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Growing Local: Rise in farmers' markets, community gardens fuel economy, discussion and needs

Approximately 95 percent of the food we eat in Illinois comes from someplace else. 



The farmland in Illinois is some of the richest in the nation and the state’s economy is one of the worst.

A growing number of people in central Illinois are working together to build clusters of regional food businesses to aid economic recovery and increase residents’ access to fresh food. 

Illinois Public Media and collaborated to explore the idea of “local” foods as a strategy for economic recovery in Illinois and the nation and dig into specific efforts in central Illinois. 

For radio interviews and discussions, please visit Illinois Public Media.


Photography: Pam G. Dempsey; George Hovorka; Lisa Braddock

Follow the story on Twitter: #localfood



Local foods movement on the rise

Though local food programs have roots dating back to the 1930s, mainstream interest has taken a sharp increase over the past decade. This trend is mirrored in Champaign-Urbana with new farmer’s markets on North First Street and the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District as well as an increase in community gardens in underserved areas, such as Lierman Neighborhood and north Champaign.

Community perspectives

Over the past eight months, Urbana city officials, including the mayor and the city’s community development department, have worked with residents in the Lierman Neighborhood to help secure land and water for a community garden on the corners of Lierman and Washington streets. We asked resident Robin Arbiter to talk more about the garden and its goals and challenges.


The local foods movement is on the rise in Champaign-Urbana and with it an increase in healthy cooking classes, neighborhood farmer's markets and community gardens. These video stories show firsthand the impact local foods have on the community. 

Tools and resources

Want to know where to find the closest bee farm, berry farm or tomato farm? Want to explore global food production? Check out these tools!