Four Seasons Gardening Program Offers Summer Series- June 27, July 11, and July 25

The summer series of University of Illinois Extension’s Four Seasons Gardening program, which focuses on environmental stewardship, home gardening, and backyard food production, gets underway this month.  The first session of the series is titled, Using Essential Oils Safely.   The program is offered via computer– on June 27 at 1:30 p.m. at the Boone County Extension Conference Room located at 205 Cadillac Ct., Suite 5 in Belvidere.

Essential oils have been growing in popularity, but some people are unsure of how to use them properly.  Join Nancy Kreith, Horticulture Educator, as she leads you through the history, production and safety of using essential oils.

This webinar may also be viewed from home by pre-registering at Recorded videos of these sessions can be viewed following the program at 

Other topics in the summer series include Sustainable Lawn Care set for July 11, and Grow Your Own Backyard Tree Fruit: The Science of Tree Fruits Revealed set for July 25.

There is no fee to attend this program, but advance registration is requested to ensure we have enough materials.  To register for Using Essential Oils Safely, call the Boone County Extension office at 815-544-3710 or visit us online at    If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact the Extension office.


The Illinois Department of Agriculture is encouraging farmers and agrichemical facilities to save their empty agrichemical containers.  The Department announced today it has arranged to recycle them.   

Beginning at the end of July and continuing in August, sites throughout the State will collect containers.  The containers will be recycled to make shipping pallets, fence posts, drainage tubing, plastic lumber and other useful products.    

"This program offers farmers and agrichemical facilities a convenient opportunity to dispose of empty pesticide containers and demonstrate their environmental stewardship," said Agriculture Director Raymond Poe.  "I would encourage them to gather any containers that they may have been planning to throw in the garbage and take them to the nearest collection site."  

Metal and household pesticide containers are not eligible for the recycling program.  Collection sites will accept only high-density polyethylene, #2 plastic agrichemical containers that are clean and dry.  Participants are responsible for rinsing them and removing all caps, labels, booklets and foil seals.  

The program is a cooperative venture between the Illinois Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Container Recycling Council, GROWMARK, Inc., Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association, G. Phillips and Sons, L.L.C., Illinois Farm Bureau, and University of Illinois Extension.

To obtain a free brochure about the program, call the Illinois Department of Agriculture toll free at 1-800-641-3934.

Permanent collection sites:
County        Location                                         City                 Contact                    Phone #
Greene          CHS Inc.                                        Carrollton        Bryan McMurtrie     217-942-6991         
Lawrence     Klein Flying Service                       Lawrenceville  Robert Klein            618-884-1040
McLean        Randolph Ag Service                     Heyworth        Jeff Toohill               309-473-3256
Single Day Collection Sites:
AM Site hours are 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
PM Site hours are 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.  
*** Site hours are 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Date/Time   Location                     Contact

8/1 PM        Carroll Service Co.    Dave Folk
 Carroll         Milledgeville              815-225-7101

 8/2 AM      Pearl City Elevator       Mark Wells
 Stephenson  Dakota                      815-449-2254   

 8/2 PM        Conserv FS               Jeff Baxter
 Winnebago  Rockford                   815-963-7669

 8/3 AM       Conserv FS               Scott Creek
 McHenry     Marengo                    815-568-7211

 8/3 PM        Helena Chemical       Dan Moore
 DeKalb        Co., Kirkland            815-522-3251

 8/4 AM       Grainco FS                Josh Scott
 LaSalle        Lostant                      815-368-3215

8/4 AM        CHS Inc.                   Chris Ledbetter
Kane             Maple Park                630-365-5027

8/7 PM         Helena Chemical        Max Kocher
Marshall       Toluca                         815-452-2377

8/8 AM        Agland FS                  Mark Alvey
Peoria           Hanna City                 309-565-4315

8/9 PM         CPS                            Steve Schaffer
Livingston    Saunemin                   815-832-4491

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.

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.


The fourth annual DeKalb County Barn Tour will take place on Saturday, August 12 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Livestock and grain farms, as well as repurposed barns, including a winery, are included in this year’s event.

This unique opportunity to tour local historic barns is sponsored jointly by the DeKalb Area Agricultural Heritage Association (DAAHA) and the J.F. Glidden Homestead and Historical Center, DeKalb. This year the tour features barns in the Waterman-Shabbona area. The self-driving tour includes a guided tour at each of ten barns, with demonstrations, displays, and family activities along the way.

