Centuries Worth Celebrating
To endure for 100 years or more is no easy task for any organization, whether it’s a business, church, sports team, nonprofit or a farm. Most certainly, that kind of staying power is something to be celebrated. When it comes to honoring Illinois’ agricultural heritage, the state has a number of programs in place.
In 1972, the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) created the Centennial Farms and Sesquicentennial Farms programs, honoring those generations of farmers who have maintained family agricultural properties for at least 100 or 150 years, respectively. To earn the Centennial or Sesquicentennial designation, a farm must have been owned by the same family of lineal descendants (children and grandchildren) or collateral descendants (siblings, cousins, aunts/uncles, nieces/nephews) and still have a viable presence in today’s agricultural world. Applicants who meet the requirements (which include a listing of ancestral owners and third-party verification of genealogical records) receive an official Centennial or Sesquicentennial Farm sign for display at their property, as well as a certificate signed by the governor and the IDOA director.
Family farms meeting these criteria can be found all across Fulton, Knox, Logan, Marshall, Mason, Peoria, Stark, Tazewell and Woodford counties. Together, these nine counties boast 889 of the 9,200+ Centennial Farms and 54 of 600+ Sesquicentennial Farms in the Land of Lincoln. Every Illinois county has at least one Centennial Farm; Champaign County has an impressive 309, the most in the state.
Marshall and Woodford counties boast two of central Illinois’ oldest farms: the Iliff family farm in Washburn and the Schertz farm in Metamora were both purchased in 1831, making them each 183 years old. Tazewell County has this region’s highest number of Centennial Farms—138—while Knox County leads the Sesquicentennial count with 10.
Established in 1902, Cahill Farms in Brimfield is one nearby Centennial Farm that continues to thrive in the 21st century. The family recently established an extensive Suffolk sheep program; Cahill Suffolks began as a hobby in 2009, and now includes the efforts of the entire family in breeding, showcasing and selling Suffolk rams and ewes. Its sheep and lambs have won numerous awards over the last five years.
The next time you’re driving in the country, keep an eye out for the Centennial and Sesquicentennial Farm signs bearing the IDOA emblem—you’ll see more of them than you’d think. iBi
Above the Influence of… Facebook?
We all know Facebook can be addictive, and most of us know a few addicts… or are addicted ourselves. But recent trends in social media seem to indicate many Facebook users—mostly Millennials, oddly enough—are kicking the habit. The news website Mashable recently conducted inquiries of the younger generation to determine why they are weaning themselves off the social network. While half of the users with whom they spoke have returned—with reduced activity, that is—the other half quit entirely, and happily describe themselves as “free” of Facebook. Here are the top reasons cited for quitting:
- Sensory overload. Facebook walls and news feeds are now so full of targeted ads, shared articles and photographs, that many feel the site is now simply a public diary or political soapbox. Users say there’s too much noise and not enough actual socializing.
- Job security fears. The rumors about being fired over content posted to Facebook are nearly as old as the site itself. The easiest way to ensure employers don’t find incriminating evidence on one’s profile? Get rid of the profile altogether. Recent changes to Facebook’s privacy settings have left many deleting their accounts as a job-saving failsafe.
- Bad breakups. Some Facebookers find breakups difficult to overcome when they can still see their exes’ status updates. And it’s not just romantic relationships: many are fed up trying to maintain contact with people they haven’t seen in years. In response, some users are recovering by calling it quits.
- Social media anxiety. Users often feel their online personas must always appear happy and successful, or else everyone will know about their setbacks and problems. Rather than choosing between being dishonest or melodramatic, many users are building their emotional well-being by cutting back on Facebook.
- Existential crises. Maintaining a digital persona has led some users to question the nature of their social realities. Whether it’s the futility of trying to accurately portray themselves online or the physical isolation of scrolling through posts, more and more users appear to be solving their problems by “un-friending” Facebook. iBi
Flex Your Green Thumb
The worldwide gardening and outdoor living market is big business—a $220 billion one by the year 2016, according to this year’s Garden Trends Report from Garden Media Group. As spring settles in, be on the lookout for the following hot trends, which are expected to impact consumer gardening habits, both now and in the future.
- Hit pay dirt. Composting and recycling food scraps is on the rise—and moving to the kitchen counter with tabletop compost bins and shredders.
- Do-it-yourself dinner. Foodies are beginning to grow their own edibles, like dandelions and quinoa, in keyhole gardens and straw bales.
- Bottoms up! Garden-grown berries can be perfect for craft cocktails and green smoothies. Fermentation gardens allow home brewing and winemaking using food from the home garden.
- Critter control. Gardeners are personalizing their outdoor spaces with hummingbird feeders, decorative insect traps and even pillows to manage garden “guests” and maximize comfort.
