U of I Extension hosts small farm tour Aug. 13

From press release

Brightflower Nursery in Stockton and Famous Fossil Winery in Cedarville are the destinations of a tour sponsored by University of Illinois Extension. The tour is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 13, and will begin at 9 a.m. at the nursery.

“The University of Illinois Extension in northwestern Illinois has been active in supporting local foods efforts and providing training for small farms for the past five years,” said Margaret Larson, county director at the Stephenson and Winnebago County Extension units. “As part of these ongoing efforts and initiatives, we are pleased to partner with the U of I small farms program and the sustainable agriculture tours to provide area residents with the chance to gain more insight into the local businesses that contribute to the state’s economy.”

Jeanie McKewan and Michael Staver started  Brightflower Nursery in 2006. “After working for a variety of business entrepreneurs on Chicago’s North Shore, I decided that it was time to start my own,” said McKewan, who is president of Brightflower. “I have always been involved in growing and gardening and have a master’s degree in plant pathology.”

Brightflower Nursery is certified organic. McKewan said the choice to become certified was partly about nurturing the land, but also as a marketing niche. “We are small with very little capital, so it is difficult to build the business. We’re far from some of our market, so delivery costs are high,” she said.

Visitors will tour the greenhouse and hoop house production, the field production of cut flowers, the bouquet-building facility and the cooler for flowers. For more about the nursery, visit brightflowernursery.com.

Mid-morning, the tour will caravan to Famous Fossil Winery in Cedarville, which is owned and operated by Ken and Pam Rosmann. They began by planting the vineyard in 2004 and today have more than 2,000 grapevines. The winery was opened in 2008.

The vineyard is certified biodynamic. “Our wines are made with the minimum of handling and preservatives,” said Pam Rosmann. “We do not use any genetically-modified yeasts to ferment the wine, and we use evaporated cane juice for our sweet wines.”

The Rosmanns have also incorporated green technology in their structures. “Our building was built with maximum insulation in the walls, roof and windows,” Rosmann said. “We use a heat exchanger, and a high-velocity heating and cooling system with on-demand hot water. Our woodwork, tasting bar, and display cabinets were grown, milled and built using local resources. All of our appliances are energy star, and we use as many recycled products as we can find. We serve local foods as much as we can for our private parties and in our café.”

Guests on the tour will visit the tasting room, the vineyard, and the winery operation, as well as the fossils that were discovered when the vineyard was being planted. Lunch will be served at the winery, and the tour will conclude at 2 p.m. For more about the winery, visit famousfossilwinery.com.

A fee of $20 per person will be charged for each tour, which includes lunch. Two adults pay $30 when registered together, and children under the age of 10 attend free. Registration at least one week in advance is required.

To register and for more details about each of the tours, including a map and agenda, visit http://web.extension.illinois.edu/smallfarm/ag_tours.cfm or contact Donna Cray at (217) 241-4644. For more information, contact Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant at (217) 968-5512 or cvnghgrn@illinois.edu.

For more information about this event and other Extension programs, contact U of I Extension in Stephenson County (extension.illinois.edu/stephenson or 815-235-4125) or Winnebago County (extension.illinois.edu/winnebago or 815-986-4357).

From the Aug. 11-17, 2010 issue

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