There is a lot more to Illinois farming than corn and soybeans. Every day, farmers are finding new ways to innovate their techniques.
The Illinois Stewardship Alliance seeks to discover these innovators and award them with a Golden Beet award. ISA Communications Director Molly Gleason said the awards “highlight the most innovative farmers, restaurants, businesses and organizations in the state leading the charge for a sustainable local food and farm system.”
The Spence Farm Foundation in Fairbury, 35 miles northeast of Bloomington-Normal, won 2018's Scaling Up award for its effort to help farmers grow their business with its annual summer Bread Camp.
The Bread Camp recruits bakers, medical professionals and culinary artists to discover the process in which their food is developed. There is a strong emphasis in the farm-to-table growth process.
It is a two-day camp that helps varying professionals learn the use of regionally grown grains and how it is brought to a consumer’s market. It is a hands-on experience that attracts visitors around Illinois and its neighboring states.
Spence Farm Foundation Executive Director Erin Meyers said it all started with an interest in that process.
“The foundation works diligently at connecting food professionals with farmers by the way of Bread Camp and working with the professionals to ask questions about how someone’s farming, about their practices and about their history so that we can promote a healthier food system,” said Meyers.
When asked what makes the Bread Camp stick out from other camps, Meyers said it is building relationships with the environment, ingredients and people.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about the relationship. The relationship with the soil; if we don’t have healthy soil, we’re not going to have healthy food, the relationship with a farmer and his chef that will build resiliency and increase opportunities for both the chef and the farmer and the environmental impact that has on everything,” said Meyers.
Meyers said the Bread Camp will continue to develop in more areas with educators and instructors of different professions to further promote farm-to-table processes in the community.
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