The tour begins in downtown Waterman at the parking lot south of Route 30 with the purchase of a souvenir Guide Book with map, which serves as your ticket. Tickets are $25 per carload and are also available online at or at each site the day of the event. The Guide Book contains hand-drawn sketches of each barn by Illinois artist David Allen Badger, a history of the barn, a map of locations, a list of activities at each site, and educational articles about barns.

“The entire tour encompasses about 30 miles, and there are unlimited photos ops along the way for photographers, like me,” said Bob Myers, barn tour committee member. “I’ll be out again with my drone.”

Besides a guided tour of each barn, at the Tuntland’s repurposed barn--Waterman Winery--watch a rope making demonstration and for a nominal fee enjoy a wine tasting. At Bock's Honey Hill Orchard enjoy refreshing apple cider. At the Brummel-Larson Barn see the beautiful handmade bed quilt to be raffled off at the end of the day, and pick up some tickets. Lunch will be offered at the Challand Barn site a d at Red Home Farm, where mini cows, goats, and pigs will be waiting to greet guests too. Other stops with more activities include barns at the Ostfriesland Farm, Thomas/Todd site, Carroll Farm, Mitchell/Redmond Farm, and the Hart Homestead.

But the tour doesn’t stop there. Optional highlights include a tour of the Monsanto production facility and visits to the Waterman Historical Society Museum and the former Quilhot one-room school, now attached to Resource Bank in Shabbona. And as you drive through the countryside don’t miss seeing the unique Elva elevator and the Henry Rose barbed wire historical marker.

Additional information is available by contacting Glidden Homestead at 815-756-7904 or or by visiting, or DAAHA at 815-756-8737 or or by visiting Follow Barn Tour updates on Facebook at Barn Tour of DeKalb County IL.

Interested in Becoming a Master Gardener?  Training begins September 8-November 17, 2017

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 nearly 3,200 Master Gardener volunteers in Illinois. Each year, they reach thousands of people and are a valuable source to many schools, communities, 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.

To become a Master Gardener, you must apply and be accepted into your local county Extension program. Upon acceptance in your county, you then take the Master Gardener Core Training. After completing the core course, Master Gardeners Interns are required to volunteer a minimum of 60 hours over two years in their community. Certified Master Gardeners are those who have completed their classroom training and internship.  To remain an active Master Gardener, you must complete 10 hours of continuing education and 30 hours of volunteer service yearly.

Boone County will be having an in-person training this fall, and is now accepting applications. Submitted applications will be reviewed and interviews will be set up with Extension staff. Applicants must complete an application, interview, and screening.

The Master Gardener training for 2017 will be offered Fridays, starting September 8 and running through November 17, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Boone County Extension Conference Room located at 205 Cadillac Ct., Suite 5 in Belvidere.  In-person training costs $175 and includes the Master Gardener manual with helpful resources and other materials. 

If you are interested in becoming a Boone County Master Gardener and would like to register for the program, please contact University of Illinois Extension at 815-544-3710, visit us online at or stop by and see us in the Boone County Extension office at 205 Cadillac Ct., Suite 3, Belvidere.  If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in the program, please contact the Boone County Extension office at 815-544-3710.  Or visit to find an Extension office near you.

University of Illinois Agronomy Day turns 60 in 2017- August 17 

The 60th annual Agronomy Day will be held at the University of Illinois on Thursday, Aug. 17. Equipment and crop varieties may have changed, but the goal of Agronomy Day has been consistent since its inception in 1957: to communicate cutting-edge research results that will benefit the Illinois farming community.

"Agronomy Day provides direct connections among the agricultural grower, the consumer, and the research scientist," says Bob Dunker, agronomist and former superintendent of the Crop Sciences Research and Education Center, and chairperson for Agronomy Day. “Making these connections advances the goal of feeding our growing population across the globe.” 

Agronomy Day was held in a new location in 2016, and the South First Street Facility will host the event again this year. The facility is located at 4202 South 1st Street in Savoy. Directions are on the Agronomy Day website.

“Last year’s attendees told us they liked the new location,” Dunker says. “We got some feedback and will be making improvements so that the event is an even bigger success this year.”

Experts will discuss a variety of topics from soil fertility to insect management, crop production, weed control, corn and soybean genetics, plant diseases, farm economics, and agricultural engineering. Field tours depart at 7 a.m. from the main tent, making continuous stops at research plots throughout the event. 

Attendees will have an opportunity to hear from Kimberlee Kidwell, new dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, with her vision for the direction of the college. New faculty in the Department of Crop Sciences may also be on hand to say hello. 

Exhibits by ACES programs, commercial vendors, research posters, and student clubs will be on display in the “big” tent. Lunch will be available for a nominal charge. 

More information and registration can be found at or by contacting Sue Overmyer at 217-300-3702 or