Neighborhood Co-op’s Farm Crawl connects southern Illinoisans to sustainable farming

Andrew+Banks+reaches+to+pet+a+hog+on+the+Five+Hen+Farm+near+Lick+Creek%2C+during+the+Annual+Neighborhood+Co-Op+Farm+Crawl+on+Saturday%2C+Sept.+15+2018.+

Isabel Miller | @IsabelMillerDE

Andrew Banks reaches to pet a hog on the Five Hen Farm near Lick Creek, during the Annual Neighborhood Co-Op Farm Crawl on Saturday, Sept. 15 2018.

Neighborhood Co-op is hosting its annual Farm Crawl Saturday and Sunday, September 11 and 12. 

Attendees will be able to tour different farms, and see how they go through the process of harvesting food and taking care of their animals. 

The Farm Crawl, a fundraiser for the non-profit Food Works, started in 2012.

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“The goal of the farm crawl is to connect consumers with our local source of food and the different farms we have around here,” said Amy Dion, brand development manager for Neighborhood Co-op.

Dion said produce shipped from farther away lacks the nutritional value of local, fully ripened produce, and is generally grown with pesticides or with methods detrimental to soil health.

“It is just taking care of the soil, and understanding how much damage a huge cattle ranch can do to the land, versus a small cattle ranch when they rotate them out to a different field,” Dion said. “In the end it is understanding what cleaner food is over some of these big corporations.”

This year’s farm participants include All Seasons, Wichman Vineyard, Big Muddy Hogs, Flock Farms and more.

“Industry around here is different from mushroom farms, hog farms, and organic orchards. We have just a variety of farms, and the more we support that the more sustainable this area can be,” Dion said.

April Glays, co-owner of Flock Farms, said this is her farm’s first year participating in the Farm Crawl. Flock Farms specializes in raising animals such as sheep, goats and chickens to produce meat.

“We are only one of two farms in southern Illinois that is animal welfare approved… They wean naturally meaning that we do not do any sort of program where we separate the moms and the babies,” Glays said.

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Glays said Flock Farms’s animals are grass fed, and born on pasture.

“It makes for healthier meat, it makes for healthier and sustainable farming practices that are better for the environment and better for our community in general,” Glays said.

Johanna Wichman, co-owner of Wichman Vineyard,  said their farm is one of the few grape growers in the Shonnie area. 

“Not only do we own it, we are also the people doing all of the work here. As owner, I am also winemaker and vineyard manager, which is kind of unique in this area,” Wichman said.

Farm Crawl is sponsored by the Daily Egyptian, Illinois HealthCare, Fork and Vine, AES Solar, and Blue Sky Vineyard.

Passes are required to travel from farm to farm. They will be available now through Sunday at the Neighborhood Co-op office. Volunteers will be available at the farms to help guide attendees.

Staff reporter Janiyah Gaston can be reached at [email protected] or on Instagram at @janiyah_reports. To stay up to date with all your Southern Illinois news follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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