Small-acreage landowners will learn everything from stewardship practices to income opportunities during the Illinois Living on the Land 10-week course held Jan. 26 through March 29 on Thursdays from 6 to 9 p.m.
"The purpose of the course is to help people sustainably manage smaller-acreage properties from 1 acre to 50 acres," said University of Illinois Extension local foods and small farms educator Ellen Phillips. "Participants will gain a better understanding of how to manage their property from current landowners, local industry experts, agency professionals and U of I Extension educators teaching the course."
The session topics include inventorying resources; managing soil, pastures and lawns; living with streams and ponds; managing well and septic systems; controlling weeds; beginning a business using small acreages; and much more.
"This class is really helpful, especially if you are not from a farming background. It teaches you all kinds of things you should think about from where to put a well to what kinds of crops to grow based on your property's soil type. They have a little of everything," said Cindy Gustafson, a former Illinois Living on the Land participant.
The course will feature a farm tour and a "What We Wish We Knew" small acreage owner's panel. Participants will also develop a plan for their property using key information from the course. In addition, they will receive feedback, helpful resources and ongoing support.
"Before this course, we owned property, but we were just leasing the tillable acreage. Today, we sustainably farm more than four acres, sell produce at farmers markets, and run a hunting club," Gustafson said.
Four of the classes will be held at U of I Extension offices, including the Will Unit in Joliet, the Boone Unit in Belvidere, the Stephenson Unit in Freeport and the Sangamon Unit in Springfield. The remaining five classes will be taught through online webinars. The tour will be determined by each county.
A $200 registration fee is due by Jan. 23 for all 10 sessions, and additional family members may register for $100. This fee includes one handbook per family. You may also register for individual sessions featuring topics of interest for $30 per session. To register or get a brochure, go to web.extension.illinois.edu/state/calendar_event.cfm?ID=55266.
Participants will need a computer, Internet connection (or PowerPoint or PowerPoint Viewer) and a speakerphone to access the webinar classes.
For a complete listing of session topics, registration questions and additional information about the course or the equipment requirements, call the office where you wish to attend. For Boone County, call 815-544-3710; for Will County, call 815-727-9296; for Sangamon County, call 217-782-4617; and for Stephenson County, call 815-235-4125.