Interested in Becoming a Master Gardener?- September 24- December 10

Do you have a love for spending hours planting and tending to your backyard garden? Do you have a knack for teaching and enjoy sharing your knowledge with others? If gardening is your passion, and you would like to be part of a team that educates youth and adults alike on the joys of gardening, consider becoming a University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener. 

The mission of the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener program is “Helping Others Learn to Grow.”  There are more than 3,000 Master Gardener volunteers in Illinois. Each year, they reach thousands of people and are a valuable resource to many schools, communities, and youth programs and farmers markets. Together, they teach classes and workshops, answer telephone inquiries concerning home horticulture, guide planting and educational demonstrations in community and school gardens, represent the program at the county and state fair, and work with many community organizations to convey up-to-date, research based gardening information.

The DeKalb County Master Gardener training will be offered on Mondays, beginning September 24, 2018 through December 10, 2018, from 9 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. at the DeKalb County Center for Agriculture (Farm Bureau Building), 1350 W. Prairie Drive in Sycamore. In-person training costs $250, and will include the Master Gardener manual with helpful resources and other materials.  Submitted applications will be reviewed and interviews will be set up with Extension staff. Applicants must complete an application, interview, and screening. 

If you are interested in becoming a DeKalb County Master Gardener, contact University of Illinois Extension at 815-758-8194, visit us online at or stop by and see us in the DeKalb County Extension office at 1350 W. Prairie Drive in Sycamore. 

If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in the program, please contact the DeKalb County Extension office at 815-758-8194.

Master Gardeners are ready to answer your call 

University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners offer a free service answering garden questions at their Horticulture Help Desk.  The Help Desk is open 1:00-4:00pm, Monday thru Friday throughout the growing season (April – Sept.)

Master Gardeners research topics about insects, trees, shrubs, plants, vegetables, fruits, gardens, lawns, and more.  They provide research-based answers to questions, and take time to find the information you need for your specific circumstance.

The Master Gardeners can be reached by calling 815-544-3710 (Boone) and 815-986-4357 (Winnebago), emailing in your question to  or or by stopping at the office located at 205 Cadillac Court, Suite 3 in Belvidere or 1040 North Second Street in Rockford, IL.  Master Gardener volunteers will ask you diagnostic questions to understand your horticulture situation, then they will call you back after they have done their research.  They do not make house calls. 

Clients are encouraged to email or bring in photos or drop off samples of their troubled plants, trees, or shrubs.  Call for tips on how to collect samples.


 Applications are now available for nurse practitioner scholarships through the Illinois Farm Bureau® Rural Nurse Practitioner Scholarship Program.  There will be five scholarships, worth $4,000 each, granted this year.

 The scholarship program, now in its twenty sixth year, helps encourage and develop the pool of rural health practitioners to help meet primary health care needs in rural Illinois.  Students who receive scholarships agree to practice for two years in an approved rural area in Illinois.
To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be Illinois residents and be a Registered Nurse accepted or enrolled in an accredited Nurse Practitioner Program.  Funding is provided by the Rural Illinois Medical Student Assistance Program.

 Applications are available at county Farm Bureaus® throughout the state, on the Rural Illinois Medical Student Assistance Program website at, or by writing Donna Gallivan, Program Manager, Illinois Farm Bureau, PO Box 2901, Bloomington, IL 61702-2901. 

Applications are due May 1. For additional information, contact Donna Gallivan at 309-557-2350, or via e-mail at 

Buy Direct From the Farm

Prairie Bounty of Illinois, a directory of direct-from-the-farm sellers, farmers’ markets and agritourism businesses, is available online at

Provided by the Illinois Farm Bureau® and the Illinois Specialty Growers Association, the directory contains contact information and locations for more than 900 individual growers of fruits, vegetables and herbs throughout Illinois. The directory also provides consumers with farms’ contact information, products available, method of sale, and a complete list of all community farmers markets and agritourism businesses in Illinois, searchable by city, county, or zip code. 

“Consumers are demanding more of the food they purchase.  They want to make that connection with the farmer and know who grew the food on their table,” said Jim Fraley, Manager of the Illinois Specialty Growers Association. 

This directory helps consumers do just that — support local farmers and buy farm-fresh produce and products at farms and farmers markets across the state.  Prairie Bounty has become a great source for retailers as well looking to find growers to provide product for restaurants, grocery stores, and schools, among others.

The directory is regularly updated as growers add their names and markets to the system. Growers interested in adding their names and businesses to Prairie Bounty of Illinois may contact Jim Fraley at 309-557-3109 or via e-mail at, or may visit the Illinois Specialty Growers website at for additional instructions on how to register.

“Considerations for First Time Cover Crop Adopters” Guidebook for Il Farmers

“Considerations for First Time Cover Crop Adopters” Guidebook is a new resource for Illinois farmers that introduce the most recent research and information on the best management practices for effectively incorporating a cover crop ahead of soybeans. The Guide outlines comprehensive tactics for cover crop use as part of a nutrient management strategy. Research results from planting to termination of cover crops are included.
With funding from the Illinois Nutrient Research & Education Council (NREC), researchers from the University of Illinois, Illinois State University and Purdue University have been studying the various variables involved in a successful cover crop program. Research efforts are supported by Dan Schaefer with Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA) through a grant from NREC. This research has been performed at an on-farm, field-scale level and has shown – over multiple years – that a cereal rye cover crop ahead of soybeans has no detrimental impact on the soybean crop, and that the cover crop successfully scavenges nitrogen -- lowering the levels of N in field tiles.

