University News

A sampling of organic products at the 2007 Field Day.
[Download Print-Quality Image]

Gene Mealhow, owner and producer of K&K Tiny but Mighty Popcorn, at the 2007 Field Day.
[Download Print-Quality Image]

WIU Allison Organic Farm Field Day

July 21, 2008

Printer friendly version

MACOMB, IL -- Strategies for balancing organic and conventional production will be featured at the annual Western Illinois University Allison Organic Farm Field Day Wednesday, Aug. 6.

The field day will be held from noon-4 p.m. at the WIU agriculture department's Allison Organic Research and Demonstration Farm and the neighboring Kane Farm in southern Warren County, seven miles north of Sciota. Events will begin at the Kane Farm with a complimentary lunch featuring local farm products. A variety of organic products will also be available for sampling.

The lunch will be followed by a slide presentation by Gary Reding, a pioneering producer of conventional, specialty and organic crops in Greensburg, IN. After observing strong demand for organics in his seed cleaning business, Reding became certified to clean organic grains in 1997. Continuing to follow the market, he began transitioning land to organic in 2000 and now has nearly 50 percent of his 600 acres certified. In addition to crops, Reding has a 40 head cow/calf herd and direct markets "natural" beef (80 percent direct market). Reding will share his experiences and then join a panel of Illinois farmers with mixed operations to discuss the unique opportunities and challenges associated with combining organic and conventional operations.

Activities at the Kane Farm will close with short reports on organic markets by Roger Hendricker, manager of Clarkson Grain in Beardstown (IL), AgLeader guidance systems by Rex Garthaus of AgLeader and the CropCam system by Dale Crawford, a farmer in Sullivan (IL).

Following the presentations at the Kane Farm, the field day will transition one mile east to the Allison Organic Farm for equipment demonstrations by WIU agriculture faculty assistant Andy Clayton and Crawford, followed by a tour of research and production activities led by Joel Gruver, assistant professor of soil science and coordinator of the WIU Organic Research Program. Crawford will demonstrate the CropCam system, a radio control glider plane that can be used to inexpensively take aerial photographs of agricultural fields.

"If you have ever contemplated organic production or are simply curious about why some successful conventional farmers diversify into organics and how they keep their mixed operations in balance, this field day will have something for you," Gruver explained.

The event is co-sponsored by the McDonough County and Warren County soil and water conservation districts and the WIU agriculture department.

The field day is free to the public; however, advance registration is required for the lunch. To register, contact Clayton at or (309)298-1172,(217)322-2639 or the WIU agriculture department office at (309)298-1080. More information about Western's organic agriculture research program website can be found at

Directions to the Kane and Allison farms:
If arriving from north of 20th Ave in Warren County, travel on Rt. 67 five miles south of the Rt. 67 - Rt. 116 intersection in Roseville to County Rd. 20th Ave N, then turn west and travel five miles to the Kane Farm. If arriving from the south, travel on Rt. 67 seven miles north of the Rt. 67 - Rt. 9 intersection in Good Hope to County Rd. 20th Ave N, then turn west and travel five miles to the Kane Farm. The Allison Farm is located on the northwest corner of the intersection of County Rd. 20th Ave N and 20th Street, one mile east of the Kane Farm. Signs will be posted at both farms. Contact Andy Clayton (217) 322-2639 for additional assistance.

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