The Local Food Caucus is the Alliance’s members-only network of farmers that believes Illinois can feed Illinois, that farmers are the heart of the local food movement, and that when farmers come together to form a collective voice, the local food movement will be stronger.
Through the Local Food Caucus, farmers build community, share issues, develop leadership, and work with eaters to solve problems and change policy. Farmers like Libby and Derek Ervin are leading the way.
Five years ago, Libby and Derek Ervin uprooted their lives in Chicago and moved to the 40 acre family farm in rural Southern Illinois. They dreamed of starting an apple orchard and cidery, but there were roadblocks along the way.
Apples take years to grow, cideries require start-up capital. They needed a way to earn money on their densely wooded farm right now. They learned about a brand new law championed by Illinois Stewardship Alliance, the cottage food law, that would allow them to make products in their home kitchen for sale at farmers markets. They decided to use what they had. They foraged their forests to make unique products: elderberry jam, honeysuckle jelly, hickory barbecue sauce and much more.
But they needed support. They joined the Alliance’s budding Local Food Caucus and found other farmers and cottage food entrepreneurs doing the same thing.
Derek and Libby shared their challenges and successes and they learned that other folks also felt limited by not being able to sell their cottage food online or at fairs and festivals. They worked with the Alliance and other farmers in the budding Local Food Caucus to put forward new legislation, they shared their story so that the public could learn about the issue, and they made plans to attend the Alliance’s Local Food Lobby day to champion the new legislation. The new law will help grow hundreds of small farms and food businesses like Libby and Derek’s and give YOU greater access to amazing local food and artisan products.
You can help farmers like Libby and Derek pass new legislation that will support hundreds of small farms and businesses, rebuild local economies, and bring more local food to market. Make a donation to support the Local Food Farmer Caucus today!
Our annual fundraiser is going on now! Donate today: