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Fall 2012

Farm Bureau

A quarterly magazine for members

Planting Seeds & Good Deeds Riverside’s 1,000 trees project has taken root over five years

Travel Illinois: geneseo

Highway Highlights Roadside attractions worth the stop

An Apple Dish a Day


Carbondale Co-Op

Voting Has Never Been More Important Fall will be here before we know it. The season means different things to different people. For farmers, it means harvesting corn and soybeans. For students, it means going back to school. For many of us, it means Friday night high school football games under the lights. For everyone in this country over age 18, it means the opportunity to vote in the November general election. In 2000, the presidential election wasn’t decided by millions of votes, hundreds of thousands of votes, tens of thousands of votes or even thousands of votes. The 2000 presidential election was decided by hundreds of votes – 537 votes to be exact. Just 537 people who didn’t vote could have changed the course of history. Were you one of those people? History is littered with nominees who lost close elections in presidential or primary elections. Despite that reality, voter turnout continues its downward slide. In fact, voter turnout percentages in presidential elections have fallen from 63 percent in 1960 to just 56.8 percent in 2008 – and the 2008 presidential election actually boasted a higher voter turnout than the five presidential elections before it. Why have so many people decided it’s just not worth it to vote? Perhaps they’re tired of the political process. Or perhaps they really do feel like they aren’t going to make a difference. Whatever the reason, participating in the selection of our elected officials is the duty of every American of legal voting age. Voting enables American citizens to decide who will help balance the state and federal budgets and who will help create jobs. At both the state and federal levels, action is needed and important decisions must be made in regard to the economy, energy development, the environment, health care and taxes. Will you cast your ballot and help choose the men and women who will shape your future? Or will you sit on the sidelines and let others decide for you? Every vote counts this November. Remember, it’s your vote and it’s your future. Philip Nelson is president of Illinois Farm Bureau and COUNTRY Financial. He farms near Seneca.

I was delighted to see Carbondale in your Travel Illinois piece [Summer 2012], but I must say, I’m surprised the Neighborhood Co-op Grocery went unmentioned. The Co-op hosts many events that focus on local foods, farms, and connecting citizens with their farmers. My recommendation to visitors in the Carbondale area is to make the Co-op a destination spot. Depending on the day, you may hear live music, taste samples of a locally grown fruit or veggie, take part in a cooking class or spot some oyster mushrooms from the farm up the road! K. Genet via

Bug Off! [Regarding “Fruits of Your Labor,” Summer 2012], what is recommended each year for keeping insects from my fruit trees? Robert Rikli Hillsboro, Ill.

Response from Jan Phipps, gardening columnist: Most fruit trees have a specific schedule for spraying particular to each kind of fruit. If you contact the University of Illinois Extension office in your county, someone there can give you a printed schedule of what to do and when to do it.

Active in Aurora My brother and I checked out the canoe race today down the Fox River [“Travel Illinois: Aurora,” Fall 2011]. Afterwards, we stopped at the Red Oak Observatory Deck and then took the short hike down to the Devil’s Cave. It’s a must-see! Ruth Plencner via

Every vote counts this November. Remember, it’s your vote and it’s your future. 2

write to us Email us at We welcome any feedback, story ideas, questions or recommendations for our events section. Illinois Farm Bureau




8 Strongly Ingrained Crop storage on Illinois farms grows in popularity

12 Highway Highlights Quirky roadside attractions add character to prairie drives

Every Issue

14 Meet the Maple City

5 Prairie State Perspective

Geneseo is a slice of Americana with a dollop of nostalgia

Marketing games crowd grocery aisles

20 Planting Seeds and Good Deeds

6 Almanac Three ways to preserve produce

Riverside’s 1,000 trees project has taken root over 5 years

16 Local Flavor A Geneseo restaurant puts a twist on the taco

17 Country Wisdom Secure your financial future with help from the experts

18 Watch us Grow Cattle and crops come full circle at a farm in Maple Park

24 Recipes Get to the core of apple recipes

28 Gardening In home gardens, not all shade is created equal

30 FalL Events Kewanee goes whole-hog


On the cover Photo by Brian McCord Tom Sisulak founded the 1,000 Tree Planting Project in Riverside, Ill.

more online Watch videos, read stories and browse photos at

Fall 2012


Volume 4, No. 4


Farm Bureau

An official member publication of the Illinois Farm Bureau

Visit our website for videos, stories, recipes and much more




Resources Editor Dave McClelland Associate Editor Martin Ross Production Manager Bob Standard Photographic Services Director Ken Kashian President Philip Nelson Vice President Rich Guebert Jr. Executive Director of Operations, News & Communications Chris Magnuson

Content Director Jessy Yancey Project Manager Blair Thomas Proofreading Manager Raven Petty Content Coordinator Rachel Bertone Contributing Writers Charlyn Fargo, Cathy Lockman, Jessica Mozo, Jan Phipps, Joanie Stiers, Lorraine Zenge Creative Services Director Christina Carden Senior Graphic Designers Stacy Allis, Laura Gallagher, Jake Shores, Vikki Williams Graphic Designer Taylor Nunley


Creative Technology Analyst Becca Ary

The Great Pumpkin Recipes From breads to pancakes to muffins, support Illinois pumpkin farmers with a selection of simple pumpkin recipes at

Photography Director Jeffrey S. Otto Senior Photographers Jeff Adkins, Brian McCord Staff Photographers Todd Bennett, Michael Conti Web Creative Director Allison Davis Web Content Manager John Hood Web Designer II Richard Stevens Web Development Lead Yamel Hall Web Developer I Nels Noseworthy

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Ad Production Manager Katie Middendorf Ad Traffic Assistants Krystin Lemmon, Patricia Moisan

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I.T. Director Daniel Cantrell Accounting Diana Guzman, Maria McFarland, Lisa Owens County Program Coordinator Kristy Duncan Receptionist Linda Bishop Chairman Greg Thurman

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President/Publisher Bob Schwartzman Executive Vice President Ray Langen Sr. V.P./Operations Casey Hester Sr. V.P./Sales Todd Potter Sr. V.P./Agribusiness Publishing Kim Holmberg V.P./Sales Rhonda Graham V.P./Visual Content Mark Forester V.P./External Communications Teree Caruthers V.P./Content Operations Natasha Lorens Controller Chris Dudley Distribution Director Gary Smith

grow, cook, eat, learn

recipes, tips and food for thought

Illinois Farm Bureau Partners is produced for the Illinois Farm Bureau by Journal Communications Inc., 725 Cool Springs Blvd., Suite 400, Franklin, TN 37067, (800) 333-8842. All rights reserved. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in whole or in part without written consent. Illinois Farm Bureau Partners (USPS No. 255-380) is issued quarterly by the Illinois Agricultural Association, 1701 Towanda Ave., P.O. Box 2901, Bloomington, IL 61702. Periodicals postage paid at Bloomington, IL 61702 and additional mailing offices. The individual membership fee of the Illinois Agricultural Association includes payment of $3 for a subscription to Illinois Farm Bureau Partners. POSTMASTER: Send change of address notices on Form 3579 to Illinois Farm Bureau Partners, P.O. Box 2901, Bloomington, IL, 61702-2901. Member Member

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Browse quick and easy dinner ideas at 4

Illinois Farm Bureau

Prairie state perspective about the author Joanie Stiers is an at-home mom, farm woman and freelance writer in Western Illinois.

What’s Best for Baby? Marketing games crowd grocery aisles My kids’ bums never saw a dash of baby powder powder blown under a dorm room door with a hair dryer in their diaper years. I had the need: Cute little baby (that really happened). If I didn’t grow food, I’d probably bottoms inevitably develop rashes. And I had the supply: take the powder route: Avoid what sounds bad, just in case. The smooth white bottles with pinhole tops arrived in gift Instead, I largely look at flavor, price and the nutritional bags of onesies and pacifiers to welcome our firstborn. label for fat, sugar, salt and calorie content. Is it because But I heard not to use baby powder. So I didn’t. I gave my family farms and understands production methods? a mommy’s no-no to this exemplary symbol of baby. Is it the way I was raised? Probably, though I had never It was the powdery comfort that decades ago soothed thought about it until now. my baby rump, which seems fine today minus the need It’s great that we have choices, even if it’s simply to for some Pilates. OK, maybe a lot support our cause. I buy 1 percent of Pilates. milk, a household compromise between Unsubstantiated concern skim and 2 percent. I choose baking As a new mom, I simply didn’t know what to do. I worried. And is like a weed that robs my mix without trans fat. I buy and freeze wondered. And questioned. So butter when it goes on sale. I buy plants of necessary space, avoiding baby powder seemed grapefruit in January when they’re sunlight and nutrients. the easiest way to calm my in-thesweet and in season down South. moment fear, which I was too busy It also crowds the grocery And, if there’s a choice, I buy produce to substantiate. labeled from the United States. I know aisle by way of marketing we American farmers have regulations This summer, a thought hit me while ducking to mow under our to follow. I’m unsure of the regulations and can prevent good apple tree: Do consumers play this in other countries. So enters my farmers from selling mental game of ping-pong with moment of wonder, which influences good products. their food? Consumer research my buying decision. indicates that people who lack Unsubstantiated concern is like farm connections generally do. a weed, and weeds are the enemy that can rob my We grow corn and soybeans as part of our livelihood. soybean plants of necessary space, sunlight and nutrients. We avidly grow fruits and vegetables for home use and It also crowds the grocery aisle by way of marketing and stock our freezers with our family-raised beef, pork and can prevent good farmers and good food manufacturers chicken. While I rarely visit the meat counter, I do peruse from selling good products. the other grocery aisles every two weeks. And there, food I eventually learned how a healthy dusting of baby marketing bears little influence on my buying decisions. powder effectively keeps bugs from munching on my Still, I notice the words on the packages and signs: garden’s green bean plants. My kids are more than 18 gluten, organic, trans fat, enhanced, improved, natural, months past diapers (hooray for underpants!), but at free-range or free of whatever sounds bad to make the least I can make up for my previous lack of support product sound better. The words cloud thinking like baby to baby powder makers.

Fall 2012


Field Trip

Mazes of Maize Are you looking to lose yourself in fall fun this season? Head to Richardson Adventure Farm and meander your way through the 33-acre corn maze, which the farm claims is the largest in the world.

Make Your Pumpkin Last Want your creative carving to last all week long? Here are a few tips to keep your jack-o’-lantern fresh for up to 10 days: • Remove dirt: Wipe the exterior surfaces of the carved pumpkin clean using a damp cloth. • Treat with bleach solution: Combine 1 tablespoon of bleach per quart of water and put in a spray bottle. Spray the inside of your carved pumpkin and all of the cut surfaces with the solution. This will kill a lot of the surface bacteria and mold that cause rotting. Let the pumpkin sit for 20 minutes. • Rub carved or cut surfaces with petroleum jelly: The jelly will keep out new bacteria and molds and help prevent your jack-o’-lantern from dehydrating. • Stay out of direct sunlight: Keep the pumpkin as cool as possible – but above freezing.

Farm Focus


This year, the theme of Richardson Adventure Farm’s maze celebrates the 100th year of Girl Scouts. The farm is open Aug. 4 through Oct. 31. For a full list of activities at the farm, visit www.richardson

Garlic: Did you know garlic is both a vegetable and an herb? Consider some

of these interesting facts:

Garlic has been used medicinally since Greek and Roman times. Today garlic is a widely recognized healthenhancing supplement. It promotes the well-being of the heart and immune systems with antioxidant properties and helps maintain healthy blood circulation. One of garlic’s greatest health benefits includes the ability to enhance the body’s immune cell activity. 6 6

Five mazes cut in living corn wind together in Spring Grove to create a unique experience. Each maze has a different theme – from shorter mazes such as the Finger Fortune Trail and the Farm Tracks Investigation trail to the Quiz Maze, where you must answer questions to guide yourself through. Fans of the board game Clue will enjoy the Farm Scene Investigation maze game.

Plant garlic in the fall, about six weeks before the ground freezes. The plants will emerge in the spring and will be ready to harvest in summer. The psychological term for fear of garlic is alliumphobia.

Drinking lemon juice or eating a few slices of lemon will Garlic is a stop bad member of the garlic onion family, breath. which also includes leeks and shallots.

More online For more garlic trivia, visit Illinois Illinois Farm Farm Bureau Bureau


Weathering the Drought Your parched lawn this summer mimicked what happened in many farm fields across the state.

“In many respects, it isn’t until times like these that we realize the risks farmers take each and every year,” says Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson, who farms near Seneca.

Photo Courtesy of Kay Shipman

Illinois suffered one of its worst droughts in history. Statistics compiled by the Illinois State Water Survey show the first six months of 2012 was the sixth driest on record. Following a mild winter and spring, precipitation fell 7 inches below normal by mid-summer. From left: Acting Illinois Director of Agriculture Bob Flider, Gov. Pat Quinn, Jefferson County Farm Bureau director Donnie Laird and Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson examine drought-ravaged corn near Waltonville.

While the Illinois Department of Agriculture estimates 80 percent of crops such as corn and soybeans received protection from crop insurance farmers purchased, many farmers growing fruits and vegetables or raising livestock and poultry at present don’t have access to similar risk-management tools. Still, Nelson notes that while Illinois ranks second only to Iowa in producing corn and soybeans, grain and oilseed prices have little impact on most food items. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) notes farmers typically receive less than 10 percent of the price of most food. In addition, Illinois farmers produce only about 10 percent of the world’s wheat crop, a major ingredient used in items such as bread and pasta. The USDA predicted conditions in other states likely will result in a U.S. wheat crop that will be larger than that produced last year.

