Cast your vote for the Routes to Farm’s 2021 Beginning Farmer of the Year!
This annual award celebrates the critical role that beginning farmers play in building a just and regenerative food system into the future.
We are proud to nominate Alliance member Christine Johnson of Wild Trillium Farm, a first generation farmer who balances growing her new farm business while organizing and leading farmers across the state to advocate for better farm policy.
Last year she led Illinois Stewardship Alliance’s Local Food Farmer Caucus to pass three pieces of legislation that support small farms and build the health and wealth of Illinois communities. This year, in addition to leading the Caucus, she’s re-launching the Northern IL Young Farmers Coalition and serving on Congresswoman Underwood’s Ag Advisory Committee.
She is one of five inspirational beginning farmers nominated for the award. With your vote, Christine can take home the $1,000 cash prize.
Christine’s tenacity, her leadership, and her commitment to supporting other farmers is what makes her an outstanding candidate for Beginning Farmer of the Year.
At first, Christine set out to make the world a healthier place through the law. But when she realized that wasn’t the right fit, she decided she could pursue her dreams through farming.
She launched an urban flower farm in Chicago that would supply folks with local, seasonal flowers while also working to support other beginning farmers by launching a Northern Illinois Chapter of the Young Farmers Coalition.
She didn’t come from a farming family so as a first generation farmer, the challenges were relentless.
There were obvious ones, like access to land and capital, but there were other barriers too– like lack of access to crop insurance to protect her farm from disasters and a system that was designed to benefit big businesses instead of helping small businesses thrive.
At the end of three years of farming, she felt alone and exhausted. She found work elsewhere, but her heart continued to call her back to the land.
Then the pandemic hit and she was laid off from her job in the food industry. But the silver lining was that she got a second chance at farming – and she couldn’t pass it up. With two of her oldest friends, they decided that together, they would feed themselves and the community when they needed it most.
Read Christine’s full story and cast your vote today: