The tour starts at Meadow Haven Farm owned by Allan and Jeanne Sexton and Jeremy and Cherie House. They raise certified organic grass-fed beef and pastured poultry - 185 head of cattle, 3,000 chickens and 250 turkeys, orchard and alley cropping for small farm production.
Allan Sexton and his partners draw heavily on his experience as a holistic veterinarian in treating his animals. Sexton said that on the tour visitors will see the cattle, poultry, and turkeys. "They'll see what we do, how we do it, and learn about the benefits of eating good food."
"Soil and pasture development are fundamental components of each farm's operation, growth and success - reinforcing that good food comes from good soil," said Roger Larson, director of the University of Illinois Extension Peoria County Unit Office.
At 11:00 a.m. the tour will caravan to the nearby Graze N' Grow and Red Barn Nursery, owned by Jim and Ruth Draper.
The Drapers raise Katahdin sheep which have hair rather than wool. "My husband Jim has raised sheep all of his life. About six years ago, we switched to Katahdin sheep because there wasn't a good market for wool and these sheep just shed their hair in the field, so we didn't have to hire a shearer. It costs a lot to have them shorn, and we couldn't get a good price for the wool," said Ruth Draper. Katahdin sheep are named for the highest mountain in Maine, Mount Katahdin in the Appalachian Mountains.
The Drapers sell lambs "on the hoof" and deliver them to be slaughtered for their customers. They don't use hormones or antibiotics, which is something their customers like. "We have a very ethnically diverse customer base. We sell a lot of our lamb to the Hispanic, Muslim and Greek population. We're on I-80 and people see our sheep and turn off the road to find us," she said. Ruth Draper also runs a green house and nursery business on the property called the Red Barn Nursery.
The tour will officially end at 1:30 p.m. but visitors who are interested are welcome to stay for an informal tour of Meadow Haven Farms' geothermal house and orchard, concluding at 3:00 p.m.
The remainder of this year's schedule for the 2009 sustainable agriculture tours is as follows:
August 13, Creative Community Co-op Farming
Basu Natural Farms, Pembroke
August 15, Raising Elk and Innovative Farming
Mackinaw Valley Elk Farm and Blue Schoolhouse Farm, Congerville
September 22, Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
River Front Berry Farm, Martinton http://www.riverfrontberryfarm.com
A fee of $20 per person will be charged for each tour, which includes lunch.
Registration at least one week in advance is required. Visit https://webs.extension.uiuc.edu/registration/default.cfm?RegistrationID=2845 to register and for more details about each of the tours including a map and agenda.
To register by phone, contact Donna Cray at 217-241-4644. For more information, contact Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant (217-968-5512; firstname.lastname@example.org).
University of Illinois Extension is a statewide educational network that links the resources and research of the University of Illinois to the people of Illinois. The programs and workshops, which take place throughout the state, address issues involving youth, families, community development, agriculture, and natural resources. If reasonable accommodations are needed in order to participate in any of the programs, call 217-241-4644.
The tours are sponsored by the University of Illinois Extension, University of Illinois Extension- Winnebago County, the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Professional Development Program, Agriculture and Tourism Partners of Illinois (ATPI), Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program (ASAP) at the University of Illinois and the Peoria Chapter of the Initiative for the Development for Entrepreneurs in Agriculture (IDEA).
This tour is also sponsored by Graze N' Grow Farm, Meadow Haven Farm, University of Illinois Extension Bureau and Peoria County Unit Offices, Prairie Rivers Resource Conservation & Development, Crow Creek Farm, Basil's Harvest and the American Corn Growers Association.