The Land Connection produces a play to stimulate discussion about farm transition dilemmas and options

The Land Connection is bringing a one-act play on the future of farming and farmland, “What Will Be Your Legacy?”, to Bloomington, Champaign, Peoria and Springfield, with premier performances March 22 and 23 at 315 E. Front St. in Bloomington.

“This play cultivates awareness of critical issues facing Illinois farmers and farming communities today,” says Land Connection Executive Director Terra Brockman. “It also presents options–ways that retiring and aspiring farmers might help each other find ways to steward the land into the future.”
“What will your legacy be?”
The play, written by the Minnesota Land Stewardship Project’s Doug Nopar, and originally entitled “Look Who’s Knockin’,” presents an elderly farm couple, Gerald and Nettie, wrestling with the question of what will happen to the land that has been in Nettie’s family for five generations.

Their dilemma is a common one as established farmers grow gray and neither their children nor grandchildren plan to return to the family farm. By bringing this issue to the stage here in central Illinois, The Land Connection hopes to stimulate discussion about the issues and options for farmers, their land, and their communities.

This play ends with no clear answer, but gives the audience plenty to reflect on and talk about when the curtain falls. “We leave it open and ask the audience to react,” Brockman said. “We know every farm and every family situation is different. We’re looking for a discussion, a conversation about options.”

One of the options might be to connect with a new young farmer. “We know these people,” says Brockman, “and know that they are ready to farm because they have completed our Central Illinois Farm Beginnings course and mentorship. All they need is a secure long term lease, or option to purchase. And often all they need is 5 to 25 acres.”

The play features central Illinois actors Cindy Hoey and Charles Brown, who play both the elderly farm couple, Gerald and Nettie, and an aspiring farm couple, Angela and John.
“What Will Be Your Legacy” is directed by local actor and organic farmer Doug Day, who says that this project has allowed him to combine his two favorite activities, theatre and farming. After many years as an actor in New York, Doug and his wife Leslie began raising organic fruits and vegetables for local markets at Spring Bay Farm.

Brockman said her awareness of the issues raised in the play has increased as farmland prices have skyrocketed. “Most new farmers can’t begin farming because they can’t find land–either they haven’t got a personal connection with a farmer or they’re not able to afford it.”

“What Will Be Your Legacy” will be performed in March and April at the following locations:
March 22 and 23: The Land Connection, 315 E. Front St., Bloomington
March 29 and 30: Corn Stock Theater, 1700 N. Park Road, Peoria
April 4 and 5: St. Matthew Church, 2200 S. Philo Road, Urbana
April 19 and 20: U of I Extension, 700 S. Airport Drive, Springfield

All performances start at 6:30, feature local food, and are free and open to the public. To ensure enough seating and food, please register online at www.thelandconnection.org/play.

The Land Connection is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting farmland, training sustainable and organic farmers, and promoting a vibrant local food system. Hoping to reverse the current trend of fewer and fewer farmers on the land, The Land Connection works with both retiring and aspiring farmers to ensure that our heritage of farming and food self-sufficiency continues. By connecting people and land, The Land Connection weaves a web of relationships between generations and communities.

For more information, please contact Cara Cummings at [email protected] or visit the Land Connection website: www.thelandconnection.org/lookwhosknocking

McLean County Waste Generation Declines for Fourth Year in a Row

183,079 tons of municipal solid waste was generated in McLean County in 2012, a 12% decline from the 2011 rate.  This is the fourth year in a row that waste generation in McLean County has decreased.  It is likely that the economic recession has resulted in less consumer spending that generates waste; weak retail sales of generation merchandise in recent years have corresponded with this trend.  However, 2012 retail sales were up again, which may result in an increase in total waste generation in the near future.

In 2012 McLean County recycling increased by 6.7% to an overall recycling rate of 36.5% of all municipal solid waste generated.  Marked growth in the recycling of household batteries, construction and demolition materials, food waste, and wood waste all contributed to the county-wide recycling rate increase from 2011-2012.  The upturn in recycling also puts the community on track towards the established 40% recycling goal.

The Ecology Action Center annually collects data on the amount of municipal solid waste generated and recycled for all of McLean County.   This data is used for solid waste management planning purposes.  Among other services, the EAC acts as the solid waste agency for Bloomington, Normal, and McLean County providing technical assistance, recycling promotion, nontraditional recycling program administration, household hazardous waste coordination, and education and outreach.

Information on residential recycling, recycling of nontraditional materials, and information on recycling or disposal of household hazardous wastes is available by calling  (309) 454-3169 or visiting www.ecologyactioncenter.org.

Bloomington Normal Turns Out the Lights for Earth Hour

As part of the world’s largest voluntary action for the environment, some Bloomington-Normal buildings will go dark on March 23, 2013 from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.  At this time a number of area businesses, organizations, and residents will turn off their lights or reduce their energy usage in other ways to raise awareness of the excessive consumption of energy and how it impacts global climate change.  Bloomington-Normal joins over 7,000 cities in 152 countries worldwide participating in Earth Hour.

