Sustainable Farming


In honor of campus sustainability month, we recently attended a workshop hosted by The Acorn Project, which is a collective of people dedicated to creating experiences that educate, inspire, and incite environmental change. The workshop focused on food energy, with guest speakers from The Land Connection, Prairie Greens Permaculture, The Common Ground Food Cooperative, and University of Illinois faculty. Topics included sustainable farming, the impact of farming practices on the environment, and other food-related issues. 

Education Coordinator, Anna Barnes of the Common Ground Food Co-op in Urbana, Illinois, discussed sustainable farming topics such as soil health and the need for maintaining soil quality, along with the importance of tilth in farming. She also discussed the benefits of crop rotation for pest management and damage control. According to Barnes, "The food co-op participates in a local foodshed by setting standards for fair business practices and encouraging sustainable farming and distribution." Most sustainability proponents are familiar with the term watershed, but "foodshed" by definition is a place that connects common food and agricultural interests through commerce. 

Local Grower George Hickman of Prairie Greens Permaculture spoke about his farm in east central Illinois, which incorporates commodity-scale sustainability techniques like cover crops, with more experimental techniques such as integrating permaculture systems and fertilizing with alpaca manure. 

Since every farm is unique, there are various practices used by growers to improve the soil and prevent water run-off. These practices, such as cover crops, filter strips, berms, and contour tilling, can be entered into Field Story by Morning Farm Report users. Growers can then receive sustainability metrics like energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, soil use, water use, and nitrogen use. Agrible's Sustainable Sourcing Yield Program allows growers to understand and document their stewardship and conservation practices to meet the growing demand for sustainably sourced crops. 

For details about the Sustainable Sourcing Yield Program, visit