On November 12, over forty landowners, land seekers, and service providers gathered at Soulful Prairies for the fourth annual Common Ground Gathering. These events bring together the northern Illinois agricultural community to network, trade resources, and make new connections around land access. The theme of this year's gathering was creative solutions to land access. We heard from Silvia Abel-Caines (Garlic eScape Farm) and Emy Brawley about the Conservation Fund's new initiative in the Chicago region, the Working Farms Fund. We also learned from Claire Hodge (Sunfleck Farm) and Kevin Kelley (Terra Vitae Farms) about their creative leasing arrangements with Linda Bruce (Soulful Prairies).
As the smell of popcorn sourced from Prairie Wind Family Farm wafted through the barn loft, a story was shared about juggling leases with three different landlords to piece together a network of plots to start a farm with. And over delicious beer from Kishwaukee Brewing Co. we heard advice given about setting up long-term leases for livestock farmers.
This year we were joined in the planning process by Angelic Organics Learning Center, the Land Conservancy of McHenry County, and McHenry County College's Center for Agrarian Learning. This collaborative event would not have been possible without the time, energy, and connections of all of these partners.
If you missed out on this event, don't worry. The feedback has been so positive that we hope to host a gathering next year. All updates will be shared through this newsletter and our website!