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Sustainable Farm To Improve Food Options, Increase Farmers

The College of Lake County considers building a sustainable farm in Grayslake.

The plan is to teach college students, grow the local economy and develop future farmers – all with 55 acres of land located in the heart of Grayslake.

The farm field, settled behind Brae Loch Golf Course at the northwest corner of Center Street and Route 45, is owned by the Lake County Forest Preserve District.

The would like to use it to build a food learning center for CLC students and potentially offer a place for novice farmers to learn the ropes.

“We are in the time and environment where people are open to seeing sustainability and we should jump on that,” said Stephen Bell, director of the Green Economy Center at CLC.

The concept is a brainstorm of sorts by members of CLC and the Liberty Prairie Foundation at Prairie Crossing. It was recently presented to the Lake County Forest Preserve District’s planning and restoration committee.

A portion of the land would be used for new and existing programs within CLC including sustainable landscaping, agriculture production and horticulture curriculums. Students would use the acreage as a growing ground for their education, Bell said.

“There is so much potential in this project. There is a demand for organic food and we want to move beyond getting the food from a CSA [Community Supported Agriculture] and have those vegetables grown and available in the community,” Bell said.

Another portion of the land would be used by novice farmers as an extension of the Farm Business Development Program at Prairie Crossing.

The program allows future farmers to lease land to begin their agriculture business.

The FBDC already operates 100 acres of land at , but officials said they are out of space, and farmers are waiting.

Michael Sands, the Environmental Team Leader for the program said the opportunity to expand the FBDC and to increase agricultural interest among college students could make a significant impact on the economy and health of Lake County residents.

“We could really create a lot of jobs with increased sustainable farmland in this area and with local food production, entrepreneurial agriculture represents incredible opportunity to also circulate local funds in the local economy," Sands said.

Sands also believes that would lead to healthier eating patterns in area residents.  

While the concept was well received by the district’s planning and restoration committee, members still had many questions regarding the funding, management and operation of the learning center.

“As far as the concept, it sounds like a homerun to me,” said Pat Carey, a member of the committee and forest commissioner from Grayslake. “It’s exciting. We’ll see where it goes at this point.”

“We do have a long term interest in growing sustainable agriculture in our area,” said Tom Hahn, executive director for the district. “This idea is definitely keeping with the agricultural commitment we have planned for the long term for our area.”

The district was clear it would not fund the project, but rather license the land to CLC.

The land is currently leased out for corn farming. At one point there had been talk of expanding Brae Loch Golf Course but district officials said they are considering other ideas with interest in golf waning.

As for the next step for this concept, Bell said, “we are in the process of bringing all of our partners together and figuring out what this could be and what it should be."

HAL E BERGER September 26, 2011 at 11:27 AM
Just curious -- how does this all get paid for? Tax dollars?
Bare E. Sotero September 26, 2011 at 12:04 PM
This whole program in liberal speak for "We are spending your tax dollars by giving large grants and sums of money to programs like this in an effort to perpertuate the myth that there is an actual "Green Economy." Much like everything else done by Obama's administration and "Green Jobs Czar," this is all smoke and mirrors too. No doubt you and I are paying for it under the guise of a "green" agenda. Bottom line is somewhere along the line, someone is getting paid somewhere at some level for this nonsense. No offense, but caring about a "green world" or "green economy" went out the window a long time ago I think. 4,000 SUV's spewing toxic waste into the air every five feet around here tells me as much. No one cares about that "green" initiative though, do they?
Bare E. Sotero September 26, 2011 at 12:06 PM
No offense, but isn't the "Liberty Prairie Foundation at Prairie Crossing" the same group that houses itself right across the street from a hugely polluting landfill that can be smelled for almost 10 miles on some nights and has violated countless EPA regulations for NOX and other emissions?
Bare E. Sotero September 26, 2011 at 12:10 PM
The artcile says: "The land is currently leased out for corn farming. At one point there had been talk of expanding Brae Loch Golf Course but district officials said they are considering other ideas with interest in golf waning." As for the next step for this concept, Bell said, “we are in the process of bringing all of our partners together and figuring out what this could be and what it should be." Translation: Someone, or multiple people, are going to get paid here. Wonder who knows who? But hey, finding that out would take investigative journalism skills, wouldn't it patch?
Bare E. Sotero September 26, 2011 at 12:11 PM
"Bringing all of our PARTNERS together...." are words that keep echoing. Who will proft from this and who do they know that want this program to happen Patch?
Runner1 September 26, 2011 at 01:52 PM
The Liberty Prairie Conservancy is funded primarily by Waste Management - each time a truck tips a load, the LPC gets paid an impact fee. Not the residents of the neighborhood who have the adverse impact, but the LPC. Now they'll be taking our tax dollars in addition! Come on, Patch! Answer the call for some investigative journalism rather than printing whatever is sent in as political propaganda....
Tadashi September 28, 2011 at 12:13 PM
Liberty Prairie Conservancy and Liberty Prairie Foundation are two different things.
Runner1 September 28, 2011 at 03:01 PM
@Tadashi - maybe two separate 501(c)(3) corporations, but under the same umbrella.....
Science Nut September 29, 2011 at 06:06 PM
@ mark, The LPC does not get any of the tipping fees. Your criticism of the LPC and the patch is baseless.
Runner1 September 29, 2011 at 07:43 PM
Readers, it's all in public documents, if you'd like to see it for yourselves.
GrayslakeFan September 29, 2011 at 08:27 PM
Hey science nut, it doesn't change the fact that I guarantee you someone will be benefitting financially on this deal at taxpayer expense. So say whetever you want, Mark is right. Which makes his criticisms very valid. But Patch won't investigate that I'm sure. Keep trying to cover the tracks of others Science Nut. Eventually a real journalistic site will expose them, and expose who someone who is friends with this organization is that is getting paid for this deal, with our tax dollars.
Matt Van Slyke October 05, 2011 at 07:52 PM
For you reactionary right whacks and passionately blind lefties... Biological farming is taking root in some larger farms where increased biomass and biological inputs are replacing/reducing petro-chemicals. This dynamic will continue growing which makes the nation more secure while preserving the environment, adding crop nutrient density and profiting producers with the vision to adopt progressive techniques in the inevitable new bio-economy.

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