decade ago he did return, but to a dramatically changed farm landscape. Jody and Beth knew that they would have to do things differently. Their approach focuses on community and sustainability. In addition to farming, Jody is very active in developing sustainable agriculture policy as well as farmer development and education.

 

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Leslie Coooperband
Areas of Expertise: Small-Scale Milk Production, Cheese Production, Sustainable Farming, Fruit Orchards
Contact Information: prairiefruits@gmail.com or (217) 643-2314

Leslie Cooperband and her husband Wes Jarrell own Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery in Champaign Illinois. Both soil scientists and academics by trade, they moved to central Illinois in 2003, bought seven acres of corn and soybean land and converted it to organic fruit orchards, pastures and hay fields in 2004. In 2005, their farm became the first licensed farmstead goat dairy in Illinois. From four goats in 2004 to a current milking herd of 70 goats, they have transformed their landscape into a diverse and sustainable farm and farmstead processing enterprise. Their farm was certified “Animal Welfare Approved” in 2010. They produce 16 to 18,000 pounds of artisan goat milk cheeses annually, which they sell at farmers’ markets, retail stores and restaurants throughout central Illinois and the greater Chicago area.  They also host “Dinners on the Farm” featuring locally grown foods from fellow farmers in Illinois.  Their dinners and cheeses have been featured in several national magazines including ‘Culture,’ ‘Bon Appetit’ and ‘Food and Wine Magazine.’ Their cheeses have won several awards from the American Cheese Society and the “Good Food Awards.”

 

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Andrea Hazzard
Areas of Expertise: Specialty Crops, Community Supported Agriculture, Conventional to Organic Transition
Contact Information: hazzardfreefarm@gmail.com

Andrea is the owner and operator of Hazzard Free Farm & CSA and Hazzard Free Farm Grains & Beans in Pecatonica, IL. The Hazzard Family has been farming in the area since 1847. The Hazzard Families are a great example of conventional, transitional, and sustainable non-certified organic food production all taking place within the same family and land. Products are available through their CSA and farmstand and at many local and regional, restaurants & grocers.

 

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Dave Bishop
Areas of Expertise: Conservation, Specialty Crops, Community Supported Agriculture, Cover Crops, Organic Farming
Contact Information: dave@prairierthfarm.com

Dave Bishop owns PrairiErth Farm in Atlanta, IL, a multigenerational, diverse, organic farm producing corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, forages, vegetables, beef, pork, poultry, and eggs.  Dave’s son Hans and his wife Katie, manage vegetable production and operate a CSA.  Graham, the youngest, manages pork production.  The farm is involved in numerous experimental and educational projects, such as the Food Forest Project, managed by Kelly Schneider, a former intern.  In 2012, over 1500 visitors attended farm workshops and events.  Dave also serves as president of the Illinois Organic Growers Association.  

 

Katie Bishop
Katie Bishop
Areas of Expertise: Starting a CSA, Organic Vegetable Production, Farm Marketing.
Contact information: katie@prairierthfarm.com

Katie Bishop, wife of Hans Bishop, handles most of the marketing, bookkeeping, social media and records at PrairiErth Farm in Atlanta, IL. Since coming to the farm she’s started an organic bakery and a dog treat line!  Hans grew up on the farm and with Dave’s guidance started the vegetable production. Together, Hans and Katie brought the farm to the Downtown Bloomington Farmer’s market and implemented one of the few USDA Certified Organic CSA’s in central IL.

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Adam Dahmer
Areas of Expertise: No-Till, Cover Crops
Contact Information: adamdahmer@advancecovercrops.com, or (618) 922-7446

Dahmer Farms, LLC has been no-till farming since 1983. Adam Dahmer, his father, Terry, and younger brother John, farm 1,300 acres in Williamson County, Illinois. They all raise corn and beans. His father switched their operation to 100% No-Till in 1983 and they have been 100% ever since. Seeing a need for even more organic matter and live roots in the soil, they began to transition the farm to use even more sustainable methods. They have been consecutively working with cover crops for right at 15 years on 50% of their acres and for three years on 100% of their acres. Adam has also started farming some acreage on his own in addition to working with his dad and brother. His operation is called Advance Cover Crops.

 

Matt Kilgus
Matt Kilgus
Areas of Expertise: Cow Milk Production; Rotational Grazing; On-Farm Processing; Creating a Value Added Product; Sales and Distribution; Agro-tourism
Contact information: matt_kilgus@frontier.com, 815-692-6080 office, 815-848-2830 cell

Matt Kilgus grew up on a dairy farm and has been involved in dairy production his whole life. He is a co-owner of Kilgus Farmstead in Fairbury, IL, along with his uncle and two cousins. Besides dairy production, Kilgus Farmstead also raises beef, pork, and goat meat using sustainable methods. When Kilgus Farmstead Inc. decided to build an on-farm bottling plant in 2009 in order to produce non-homogenized milk, it was Matt’s responsibility to work on setting up the processing facility and establish markets to get their value-added venture off the ground.  Matt says “We have learned a lot of lessons in the last five years of our business.  I try to share those lessons we’ve learned with folks that may be doing the same that we are doing or starting some type of value added venture.”