Ag News

Quick Tips

Grown in Illinois

3 Ways to Preserve

The State of Illinois will provide funding for educational projects through community colleges and Extension programs for farmers to increase the production of locally grown foods.

1. Cold Storage: You may not have a cold storage facility in your home, but a basement with a dirt floor can be used for shortterm storage. Lay the produce on shelves, being careful not to let items touch. Some fruits and vegetables that store well are potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, cabbage, apples and pumpkins.

The state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity backs initiatives that include economic development projects to encourage farmers to sell their produce locally, as well as programs in Illinois high schools to educate agriculture teachers about new food safety standards and growing practices to help them enhance their curriculum.

Fall 2012

2. Freezing: Reduced temperatures prevent microorganisms from growing. Some vegetables should be blanched before freezing to prevent loss of color, flavor and nutrients. Blanching also helps destroy microorganisms on the surface of the vegetable. Good foods for freezing include herbs, blueberries, sweet corn, green beans, broccoli and cauliflower. 3. Drying: The idea is to remove moisture without cooking the product. Traditionally, produce is dried outdoors, spread on racks, screens or tables while the sun and wind do the work. Foods can also be dried in conventional and microwave ovens and in food dehydrators. When using dried foods in recipes, remember they have a more intense flavor.



Ingrained Crop storage on Illinois farms grows in popularity


Illinois Farm Bureau

story by

Joanie Stiers Brian McCord

photography by

Those silver, corrugated steel cylinders with domed tops seem to be sprouting from Illinois farmland. Properly, they’re called bins, the most common storage structure for the state’s two major crops – corn, a grain, and soybeans, an oilseed. And if they seem shinier and bigger than their counterparts, they probably are. New bins keep pace with the productivity of family farms, which have grown in size and can produce about 35 percent more corn per acre than 20 years ago. With farmers using higher-capacity equipment for harvesting and hauling crops, small storage bins can’t keep up with the harvest routine. Just ask farmer Andy Pratt near Dixon, where his family added a third, 83-foot-tall bin to their farm a few months ago. “The main reason we did this is for efficiencies during harvest,” says Andy, a fourth-generation farmer who grows field corn, soybeans and seed corn with his father, Michael, and brother, Peter. “Now that we’re able to do this, my dad, brother and I can harvest without any employees.” Their farm semi-truck can unload its 950 bushels of corn in less than a minute, which means the truck can return more quickly to the field for another fill. Farmers increasingly desire to have as much control over their harvest schedule as New bins on the Pratt farm in Dixon help the family harvest grain more efficiently.

Fall 2012


Bin or Silo? What’s the difference between the two structures? A silo serves sort of like a coffee thermos: tall, skinny, seals tight and holds moisture. Silos often are blue or the color of concrete. They traditionally store silage, which is grass or other fodder harvested green and wet, primarily to feed dairy cattle. Bins are vented, silver, corrugated steel structures fatter in diameter than silos and have varying heights. They generally store dry corn and soybeans, which meet domestic or export market demand for feed, food and fuel use.

Mother Nature will allow. After all, it is the crop that pays the bills. A majority of bins, whether new or old, big or small, and haul whatever crop they cannot store themselves to local elevators in the business of storing the crops. But in the last five years, the bin-building business has jumped with the demand for corn, says Bob Rasmus, marketing manager of grain systems for GROWMARK Inc. To harvest corn beyond the hours an elevator may operate, more farmers like the Pratt family opt to update their own storage, which is close to home and available 24 hours a day. Basic Bins New bins today look industrious and complicated, but in reality their design is about as simple as storing a tractor in a shed. Besides getting bigger, bins have changed little structurally since their introduction, Rasmus says. However, new ones have improvements: Bins today are safer, with caged ladders, platforms and stairs to climb them. Grain quality is more easily maintained with improved air movement and grain temperature monitoring devices, he says. Some of the earliest grain bins appeared in the 1970s, Rasmus says. Before that, farmers generally picked corn by the ear and stored it in corncribs, which includes those wooden slatted structures aging on some farms today. The bin debuted when harvesting machines, or combines, could pick the corn and shell it, which created a need to store kernels instead of ears.

The Pratts built their first grain bins in the early 1980s. That storage served its purpose for the time, at 100,000 bushels, collectively, and they still use it today. Their new bins dwarf those and hold six times more corn. That’s equivalent to slightly more than 600 semi-truckloads of corn. Generally, a drive through farm country will surface two types of storage set-ups: big bins with lots of pipes and smaller bins without such things. Basically, the larger systems require stationary devices for moving grain in and out. The smaller often use portable equipment. Drive past the Pratts’ farm, and you would see three big bins, central towers and pipes. The bins are 83 feet tall and range from 60 to 78 feet in diameter. One of the center towers is a 95-foot-tall dryer. It’s skinny by comparison to the bins and will dry corn for storage. Farmers dry corn to remove moisture and prevent spoilage until the corn is sold. The tallest tower at 130 feet is a “leg,” which lifts grain to a high point to flow through those pipes that connect to each bin. What you don’t see from the passenger seat is a scale to weigh a semi and its load. Nor would you notice the below-ground pit where the belly of the truck dumps the crop, which then is elevated to the dryer or storage bin. And inside each bin is that temperature technology Rasmus talks about: a series of temperature cables that hang from the roof of the bins and through the grain mass. This warns Pratt of any threats to crop quality – issues that could threaten his family’s livelihood.

Productivity on the Rise Illinois farmers on average grow 35 percent more corn per acre than 20 years ago. Corn is a higher-volume crop than soybeans and largely leads grain storage decisions. A bushel of corn weighs 56 pounds, while a bushel of soybeans weighs 60 pounds. An acre measures about the size of a football field. (Source: Illinois Agricultural Statistics Service)


Then (1991)

Now (2011)


119 bushels/acre

163 bushels/acre


39 bushels/acre

48 bushels/acre Illinois Farm Bureau

Photo by ken kashian

Andy Pratt, pictured above with his wife and kids, dries corn for storage in a 95-foot-tall dryer, second structure from left, before a 130-foot-tall “leg� lifts the corn to flow through pipes into the bins, which together hold 600,000 bushels.

