Duane and Margaret Baker's 225 acre organic farm in Crawford County will be the location for an organic field day hosted by the University of Illinois on Thursday, Sept. 6 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The couple began their farming career at the beginning of the chemical farming era in 1957. "We raised hogs commercially for 41 years, quitting that business in 1998 due to deteriorating buildings and hog prices," said Duane Baker. "We began farming sustainably in 1989, and began transitioning to organic farming in 1994."
The Baker farm has 161 acres tillable, with 9 acres in the Conservation Reserve Program. The balance of acres is in managed timber, lanes and lots.
The Bakers have raised many different grain crops such as buckwheat, rye, hairy vetch, soft red winter wheat, oats, red clover, spelt, white corn, yellow corn, popcorn, open pollinated corn, food grade soybeans and hay. "I am currently trying a new crop of organic hybrid seed corn as well as a small amount of field peas mixed with oats as a trial. We are also doing some new soybean variety trials," said Baker.
This kind of diversified farming also requires a different marketing strategy, according to Baker. "We have marketed some of our production in niche markets. Some of the open pollinated corns and heirloom varieties of wheat is a niche market to a small miller," he said.
The tour is $20 per person, and $10 for each additional family member. Children under the age of 10 are free.
Online registration is available at asap.sustainability.uiuc.edu/org-ag/29/.
For more information, contact Dan Anderson (217-333-1588; firstname.lastname@example.org).