University News

Timothy Collins, Assistant Director, Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs
[Download Print-Quality Image]

Rural Illinois Perspectives: Statewide Directory of CSA Producers Issued by IIRA

November 21, 2008

Share |
Printer friendly version

By Timothy Collins, IIRA Assistant Director

MACOMB, IL -- The Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) has issued a statewide directory of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) producers.

The Illinois Directory of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a resource for anyone interested in creating or accessing locally grown food supplies. The directory focuses on food producers who sell shares of their harvests to members of the community through a cooperative business arrangement, commonly called a "CSA." The directory also includes a case study of a food cooperative organized to meet the specific needs of a community through accessing a regional food distributor.

The project was funded as part of a grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development for the creation of agricultural and nonfarm cooperatives. IIRA conducts research and outreach in this area through its Value-Added Sustainable Development Center.

In an uncertain global economy, local food supply is a concern for many. In 2002, the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University calculated the average distance 30 produce items traveled to the Chicago terminal and the locations where they were grown. Vegetables and fruits traveled more than 2,000 miles, not including the added distance of delivering the product from Chicago to downstate retailers. Grapes were grown an average of 2,143 miles away from Chicago, and 43 percent of the squash handled in Chicago was grown Mexico. In fact, 21 of the 30 produce items in the study originated in Mexico.

CSAs allow local residents to purchase a share of locally grown food products that can include fruits, vegetables, meat, herbs and more. The products supplied by the CSAs are either delivered directly to the members or picked up by members depending on the stipulations of the membership.

This directory contains information on 50 CSA farms either located in Illinois or near the Illinois border that serve Illinois residents. It provides contact information and a description of the products available at each operation.

This information can also be obtained through the Illinois Value-Added Sustainable Development Center website at The report's primary authors were Ryan Light, IIRA graduate assistant; Heather McIlvaine-Newsad, IIRA research fellow and member of Western Illinois University's anthropology and sociology department; and Erin Orwig, technical assistant for the IIRA Value-Added Sustainable Development Center.

Light conducted Internet searches and contacted individual operations through telephone interviews collecting specific information. McIlvaine-Newsad served as a source for research of CSAs registered with national organizations and authored the case study. Orwig compiled the information into the published document.

You can obtain a copy of the directory by contacting IIRA at (800) 526-9943 or from

Western Illinois University is an Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity institution. For more information about the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs, see If you care to comment about this column, please contact Timothy Collins, (800) 526-9943 or

Posted By: University Communications (
Office of University Communications & Marketing