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September 22, 2010

Illinois Receives Nearly $650,000 To Enhance Specialty Crops
Funds will expand the availability of fresh, locally-grown produce and strengthen state’s farm economy

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) Director Tom Jennings today announced that farmers and organizations across the state will receive nearly $650,000 to enhance specialty crops thanks to funding from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program – Farm Bill. 

“Illinois’ fertile soil and favorable climate are good for growing a wide variety of crops,” Director Jennings said.  “The purpose of these grants is to encourage additional production and access to nutritious, locally grown fruits and vegetables.” 

Thirty seven projects will receive a share of the funds, which are intended to strengthen the state’s specialty crop industry by expanding the availability of fresh, locally-grown produce.  Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops, including floriculture. 

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, projects and the amount of their award follows:

University of Illinois       $9,648
Provide agricultural and good handling practices training to specialty crop producers and retailers and technical support to develop food safety plans for their specialty crop enterprises

University of Illinois        $16,108
Create the Illinois Organic Growers Association and support the first year of educational and networking opportunities to Illinois specialty crop growers interested in organic and
ecologically-oriented growing and marketing techniques

Peoria RiverFront Association      $10,000
Develop a multi-media advertisement campaign to increase awareness of the farmers market as well as the health and nutritional benefits of locally grown specialty crops

Carlyle Lake Chamber of Commerce     $10,000
Provide educational demonstrations at the local farmers market; develop and distribute educational specialty crop handouts

Jacksonville Main Street       $6,700
Develop a multi-media advertisement campaign to increase awareness and access to healthy food products

Downtown Bloomington Association    $26,000
Develop an advertisement campaign to increase awareness and sales of specialty crops at Uptown Normal’s Trailside Market and the Downtown Bloomington Farmers Market

Experimental Station      $10,000
Marketing materials for dissemination throughout Chicago; expansion of in-school and after-school educational outreach to low income youth about the nutritional benefits, cultivation and preparation of organic and sustainably grown fruits and vegetable

Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association   $10,000
Expand viticulture knowledge dissemination at the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association’s Annual Conference and Tradeshow through collaborating with neighboring state associations and communicating with experts within the field of viticulture

Taylorville Main Street      $4,087
Expand the consumption of Illinois specialty crops through an extensive advertising

Mt. Carroll Chamber of Commerce     $8,546
In collaboration with Learn Great Foods, provide quality programs/demonstrations specific to locally grown specialty crops in order to increase awareness and consumption; implement an advertising campaign

Buffalo Grove Farmers Market      $9,984
Implement an advertising campaign to teach people about the nutritional benefits associated with Illinois-grown vegetables and encourage them to change their eating habits

Jo Daviess County Farm Bureau     $7,583  
Implement a marketing campaign to promote specialty crops at local farmers markets

Batavia MainStreet        $13,735
Implement a marketing campaign to promote awareness, education and sales of local specialty crops

Champaign-Urbana Public Health District    $10,000
Implement a social marketing, social media and WIC client education campaign that promotes specialty crop growers in the Champaign County region, as well as the nutritional benefits of those crops

Village of Lemont        $6,245
Develop a marketing campaign to increase awareness and purchases of Illinois specialty crops offered at the Lemont Farmers Market

Downtown Springfield, Inc.      $10,000
Supplement a current advertisement campaign with the addition of promoting individual and familial purchase of specialty crops through the utilization of Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT)

Knox County Food Development Council     $50,000
Provide education, resources, technical assistance, and market development for the local specialty crop food industry through a growers’ incubator, food consolidator, advertisements for local specialty crops at farmers markets, season extension demonstrations, as well as market research into potential value added processing of specialty crops

Geneva Green Market       $9,700
Develop a multi-media advertisement campaign for the Geneva Winter Market

Lan-Oak Park District       $10,000
Marketing campaign, including banners, signs and reusable shopping bags, to generate awareness of specialty crops and the district’s farmers market

Village of Schaumburg       $7,829
Supplement existing advertising campaign for the Olde Schaumburg Centre Farmers Market

Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom     $10,000
Develop a new Pumpkins Ag Mag to increase awareness of the specialty crop and introduce more students to the ideas of locally grown foods and the farmers that grow them

Land Connection Foundation      $26,220
Implement a training program that will professionally market and educate the general public about the importance of specialty crops in Illinois

Esther’s Place        $8,680
Provide education to students and teachers at local schools about the production and preparation of specialty crops in order to help the next generation understand vital aspects of specialty crop origins and nutritional information

Illinois Stewardship Alliance      $10,000
Expand a marketing campaign to increase sales and consumption of central
Illinois specialty crops

Annie’s Project        $10,000
Provide educational opportunities to women that will help them utilize small acre
resources through the addition or expansion of specialty crop commodities to their production and marketing practices

Land of Goshen Community Market     $14,682
Create a “Market Sprouts” programs targeting children by providing activities promoting fresh, locally grown specialty crops in a centrally located area

Chicago Defender Charities      $8,700
Educate youth in the Englewood community by utilizing the Heritage Garden to produce vegetables and teach residents the importance of nutrition and healthy eating habits

Illinois Specialty Crop Growers Association    $24,450
Facilitate a conference in order to educate Illinois specialty crop producers on various topics

Southern Illinois University      $13,604
Implement a farm-to-school program whereby fresh fruits and vegetables will be processed during the summer months for local schools

Southern Illinois University      $57,017
Develop practical management strategies that increase the sustainability of Illinois wine grape production

University of Illinois        $39,962
Conduct research, demonstrations and deliver educational programs on varieties,
production practices and pest management for tomatoes, peppers and salad greens grown in high tunnels

Southern Sisters Spirits       $10,950
Develop a public education campaign about locally grown grapes

National Agricultural Statistics Service Illinois Field Office  $30,000
Conduct a 2010 specialty crops survey of roughly 3,000 specialty crop growers in order to assist in an estimation of the growth of the specialty crop industry in Illinois

Mills Apple Farm        $23,472
Develop a demonstration sweet cherry orchard using slanted and trellised trees
grown in high tunnels

FamilyFarmed.org        $35,000
Create a business plan for a pack house located in central Illinois that aggregates, stores,
markets and distributes specialty crop products from area farms to Illinois wholesale buyers

Central Illinois Agricultural Research Farms    $12,372
Develop and refine a sustainable and organic vegetable production system

IDOA          $66,810
Provide educational workshops and promotional activities that target new and existing specialty crop producers and at-risk consumers


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