Department of Crop Sciences

Learn small farming skills from your desk this winter

Published December 9, 2016

URBANA, Ill. - Even in the dead of winter, you can learn to raise strawberries, microgreens, and cut flowers.

“Your fields and gardens may be snowed over, but it is the perfect time to develop your skills in small farming and local food production,” says Andy Larson, a University of Illinois Extension local food systems and small farms educator.

University of Illinois Extension will once again be hosting the Small Farms Winter Webinar Series featuring practical, lunch-hour presentations on small farm enterprises and strategies. Log in every Thursday at noon, Jan. 19 through March 30. 

“Because farm life is seldom convenient during the colder months, it’s nice to have these down-to-earth learning opportunities available right at your fingertips. No gloves or long johns required,” says, Larson, who will be providing a lesson on growing hobby farms into businesses.  “Winter is great for planning your next growing season, so let’s talk about ways you can improve or diversify your small farm.”

The winter webinar series will include presentations on buying quality hay, rejuvenating old fruit trees, mite problems in honeybees, planning windbreaks, mulching vegetables, soil management in high tunnels, and new food safety rules. Each hour-long webinar will be presented by an Extension educator. Webinars will also be recorded and archived for future viewing.

Registration is free. Sign up for one or all webinars at http://go.aces.illinois.edu/winterwebinars2017. Registrants will be sent a webinar reminder, log-on instructions, and instructions on how to access the archived recording. If you do not have broadband internet capable of streaming video, call your local Extension office to see if they offer live viewing.

If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact your local Extension office.

Webinar series schedule:

Jan. 19 - ABCs of Strawberry Plasticulture Production, Bronwyn Aly, University of Illinois Extension Local Food Systems and Small Farms Educator

Jan. 26 - Buying Hay: Quality vs. Cost, Jamie Washburn, University of Illinois Extension Local Food Systems and Small Farms Educator

Feb. 2 - Slow Flowers: Small-Scale Cut Flower Production, Candice Hart, University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator

Feb. 9 - Out with the Old: Pruning Old and Neglected Fruit Trees, Grant McCarty, University of Illinois Extension Local Food Systems and Small Farms Educator

Feb. 16 - Small Commercial Microgreen Production, Zack Grant, University of Illinois Extension Local Food Systems and Small Farms Educator

Feb. 23 - Food Safety Needs for Midwest Produce Growers,  Angela Shaw, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Food Safety Specialist

Mar. 2 - Growing Your Hobby Farm into a Business, Andy Larson, University of Illinois Extension Local Food Systems and Small Farms Educator

Mar. 9 - Do Your Bees Have PMS (Parasitic Mite Syndrome), Doug Gucker, University of Illinois Extension Local Food Systems and Small Farms Educator

Mar. 16 - Maximizing Windbreaks on Your Farm, David Shiley, University of Illinois Extension Local Food Systems and Small Farms Educator

Mar. 23 - Benefits of Mulching Vegetables, James Theuri, University of Illinois Extension Local Food Systems and Small Farms Educator

Mar. 30 - Soil Management for High Tunnels, Nathan Johanning, University of Illinois Extension Local Food Systems and Small Farms Educator