Based on the Prairie Crossing Farm, the Foundation lives out our commitment to sustainable food systems development every day through our farmer training and education programs. We have developed deep expertise and regional/national partnerships through 20 years of investment in local food systems. We leverage our project based work at the Prairie Crossing Farm; policy work at the local, regional and national levels; and strategic grant making to help realize the economic, health, and community-building benefits of a sustainable local food system in the Chicago region.
The impact of the Liberty Prairie Foundation’s sustainable local food systems work is demonstrated through the following projects:
The Liberty Prairie Foundation owns the Prairie Crossing Farm , a working organic farm, and operates a variety of on-site programs including a Farm Business Development Center and other educational programs. The Prairie Crossing Farm provides a demonstration of successful local food businesses and our local food systems work in action. Click here for more information about the Prairie Crossing Farm.
Modeled after the incubator model of the tech industry, the Farm Business Development Center prepares farmers to meet the demand for locally grown organic food in the Chicago region. The program provides new farmers with a head start building their business with initial affordable access to certified organic land near the Chicagoland customer base, and access to experienced mentor farmers. Click here for more information about the Farm Business Development Center.
In 2011 the Liberty Prairie Foundation joined together with a group of Lake County stakeholders and Openlands and co-authored a study, the Lake County Sustainable Local Food Systems Report, which identified land access as the primary barrier to a sustainable local food system in Lake County. Click here for more information about the Lake County Sustainable Local Food Systems Project.
The Liberty Prairie Foundation created the Waukegan Local Food Project to help the community strengthen its local food system. The Waukegan Local Food Project leveraged the Foundation’s local food system development, farming, and education expertise to provide capacity building and technical assistance to Waukegan community leaders interested in pursuing various local food projects. Click here for more information about the Waukegan Local Food Project.
The Fresh Taste funder collaborative was formed in 2002 by the Liberty Prairie Foundation and other foundations with a shared philanthropic commitment to sustainable agriculture and food systems. Fresh Taste’s geographic focus is on the “Chicago foodshed” – roughly a 200-mile area surrounding Chicago, Illinois. Working together, we envision a future where all metro Chicago residents will eat mostly healthy, locally-produced fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meat, and dairy products. Fresh Taste is governed by a Steering Committee co-chaired by Brad Leibov (Liberty Prairie Foundation) and Trish Robb (J.R. Albert Foundation). Click here for more information about Fresh Taste.
The Land Access Pilot Project is designed as a three-year initiative to increase sustainable local food farming on public and privately owned lands in northeastern Illinois. The Liberty Prairie Foundation and Openlands are partnering on this innovative project, which is generously funded through Food:Land:Opportunity–Localizing the Chicago Foodshed, a multi-year funding initiative of The Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust. Click here for more information about the Land Access Pilot Project.
The Liberty Prairie Foundation coordinates an annual seed donation program in partnership with the Prairie Crossing farmers and organizations growing food for vulnerable populations. Click here for more information about the Seedling Donation Project, which connects organizations growing food for area food pantries and/or under-resourced people with free seeds and seedlings.
The Liberty Prairie Foundation coordinates an annual gleaning project in partnership with the Prairie Crossing farmers and local volunteers. Click here for more information about the Gleaning Project which creates volunteer opportunities to harvest produce that would not otherwise be harvested to be donated to local food pantries.
Working collaboratively with the Lake County Health Department, the Liberty Prairie Foundation provides fresh vegetables through the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Farmers Market Nutrition Program. Beginning in 2013 at the Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center in Round Lake, this program was expanded in 2015 to also distribute in Waukegan. Click here for more information about the WIC FMNP program.
The Liberty Prairie Foundation works in partnership with the following organizations on our sustainable local food systems work:
Fresh, healthy vegetables are sometimes not accessible to vulnerable populations. The Liberty Prairie Foundation is committed to supporting our neighbors in under-resourced communities as they build capacity to grow healthy food. We support the efforts of our neighbors through targeted technical assistance programs and fresh vegetable donations to the following organizations, and seed/seedling donations to multiple organizations growing food for vulnerable populations:
The Liberty Prairie Foundation created or collaborated with key partners to produce the following sustainable local food resources:
This website is a result of Lake County food systems planning partnership with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), Liberty Prairie Foundation, Conserve Lake County, the Lake County Forest Preserve District, Openlands and others.
Sustainable local food systems balance economic prosperity, environmental preservation, and public health while moving agricultural products from farmer to consumer. National, regional, and local trends indicate a shift in farming practices and consumer demand, as well as present an opportunity for Lake County to capitalize on this growing economic sector. Since the release of the report in 2013, a number of key recommendations have been adopted by the Lake County government and others. Click here for more information about the Lake County Sustainable Local Food Systems Project.
This resource guide was compiled by the Liberty Prairie Foundation as part of the Waukegan Local Food Project, a project with funding support from the Lake County Community Foundation. The capacity building and technical assistance initiative was designed to support Waukegan organizations pursuing local food projects and ultimately strengthen the community’s local food system. Click here for more information about the Waukegan Local Food Project.
In partnership with the Illinois Local Food, Farms & Jobs Council, the Liberty Prairie Foundation hosted/facilitated a statewide roundtable on farmer training.
This report is an outgrowth of a Liberty Prairie Foundation workshop at Prairie Crossing with developers, architects, and farmers from across the country.