By DAVE SHILEY
The number of local vegetable and fruit farms is increasing throughout Illinois and is very apparent in Moultrie County. On June 18 there will be a produce walk at the farm of James Stutzman, 1674 State Highway 133 in Arthur. Local growers will tour the Stutzman farm and hear an overview of GAPs, or Good Agricultural Practices, from me, your Extension educator in local food systems and small farms.
The produce walk will also serve as a meeting for producers selling at the Arthur Produce Auction. Sheldon Raber, the manager of the auction, will be discussing details and procedures for producers wanting to sell through the Arthur Produce Auction.
If you are a local fruit or vegetable producer interested in exploring the possibility of selling through the auction, you are encouraged to attend. If you have questions about the produce walk on June 18, contact me at 217-543-3755.
Grain safety training
The University of Illinois Extension, Illinois Farm Bureau and Grain Handling Safety Coalition are partnering to provide grain-handling safety training for farmers, farm employees and commercial operators. The training is meant to help farmers and employees identify, avoid and eliminate the hazards of handling grain. The training will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Friday, June 28, at the Lumpkin Family Center for Health Education at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center in Mattoon.
"Illinois had the largest increase of off-farm storage capacity in 2011 and more than 10 percent of the national on-farm storage capacity," said Bob Aherin, program leader, University of Illinois Extension agriculture safety and health. "Engulfment and entrapment are on the rise nationwide, which is why these grain safety training programs are so important."
Coles County's grain-handling safety training will include an overview of grain handling and storage and training on entanglement hazards and guarding. Local sponsors of the training include the Coles County Farm Bureau, UI Extension serving Coles, Cumberland, Douglas, Moultrie and Shelby counties as well as Cargill, Farmers Grain Co. of Dorans, Total Grain Marketing, and Tate and Lyle Grain Co.
There is no cost to attend the grain-handling safety training on June 28. If you are interested in registering, contact me at the UI Extension in Arthur at 543-3755 to reserve your seat.
Whether you are a home gardener or commercial producer, UI Extension has a diversity of informative websites to assist you during the growing season. Check them out by going to http://web.extension.illinois.edu, or call the Extension office in Champaign at 333-7672.
Dave Shiley is educator for local food systems and small farms for the University of Illinois Extension. You can reach him at 543-3755.