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A Sustainable Food System in Lake County

Sustainable food systems balance economic prosperity, environmental preservation, and public health while moving agricultural products from farmer to consumer.

In 2011, a group of nonprofit, public, and private partners in Lake County, Illinois joined forces to strengthen the county's sustainable food system. This group (see list below) worked with CMAP through its Local Technical Assistance (LTA) program on a Lake County Sustainable Food Systems project. This two-year project resulted in a variety of resources and recommendations, both for exploring policy changes to better support sustainable agriculture as an economic development tool, as well as for updating the master plan for the Liberty Prairie Reserve -- an area of Lake County with a unique mix of sustainable agriculture and land preservation. Some of the key project deliverables are the Lake County Sustainable Local Food System Report, the Liberty Prairie Reserve Master Plan, and the master plan's summary brochure. For a full list of project resources in a variety of file sizes, please see the Related Documents section below.

Nationally, consumer demand for locally grown food is increasing rapidly, and agricultural production is opening up beyond traditional farming to include more vegetable and specialty farming. With its growing trend toward smaller farm plots and more specialty agriculture operations, Lake County is well-suited to grow its sustainable food system. By fostering the capacity in Lake County for small-scale, local, and/or organic agriculture that is environmentally sensitive to natural areas, the resulting sustainable food system will boost the county's overall production, driving economic development and contributing to the healthy food options in the region.

Implementation Actions

Since the project has wrapped up, the partner organizations involved have continued their related efforts, and even have begun implementation steps that align with the recommendations of the project reports and plans. Lake County's Planning, Building and Development Department has led efforts to update county policies to become even more supportive of sustainable, local food systems. To that end, the County is in the process of developing amendments to consider the allowance of bee- and chicken-keeping in unincorporated areas, and is exploring updates to allow for more season-extending agricultural activities. For more on Lake County's food system efforts, please visit their program website here.

Project News Coverage

Experts: A Local, Sustiainable Food System is Worth Billions, Patch.com, May 23, 2012.

Contacts

Jessica Simoncelli, Associate, CMAP (jsimoncelli@cmap.illinois.gov or 312-386-8631)

Brad Leibov, President, Liberty Prairie Foundation (bradleibov@prairiecrossing.com)

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