The Liberty Prairie Foundation has led the development of this website and is maintaining it and its support services. Tamarack Media has provided the technical assistance and guidance. We are grateful to Openlands for its partnership support in the launching of land access activities in the region.
Food:Land:Opportunity - Localizing the Chicago Foodshed has provided very generous financial support that has made our work and this website possible. Food:Land:Opportunity aims to create a resilient local food economy that protects and conserves land and other natural resources while promoting market innovation and building wealth and assets in the Chicago region's communities. Funded through the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, Food:Land:Opportunity is a collaboration between Kinship Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust.
Liberty Prairie Foundation
Founded in 1994, Liberty Prairie Foundation is a non-profit organization located in the Prairie Crossing conservation community in Grayslake, Illinois. We seek to demonstrate and foster ways for people and nature to thrive together. We have done so in many ways but have given particular attention to advancing sustainable agriculture in northeastern Illinois. Our variety of innovative programs and initiatives have emphasized the connection between farming, food, and healthy communities in all of our work. Our ownership and management of a 100-acre organic farm in Prairie Crossing has been the foundation of much of our programs. It has given us the opportunity to develop ideas and farming systems in the real world with real people. Click here to learn more.
Land Access Roots
This website grew out of our Land Access Project that first began in 2014 with generous funding from Food:Land:Opportunity - Localizing the Chicago Foodshed and in close collaboration with Openlands. From our own experience from the Farm Business Development Center and from assessments of local food activities in the region, it was clear to us and many others that one of the obstacles to growing the availability of local sustainable foods in northeast Illinois was the difficulty local food farmers had finding the right land at the right price. This was the genesis of the Land Access Project.
Over time, we have come to a more nuanced, holistic idea of the land access challenges of northeast Illinois. As we move forward, partnering with other organizations (like The Land Conservancy of McHenry County) will only grow in importance.
Farmlinking programs have been springing up around the United States. After studying those programs (Land for Good and Hudson Vally Farmland Finder have been especially helpful) and assessing the unique needs of our region, we decided to launch Northeast Illinois FarmLink as part of a larger strategy to help move the regional local food system forward.
A key insight has been that we need to pay attention to leasing arrangements as so much of the farmland of the region is owned by non-farming landowners and because land prices in the metropolitan Chicago area are prohibitively expensive for almost all young local farm businesses. In fact, in McHenry County, around 80% of the land is leased out. In this situation, farmers and landowners both need to be given support and attention. We are committed to helping farmers and landowners not only connect but also build good relationships and good leases that will last over time.
Nathan Aaberg leads this project. He welcomes the opportunity to talk with you and help you, whether you are a farmer or a landowner. He is excited about what’s possible when farmers and landowners cooperate together to do what’s good for the land, the soil, the food that is produced, and what’s good for the farmer’s and landowner’s families.