Fall 2012


SEE MORE ONLINE Find a list of other roadside attractions – from the World’s Largest Lincoln Statue in Ashmore to the 27-foot-long Large Radio Flyer Wagon in Elmwood Park – at

Highway Highlights Roadside attractions worth the stop add character to prairie drives story by


Jessica Mozo |

photography by Jeffrey

S. Otto

Illinois Farm Bureau

A word to the wise when driving through Illinois: Don’t blink. Because if you do, you’ll probably miss something extraordinary. Bizarre attractions you won’t see anywhere else sprinkle Illinois roadsides. They include the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle. the firebreathing Kaskaskia Dragon and the World’s Largest Stained Glass Window. “As the starting point for historic Route 66, Illinois is the place for travelers to explore what lies along the open road,” says Brian Rehme of the Illinois Office of Tourism. “Route 66 universalized the concept of the classic American road trip, so it’s only natural that Illinois offers so many unique roadside attractions for visitors and residents to enjoy.” Towering 170 feet over Route 159 just south of Collinsville, the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle was built in 1949 by the W.E. Caldwell Co. for the G.S. Suppiger catsup bottling plant, which bottled Brooks Rich & Tangy Ketchup in Collinsville from the 1890s until the mid-1960s. Today, it’s a popular photo stop with passersby, but it nearly met its demise in the 1990s with talk of demolishing it due to disrepair. “It got to be kind of a mess, but in 1995, several citizens formed a group to raise money to restore and repaint it,” says Mike Gassmann, president of the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle Inc., a nonprofit group that promotes the attraction and sponsors the annual World’s Largest Catsup Bottle Festival every July. “After two years of selling shirts and souvenirs, the group raised the $78,000 needed to strip the catsup bottle down to bare metal and restore it exactly as it was in 1949.” The nonprofit hopes eventually to build a visitor center and a small museum detailing

Collinsville’s catsup-making history, but for now, the catsup bottle is just a fun place to stop and snap a photo. Catsup bottle T-shirts, key chains, baseball caps and post cards are sold at Ashmann Pharmacy on Main Street. “A lot of the old-timers in Collinsville worked at the factory, so the catsup bottle has sentimental value for them,” Gassmann says. “People around the country appreciate the effort it took to save it. Kids love it because it looks so huge to them. Architects appreciate it, and people in the food industry think it’s pretty cool, too.” About an hour’s drive away in Vandalia, the 36-foot-long Kaskaskia Dragon sits just off Veterans Parkway. Built by employees of Walt Barenfanger’s Kaskaskia Supply True Value store over a slow winter in 1995, the dragon started as nothing more than a grown-up toy. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would attract this much attention,” Barenfanger says. When someone suggested the dragon should breathe fire, a local propane expert created a system using a hidden button to cause the creature’s eyes to glow and fire to shoot from its nostrils. Barenfanger’s crew anchored the dragon beside the highway in 2001 and installed a self-service coin box so tourists could insert tokens whenever they wanted to see it breathe fire. For a $1 token, the dragon shoots fire for 12 seconds. More than 3,700 tokens have gone through the dragon since 2010. Another big attraction can be found in a rather surprising location. The mausoleum at Resurrection Cemetery in Justice is home to the World’s Largest Stained Glass Window, 22,381 square feet of colorful “window walls” that depict stories from the Bible. At the time of its 1969 construction, the stained glass structure exceeded one in Berlin to become the largest glass installation in the world, a record that still stands today.

Offbeat Illinois Do you know about other quirky attractions throughout the state? We want to know! Tell us where to find your favorite Illinois roadside attraction by emailing, posting on our wall at llinoispartners or leaving a comment on this story at

Illinois attractions with the status of “world’s largest” include the stained glass installation in Justice, left, and the catsup bottle in Collinsville, center. A $1 token, top, makes the Kaskaskia Dragon in Vandalia, bottom, breathe fire.

Fall 2012


Meet the

Maple City Geneseo is a slice of Americana with a dollop of nostalgia story by


Jessica Mozo |

photography by Antony


Illinois Farm Bureau

A theater troupe in Geneseo performs in a renovated dairy barn; painted pigs decorate downtown to celebrate Henry County’s hog production heritage; locally owned shops abound in the Maple City. Opposite: Historic homes line Center Street.

In years gone by, the noon whistle that blows every day in Geneseo signaled time to close up shop for lunch.

10 Great Eats in Geneseo The Cellar Restaurant

Today, it continues to blow every day at noon as a reminder of simpler times, though that lifestyle still exists in this picturesque town reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting. Located in Henry County about 20 miles east of the Quad Cities, Geneseo has a population of 6,500. According to the Geneseo Chamber of Commerce, it’s known as a city of churches, with 18 churches and many faiths represented. Geneseo also is notable for two of its largest employers, Springfield Armory and Wyffels Hybrids Seed Corn. Springfield Armory is one of the most recognized names in firearms, and Wyffels is known widely in the seed corn industry. Historical Attractions Settled in 1836 by eight families from Genessee County, N.Y., Geneseo attracts visitors in part because of its restored Victorian homes and tree-lined streets, which have earned it the nickname “the Maple City.” Fall serves as the best time to visit, when the city’s maple trees create a dazzling display of color. During the holidays, Geneseo celebrates its Victorian heritage with a downtown Christmas Walk featuring living windows depicting Christmases past. The history of Geneseo also comes to life at the Geneseo Historical Museum, housed in an elegant white brick home on State Street.

Fall 2012

Parks and Theater The Geneseo Community Park District has more facilities than you’d expect for a town of 6,500. Spend some time at the active Community Center, Senior Citizen Center, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, baseball and softball diamonds, and the beautiful Anderson Memorial Park. The Park District also maintains the historic downtown Central Theater, which shows first-rate movies several days a week. Love live theater? Don’t miss the Richmond Hill Players, a local group of actors who produce sold-out plays in a renovated dairy barn. Shopping Head downtown to discover locally owned shops touting clothing, home furnishings, furniture, antiques and gifts. C&S Antiques is a destination for treasure hunters, with its two levels of glassware, furniture, jewelry, books and memorabilia. Pegasus Fine Gifts is known for its handmade fudge, specialty coffees and smoothies, Christmas items year-round, gifts and accessories. Quilting and sewing enthusiasts shouldn’t miss Quilts-NBlooms, which carries a large selection of fabrics and attracts shoppers from all over Illinois. To learn more about area attractions and community events, visit the Geneseo Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Center at

Victorian Manor Restaurant Danny Boy’s Pizza & More Lavender Crest Winery Roy’s Taco House Geneseo Donut Inc. La Roma Pizza House Sweet Peas Grill Leamen’s Bar & Grill Happy Joe’s Pizza & Ice Cream

Geneseo Must-Sees Richmond Hill Barn Theatre Central Theatre Geneseo Community Center Geneseo Historical Museum Downtown Geneseo Trains, Planes & Automobiles Festival Pegasus Fine Gifts Lavender Crest Winery 10-Sided Round Barn


Local flavor

A Twist on the Taco Roy’s Taco House has been a Geneseo favorite for 41 years If You Go... Roy’s Taco House is located at 732 North College Ave. in Geneseo. It is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 3 to 9 p.m. Contact Roy’s at (309) 944-5111.