 

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Cathe Capel
Areas of Expertise: Small Farm Sheep Production for Fiber and Meat; Rare Breed Sheep and Chickens; Basic Livestock Management; Pastured and Free-range Poultry; Beginning Farmer Education; Farm Planning; Land Use and Zoning Issues for Small Farms; Small-Scale Farming: Deciding on a Scale that Fits You
Contact information: cathe@7sistersfarm.com, 217-493-8019

Cathe Capel is the owner of Seven Sisters Farm, a 20 acre sustainable farm that raises Leicester Longwool and Romney sheep, poultry, and seasonal fruit and vegetables. She has been involved in new farmer education since 2008, and has been farming in Sidney, Illinois for 5 years. She has been on the Zoning Board of Appeals in Champaign County for 6 years, and has served on the Champaign County Local Food Policy Council for 2 1/2 years. Both of her parents are from farming families, and she has been interested in organic gardening, sustainable farming, and environmentally sound agricultural practices since she lived in Wyoming as a young woman.  In 2007 she purchased a farm near Sidney, IL, and discovered Central Illinois Farm Beginnings, a program offered by The Land Connection (TLC), a local not-for-profit. She graduated from Farm Beginnings in 2008, and has continued to develop her knowledge of sustainable farming, livestock management, and local food policy through her experiences on the farm, on staff at TLC, and lately through her experiences as a member of the Champaign County Local Food Policy Council.

 

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John Curtis
Areas of Expertise: CSAs; Local Food and Health; Changes in Agriculture; Fossil Fuel vs. Solar Powered Farming; The Decline of our Rural Community as a Result of the Rise of Corporate Agriculture and the Decline of the Small Family Farm; Using Technology (social media, website design etc.) to Promote a Farm or Focal Food-Related Business; Edible Landscaping.
Contact Information: Barefootgardenscsa@gmail.com, 309-313-3224

John began his journey in the field of agriculture as a Peace Corps Volunteer on an organic farm in the Dominican Republic 20 years ago, and later, as an intern at The Land Institute. In 2003, John and his wife Karen made the transition from hobby gardening to professional gardening and created Barefoot Gardens CSA, a sustainable farm in Western Illinois that now boasts 250 CSA members. John also hosts intensive organic gardening workshops and is working on his first book, which he hopes to publish in 2015. He has been the recipient of the Golden Beet Innovative Farmer Award, has served as board president of Illinois Stewardship Alliance, and has had a chapter published in Local Food Systems and Activism in the Heartland.

 

Paul Hardej 
Paul Hardej
Areas of Expertise: Sustainable Urban Agriculture; Aquaponics; Aeroponics; Navigating Local Policies and Regulations Surrounding Urban Agriculture.
Contact Information: paulhardej@farmedhere.com

Paul is an architect by trade and vertical farm technology-developer by experience. Currently he is the Chief Technology and Development Officer at FarmedHere, which is the first commercial scale urban aquaponic and aeroponic farm of its kind. He has designed and constructed the first large scale, multi-level, in-door aquaponic/aeroponic grow system and developed all farm operating procedures, including training staff and designing the most advanced HACCP Food Safety Program for Controlled Environment Agriculture. Mr. Hardej is very involved in local food policy work and under his leadership FarmedHere obtained the first USDA Organic Certification for an in-door aquaponic farm. Paul Hardej can contribute his knowledge of regulatory environment, building codes, municipal zoning ordinances and design expertise to the process of expanding local urban agriculture. Paul is a frequent public speaker and an advocate of the good food movement and has served in advisory positions for a variety of organizations, including: Advocates for Urban Agriculture, International Society for Horticulture Science, FamilyFarmed.org, and Illinois Stewardship Alliance.

 

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Jennifer and Andrew Miller
Areas of Expertise: Goat Health Issues, Meat Goat Production, Rotational Grazing
Contact Information: info@rushcreekfarms.com, 217-688-2043

Jennifer and Andrew started their meat goat operation, Rush Creek Farms, just outside of Champaign, in 2005 in order to better utilize the land that they owned.  Jennifer graduated from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in 1999. Andy has served on the Board of Directors of the American Kiko Goat Association and the International Kiko Goat Association.  He has also been a member of their Performance Committees to help breeders select quality animals for genetic improvement in the Kiko breed. Both have spoken at numerous Extension Goat and Sheep Seminars over the last eight years.

