PodCamp: Local Farming Is Not as Simple as a Corn Field

Jul 11, 2018

Hello, I’m Kyle Abraham for the NPR Illinois PodCamp, and what you just heard was corn, something that, along with many other crops, is one of Liz Moran Stelk’s highest priorities. Stelk is the Executive Director at the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, or ISA.

The ISA works with elected officials and farmers to create a more sustainable localized food market across the State of Illinois.

"The Illinois Stewardship Alliance is a statewide membership organization based in Springfield, and our mission is to make a more just and sustainable local food system. We help drive the demand for local foods, help local farmers, and work on policy."

Liz came to the organization relatively recently, taking the job as Executive Director in 2017. Despite being new to the show, Stelk has helped the ISA further agricultural education initiatives in schools, pass state and federal food laws, and support local farmers markets.

"So, one of our short-term goals is that we want to win support for some measures in the Federal 2018 Farm Bill that's being debated in congress right now that is going to advance the really great work that is happening right now at the local level to develop the local food systems to support things like Farm to School and farmers markets and producers who are trying to add value to their operations." 

When I asked Stelk about her vision for the future of agriculture, her response was compelling.

"So I imagine a future, that like my two sons, who are one and two now that when they are old enough to shop for themselves that they are going to buy food that’s better for them, that’s healthier, that came from local farmers, that’s more nutritious, um, that didn’t hurt the planet, you know, that’s really more just and more sustainable, and so there is a lot of work we need have do in the next say, 20 years, in order to make that happen."

From farm to plate, the work of the ISA has helped Illinois food sources connect with their communities to provide locality sourced produce.

This has been Kyle Abraham, reporting from the 2018 NPR Illinois PodCamp in Springfield, Illinois.

NPR Illinois PodCamp is an annual program teaching media literacy, civic education, journalism, and technical skills to aspiring students.