As defined in the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy, Illinois has a target of reducing nitrogen (N) losses by 410 million pounds and P losses by 38 million pounds by 2025. Cover crops are identified as an important tool in meeting that target. NREC’s investment in this research helps to support the collaboration across the agricultural industry, environmental groups, and engaged stakeholders.

The guide is available for download from the Illinois NREC website at . Printed copies can be requested by filling out the contact form on the website or emailing

“From Field to Table”- June 11-14, 2018

We are excited to offer an educational opportunity to you this summer. The “From Field to Table” course will be on Monday June 11–Thursday June 14, 2018. 

We’ll spend the first day with two local tours and an afternoon of interactive classroom instruction and presentations at the Stephenson County Farm Bureau, 210 W. Spring Street, Freeport. On Tuesday morning, we will depart for three days and two nights “on the road” touring a variety of destinations in the Chicago area via charter coach.  Thirty PDCH credits will be available for this course. Also, arrangements are currently underway to secure graduate credits for this program. If you are interested in grad credits, please indicate on the registration form.

Tour highlights include:
· Berner Foods – Afolkey, IL
· Honey Creek Feed Mill, Monroe WI
· CME Group, Chicago
· Federal Plaza Farmers Market, Chicago
· The Plant, Chicago
· FONA International, Geneva, IL
· Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences
· OSI Group, West Chicago
· O’Hare International Airport Agricultural Inspection Area, Chicago
· Ball Horticultural, West Chicago
· Northern Illinois Food Bank, Geneva
· Valley Orchard, Cherry Valley

Overnight stays will be at the Comfort Inn & Suites Geneva, and you’ll also have some free time at the Geneva Commons Shopping Center.  There will also be the option of attending the Kane County Cougars baseball game nearby on Tuesday night. All tours will include walking and standing for varied periods of time.

The registration fee is $240 and includes travel, two overnight hotel stays (double occupancy), breakfasts on Wednesday and Thursday, lunches on Monday and Thursday, and snacks on the bus and in the classroom. Lunch and dinner on Tuesday and Wednesday while traveling will be on your own. 

Registrations must be postmarked by Friday May 4!   

For your convenience for the bus trip portion, there will be two bus pickup locations - the Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau office at 1925 S. Meridian Rd., Rockford or the Freeport Walmart at 2545 IL Rt. 26 South, Freeport.

We hope you will consider scheduling our popular workshop into your busy summer schedule.  Please contact us if you have any questions we look forward to hearing from you!

IMPORTANT:  Dicamba Training Requirements for 2018 Use

In November, the Illinois Department of Agriculture announced that due to a change in the product label for the three dicamba-containing herbicides allowed for use on dicamba-resistant soybeans, all certified private applicators in Illinois or those applying these products under their supervision must attend a qualified dicamba training session this winter. Prior to applying these products in the 2018 growing season applicator(s) must complete dicamba or auxin-specific training. Labels for affected products may be viewed using the following link:

Various Illinois agricultural groups worked to facilitate nearly 60 FREE, 90-minute training opportunities around the state this winter. These trainings will assist applicators in meeting the enhanced training requirement and will provide a certificate of completion of the training (needed for certified applicator record-keeping).

Advance registration is required, please visit: to find a venue near you.

Click HERE to register for SAI 2018.

Direct Marketing Workshops- May 7, 10, and 11  (Registration Due: May 1)

Fruit, vegetable and specialty crops farmers looking to better understand opportunities and risks in direct marketing are invited to attend one of three, one-day workshops across the state hosted by the Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) and FamilyFarmed.

“We’re extremely excited about these workshops and the opportunities they’ll offer for specialty crops farmers across the state,” said Raghela Scavuzzo, manager, Local Foods Program, IFB. “The workshops will cover a variety of topics, including best practices in direct marketing, postharvest handling, and legal and food safety risk management; crop insurance options; developing risk management plans and strategies; and implementing specific best management practices on farms.”

Facilitated by Minnesota farmer Pam Benike, the full-day workshops will be held May 7 at Southern Illinois University, 3268 W. Pleasant Hill Road, Carbondale, 62901; May 10 at Henry County Farm Bureau, 128 N. Prospect St, Cambridge, 61238; and May 11 at the Champaign County Farm Bureau, 801 N. Country Fair Dr., Ste. A, Champaign, 61821. All workshops begin at 8:30 a.m. and will conclude by 4 p.m.

“Farmers who market their products directly to consumers have to be a jack of all trades,” Scavuzzo said. “These workshops will help them answer questions and learn more about meeting customers’ needs, seeking buyers and maintaining healthy relationships, and sorting and packing for wholesale markets, among other things.”

  • In addition to the networking and information provided at each workshop, participants will:
  • Receive two Risk Management news and resources e-blasts;
  • Be introduced to the On-Farm Food Safety website where they can create a free food safety plan;
  • Be invited to join an online discussion group where they can find technical assistance answer and participate in topic discussions; and
  • Receive a copy of Direct Market Success: A Farmer’s Guide to Farmers Market, CSA, Farmstand, Online and Restaurant Sales

“The information covered in these workshops is vital for any specialty crop farmer looking to expand his or her business,” Scavuzzo said. “We’re confident, using the information received at these workshops, farmers will be able to make changes to their own farms to really make a splash in their own local markets.”

The workshops are free for interested participants, but registration is required by May 1. To register for any of the events, visit

Click HERE to view the SAI 2018 flier.