No matter where you travel, it’s unlikely you’ll ever come across a restaurant like Roy’s Taco House in Geneseo. “The original owners, Roy and Tillie Garza, were from Chicago, and they introduced Mexican food to Geneseo,” says Kayleen Fulcher, who has owned Roy’s since 1982. “And there are a lot of Belgian people who live in the Geneseo area, so we like to say we’re a Mexican and American restaurant with a Belgian twist.” The Garzas opened Roy’s Taco House in 1971, and Fulcher and her late husband, John, bought it 11 years later, adding American favorites such as fried chicken, hand-patted burgers, crinkle-cut fries and homemade coleslaw to the menu. When John passed away in 2002, Kayleen carried on the business with the help of dedicated employees, including chef Elizabeth Holt, who has worked there more than 25 years. “We’re both 63, and we call ourselves the Golden Girls,” Fulcher says with a laugh. “Another employee, Dawn Stock, is 45 and has been working here since she was in high school. Since my husband died, Roy’s has

pretty much been run by women.” Hungry customers keep coming back for Roy’s enchiladas, smothered in a light gravy instead of the typical red sauce. Other popular entrees include chicken tacos with barbecue sauce, fish tacos, and the Mexican plate, which consists of spicy pork, rice, beans and tortillas. “We make all our own sauces, including our hot sauce and extra hot sauce,” Fulcher says. “People always tell us they love our fries, and I think it’s because they’re fried in the same fryer as our corn shells, so that flavor permeates them and they taste unique.” Roy’s back dining room has low ceilings and two antique train cars that were in the diner that preceded the taco house. “It’s a very old building, and once we thought about tearing it down and building a brand-new restaurant,” Fulcher says. “But our customers didn’t want us to tear it down. Many people come back who ate here when they were young, and they love the fact that it’s the same as it was when they were in high school. Our family has felt blessed to be able to keep the restaurant going all these years.” – Jessica Mozo Illinois Farm Bureau

COUNTRY ® WISDOM about the author Lorraine Zenge, ChFC, is a senior advanced planner for COUNTRY Financial. Visit COUNTRY on the web at

Build a Winning Team Secure your financial future with help from the experts Almost everyone needs help planning for a financially Ask your team members about the type of clients they secure future. Perhaps you are starting to plan for retirement work with, to see if their backgrounds are similar to and need help deciding how much to save and what yours. Find out how they communicate with their clients type of investment vehicles you should use. Maybe you and how often. Take time to get to know them, so they are a business owner thinking about how to transition can successfully meet your needs today while helping you your business ownership when you retire. Your concern build for the future. might be how to reduce and pay potential estate taxes Your main contact should coordinate your overall when you die. Experts are financial security plan to ensure available to help you plan for that it is integrated and addresses your financial future. your individual needs. You should You’ve already put together Here are some tips for finding a team for your personal health. expect your team members to a team of experts who can help communicate with you clearly Try taking the same approach and make sure that all your you navigate through life’s for your financial security. financial challenges. questions are answered. You Take a team approach to your should also expect that your team financial health. You’ve already put together a team for will tell you when you should be contacting your attorney your personal health – your dentist, physician and maybe or accountant and will make themselves available to these a specialist or two, depending professionals. on your health needs. Consider taking the same method Team members should care about the long-term. Your for your financial security. team should not abandon you after one goal is met, such You are probably already working with a financial as rolling over an IRA or funding a college savings plan. professional, such as an insurance representative, who can You should expect your team to touch base with you at help put you in touch with a team of experts who have the least annually, to see how you’re doing and to adjust your in-depth knowledge you need to address the various parts financial plan as life circumstances change. of your financial plan – your retirement plan, your education Finally, trust your instincts about whether you believe savings plan for your children, your business continuation this will be a beneficial relationship as you achieve financial needs, and your estate plan and insurance needs. security. Remember – it’s your financial goals that count!

Fall 2012


Watch us grow

Farming Full Circle Larson family raises cattle and crops with future in mind

story by

Joanie Stiers |

photography by Antony


At a family farm near Maple Park, the production pattern comes full circle. The crops feed the cattle, and the cattle feed the crops.

Justin Martz, who farms with his parents, Mike and Lynn Martz, and grandparents, Ray and Carol Larson, uses a tractor equipped with global positioning technology.


“It’s a round cycle,” says Mike Martz, who married into the Larson family farm when he wed Lynn, the farmer’s daughter. “Lynn will sell the corn to the ethanol plant and bring the distillers grains back from the ethanol plant. Cattle will eat the grains, produce the manure and we apply the manure at the rate that’s needed for that particular crop to grow.” The Larson family grows corn, soybeans and wheat on 6,500 acres, equivalent to as many football fields, and they operate a feedlot, which feeds 3,300 cattle at a time to market weight. Corn, their farm’s primary crop, ends up as feed, ethanol fuel and cornstarch or is exported overseas. Their beef often is consumed at high-end restaurants. It’s a large family farm that supports a large family, including five households across three generations: parents, Ray and Carol Larson; children, Lynn, Norm, Dave and their spouses; and grandson, Justin, with a wife and two young children. Each family member has a role on the farm, as do four full-time employees. Lynn manages the crop side of the farm with Norm and Justin. Mike manages the cattle side. Lynn and Mike have been the primary hosts of students, teachers and field moms (part Illinois Farm Bureau

Happenings The first class of Illinois Farm Families field moms has completed its year of farm visits. In all, the nine field moms visited four farms and got a first-hand look at how corn and soybeans are grown and harvested and how hogs, dairy cattle and beef cattle are cared for and raised. Besides meeting with farmers, they also met with veterinarians, agronomists, crop specialists and a university researcher. They learned that rather than going it alone, a farmer typically heads up a team that makes the farm successful. Here’s how Field Mom Betsie Estes of Elk Grove Village, pictured above left, summed up the experience:

of the Illinois Farm Families program) who want to learn more about today’s agriculture. Those visitors respond especially to the technology and science-based decision-making. “We’re trying to do a better job all the time,” Lynn says. The family uses hospital-grade equipment to capture ultrasound images of the ribeyes in their cattle. The images determine the optimum feeding time on a nutritionistcreated, high-energy diet before taking the animals to market. And they farm their fields by the foot, overlaying soil tests and production records recorded with global positioning technology that is more precise than the navigational device you may have in your car. The field data helps them create multi-year plans to improve crop productivity. The family has a long-range plan for the farm, a vision planted when the eldest generation, Ray and Carol, started the farmstead near Maple Park in 1965. “We have a long ways to go to be a century farm, but that’s one of our goals,” Mike says.

