Organizations Who Can Help You

Sometimes you need more than what a Google search can find. Sometimes you need to talk with people, learn, get local insight, get training, and network. That's what this part of the website is here to help with you with. Below you'll find short profiles of organizations that serve agriculturalists of many kinds at the state, regional, and/or county levels. You'll also find links to their websites. If you're still not sure where to turn after looking this over, don't hestitate to reach out to us.

Statewide

Organized by Regenerate Illinois, the IDEA Network is primarily a group of farmers (and some non-farmers) who want to improve practices in their farming operations by sharing learning with each other. The IDEA Network email listserve provides an online space where members of the group can pose questions and benefit from the knowledge and experience of the whole group. The listserve is a great way to learn and to be aware of education events. Follow the link to find an email address for being added to the Network’s Google Group.

Illinois Organic Growers Association works to support networking and farmer-to-farmer exchange among farmers interested in organic and sustainable production methods. It also seeks to promote and develop new and improved production methods that are state- and region-specific. It helps growers educate consumers and expand markets for organic agricultural products. Workshops, field days, and information outreach are key parts of the association’s work.

Illinois Stewardship Alliance (ISA) is a membership-supported, statewide, non-profit organization that mobilizes an alliance of consumers, farmers and organizations working to support sustainable agriculture and the development of local and regional food systems that nourish people and care for the environment. ISA carries out a diverse set of programs and activities, including policy and education.

Based in Champaign, The Land Connection is a non-profit organization that trains farmers in resilient, restorative farming techniques; informs the public about the sources of our food and why that matters; and works to protect and enhance farmland so that we, and generations to come, will have clean air and water, fertile soil, and healthy, delicious food. The Land Connection also organizes the annual Illinois Organic Grain Conference.

Northeast Illinois

Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA) is a coalition of urban farms, community and school gardens, individuals and businesses working to support and expand sustainable agriculture in the Chicago region. AUA empowers urban growers to foster thriving communities through sustainable agriculture and equitable food systems. To achieve this mission AUA educates and trains; endorses best practices; connects growers, consumers, and resources through an active network; and advocates for urban agriculture policy at all levels.

Located in Caledonia, Angelic Organics Learning Center (AOLC) was established as the 501(c)(3) non-profit educational partner to Angelic Organics CSA farm in 1999. AOLC offers a variety of education opportunities. Its On-Farm Programs include workshops, field trips, summer camps, and most recently, educational farm stays at Angelic Organics Lodge. AOLC also manages the Upper Midwest CRAFT farmer training alliance which brings together more than 200 members within the sustainable & organic food system for sharing expertise. Its Stateline Farm Beginnings program has graduated nearly 300 sustainable farmers since 2006. AOLC also coordinates Urban Agriculture Programs in Rockford and Chicago.

Band of Farmers is a coalition of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms serving the greater Chicago area as well as supporters of CSA farms. The Band of Farmers coalition primarily collaborates to educate consumers about local foods in general and the CSA model in particular. Primary (voting) membership is open to all farms that serve the greater Chicago area with a CSA and grow or produce the majority of their CSA offerings.

FamilyFarmed is a non-profit dedicated to building a better food system. It does this through a variety of programs that bring together farmers, food producers, trade buyers, investors, individuals, families and other key stakeholders. FamilyFarmed is the organizer of the annual Good Food Festival.

Openlands is one of the oldest metropolitan conservation organizations in the nation and the only such group with a regional scope in the greater Chicago region. Openlands has helped protect more than 55,000 acres of land for public parks and forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, urban farms, and community gardens. In the agricultural world, Openlands has special interest in policy solutions and promoting land access for farming in areas where more sustainable farming can advance large-scale conservation initiatives.

Organized by Angelic Organics Learning Center, Routes to Farm is a collaborative effort to make resources available to farmers who are launching or growing their farm businesses in the Chicago foodshed. Through the Routes to Farm website you can find ways to network with other farmers; find training, mentors and markets; and access region-specific resources, such as equipment suppliers, seed varieties and business consultants.

