New club promotes eating organic foods grown in the area

URBANA – Canned peas or fresh peas?

Rebecca Russell will take fresh vegetables any day. And if they were grown locally, well, that's even better.

Russell is the force behind a new University of Illinois student organization called Just.Food. She and other students want to raise awareness about the benefits of eating locally grown, organic produce.

No one has taken responsibility for 2002 Salt Fork ammonia spill

The Salt Fork, with its riffles and ripples, its smallmouth bass, mussels and crayfish, was quiet.

Not even a water strider skipped across the surface.

That's what Dennis Wandell remembers most about the 2002 ammonia spill: the stillness of the river.

Conservationist making sure farmers follow plan for their land

BROADLANDS – Kevin Donoho looked at Joe Rothermel's field, full of tiny corn plants, and he liked what he saw.

Tuscola a state finalist for Futuregen project

SPRINGFIELD – A site just west of Tuscola is one of four Illinois finalists for a $1 billion project touted as the "coal plant of the future," according to Brian Moody, executive director of Tuscola Economic Development Inc.

The FutureGen project is expected to create 1,300 construction jobs at its peak and about 150 permanent jobs at the plant, plus as many as 750 permanent indirect jobs, Moody said.

'Carefree' farming

RURAL MONTICELLO – Fred and Ginger are living the good life.

They have a brand-new dog house, a doting human and 3 acres to romp and bark at wildlife to their hearts' content. The barking-at-wildlife part is actually their job.

Firm plans Royal ethanol facility

ROYAL – An Indiana agribusiness company is planning to build a 100-million-gallon ethanol plant in this rural Champaign County town.

JBS United, which operates several grain elevators in Illinois and Michigan, including one in Royal, announced Thursday it intends to construct the plant, but a company spokesperson declined to offer many details about the project.

Illinois flourishing in previously untapped wine industry

CHAMPAIGN – If you think Illinois is all about corn and soybeans, you haven't heard the latest on the grapevine.

Vineyards and wineries across the state have flourished in recent years, blossoming into a $20 million annual industry.

Grain business seeks zoning for ethanol plant

CHAMPAIGN – The Andersons, a grain storage, marketing and farm fertilizer business in northwest Champaign, is considering building an ethanol plant there.

In response to interest expressed by The Andersons and the possibility of other plant proposals coming down the pipeline, the Champaign County Department of Planning and Zoning has suggested amending the county zoning ordinance.

C-FAR chairman slams budget proposal

SPRINGFIELD – The chairman of the Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research on Friday called the governor's budget proposal "woe-fully inadequate."

"Every Midwestern state, with the exception of Missouri, makes a greater investment in their food and agricultural industries than does Illinois; some are significantly greater," said Chairman Alan Puzey. "Illinois' ability to foster advancements is in dire jeopardy with the appropriation that is proposed next year."

Several indicators suggest a dry spring

It's rained a lot this winter, but that doesn't mean the drought is over for Illinois.

In fact, if the coming spring is anything like last year's spring, the state's water resources could become depleted faster than they did in 2005, according to a recent report by the Illinois Drought Response Task Force.