Illinois Farm Bureau expanding urban agriculture offerings

The Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) is encouraging expansion of urban agriculture throughout the state.

Reghala Scavuzzo, associate director of food system development, says they’ve partnered with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service for a three-year, 1.2-million-dollar project…

“What we’re going to be doing is looking at urban agriculture, not necessarily within just Chicago, but across the entire state.”  She says, “And we’re going to be partnering with different community farms to help build infrastructure and sustainability in their business as well as launching a statewide cohort.”

Scavuzzo says the goal of the cohort is to connect urban growers…

“So, what we want to do is help build those networks.”  She says, “There will be regional aspects. There will be online listening sessions and webinars. There will be technical assistance and hopefully resources based on that, that either we will develop, or our partners will help develop.”

She tells Brownfield the organization is also partnering with six operations across the state that offer food access or community education…

“We’re actually going to go in and do needs assessments,” she says, “talk about what they need and from that needs assessment give them infrastructure dollars to help purchase those projects.  We will also work on supplies and packaging as well as dedicated community engagement.”

The project will involve one operation in 2024; two more in 2025; and three more in 2026.

IFB recently hired an urban agriculture program manager, Liz Repplinger, to lead the project.   The selection of the project’s first community partner is expected later this year.

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