The Resiliency Institute (TRI) is a nonprofit organization based in Naperville that is devoted to using permaculture education and design to foster nature and human connection, grow food security, and build resilient communities. Through a wide variety of education programs and events, TRI seeks to transform Chicagoland’s suburbs into resilient permaculture communities by empowering people to live resilient lives, grow resilient landscapes, and build resilient communities

Boone County

University of Illinois Extension's Boone-DeKalb-Ogle Unit is the link between University of Illinois and the agricultural community in Boone, DeKalb and Ogle counties. U of I Extension offers practical, research-based education to help people improve their lives and communities through learning partnerships that put knowledge to work.

This chapter of the Farm Bureau serves Boone and Winnebago Counties.

Cook County (suburban)

Cook County Farm Bureau serves all of the Cook County Farm Bureau members with programs that reflect the state's agricultural heritage.

The Will-South Cook Soil and Water Conservation District, organized in 1946, is one of 98 Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts empowered by state law to provide help and information about soil, water, and related natural resources. The District encompasses all of Will County and the portion of Cook County that lies south of 22nd Street. The District works together with the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to help district residents conserve, develop, manage, and wisely use land, water, and related resources.

Windy City Harvest is the Chicago Botanic Garden’s urban agriculture education and jobs-training initiative to help build a local food system, healthier communities, and a greener economy. The Windy City Harvest Youth Farm is designed to engage, educate, and employ at-risk youth from spring through fall. The Windy City Harvest Apprenticeship program offers a nine-month training certificate in sustainable urban agriculture, delivered in partnership with the City Colleges of Chicago's Daley College/Arturo Velasquez Institute. This formal instruction and hands-on program includes a three-month paid internship.

DeKalb County

DeKalb County Farm Bureau works to encourage, promote and foster agriculture and the social and economic interests of persons engaged in the production of agricultural products.

The Soil and Water Conservation District is a local resource for natural resource concerns for the citizens of the county.

University of Illinois Extension's Boone-DeKalb-Ogle Unit is the link between University of Illinois and the agricultural community in Boone, DeKalb and Ogle counties. U of I Extension offers practical, research-based education to help people improve their lives and communities through learning partnerships that put knowledge to work.

DuPage County

DuPage County Farm Bureau is a 501(c)(5), not-for-profit, individual membership association through which farm people can work together and cooperate with others to strengthen agriculture’s role and influence as a vital part of a strong, prosperous economy in a free America.

Kane-DuPage SWCD is a public body made up of citizens concerned with the protection of our natural resources. Its staff provide technical information to individuals and groups on methods of soil and water conservation, and provide natural resource inventory information on properties slated for zoning changes.

This office is the link between the U of I and residents in all three counties. Extension staff provide educational programs and research-based information to help residents improve quality of life, develop skills and solve problems.

Grundy County

Grundy County Farm Bureau is a grassroots, membership-based organization striving to promote agriculture through education, legislation and community involvement.

This is the soil and water conservation district for Grundy County.

University of Illinois Extension serving Grundy, Kankakee and Will counties provides resources and programming to the community. The program areas are: Family & Consumer Economics,
Local Food Systems and Small Farms, Metro 4-H Youth Development, Nutrition and Wellness
SNAP-Ed, and Youth Development.

Kane County

Kane County Farm Bureau is a voice for farmers and others who have a vested interest in agriculture. Its mission is to “Enhance the quality of life for member families, promote all aspects of agriculture and advocate good stewardship of our land and resources.” To achieve that, many member services have been developed over the years.

Kane County and the U.S.D.A. through its federal farmland protection program have invested over $32.6 million dollars to permanently protect Kane County's rich farmland in agricultural conservation easements. Twenty-nine family-owned and operated farms (4,927 acres) have been permanently protected through this voluntary program since 2001. This award winning program has a waiting list of farms totally 1,500 acres waiting to be protected. The staff of the Kane County Development & Community Services Department manage the farmland protection program are excellent resources around all things farming and land access in their county.

