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Illinois Farms Receive $1.8 Million to Produce and Distribute Food Across the State

By Alex Abbeduto

Nineteen Illinois farms will receive a combined $1.8 million in grants to fund infrastructure projects aimed at developing their ability to produce and distribute food around the state as part of the Local Food and Infrastructure Grant Program.

The grants come from the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s budget but were managed by the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, a local food and farm advocacy group. Grantees were recognized by a small group of bipartisan state legislators and the Alliance last week at a Capitol news conference.

Grants were awarded to farms across Illinois, including several in the Chicagoland area. Five of the recipients will receive the maximum amount of funding which is $150,000.

One of the farms receiving the maximum grant amount is The Flock Farm in southern Illinois. Brent Glays, a marine veteran and the farm’s owner, said the hardest part of producing meat in that area is processing it. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture, the closest poultry processing plant is in central Illinois.

Glays said his farm will use the grant money to build a local U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved poultry processing center and educate other farmers on how to humanely raise animals and process meat. That includes creating workshops on food safety management and regulations.

“I’m not looking at this poultry plant as a processing facility per se, I’m viewing it as a classroom,” Glays said.

In Chicago, another $150,000 grant will be awarded to Eden Place Farms, an urban agricultural center. Founder Michael Howard said the grant money will allow them to build new kitchen, storage and processing infrastructure other urban farmers can use to distribute their products.

“This is the first tangible funding that has come out of Springfield to urban farms,” Howard said.

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