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“Well, our last tour is done and my head is still swimming! We saw SO much on this trip, and I’m definitely still processing a lot of it. The highlight for me was our visit to a Monsanto research facility – I could have stayed there for days! It was fascinating, and I’m so very grateful I got the chance to go. “A lot of people asked me on this trip why I wanted to be involved with the program, and I felt bad, because I didn’t have a rehearsed answer for them – I really couldn’t come up with an answer at all. But here’s why – it’s because of THEM. The people were the reason I wanted to connect with the Farm Families. “Having spent over eight years in Texas, I got pretty used to a different way of life than we have here in Chicago. Most importantly, I got used to the people – hardworking, independent, tough-as-nails women who are equally gorgeous in a pair of work boots or in rhinestone-encrusted flip flops. “Don’t get me wrong, I love my Chicago, and I love the women here – but this city is where I was raised; Texas is where I grew up, and the female role models I had there are a big part of that. “If there’s anything I’m going to take away from this experience, it’s in the lessons I want to pass on to my Texas-born daughter: To work hard. To have respect for the world around her. To dream big. To marvel in what has been placed upon this land. “And most of all, to approach every day as a blessing, an adventure, and to never take anything for granted. I’m so thankful that the Illinois Farm Families gave me the opportunity to relearn those lessons for myself!” You can read more from Betsie and from the other field moms at the Illinois Farm Families website: There, you’ll also find photos and video from the farm tours. Join Illinois Farm Families on Facebook (

About Illinois Farm Families

Illinois Farm Families are Illinois farmers who support Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Beef Association and Illinois Farm Bureau through farmer membership and checkoff programs. We are committed to having conversations with consumers, answering their questions about food, farmers and farming, and sharing what really happens on today’s Illinois family farms. More than 94 percent of Illinois farms are family owned and operated. We are passionate about showing consumers how we grow safe, healthy food for their families and ours. Funded in part by one or more national or state checkoff programs.


Planting Seeds and

Good Deeds Riverside’s 1,000 trees project has taken root over five years

story by Cathy Lockman photography by Brian McCord

Squirrels are Mother Nature’s version of the tree farmer, collecting seeds and carefully planting them every fall. But a group of dedicated community members can be pretty effective at those tasks, too. Just ask Tom Sisulak, the originator of the 1,000 Tree Planting Project, an allvolunteer effort to plant 1,000 trees on one day every fall in the village of Riverside. Located nine miles west of downtown Chicago along the Des Plaines River, Riverside, one of the first planned communities in the United States, is known for its historic character, curvilinear streets and expansive green parkways. It was

that green space that motivated Sisulak, who grew up in Riverside and returned 12 years ago to initiate the 1,000 Tree Planting Project in 2007. “I had come back to Riverside to care for my parents, and I spent time jogging through the village,” Sisulak says. “I saw that the trees that I grew up enjoying as a boy near the river were nearing the end of their life span. They had provided beauty, shade and oxygen for hundreds of years. It seemed to me that it was time for other trees to take their place. That’s how the 1,000 Tree Planting Project began.”

Sisulak’s next step was to connect with Mike Collins, the village forester, to share his plans for organizing a community effort to add to the village’s tree population. With Collins’ support for the project and the blessing of the village, Sisulak began researching the tree seedlings he would purchase for the project, which was planned for April 2007. But Mother Nature had another idea. Flooding along the Des Plaines River, concerns about the mosquitoes the flood spawned and the West Nile virus they carried, as well as an infestation of cicadas, conspired to put the spring event on hold. Sisulak, who had been a tree farmer while living and working in

Tom Sisulak founded the all-volunteer 1,000 Tree Planting Project in 2007. He created a T-shaped device called “Tom’s Tree Tool” that makes it efficient for volunteers to drill holes and plant hundreds of seeds in one day.


Illinois Farm Bureau

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Wisconsin before returning to Riverside, knew that the heat would take its toll on seedlings planted later in the spring, and he didn’t want to postpone the project for another year. He thus changed his focus from planting 1,000 seedlings to planting 1,000 seeds. Digging In That meant Sisulak needed to gather close to 3,000 seeds, most of which he collected from the expansive green space that gives Riverside its nickname, Village in the Forest. Before sorting through the 3,000 seeds to determine which 1,000 would be the healthiest for planting, he spread them out on a picnic table to dry overnight. That’s when nature’s tree farmers took over. During the night, a family of ambitious squirrels worked overtime to collect all 3,000 seeds for themselves. Again, Sisulak went back to the drawing board, storing the next 3,000 seeds in cardboard containers in his car trunk, where they would stay dry and could not be squirreled away. At the same time, he enlisted the help of the community to provide the manpower to get the planting done. Members of the Riverside United

Methodist Church got behind the project, as did local Boy Scouts and area families who saw it as an opportunity to support the environmental effort, enjoy time in nature and learn something in the process. And learn they did. “Each year we have a seminar prior to the planting date in November, which gives us a chance to share the details of how to plant successfully, how to identify specific trees, and to educate people to the environmental impact of the effort and the legacy that it leaves in a community,” says Sisulak. On the day of the 1,000 Tree Planting Project, now in its sixth year, 10 groups take their newfound naturalist skills, a jug of 100 assorted acorns, buckeyes, and walnut and hickory seeds, and Sisulak’s specially designed tree-planting tool and head to the shores of the Des Plaines River to find just the right spots to add to the village’s forest. “We have approximately 9,000 trees in the village that the municipality manages,” Collins says. “Riverside has a strong tradition and vision for planting, and the 1,000 Tree Planting Project fits that vision of sowing seeds to help promote natural regeneration

instead of just relying on the squirrels to do the work.” Branching Out How successful is the effort? Since the volunteers don’t mark where they plant their seeds, it’s difficult to know exactly, but Collins estimates that for every 10 seeds they plant, they might get as many as five to germinate and three to grow. But, as Sisulak tells participants at the annual seminar, if you’re responsible for adding even just one tree to the landscape, you’re leaving an important legacy. “Some of the trees we plant through this project will be here in Riverside 100 or 200 years from now,” he explains to the volunteers. “People will enjoy them. They’ll provide oxygen for us to live. Deer, songbirds and other wildlife will all take advantage of the forest we plant. And there’s the added benefit of helping us to combat global warming.” “Residents and staff in Riverside have a strong commitment to the urban canopy and the natural forest,” Collins says. “This project supports that, provides a strong overall sense of community, and promotes environmental awareness.” Squirrels can’t do that.

The tree seeds planted in Riverside each year range from acorns and buckeyes to walnut and hickory seeds. Sisulak aspires to grow the fall event into the 10,000 Tree Planting Project by getting 10 communities involved.