Kane-DuPage SWCD is a public body made up of citizens concerned with the protection of our natural resources. Its staff provide technical information to individuals and groups on methods of soil and water conservation, and provide natural resource inventory information on properties slated for zoning changes.

This office is the link between the U of I and residents in all three counties. Extension staff provide educational programs and research-based information to help residents improve quality of life, develop skills and solve problems.

Kendall County

This office is the link between the U of I and residents in all three counties. Extension staff provide educational programs and research-based information to help residents improve quality of life, develop skills and solve problems.

Lake County

The mission of the College of Lake County (CLC) Horticulture Department is to provide high quality, accessible, affordable education addressing the science, art, and business of horticulture, sustainable agriculture, landscape design, and natural areas management. The department offers associate degrees and certificates in Horticulture Production, Landscape Design, Landscape Construction & Maintenance, Natural Areas Management, Sustainable Agriculture, and Arboriculture. It also operates the CLC Campus Farm, a working farm that hosts a seasonal, weekly on-campus market and supplies the school cafeteria with produce.

This is a very useful online resource for learning about all that’s happening on Lake County’s local food scene. Developed by the Liberty Prairie Foundation (yes, the same organization behind Northeast Illinois FarmLink), this website includes an interactive map to find places to buy local food, resources for growing your own food, and information about what is happening in Lake County related to food and farming.

McHenry County

McHenry County Farm Bureau is a non-for-profit membership organization that represents over 850 farm families on local, state and national issues. An additional 8,500 associate (non-voting) members support the Farm Bureau with their annual membership dues. McHenry County Farm Bureau provides members with legislative representation on trade, transportation, education, renewable fuels, land use, taxes and governmental regulation. Farm Bureau also provides members with the opportunity to participate in educational events, conferences, seminars and tours.

The mission of the McHenry-Lake Soil & Water Conservation District is to serve McHenry and Lake County, Illinois residents and businesses and assist in conserving and protecting the land, water, air, and other resources.

The Land Conservancy of McHenry County (TLC) is a non-profit land trust that works to preserve the open space of McHenry County. Since 1991, TLC has helped protect over 2,500 acres of McHenry County's prairies, wetlands and woodlands by working with private landowners, communities and other partners. TLC accomplishes this by accepting donated conservation easements and direct acquisition of property (through purchase or donation). TLC has long valued both natural lands and farmland. It seeks to preserve the agricultural character of the county through land preservation and many other activities. TLC, for example, partners to hold education and networking events that helps farmers and farmland owners. It also organizes the Women’s Learning Circles for women who own farmland and who want to improve their land stewardship.

The University of Illinois Extension - Lake & McHenry Counties' mission is to help local residents put knowledge to work by serving as the local link to the University of Illinois.

Will County

University of Illinois Extension serving Grundy, Kankakee and Will counties provides resources and programming to the community. The program areas are: Family & Consumer Economics,
Local Food Systems and Small Farms, Metro 4-H Youth Development, Nutrition and Wellness
SNAP-Ed, and Youth Development.

Will County Farm Bureau actively serves the Will County community. It advocates on behalf of all of its members to improve their economic and social well-being. Will County Farm Bureau works with local farmers and ranchers to improve the natural environment and productivity of their land. It also reaches out to the non-farming community to share with them the benefits of modern agriculture.

The Will-South Cook Soil and Water Conservation District, organized in 1946, is one of 98 Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts empowered by state law to provide help and information about soil, water, and related natural resources. The District encompasses all of Will County and the portion of Cook County that lies south of 22nd Street. The District works together with the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to help district residents conserve, develop, manage, and wisely use land, water, and related resources.

The primary resource concerns of the Will-South Cook Soil and Water Conservation District include soil erosion and sediment control, water quality, natural resource management, the preservation of prime farmland, and conservation education.