Dialogues on the Future of Food, Farming and Conservation

Farmland is the most abundant land use in Northeastern Illinois. It can support habitat for important insects, and wildlife; improve water quality, flood control and climate mitigation; sustain livelihoods; and grow food for the region’s residents. For these reasons, as well as supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19, the futures of food, farming and conservation are becoming increasingly interwoven in the farmland of Northeastern Illinois. In partnership with Openlands, Farm Foundation  hosted a series of dialogues to bring together farmers, conservationists, planners, residents and business leaders alike to discuss current trends in farming and natural resource protection, and collaborate on how best to collectively shape future strategies and decisions around local land use together.

July 27, 2021: McHenry County Dialogues
July 29, 2021: Will County Dialogues

Post-Event Report

Project Steering Committee

Nathan Aaberg
Liberty Prairie Foundation

Rob Baren
Illinois Department of Agriculture

Lenore Beyer
Kinship Foundation

Janice Hill
Acreage43560, LLC

Austin Omer
Illinois Farm Bureau

Kris Reynolds
American Farmland Trust

John Rogner
Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Tyler Strom
Illinois Agri-Food Alliance

Daniel Suarez
Audubon Great Lakes

The project was made possible through a grant from:

Funded through the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, Food:Land:Opportunity is a collaboration between Kinship Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust.


McHenry County Dialogues

Examining land use in McHenry County, Illinois and southern Wisconsin

Conversation 1: The State of Farmland in McHenry County

The geography and land use in McHenry County is a tapestry of productive agricultural lands, picturesque conservation properties, and small towns and larger cities. In this day-long conversation, attendees will discuss state and county data around land use, and the needs and challenges for agricultural producers in McHenry County today, as well as opportunities to support farming into the future.

Featured Speakers Include:

Dan Volkers
McHenry County Farm Bureau

Raghela Scavuzzo
Illinois Farm Bureau

Michael Gill
Illinois Soybean Association

Check out the full agenda to see more information about planned topics and speakers.

We’ll explore topics vital to the region

  • Is nature good for the local economy?
  • What are some new ways to capture recreational spending?
  • Did the pandemic change consumer demand for locally grown foods?
  • What does the new Illinois cover crop funding offer farmers?
  • How can open space and farmland coexist in a mutually beneficial way?
  • And more! Attendees are encouraged to bring questions, comments and issues of interest to add to the discussion.

Register now for our first conversation

July 27, 2021

McHenry County Dialogues

Join us for a day of sharing and conversation around land use in McHenry County, including areas surrounding the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge. This event will be held at the Holiday Inn Crystal Lake. Please follow event signs once you arrive. All state and local guidelines for gatherings will be followed. Registration is free but capacity is limited; click the button below to see the full agenda and reserve your spot. Lunch will be provided!

Community Resources

Joining us for an upcoming dialogue? Check out these resources to learn more about the conversation around land use as it relates to conservation, farming and food. Find general topic resources here as well as applicable information from the state level to the McHenry County area, including Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge. Check back often, as new resources are being added all the time!

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