Proper Seed Planting Technique As part of the 1,000 Tree Planting Project, volunteers are taught proper seed planting techniques. Tom Sisulak, the project’s originator, recommends the following:

• Obtain high-quality tree seeds.

• The hole should be no deeper than two to three times the diameter of the seed to allow the sprout to push the dirt.

• Clear a spot 8 inches in diameter.


Use a tree-planting tool to punch a hole in the dirt (Sisulak has designed a special T-shaped tool that features a stainless steel rod attached to an 18-inch handle).

Illinois Farm Bureau

More Trees, Please The Riverside 1,000 Tree Planting Project will be held Saturday, Nov. 17. Seeds and tools are provided, and planting techniques will be explained. For additional information, contact the Riverside United Methodist Church at (708) 447-1760. Tom Sisulak, the event’s organizer, is hoping to turn the 1,000 Tree Planting Project into the 10,000 Tree Planting Project by recruiting 10 other communities to undertake the same effort. If you would like to know more about how to organize this initiative in your area, contact Sisulak at (708) 447-3767.

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about the author 4-H helped Charlyn Fargo get her start in food. Her love for the culinary arts helped her land a job as food editor of the State Journal-Register, a daily paper in Springfield, and eventualy a master’s degree in nutrition. Now a registered dietitian, she teaches nutrition and baking at Lincoln Land Community College and consults as a dietitian.


Illinois Farm Bureau

An Apple Dish

a Day...

Get to the core of recipes for this favorite fall fruit story & recipes by Charlyn Fargo food styling by Mary Carter photography by Jeffrey S. Otto

It may seem unlikely, but Illinois’ cold, warm, windy, rainy and sometimes sunny weather is ideal for raising apples, according to Gail Record Johnson, owner of AppleBarn Orchard in Chatham. “People always think of Washington for apples, but Illinois grows a lot of apples as well,” says Johnson, an apple grower for 17 years. “And our climate? It’s just perfect. Apples go dormant in the winter.” Early in the apple season – the end of August in Illinois – the most popular variety is the sweet, juicy and aptly named Honeycrisp. In midseason, the golden-colored Mutsu is the top pick, while late in the season – midOctober – it’s the Jonagold, a cross between the tart Jonathan and sweet Golden Delicious. “Everyone seems to want the newer varieties,” Johnson says. In 2010, Illinois raised 43 million pounds of apples for commercial production. That total, valued at $25.3 million, ranked 12th among all the states. Nationally, Washington reigned supreme, followed by New York and Michigan. “But,” Johnson says, “our apples are just as sweet.” She takes the business of raising apples very seriously. “You just can’t ignore them – you have to be vigilant,” she explains. “We’re

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always scouting – making sure the buds are OK (and that) there’s no fungus.” AppleBarn also sells food products made from apples. Not surprisingly, best sellers are apple pie and caramel apples. But Johnson’s favorite remains simple – a fresh apple in hand. “I still eat apples all the time,” she says. “You really don’t have to do anything to them. They’re just wonderful as they are.” That said, here are a few more ways to enjoy your Illinois apples. To me, wassail recalls my college days, when a local church would serve the hot spiced cider on Friday and Saturday nights – a favorite place to sit and talk with a date. You can also use apples to spice up oatmeal, or fire up the grill for a twist on the baked apple with grilled filled apples. Finally, my go-to potluck dessert is apple dapple cake, which comes courtesy of Clara, a secretary in my husband’s office. Its warm, creamy brown sugar topping is just icing on the (apple) cake.

All About Apple Recipes Visit our website at to find more apple inspiration, such as Apple Cabbage Slaw, Curried Butternut Squash and Apple Soup, Maple Apple Baked Beans, and Apple Gingerbread.



Wassail 1 gallon apple cider 2 cups orange juice 1 cup lemon juice

12 cup


2 teaspoons cinnamon 1 teaspoon cloves 1 teaspoon nutmeg 1 orange, sliced 1. Mix juices, sugar and seasonings together, and slowly bring to a boil in a large saucepan or pot. Boil for 1 minute. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve hot with sliced oranges floating in the punch bowl. Tip: The cider can be made a day ahead to steep and

reheated. For an alcoholic version, add ½ cup brandy before boiling. Yields 8 servings of 2⁄3 cup each.

did you know? It takes 36 apples to create 1 gallon of apple cider, which makes you appreciate it that much more.


Illinois Farm Bureau

Apple Dapple Cake 3 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 2 cups sugar

⁄ cup canola oil


3 eggs 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 3 medium baking apples, peeled and chopped 1 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans Icing:

⁄ cup butter or margarine 1⁄2 cup brown sugar 1⁄3 cup fat-free evaporated milk 1⁄4 cup chopped walnuts, for garnish 14

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13-by-9-

inch baking pan with oil or grease lightly. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, mix sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Stir wet ingredients into flour mixture, mixing just enough to combine. Batter will be very thick. Fold in apples and nuts. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes. Remove and cool for 15 minutes. 2. For icing, in a medium saucepan, melt butter

or margarine. Do not brown butter. Stir in brown sugar and milk. Turn up heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Pierce warm or cooled cake with a fork. Drizzle hot topping all over the cake. Garnish with chopped walnuts. Yields 20 servings.

Golden Apple Oatmeal ⁄

1 2 cup

diced Gala or Golden Delicious apples (equals about half a medium apple)

⁄ ⁄

13 cup

apple juice

13 cup


dash of cinnamon dash of nutmeg

⁄ teaspoon salt (optional) ⁄ rolled oats, uncooked


1 3 cup

1. Combine apples, juice, water and seasonings; bring to a boil. Stir in rolled oats; cook 10 minutes. Let stand several minutes before serving. Tip: Make this in your slow cooker the night before. Reheat in the microwave for a quick breakfast.

Yields 1 cup serving.

Grilled Filled Apples 2 Gala apples, cored but leaving the bottom 2 teaspoons raspberry or apricot preserves 2 teaspoons cream cheese 2 teaspoons brown sugar 2 teaspoons butter 1. Core the apples to create a hole in the center, but leave a portion of the flesh on the bottom. Fill with 1 teaspoon each of the preserves, cream cheese, brown sugar and butter. 2. Make a ring out of foil in order to keep the apple

upright. Place filled apples on grill on the foil rings. Grill for about 10 minutes. Serve warm. Yields 2 servings.

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Shades of Shade In the home garden, not all shade is created equal

You’ve seen the plant tags protruding from the soil in pots of perennials and annuals with a darkened circle or half circle. That’s a quick reference indicating that plant needs shade or half shade, respectively. So, you ask, what constitutes shade? about the author Jan Phipps is a University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener. She farms, gardens, writes and podcasts near Chrisman.


