The Land Connection helps people access resources and land to achieve their farming dreams. Wendy Taylor is one of those dreamers. She grew up farming and has a background in health and nutrition, but needed a boost to start her business. Wendy attended the organization’s aptly named workshop, Farm Dreams.
Wendy’s farm dreams began several years ago, when the Decatur, IL parks department closed its summer camp and she decided to start her own. One day over lunch she asked her campers the source of their food. One kid had a faint idea, referencing trees from an orange juice commercial, but the other campers said, “the store.” That was Wendy’s ah-ha moment—and she set out to educate and change her campers’ eating habits.
Gardening became a regular camp activity. When the kids said they liked watermelons, Wendy helped them plant seeds in a small plot in front of her house. She says when the garden started it was “a hot mess,” but they persisted. Wendy eventually expanded to two vacant lots. With an average of 22 kids helping in the gardens each day, she found that she needed to front the cost for most of their work.
Wendy wanted to figure out how to become more financially stable, so she signed up for the Farm Dreams workshop. Even though she lacks many other resources, having access to a slice of land is a major step forward. In the Farm Dreams workshop, she drew up plans for her future farm, asked questions of other small-acreage farmers, gained access to resources and met other passionate people like herself. The workshop gave her new ideas, like holding events with the larger Decatur community and selling enough produce to support her urban farm.
With Farm Aid’s support, The Land Connection is able to expand and fine-tune their farmer training programs. “These programs help farmers thrive by getting them access to critical resources and to the members of our farm community in Central Illinois who have the wisdom and expertise that must be shared in order for the next generation to be successful.”