The Ecology Action Center invites all area residents and businesses to participate.  Businesses can turn off outside signs and displays, interior lights, and exterior lights not essential for safety or security.  Families can turn off their lights, TVs, and computers and enjoy dinner by candlelight, board games, or even a walk outside in the early spring weather.  To sign-up to participate in the local Earth Hour event go to www.ecologyactioncenter.org .  Participating businesses, organizations, and families are also encouraged to let the EAC know about their efforts at (309) 454-3169 or [email protected]

The Ecology Action Center further encourages residents and businesses to go beyond Earth Hour and adopt practices and energy efficient technologies as part of daily life to help reduce energy consumption and thereby reduce climate-changing greenhouse gases.  Information on many ways to save energy and save money at home or at work is available on the EAC website at www.ecologyactioncenter.org under “Energy”.

Participation by area organizations and businesses includes:

  • The City of Bloomington will reduce the temperature of its buildings by 5 degrees
  • The Town of Normal will shut off all the non-essential lights, including outside lights
  • State Farm Insurance will turn off non-essential lighting at its Corporate Headquarters, Corporate South, and Downtown Building
  • The McLean County Museum of History will help to promote this event
  • Illinois Wesleyan University will encourage its campus to participate
  • The Children’s Discovery Museum will turn off non-essential lights, computers, and appliances
  • The Miller Park Zoo will help to promote this event
  • The Uptown Partners will help to promote this event
  • The Islamic Center of Bloomington/Normal will help to promote this event
  • The League of Women Voters of McLean County will be encouraging its members to participate

PRESS RELEASE Earth Hour 2013

“Starting Over with Native Plants: Re-envisioning the Conventional American Yard”

Wild OnesSpeaker and Facilitator Cindy Eack, landscape designer and owner of Blooming Garden Design, uses sustainable gardening practices to create environmentally sensitive and wildlife-friendly landscapes. Eack will lead a discussion on how best to start over with incorporating native plant communities into a conventional American garden. Eack will introduce key topics, including “Designing with Native Plants,” “Conserving Natural Resources,”, and ” Finding Locally Adapted Natives,” highlighting each one with slides and hand-outs, and then invite the audience to share their experience and expertise with each topic.

Bike Season Kickoff Movie — Race Across America!

As we anticipate the start of bike season (for those who don’t ride in winter!), join us for an inspiring bike movie on Tuesday, March 5 at 7 p.m. to watch Race Across America at the Normal Theater in Uptown Normal. Movie tickets cost $5, and all proceeds will benefit the West Bloomington Neighborhood Revitalization Project’s “Walk In, Bike Out” bike giveaway event in April 2013, at which people in need of a bike can get one for free. In previous years, more than 100 bikes have been given away to people of all ages throughout Normal and Bloomington. This supports several parts of the Town of Normal Sustainability Plan – bikes as alternative transportation, getting bikes to those in need, promoting community volunteerism, etc.!

Illinois People’s Action – Day of Action on Fracking

IPAOn Monday, March 4th, you are invited to join Illinois People’s Action on a day of action against fracking in Illinois. Before heading to the capitol to meet in groups with elected officials, IPA will pass out information on fracking to attendees of the Hydraulic Fracturing Seminar hosted by the Illinois Association of County Board Member and Commissioners.

Please call Kathy Eckert at the IPA Bloomington office, (309) 827-9627, to sign up for the car caravan or for more information.

Vermicompost Workshop

VermicompostingWould you like to learn more about this type of composting, and make and take home your very own vermicompost bin and worms? Then join us for our early spring workshop.  For a fee of $37 ($32 for Ecology Action Center members), you can come to our workshop, learn about vermicomposting, construct a simple container, fill it with worms, take it home and let the magic begin!  Workshop fee includes all materials including one pound of worms.  Each registered participant may bring one guest who is at least 8 years old, so feel free to bring your spouse, daughter, grandson or friend, and come learn about the magic of vermicomposting!

NOTE: Workshops fill up quickly; registrations are accepted in the order they are received.  Registrations must include payment to be accepted; once capacity is reached all further registrations will be refunded.  Registration deadline: February 21.

WORKSHOP FULL

Vermicomposting Workshop

VermicompostingWould you like to learn more about this type of composting, and make and take home your very own vermicompost bin and worms? Then join us for our early spring workshop.  For a fee of $37 ($32 for Ecology Action Center members), you can come to our workshop, learn about vermicomposting, construct a simple container, fill it with worms, take it home and let the magic begin!  Workshop fee includes all materials including one pound of worms.  Each registered participant may bring one guest who is at least 8 years old, so feel free to bring your spouse, daughter, grandson or friend, and come learn about the magic of vermicomposting!

NOTE: Workshops fill up quickly; registrations are accepted in the order they are received.  Registrations must include payment to be accepted; once capacity is reached all further registrations will be refunded.  Registration deadline: February 21.

REGISTRATION CLOSED – WORKSHOP NOW FULL