Sustainable Food

Locally Grown, Sustainably Produced

With 27 million acres of land dedicated to farming, Illinois is a major agriculture state. One of every 17 jobs is related to food and agriculture. In 2012, 9.6 percent of the state’s economic output came from agriculture, totaling $120.9 billion.

Agriculture provides different benefits to different areas of the state. Rural Illinois benefits principally from agricultural production, while agricultural processing and manufacturing strengthen urban economies.

The sustainable food sector – food that is locally grown, sustainably produced, fresher, more nutritious, better tasting, travels fewer miles and causes fewer carbon emissions – is a huge growth opportunity for the state. It encompasses all aspects of local, urban and organic food production. In 2012, 106,000 acres of farmland were dedicated to specialty crops that generated $470 million in sales.


What Illinois Community Colleges Are Doing:

Illinois community colleges are working as part of the framework needed to grow, harvest, transport, market, sell, prepare and serve healthy, locally grown sustainable food. They provide programs on sustainable agriculture principles for rural and urban farmers as well as career pathway education for food entrepreneurs and food processors. In addition to education and training, colleges are:

  • Using campus facilities as living laboratories to demonstrate innovate technology and best practices such as water conserving irrigation, energy efficient green houses, cold weather crops and permaculture.
  • Promoting the health benefits of locally grown produce to their students as part of campus health and wellness.
  • Working with their local communities to offer community garden plots and hosting farmers’ markets.
  • Incorporating locally grown food into college dining service menus and campus catering services.
  • Initiating compost programs to reduce waste on college campuses.
  • Including local and sustainable foods into culinary arts curriculum.
Growing Careers

Changes in consumer demand for food, food experience, food security, eating habits and lifestyles have opened the door to a host of economic and agricultural career opportunities for those who grow, package, market and distribute high-profit specialty and artisanal items.

Sustainable Food

Sustainably produced, locally grown food is fresher, healthier and better-tasting.


Responding to economic opportunities created by the green economy.

Water Resources

Maintaining reliable supplies for drinking, agriculture, industry and transportation.


Working to make transportation in Illinois cleaner, greener and more efficient.


Generating electricity from solar, wind, geothermal and water resources.

Building Sciences

Building and improving sustainable, healthy spaces to save energy, costs, and resources.

Natural Resources

Conserving resources such as water, soil, and fossil fuels while regenerating damaged systems.


Increasing economic development by reducing, recycling, reusing and composting waste.