Illinois Stewardship Alliance’s annual membership drive is going on now and we want YOU! Join the ranks of family farmers, small businesses owners, caring citizens, and lovers of good food every where that are fighting to create change in our food and farm system. You can be a part of that change. Join or renew your membership to Illinois Stewardship Alliance today!
Why become a member?
1. Be a Part of the Change
We are a network of farmers, community members, organizations and businesses that are working together to improve the health of Illinois’ communities, economy, and environment. The strength of our membership reflects the strength of the local food movement in Illinois. We can’t create change without you!
2. Wear it proud.
Whether you are already a member or join during the drive, you can order Illinois Stewardship Alliance’s member-only Local Food is My Jam t-shirt. (pictured to the right)
3. Join in the fun.
To thank you for being a part of the good food movement, we invite you to our Summer Shindig at Epiphany Farms and Epiphany Farms Restaurant on Sunday, June 26th from 3- 6 p.m. Tour a top-notch farm, enjoy delicious farm fresh fare, take in the music, fancy a chance at winning a door prize, and meet other awesome members like yourself who care about creating a more just and sustainable food system.
4. Bring on the benefits.
All year long you can enjoy the benefits of being a member of Illinois Stewardship Alliance. From knowing that you are supporting our work to develop local food and farm systems to attending local food and farm networking events throughout the year, rest assured that your support is helping to get more good food on tables across Illinois.
A Letter from our Executive Director
I planted something magical in my garden: a buttercup squash seed. I’ve been vegetable gardening for years, but there’s something about saving the seed from last year’s harvest that has finally made me truly understand the miracle that is a seed. I have a new-found appreciation for how something so tiny, so easily lost or forgotten, can become something so incredibly beautiful and life-sustaining.
I am filled with anticipation, and I can almost imagine how delicious the buttercup squash will taste. To share the bounty, and given that only a few plants will fit in my small backyard garden, I also shared some seeds with my mother-in-law who introduced me to buttercup squash. Born in Europe and raised in rural Germany, she has a discriminating palate and always plants tasty heirlooms. Now both of us are passing on the buttercup squash love to friends, family, and co-workers so that more people can experience this delightful, flavorful variety of cucurbita.
Unfortunately, the act of saving and sharing seeds is not universally appreciated. In 2014, several states began regulating seed libraries, forcing them to comply with commercial seed laws and standards that they could never possibly meet. These small non-commercial operations, most of which are just shelf space in actual libraries, provide citizens from all walks of life with free access to non-patented seeds, protect genetic diversity through the saving of heirloom varieties, and provide communities with more opportunities to reconnect with the earth and with each other. When we are asked to give up our right to share seed, to forget the miracle that is a seed, then we know that we must fight back.
And that is what Illinois Stewardship Alliance has done. Last Spring, after being approached by several seed libraries in Illinois, we wrote and championed legislation that would protect our rights to save and share seeds. Despite strong opposition, that legislation recently passed the Senate and is now off to the House of Representatives.
In addition to the Seed Sharing Bill, we are doing a lot of other work to create a just food system. Thanks in part to your past support, this year we are:
- championing legislation that expands Co-op law, making it easier for butchers, bakers, brewers and other small businesses to become cooperatives.
- working with a coalition to champion the Healthy Food Incentives Fund, a matching fund for SNAP recipients to shop at farmers markets, giving them greater access to nutritional food and putting more money into the hands of local farmers instead of chain stores.
- hosting 25 Local Flavors farm-to-table events in restaurants throughout central Illinois to bring greater awareness to the importance of buying local and supporting local restaurants and farmers.
- hosting 10 Buy Fresh Buy Local Days in grocery stores to connect retailers with more local farmers and reach new customers with the Buy Fresh Buy Local message.
- Organizing farmers market fresh cooking classes to help teach adults, families, and kids about seasonality and how to prepare fresh produce.
- helping organize 3 Conservation Cropping Seminars, reaching farmers in 98 counties in Illinois to increase stewardship of Illinois’ abundant farmland.
- training over 700 farmers and agriculture service providers in the use of cover crops as a conservation practice.
- supporting grower networks throughout the state, including the Band of Farmers Chicagoland CSA Coalition, the Illinois Organic Growers Association, and Grow Springfield, through fiscal sponsorships and staffing.
To make a lasting impact on Illinois’ food systems, we need to address the system as a whole — encouraging farmers to add conservation practices, educating consumers about where they can buy locally-grown, sustainable food, and advocating that policy makers support food production that’s healthy for people and the planet. Each part of the system depends on the other, and we cannot make lasting changes without addressing all of them. Illinois Stewardship Alliance is the only statewide non-profit organization that is fighting to make changes on all three fronts: policy advocacy, conservation education, and local food promotion.
Our current agricultural model values industry, consolidation, and convenience. Corporations now control our food system, and the small farms and traditions that once created a vibrant culture are under threat — not simply because they are disappearing as a by-gone way of life, but because of unjust policies and an unlevel playing field.
We are doing our part to create change, but we can’t keep up the fight without you. We wouldn’t be able to do our work without people like you who care about creating a just and sustainable food system here in Illinois.
From May 16th – June 30th, Illinois Stewardship Alliance is hosting our annual membership drive. The strength of our membership reflects the strength of the local food movement here in Illinois. We’re counting on your support. Will you join us or make a contribution and share this letter with a friend?
We have planted the seed, and with your partnership and support, we are sure to grow and flourish!