Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism and Organic Conference

The annual Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism, and Organic Conference (ISCAOC) is scheduled for Jan. 10-12, 2018, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield. The conference provides opportunities for specialty crop growers and small farm owners to learn best management practices, marketing techniques, pest management, food safety and production practices.

The program features nearly 100 speakers and 60 trade show exhibitors, and will again host concurrent preconference workshops on Jan. 10, 2018. The preconference workshops offer intensive learning opportunities in high tunnels, social media and marketing, growing and marketing pumpkins, food safety training, and farm labor issues.

If you are interested in registering for the conference, you can do so online at The conference pre-registration deadline is Dec. 31. The deadline for hotel reservation is Dec. 19 and the deadline is Dec. 21 for the FSMA-Food Safety Modernization Workshop to be held on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. If you have questions, contact Jim Fraley with the Illinois Farm Bureau at 309-557-2107 or

Illinois Farm Economics Summit Deadline Approaching

University of Illinois Extension and members of the farmdoc team from the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics will be holding a series of five Farm Economics Summit meetings in December. Speakers from University of Illinois’s farmdoc team will explore the farm profitability outlook and management challenges from several perspectives, including the 2018 outlook for crop and livestock prices, soybean yield trends, update on the next farm bill, financial position of Illinois farms, habits of financially resilient farm operations, and crop economics for 2018.

The first of these meetings is scheduled for Dec. 18 in DeKalb. Closer to home, on Dec. 20 the program will be repeated in Springfield, and in Champaign on Dec. 22. Registration deadline is Dec. 11. The cost of the farm economic summit is $70, with a five-dollar discount for registering online. The cost of registration on the day of the event increases to $75, but is subject to available space. The registration information and more details about the agenda can be found on our Extension website at If you have questions regarding the summit you can contact Nancy Simpson at 217-244-9687 or

Master Gardener Training -- Application Deadline is Dec. 15

The University of Illinois’s Master Gardener program mission is “Helping Others Learn to Grow.” The people that have gone through training in Extension Unit 19 to become Master Gardener volunteers certainly accomplish this goal. University of Illinois Extension’s Master Gardener volunteers make a difference in our communities! Last year volunteers in the counties our Extension Unit serves donated 2,679 hours of their time to pass along research-based information to you.

Would you be interested in giving back to your community as an Extension volunteer? Now is the time to apply for the 2018 Master Gardener volunteer training program. We welcome applicants from a wide range of ages, backgrounds and gardening-related interests. The 2018 training of new volunteers begins on Jan. 23 and continues every Tuesday through April 10 in Charleston.

If you are interested in becoming a Master Gardener volunteer, Friday, Dec. 15 is the deadline to submit your application to U of I Extension’s Coles County Extension office, 707-A Windsor Road, Charleston, IL 61920. Learn more about the Master Gardener program or download the application form at, or contact Dave Shiley at 217-543-3755 or

For more information on University of Illinois Extension programming in Coles, Cumberland, Douglas, Moultrie and Shelby counties, visit our website at or call us at 217-345-7034.


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