Have you met Clay Yapp and Traci Barkley of Sola Gratia Farm? They are beginning farmers that donate 25% of their harvest to local hunger abatement programs. But to make their farm viable, they need to be able to sell their products through a variety of outlets. This year we helped connect them to chefs in their area through our Chef-Farmer Mixers and opened new restaurant markets in their community for local food with our Local Flavors Farm-To-Table Restaurant series.
Do you know Andy Shireman? He’s a grain and livestock farmer in Morgan, Scott and Brown counties and an advocate for conservation farming. He uses cover crops on all 3000 acres of his farm. We’ve invited him to speak at six conservation conferences, reaching over 245 farmers in order to share his knowledge, encouraging those farmers to get on board with using sustainable farming techniques that will help protect soil and water quality.
Have you met Donna O’Shaughnessy and Keith Parrish of South Pork Ranch? They are a certified organic farm raising pastured beef, pork, and dairy in Chatsworth, Illinois. This year we helped stop legislation that would ban on-farm raw milk sales, threatening the financial viability of their farm and taking away the consumers right to choose.
These are the faces of real people in our community that are strengthening our local food and farm systems, and we are helping to strengthen them as well. For 40 years Illinois Stewardship Alliance has been working to support family farmers, promote conservation and land stewardship, and revitalize communities and economies through local food and sustainable agriculture. For 40 years we have been doing what no one else is doing by fighting for fair food and farm policy.
But we can’t do it without you!
Thanks to members and supporters like you, in 2014 we:
- championed the Better Rules for Farmers Markets law, which standardizes food safety regulations across the state, making it easier for farmers to attend more markets in their area
- organized 39 Local Flavors Farm-to-Table events at central Illinois restaurants, opening new markets for local farmers and creating new opportunities for consumers to enjoy local food
- organized 4 chef-farmer mixers, connecting 120 chefs and farmers in order to expand local food sales
- created a Buy Fresh Buy Local Central Illinois website, making it easier for more consumers to find local food in their communities and learn about the farms and farmers who produce it
- created new and improved newsletters featuring stories about local farmers, seasonal recipes, and food and farming events
- established a new cover crops education program, educating over 1,000 farmers about cover cropping and conservation practices
- educated farmers and the public about the FDA’s massive proposed food safety rules that would unfairly burden family farmers, target sustainable and organic farming, and reduce the availability of fresh, local food in our communities; and
- stopped legislation that sought to ban on-farm sales of raw milk.
With your additional support, we hope to achieve the following in 2015:
- expand our conservation work and reach more conventional farmers with information about cover crops and sustainable farming practices
- encourage restaurants to pledge to purchase 10% of their food from local farms;
- create a chef-farmer network across the state, including several meet-and-greet events;
- staff and support a new emerging coalition of CSA farmers called Band of Farmers: The Chicagoland CSA Coalition
- advocate for policies that support family farmers and healthy local food such as reforming Illinois’ Co-op law and expanding Illinois Cottage Food law.
We can only continue this important work through the generosity of supporters like you. United, we can create an Illinois where land and animals are treated with respect, local economies flourish, and good food is available for all.
Please consider making a tax-deductible donation of whatever amount you can afford before December 31st
Your donation to ISA will make a difference for family farmers and your community! We truly appreciate and stretch every dollar, and we would not be able to do this work without you.
Happy holidays, and all the best in 2015!