Last week was a busy one in terms of local foods systems activities. The U of I Extension coordinated three programs; two providing information to producers and one providing participants with an opportunity to learn more about where their food comes from, or could come from. On Tuesday, a workshop on Business Planning and Risk Management for Small Farms and Market Gardens was held, and participants had their eyes opened to many opportunities to grow their businesses. On Wednesday evening, Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, Small Farms Specialist for the University of Illinois Extension presented a workshop on Grantwriting for Small Farms. Again, participants left that night with their minds whirring with ideas and possibilities. We capped it off with the first of this season’s Sustainable Agriculture Tours (http://web.extension.uiuc.edu/smallfarm/ag_tours.cfm) that included an extensive tour of Eickman’s Processing in Seward and a visit to Open Range Products near Pecatonica. The tour ended with a lunch featuring Open Range hamburgers and other fresh produce supplied by local growers.On Sunday, May 24, our first Openfields Farm Tour will be held (This tour, modeled after the Garden Walk concept, features 11 area farms, CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) and on-farm operations and will allow people to learn more about the local foods system in our area. You can come out between 10 am and 6 pm and meet local farms and learn about their farm, their products and see their passion for what they do. Come learn about growing vegetables and fruits in large quantities, raising grassfed beef cattle, poultry and goats, growing herbs and even milling grain using the power of the wind. Participants are encouraged to visit one farm or all 11 at their own pace. There is no charge to participate in this event. For detailed information about the tour, including participating farms and a map, please visit http://web.extension.uiuc.edu/winnebago/). This summer, we will be busy pairing local restaurants and chefs with farmers to work their collective magic for the Openfields Local Foods Dinner Series. The Series will begin on June 21 and will continue with a total of seven events featuring six restaurants. An on-farm dinner and an event at a local nature center will also be featured. Extension and the Winnebago County Local Foods Work Group will be coordinating these dinners, which will feature the farmers talking about their businesses, of course.