JJC to Host Local Foods Event Dec. 3

Joliet Junior College is in the beginning stages of developing a local foods project, with the help of a grant from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).

To kick off a series of outreach activities, the college will host a public event, “GROW Food Community Economy” on Dec. 3, that will include a sustainable, local foods breakfast and three nationally-known speakers within the local foods movement: John Ikerd, agricultural economist and author; Terra Brockman, author and founder of The Land Connection, and Jim Slama, founder and president of Family Farmed.

The idea that a population would rely on locally-produced foods to sustain it isn’t new. It’s only been in the latter half of the 20th century that small farms, World War II era Victory Gardens or farmers markets waned in favor of mass-produced food by large-scale distributors.

But as the movement for sustainable living continues to grow, the concept of locally produced food has started to gain support as well.

With the help of the grant, multiple college departments are working together to understand the local foods status within and around the JJC region and are starting to establish a local foods enterprise or farmers market on the college campus.

Since the college received the DCEO grant in 2009, it has started the production of an outdoor vegetable garden as well as a hydroponic food production process in the new LEED-registered JJC Greenhouse Facility.

For Rafac, a JJC instructor and event organizer, the answer to successfully growing a sustainable culture and green economy in our communities is food.

“In order to become a healthy, sustainable community, we need healthy and sustainable families and that all begins with what and how we eat,” she said.

“GROW Food Community Economy” will be held on the JJC Main Campus on Friday, Dec. 3, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

To register, visit the JJC sustainability website at www.jjc.edu/info/grow.

For questions, contact Maria Anna Rafac at mrafac@jjc.edu or (815) 280-2546.

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