- Bee-lieve it or not… The buzz this year is bees. Environmentally-conscious gardeners are planting flowers, vegetables and trees rich in pollen to attract bees and provide shelter for them.
- Going global. Many gardens are becoming multicultural centers as people look to mix plants from other parts of the world with native ones.
- Simple style. The use of environmentally-friendly, yet elegant concrete planters featuring flowers of only one color is one popular arranging technique.
- Throwing paint. Growers are ditching the neat organization of gardens past in favor of color explosions and fractional designs, including squares, triangles and circles.
- Boy, oh boy! Young men between the ages of 18 and 34 are spending more time in the garden—playing with kids, growing hops for beer and spending time and money on outdoor improvement.
- Fresh as daisies. More plants are being placed in hospitals, offices and schools throughout the country, as they decrease stress while making us more productive.
- High-tech horticulture. The garden is no longer limited to the backyard—many people are integrating mobile apps, like virtual arrangement creators, into their outdoor routines.
- Branching out. More than four million urban trees are lost each year, so Americans are planting new ones and nurturing the rest.
Building a Rain Garden
On September 8, 2012, the City of Peoria broke ground on a demonstration rain garden near the intersection of MacArthur Highway and Richard Allen Drive, not far from the Valeska Hinton Early Childhood Education Center. The 500-square-foot, six-inch-deep rain garden was initiated by City Treasurer Patrick Nichting and funded by a $6,000 environmental grant from Illinois American Water.
Rain gardens of any size reduce flooding and water pollution by allowing rainwater to enter the ground rather than seeping into the stormwater infrastructure. In addition, they sustain wildlife and beautify the neighborhood while providing an educational opportunity for the community.
Typical rain gardens are shallow depressions, about four to eight inches deep, that require just a bit of loosening of the dirt before planting. Native plants are the best choices for rain gardens, since they have deep roots which promote infiltration and help break up the soil—but many varieties of perennials can be used. They don’t even attract mosquitoes because they normally drain within a day or two.
The City of Peoria Public Works reports that the demonstration rain garden is still being maintained by neighborhood volunteers, as well as drainage consultant Foth Infrastructure & Environment. It contains nearly 500 native perennial plants.
Interested in building your own rain garden? Here are some tips from Peoria Public Works.
- Location, location, location. Rain gardens are easiest to establish in places that collect stormwater runoff, such as naturally low areas or the ends of downspouts and sump pumps.
- Stay in the shallow end. Dig a depression between four and eight inches deep with a relatively level bottom, using the removed soil to form a berm on the sides and lower end to retain water. If you have a basement, dig the rain garden at least 10 feet away and down-slope from your home.
- Plant prudently. Native perennials, such as black-eyed Susans, purple coneflowers, Blue flag irises, and little bluestem, are the best choices for planting. A few inches of shredded hardwood mulch prevents erosion, discourages weed growth and removes pollutants.
- Check in periodically. Water the plants for a few weeks until they get established, and place rocks or bricks strategically if runoff is strong enough to carry away small plants and mulch. Don’t forget to remove weeds and relocate plants that aren’t thriving.
Things are Great… Downtown
Livability.com recently released its picks for the 10 Best Downtowns of 2014, with criteria including population and income growth; housing affordability; home, retail and office vacancy rates; ratio of residents to jobs; unemployment; and the number of people moving into the area. Not too far from us, Indianapolis, Indiana ranked third on the list for its sightseeing opportunities, local architecture, art lifestyles and places for citizens to connect with one another. Fort Worth, Texas and Providence, Rhode Island ranked first and second, respectively. For the complete list, visit livability.com.
Billion Dollar Brands
Brand Finance US 500 ranks American companies by the net worth of their brands, naming the top 500 most valuable as members of the Billion Dollar Brands Club. The total combined value of the 500 top company brands is $2.5 trillion—and the Land of Lincoln has a substantial piece of the pie. Ranked as the fifth most valuable state by brand value ($125 billion), Illinois’s most valuable brand is McDonald’s at $26 billion, followed by 29 others, including Walgreens, Kraft and Kmart. The nation’s most valuable brand? Apple, valued at $105 billion—the first and only brand to break the $100 billion mark.
Get Movin’ With the PPD!
The Peoria Park District offers recreational sports classes and leagues for adults year-round, and spring is a great time to get involved and shed some pounds before swimsuit season! Registration is now open for summer sand volleyball leagues at the RiverPlex beginning the week of May 12th. Other opportunities to get some fresh air include golf, basketball, softball and disc golf activities at facilities around town—or hockey leagues, yoga classes and more for the indoor types. Visit peoriaparks.org for more information. iBi