Local Foods 101 at JustGoods Feb. 22

From press release

  What is local food? What is organic? Are they the same? What are the not-so-obvious benefits of buying food locally? How can we commit to “local food” when we can only find it four or five months of the year?

  Blackhawk Sierra Club will host “Local Foods 101” beginning at 7 p.m., Monday, Feb. 22, at JustGoods fair trade market, 201 Seventh St., Rockford.

  Margaret Larson, director of the University of Illinois Extension Offices in Stephenson and Winnebago counties, addresses these questions and will provide some changes in the way we view our local food system.

  Also on the panel will be local food growers: Andy Hazzard from Hazzard Farms (andywildcountry@msn.com), which supplies local organic vegetables to area families, and sells at local markets; CSA and local producers Dave Koska (who will also speak about Angelic Organics and his own farm), and Kathy Spataro from Open Range Products (she was named Winnebago County Farmer of the Year).

  Margaret Larson supports local food in northern Illinois; in Stephenson County with the establishment of two new “local only” farmers’ markets and two community gardens (including one on the grounds of Adkins Energy Ethanol Plant) as well as the formation of Northwest Illinois Local Foods Task Force; and she facilitated the formation of the Winnebago County Local Foods Working Group, coordinated the development of and published the Local Foods Directory for Northern Illinois, assisted with the start-up of two Rockford farmers markets, and is currently working with the Extension Master Gardeners to develop a Community Gardening Program.

  Locally, Extension provides training and technical support for producers to help them make their small farm enterprises more productive and profitable. Larson assists with grant writing, in site programming and connecting those in need with the technical resources through the U of I Extension statewide network of educators.

  Margaret Larson leads a region-wide Extension initiative on local foods, the GAP program (Good Agricultural Practices), which will train local producers on the need for good food handling and farm practices as they grow and sell to larger markets, such as wholesale and retail. Larson is part of a statewide Farmers Market Association Planning Committee and has presented on the topics of marketing and managing farmers’ markets at several statewide conferences.

          The program is free and open to the public. For more information, call Stanley Campbell, conservation chairman of the Blackhawk Sierra Club, at (815) 964-7111.

From the Feb. 17-23, 2010 issue

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