Category Archives: agriculture

Chicago Farmers annual meeting touches on sustainability issues

The Chicago Farmers’ annual Investment Fair is coming up Feb 4. Along with the usual legal and technical topics there will be several issues related to sustainability. Here’s the schedule as it appears on my friend, Rich Schell’s blog

8:45 – 9:30 a.m.     Session 1
Condemnation & Eminent Domain
Managing Drainage
The Business Case for Investing in Local & Organic Farms
Biomass: Your Third Crop
Farmland Values
10:15 – 11:00 a.m     Session 2
Conservation Solutions
Custom Farm Leasing
“How To” info for Farmer’s Markets & Grass Fed By-The-Numbers
Evolving Biomass Markets: Home To Industry
Condemnation & Eminent Domain
11:00 – 1:00 p.m.     Complimentary Lunch Served
11:15 – 12:00 p.m.     Session 3
1031 Exchange
4 R’s of Nutrient Management
Value Added and Its Effect on Farmland Values
Investing In South American Agriculture
Wind & Solar Energy
1:15 – 2:00 p.m.     Session 4
Remote Sensing
Farmland Values

For more info and to register, go to the Chicago Farmers website —


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Finally, legal legs for organic farms

how many lawyers will it take...

It is fairly common for organic fields to be contaminated by careless spraying from conventional neighbors. In Illinois, it is particularly problematic when pesticides are applied by crop dusting airplanes. I have heard more than one farmer express their frustrations. No one seems to care, but that might change now that we have some real legal precedents for organic farmers looking for justice in the courts.

Read more HERE.

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Good farm and food TV

Meet the Farmer TV host, Mike Clark

Just discovered this very nice site called, “Meet The Farmer TV.” Lots of recorded video episodes on sustainable farms and food. The ones I watched were well done, mostly out of Virginia. Produced by Planet Earth Diversified.

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Global organic tries to go local

Bananas with a "local" feel.

This morning, while I sat in the kitchen checking my email, I glance over and notice that my wife had bought another bunch of Dole Organic bananas.  She’s been buying these lately. They’re much more expensive and they are smaller and not as yellow as conventional bananas, but the taste better. At least, me and my oldest daughter think so. This morning was the first time I actually looked at the label. At the top of the label is the USDA ORGANIC seal, and then in small print, “Visit the Farm at FARM 776 Columbia”. That caught my eye. Supposedly I can go on line and look at the farmer in Columbia who grew this banana sitting on my kitchen counter.

I went to, typed in “776” and hit GO. It took me to a page Dole created for the Don Pedro Farm…

In the heart of La Guajira desert with a great view of the snowed peaks of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, there is a farm called Don Pedro. This farm has over 310 hectares of organic bananas and was established in 2005. This farm is currently certified under EU and NOP organic rules, ISO 14000 and SA 8000.

In addition to this brief description, there are eight pictures, most of the farm, and a list of the farm’s certifications. You can even click on PDFs and look at a copy of the certifications. It also has a link to a Google EARTH Map showing the location of the farm. There are a total of 34 farms one can “visit” through the site.

Reconnecting food back to the farmer, sorta.

I have to commend Dole for helping their consumers “connect” with the farmers growing their produce. This is an ingenious attempt to frame their produce in a way that appeals to locavores. Know your farmer. That’s the locavore motto. And now, even if your farmer farms on another continent you can “know” him/her. Of course, “local,” like the term, “friend” is a relative term. For us living in the Midwest US there in no such thing as a truly local banana. South America is about as local as we can get from here. Better this side of the globe than all the way over in the Philippines. Right?

Anyway, glad to meet you, Don Pedro. Your bananas are delicious. God bless you and your farm.


Filed under agriculture, big ag, food, local food, organic

Book: a different field

the stories of real farmers in Illinois

Here’s a book I wrote several years ago. You can order it cheap from the University of Illinois.

A Different Field — Innovative Entrepreneurs in Illinois Farming

Grapes, earthworms, buffalo, pecans, honey, and catfish-not typically what comes to mind when thinking about farms in the state of Illinois. But these and other unusual “crops” are featured in a new book about innovative farmers. This book tells the stories of 18 farmers who are exploring alternatives to corn and soybeans: a first look at a growing trend in Illinois as consumers become “more conscious of their health and more particular about their food.”

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