 

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Woody Woodruff
Areas of Expertise: Cover Crops; Land and Water Conservation
Contact Information: woody@ilstewards.org, 217-528-1563 work, 217-883-7154 cell

Woody has worked in conservation for more than two decades, and has done everything from train agricultural workers in Africa about crop rotation to running the Woodruff Family Farm in Modesto, Illinois. Woody’s farm consists of 100 acres of cropland with 50 acres in a corn, soybean & wheat rotation, utilizing cover crops in that rotation. The remaining cropland has been restored into a prairie/savanna restoration which is protecting four acres of wetlands. Woody has inter-planted fruit and nut trees into his six acres of pasture. The remaining 50 acres of the land is maintained in timber. In addition to working the land, Woody’s been working in the conservation field since the late 1980s. During his time as a Peace Corps volunteer Woody taught farmers in West Africa about crop rotations, new irrigation techniques and other conservation practices. He’s also worked at Sangamon County Soil & Water District, testing different best management practices, improving the water quality through conservation techniques and promoting conservation programs.

 

Dave & Sue Cleverdon Kinnickinnick Farm
David Cleverdon
Areas of Expertise: Organic Farming; Agro-Tourism; Pasture-raised Poultry and Pigs
Contact information: kinnikinnickfarm@gmail.com, (815) 292-3288

David and Susan Cleverdon are transplanted Chicagoans who started farming in the gently rolling hills of northern Illinois in 1994. Their Kinnikinnick Farm has been a vendor at the Evanston Farmers Market since 1995. They raise certified organic produce, pasture their poultry and pigs, keep bees, milk a few goats, and, currently, are starting a flock of sheep. Specialties include triple-washed salad greens, Italian cooking greens, heirloom tomatoes, handmade pork sausage, free range eggs, roasting chickens, and an array of seasonal vegetables that they supply to some of Chicago’s best restaurants. Kinnikinnick is more than an organic farm; during the summer its family sized tent cabins are a vacation destination for families who want to spend a weekend or a week on a small working farm that is just a 90-minute drive from Evanston. David is a member of the Board of the Chicago Green City Market and The Frontera Farmer Foundation, a member of the Steering Committee of the Midwest Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training, and a presenter at the Stateline Farm Beginnings Program. He was recently appointed to the Governor’s Council on Local Foods, Farming, and Jobs. He is a member of the Chefs Collaborative, Indiana Certified Organic, and the Slow Food Movement.

 

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Deb Flannery
Areas of Expertise: Wholesale Vegetable Production; Sustainable Farming; Vegetable Production Tools and Equipment; and Farm Management, Marketing, and Infrastructure
Contact Information: info@wolfcreekfarmllc.com, 219-405-7904

Deb Flannery and Roger Bock are the owners and operators of Wolf Creek Farm, LLC, a wholesale vegetable farm in Williamsville, IL. Deb, an avid organic gardener with a background in business, and Roger, a lifelong grain farmer, began their wholesale vegetable endeavor in 2009. They grow over 40 types and varieties of vegetables on 3-5 acres of land using intensive planting methods and only the most sustainable and organic practices. Today they sell to grocery stores and retailers across the state and have created a thriving business. Their key philosophy is “Try.”

 

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Gus Jones and Andrew Heck
Areas of Expertise: Urban Farming; Organic Farming; Community Gardens; CSAs; Composting Contact Information: andrew.heck@yahoo.com, prairiecityfarmllc@gmail.com, 217-891-3570

Andrew Heck and Gus Jones manage a 14 acre urban farm called Prairie City Farms, LLC in the heart of Springfield. They grow up to 60 varieties of plants and vegetables using only organic methods, many of which are started by seed. Andrew holds a degree in Biology from SIU Carbonadale and a secondary teaching certificate. Gus completed an apprenticeship program at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at the University of California Santa Cruz and worked for three years in New York at the non-profit organization EATS and the Staten Island Botanical Gardens. Both have experience with community gardening, farming on small plots of land, and building hoop houses, and their products are available through farmers markets and CSA.

 

Deborah Neimann Boehle
Deborah Niemann-Boehle
Areas of Expertise: The Joys and Challenges of Eating Locally and Seasonally; The True Cost of Convenience Food; Small Scale Sheep and Goat Production for Fiber, Milk, and Meat; Rare Breed and Heritage Livestock and Poultry; Basic Livestock Management; Pastured Pork; Pastured Poultry; Backyard Poultry; Multi-Species Grazing; Beginning Farmer Education
Contact information: deborah@antiquityoaks.com 815-358-2450 (farm) 815-341-1223 (cell)

In 2002, Deborah Niemann and her husband Michael Boehle relocated their family of five from the suburbs of Chicago to a 32 acre parcel on a creek “in the middle of nowhere.” Together, they built their own home and began growing the majority of their own food. Sheep, pigs, cattle, goats, chickens, and turkeys supply meat, eggs and dairy products, while an organic garden and orchard provides fruit and vegetables. Deborah and Mike now operate Antiquity Oaks LLC as a teaching farm for backyard and rural homesteaders and aspiring farmers and as an incubator farm for beginning farmers. Deborah is the author of Homegrown and Handmade, Ecothrifty, and Raising Goats Naturally, and she teaches sustainable livestock courses online for the University of Massachusetts. She is the current president of the Illinois Herb Association and past vice president of the American Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Association.