There are four categories of shade, determined by the amount of time without direct sun plus the density of the shade in an area. They are light shade, partial shade, full shade and dense shade. Light shade exists where trees account for 25 percent of the canopy, and plants receive five to 10 hours of sun. In the home landscape, this generally exists just under the drip line of trees (the outermost extension of the canopy).

Partial shade occurs when the canopy is 50 percent, the plants receive less than five hours of sun and are shaded for at least half a day. Typically, this occurs in a yard with trees and where a house shades the garden for part of the day. A full shade garden receives less than one hour of direct sun, although filtered light occasionally may be present. This could be under a dense deciduous tree, close to the trunk. Illinois Farm Bureau

Ask an expert


Any ideas for fall bloomers besides mums and asters?

A Finally, deep shade occurs where the sun doesn’t reach the ground, such as in a coniferous forest or in a yard where structures such as walls and overhangs block out the sun. Another factor is the strength of the sun’s rays. This differs with time of day and time of year. A couple hours of daybreak sun are not as intense as early afternoon sun. Often, plants, usually shrubs, that require partial shade need it in the afternoon. This can be achieved by planting them on the east side of a house or established trees. Leaf shape and size differ in shade plants, compared to full-sun plants. Shade leaves generally are broad and thin like a hosta’s. Ferns, another shade lover, have broad leaves designed to allow for reduced wind resistance. Broad, thin leaves have only one layer of

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palisade cells, which are photosynthetic and rich in chlorophyll. In contrast, full-sun leaves tend to be small and thick because they have multiple layers of palisade cells. This allows the stronger sun to go deep into the plant without burning it. The smaller surface area loses less water but still can produce the needed energy that broad-leafed shade plants do. The thin palisade layer can easily fail, as gardeners discover when they suddenly lose a tree sheltering a shade garden. The nowexposed plants quickly burn in full sun. Over time, some may adapt, but many must be moved back into a shady environment. Knowing the gradations of shade will help you match plants to your growing conditions.

For perennials, try goldenrod, autumn joy sedum and Russian sage. Cleome and cosmos are two great fall annuals.


How do I prevent blossom end rot on my tomatoes?


Keep your soil evenly moist, especially during the hottest weeks. A good layer of mulch is mandatory. If the problem continues, you may need to add some calcium to your soil. Rotate your crops every year. Email your gardening questions to Jan at


fall Events

This listing includes a few events from around the state to add to your calendar. Dates were accurate at press time but are subject to change. Please check with the contact listed before traveling long distances to attend. Additional information is online through the Illinois Bureau of Tourism’s website, Feel free to send event suggestions to

Go Whole Hog Aug. 31-Sept. 3, Kewanee The festival that claims the world’s largest outdoor pork barbecue invites you to bid farewell to summer with a 96-hour celebration of good food, music, cars and carnivals. Kewanee Hog Days serves some 30,000 people over Labor Day weekend. Enjoy free concerts, a golf tournament, disc golf, tractor pull, flea market, craft show, mud volleyball, car shows and carnival rides – just to name a few of the long list of events throughout the weekend.


Think you have what it takes to be a champion? Hog Days hosts a pork cook-off, known as The Showdown, for which the best barbecuer wins a cash prize and bragging rights. Learn more about the festival at

Everything’s Just Ducky Sept. 15, Hanover Hanover celebrates the arrival of fall with Mallard Fest, a tribute to the town’s Whistling Wings Hatchery.

The hatchery raises and exports more than 200,000 mallard ducks each year, and the annual Mallard Fest each September honors the duck with a parade, delicious food, games for the children, pontoon boat rides, music and fireworks. Locals also compete in a duck-calling contest. The festival takes place in White Park on Monroe Street. For more details, call (815) 591-3512.

The Produce 500 Sept. 21-23, Tower Hill Have you ever seen a grape carved into the shape of a car? At Tower Hill Fall Festival’s Produce 500, you can view vehicles made from produce as small as that grape and as large as a watermelon. The 26th annual festival also features a car and motorcycle show, garden tractor pulls, a tractor show, games for the kids, a parade, live music Illinois Farm Bureau

Falling for Autumn Oct. 19-21, Mt. Vernon Downtown Centralia is saturated in fall colors the third weekend in October when it hosts its three-day Mt. Vernon Fall Festival. Celebrate the season with live entertainment, a parade, activities for the kids, a car show, a fly-in, a band competition, a craft show, pumpkin contests and a chili cook-off.

get More online The free festival takes place 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. To learn more, call (618) 242-3151 or visit

and a demolition derby. Events will be held in Village Park. For more information, call (217) 567-3521.

Mineral Mania Oct. 4-6, Rosiclare Located on the banks of the Ohio River, Rosiclare was once known as the Fluorspar Capital because so much of the uniquely colored mineral could be found under its soils. Each year, the community recognizes fluorspar’s influence with a downtown festival. Held the first weekend in October, the Hardin County Fluorspar Festival features a carnival, hickory-smoked barbeque, a pet parade, food and craft vendors, a quilt show, an open house at the American Fluorite Museum, car shows and a large parade. The weekend also includes local musical talent and a finale featuring a large fireworks display at the City Park on the Ohio River.

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For more details, call (618) 285-3445 or visit

To learn more, call (618) 943-3516 or visit

Chestnuts Roasting

Record-Breaking Jack-O’-Lanterns

Oct. 6, St. Francisville The Women’s Club of St. Francisville planted several Chinese Chestnut trees in the spring of 1967 to replace those that had been wiped out by blight. This prompted the first Chestnut Festival, a now yearly celebration of the trees and the community held each fall. The 37th annual event includes live music, tractor pulls, baby contests, wagon rides, a parade and a car show. Visitors can also visit the oldest log home in St. Francisville on the west end of Main Street, the Cannonball Bridge that crosses the Wabash River connecting Illinois and Indiana, the old wooden footbridge that was built over the railroad in 1908, and the town’s Veterans War Memorial.

Oct. 18-20, Highwood Last year, this Illinois town broke the Guinness World Record for the most jack-o’-lanterns lit – a title previously held by Boston – with more than 30,900 pumpkins carved over the four-day festival. Head to Highwood this October to see if they break their own record. The town celebrates its 125th anniversary this year with a long weekend of live music, hayrides, pumpkin carving, huge pumpkin displays, nightly jack-o’-lantern lightings, a parade and more. Learn more about the festival and check out last year’s pumpkin lighting at


illinois in focus

thE Allerton Estate in rural Piatt County, surrounded by 1,500 acres of woodland, garden and prairie landscape, belonged to philanthropist Robert Henry Allerton. It’s now known as Allerton Park and Retreat Center. Staff photo

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Fall 2012, ILFB Partners  

ILFB Partners highlights what's good about Illinois - from the best travel destinations and recipes to articles about important agricultural...