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October 15, 2009

Illinois Awarded Specialty Crop Grants
Funds will expand the availability of fresh, locally-grown produce and strengthen state’s specialty crop industry

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois has been awarded more than $435,000 through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program – Farm Bill.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture today announced 28 projects will receive a share of the funds, which are intended to expand the availability of fresh, locally-grown produce and strengthen the state’s specialty crop industry. 

“Illinois’ fertile soil and favorable climate are good for growing a wide variety of crops,” Agriculture Director Tom Jennings said.  “The purpose of these grants is to encourage additional local food production by creating markets for fresh fruits and vegetables.  This, in turn, will help ensure a viable industry for our specialty growers.” 

While best known for growing corn and soybeans, Illinois is the largest producer of pumpkins in the nation and ranks among the top ten states in the production of other specialty crops such as asparagus, cauliflower, green peas and lima beans.  The state devotes more than 117,000 acres of farmland to growing specialty crops, which produces nearly $137 million in sales for Illinois farmers. 

A list of the grant recipients and the amount of their award follows:

Belleville Main Street        $10,000
Farm to Table educational program for students and parents

Benton Farmers Market        $4,000
Newspaper and radio advertising; a vendor and customer survey  
Brookfield Chamber of Commerce          $10,000
A mobile, farmers market display; advertising, including flyers, signs and reusable shopping bags

CBS Broadcasting, Inc.        $83,942
Buy Illinois…Choose Illinois campaign targeting the Chicago market through television and internet advertising

City of Urbana        $15,000
An Eat Here promotion at a local farmers market

Clinton Chamber of Commerce        $6,500
Fourth grade Family Nutrition program consisting of workshops, teacher in-service opportunities, classroom activities, pre- and post-tests, a website and Meet the Grower opportunities

Comer Science & Education Foundation        $35,000
Transformation of a rooftop garden located in a food desert into a rooftop farm

DeWitt County Human Resource Center        $5,000
Garden plot project at a center for the developmentally disabled that demonstrates the use of shredded, recycled newsprint as groundcover 

Downtown Bloomington Association        $10,000
Development of a community-wide outreach campaign

Eckert Orchards, Inc.        $20,000
Development of new apple cultivars especially adapted to the Midwest

Edgebrook        $10,000
Provide information, recipes and cooking and tasting experiences at a local farmers market

Evanston Community Development Corp.        $10,000
Educational outreach; equipment to help beginning vendors start selling at their market; market signage and printed materials

Geneva Green Market, NFP        $11,000
Farmers Market Kid's Corner; print and radio ads; production of brochures, videos, a website and a newsletter

Georgia C. Shank        $10,000
Construction of a greenhouse-like high tunnel; end-of-season field day and farm tour

Green City Market        $15,000
Know Your Food…Know Your Farmer informational booklet

Green City Market        $10,000
Club Sprout youth program; Localvore kits; an e-newsletter and vendor survey

Harm Reduction Outreach DBA Total Health Awareness Team (Quincy)       $10,000
Development of a marketing plan, producer consulting and a grower meeting

Illinois Specialty Growers Association       $20,000
Annual conference for fruit, vegetable, herb and organic growers

Illinois Stewardship Alliance       $10,000
Identify a local, specialty crop food system in central Illinois; create promotional materials to support the growth of producers in the identified system

Mount Carroll Chamber of Commerce       $4,200
Newspaper and radio ads, production of signs, banners, flyers and posters; educational presentations

Pana Chamber of Commerce       $4,500
Farmers market advertising

Peasants' Plot       $10,000
High tunnel demonstration project comparing growth rates

Spring Valley Farm & Vineyard      $10,000
High tunnel demonstration project utilizing drip irrigation and fertilizer injection systems

Sustain      $36,000
A study to evaluate the feasibility of a centralization facility in central Illinois; the identification of low-cost GAP certification systems; and an industry survey to identify the barriers preventing producers from expanding into wholesale markets

The Experimental Station      $10,000
A Food Culture program in conjunction with the Woodlawn Buying Club and 61st St. Community Garden and Farmers Market

Town of Normal      $10,000
Development of a community-wide outreach campaign

U of I Warnock      $25,000
Study of the impact and commercial acceptance of selected, sustainable practices in highly-mechanized floriculture crop production systems

Woodstock Farmers Market     $10,000
Farmers Market educational program; promotional materials, nutritional handouts and demonstrations

Total     $435,142


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