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Illinios Stewardship Alliance is a citizens' organization that promotes a safe and nutritious food system, family farming, and healthy communities by advocating diverse, humane, and socially just and ecologically sustainable production and marketing practices.
The Illinois Stewardship Alliance (ISA) is a 34-year-old statewide membership organization working to promote environmental stewardship in the state. Founded in 1974 as the Illinois South Project, the organization was created to oppose the unfettered strip mining that was occurring in much of the state. With the success of passing the U.S. Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act and cognate laws on the state level, the organization changed its name and focus to promote family farmers and healthy food systems in Illinois.
Since that time, some of our successes include:
- Establishing Food Policy Councils, which provide communities opportunities to discuss food system issues that are important to them such as marketing, alternative production, and funding
- Participating in C-FAR, the Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research, by helping to focus research in the state, pushing for adequate funding, and representing the needs for alternative agriculture and marketing
- Partnering with two other premier environmental groups in the state, the Illinois Environmental Council and the Prairie Rivers Network, in the Rolling River Ride, a bike ride fundraiser for the environment. This event, which promises to build into the future, was made possible by sponsors including very generous support from Rush-Copely
- Participating in the first Chicago Food Summit as sponsors, planners, and participants
- Participating in the Rockford College Food Security Summit as sponsors
- Participating in the Illinois Organics Conference as planners and participants
- The Land Grant Accountability Project, which encouraged the University of Illinois to increase the amount of research funding for sustainable agriculture
- Establishing organic certification opportunities for Illinois organic growers
- Organizing Farmers' Market Nutrition Projects as pilot projects in Champaign-Urbana and East St. Louis to provide locally-grown foods to low-income persons and to support direct marketing by farmers
- The Stewardship Farm, a research and education site
- Assisting grassroots groups in strategy development, organizing responses around key actions, and working through the bureaucratic process
- Educating county boards about the deleterious effects of factory livestock farms and their county's rights under the law
- Organizing local citizens opposed to the siting, construction, or operation of factory livestock farms
- Educating and assisting farmers in developing opportunities for value-added and direct marketing and encourage activities that promote relational marketing
The strengths of a rural grassroots organization are its members and the citizens it organizes and works with. ISA is committed to building itself organizationally, expanding its grassroots base, and strengthening the ties between independent family farmers, rural communities and consumers to promote the responsible stewardship of Illinois ' natural resources.
- Michael Toniolo
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