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2021 Small Farms Winter Webinar Series

The University of Illinois Extension presents a weekly educational series for the small farm community. This series will provide practical knowledge on emerging topics which advance local food production in Illinois. These online presentations will give small farm producers a look at how leading practices in production, management, and marketing enable operations to improve profitability and sustainability. The complete list of topics and speakers is included below. Webinars will be held from noon -1:00 pm on Thursdays and are free.

Choose any number of the following webinars to attend when you register.

Topics include:

  • January 21, 2021   Exploring Cover Crops and No-till in Tomato & Pepper Production Systems   Nathan Johanning

Cover crops and reduced tillage can have positive influences on our soil and production, but how can we make them work in vegetable crops? Learn from current research evaluating how we can include cover crops in bareground, plasticulture and no-till production systems for tomatoes and bell peppers.

  • January 28, 2021   Augmentative Biological Control in Protected Culture and Greenhouses   Dr. Kacie Athey

Open fields, high tunnels, and greenhouses can have very different pest pressures. In open fields, releases of commercially available natural enemies may not be effective as they can easily escape from the environments where they are released. Natural enemy releases can be quite effective in greenhouses as the biological control agents cannot escape. High tunnels, which are a hybrid of both, may be well suited to natural enemy release. This presentation will cover the research so far into releases in high tunnels and greenhouses and an upcoming project next summer.

  • February 4, 2021   Aquaculture and Aquaponics: An Overview For Urban Agriculture   Andrew Coursey

Aquaponics and aquaculture are viable alternatives to traditional farming practices and are poorly understood.  This presentation will discuss the science and symbiotic relationship between them and the benefits of this interaction in urban agriculture.

  • February 11, 2021   So You Want to Be a Farmer/Value Added Producer?   Andy Larson

Starting a farm is much more than just putting seed to soil, especially in value-added agriculture.  A farm is a complex business undertaking that involves managing people, products, and paperwork, not simply crops and livestock.  During this webinar, we’ll discuss the decision to start a farm, and the tools and structures you’ll likely need to manage a farm business like a business.

  • February 18, 2021  Spring and Summer Bulbs for Cut Flower Production    Candice Hart

Dahlias, lilies, tulips and more. There are so many beautiful and productive cut flowers that can be grown from bulbs and other fleshy underground structures. Learn the easiest ways to grow these specialized plants and hear tips and tricks for getting them to survive from year to year.

  • February 25, 2021   Regenerative Grazing – Could It Work on Your Farm?   Doug Gucker and Katie Bell

Regenerative  grazing is a livestock and land management system that helps improve soil health, and reduces farm production costs. Learn the basics and see how it is being done here in Illinois.

  • March 4, 2021   Grower/Business Spotlight: Funks Grove Heritage Fruits & Grains         Jeff Hake

Farmers Katie Funk, Jeff Hake, and Jonathan Funk have developed a value-added product line using fruits and grains from their own farm just south of Bloomington. The farm is just a few years old, but is built off the tradition and resources of the family’s long-standing business, Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup. Jeff Hake will discuss those efforts and the next plans for the farm, including how they tie into opportunities and issues created by policy, regulations, larger markets, the COVID-19 pandemic, and climate change.

  • March 11, 2021   Containerized Production: Options When Quality Native Soil Isn’t An Option    Zack Grant

Many urban farmers find there may be limited options for growing in high quality native ag soils. Containerized production offers an alternative. Choice of alternative growing media and container are the key decisions for non-soil based production. In this webinar we will look at container options, non-container options, growing media, and the economics of containerized production.

  • March 18, 2021   Food Desert or Food Apartheid?    Grace Margherio and Joey Fonseca

Many experts talk about food deserts, but many people find this term inaccurate and unhelpful in developing sustainable solutions to community food security. The presentation will explore the historical and present systems that result in an unfair distribution of food access and power as well as discuss a path to move forward.

  • March 25, 2021 Too Small for Wholesale Markets? Think Again.     Kathryn Pereira & CFPAC staff (Marlie Wilson and Dakarai Howard)

Many smaller diversified farms use direct market channels to sell what they grow without even considering wholesale market channels due to their smaller production size. When and why might a small farm benefit from selling to a wholesale market? What kinds of wholesale options have small farmers used to successfully diversify their sales, balance risk, and enhance profitability? In this webinar you’ll learn about what it takes for a small farm to access these higher volume markets and about a new wholesale market opportunity opening up for all Illinois growers due to the passing of the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP) recently enacted in Chicago and greater Cook County. The GFPP is designed to increase demand for local, healthy, sustainable food through institutional purchasing. Chicago Food Policy Action Council staff will join us to explain the policy and how small farmers can best set themselves up to leverage GFPP to access these high-volume wholesale and institutional markets.

Note: Most of these webinars are confirmed, but a few are still to be approved, and dates may change. All webinars are recorded and available for viewing on our You-Tube channel shortly after each session. View the channel and older archived webinars here: http:/bit.ly/ILLocalFoodsYouTube

The webinars can be accessed online from your personal computer. In case you cannot attend these dates, register anyway to view an archived, recorded version. Information will be provided via email (by the Monday after airing) for viewing at your convenience.

Due to Covid-19 public health concerns, local Extension offices will not be offering live viewing sites this year.

For more information, contact: Zack Grant, University of Illinois Extension, Local Food Systems and Small Farms Educator at 708-679-6889, zgrant2@illinois.edu


  • Event Date & Time

    January 21, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm UTC+0

    |Recurring Event (See all)

    An event every week that begins at 12:00 pm on Thursday, repeating until March 25, 2021

  • Event Location

  • Cost


2021 Small Farm Winter Webinar Flyer