Well, it’s about the time to plan for next season for some. Personally, I’ve not ended in planning. Illiana Ag Alliance is a constant evolve-and-adapt, dependent on Mother Nature, time resources, and reaching the correct people. Add in tying that together into a business plan and/or a plan of action…and it keeps evolving.
One step, the purpose of this particular blog, is to inform producers–gardeners and commercial small farms alike–that Illiana Ag Alliance will be selling seed and starts this upcoming (2014) growing season. First, however, we need to know what is desired. There are a growing number of local would-be producers that wish to generate income from early-season plant starts, yet they need to know what demand exists beyond their own friends and family.
Why buy from Illiana Ag Alliance and/or the growers of the starts?
- Price – To date, I have researched myriad commercial seed vendors, spending upward of two-hundred hours in the past year I would guess. As a result, I believe that I have narrowed down the best bulk prices vs. quality available for 103 of the most-desired/historically-grown food crops locally. Seed will be priced in retail/wholesale packaging, ranging from small packets to multiple pounds, at comparable prices than are available in mainstream, traditional markets.
- Quality – Each and every potential seed supplier passes stringent quality tests set forth by the proper governing agencies. All seed is harvested from 2013 crops and passes or exceeds the germination minimums. The vast majority of the seed that will be sold are heirloom varieties well-noted for their vigor, high-quality and/or heavy yields, and natural disease resistance.
- Purpose – The profits from the sale of seed and seed-starting supplies will be used to raise capital for Illiana Ag Alliance, not as pocket cash for myself. I’ve considered (and tried for a short while) the crowd-funding option. In fact, crowd-funding is still available, yet I am loathe to use the funds until/unless it becomes necessary. I’ve researched many grant and loan opportunities–they are out there in abundance, yet what is “sustainable” about free money? Yes, it would enable a self-sustaining system, and I have flirted with (and not finished) applications. I have been offered all sorts of fund-raising campaigns, yet none of them meet the multi-faceted purpose of the Seed and Starts Campaign. This does not mean that any of the aforementioned venues are ruled out, only that I like this choice better.
- Utility – I have created a database to track suppliers by purchase–at least those local buyers who opt to become suppliers for Illiana Ag Alliance, Rantoul’s Food Hub, Wabash Valley Food Hub, or other local aggregators. There is even a section within the database to track growers that wish to donate their crop, or a portion of their crop, to local Food Banks. From these records, one can determine potential yields and match the crop suppliers with buyers, should purchasers wish to have this done. One could consider this to be a preliminary step to a Virtual Food Hub, as is desired.
- Support – Each purchaser will receive links to information that is zone-specific for their particular crops, including pest identification and management, University and supplier recommendations, and projected yields. Prior to planting season, a category will be added to this blog that includes generic information for crops and links to more specific information–primarily sourced from local Universities.
I have not yet created a price list. This is one of the things that can be expected in the near future, yet I want to get the word out that this is a service/fundraiser that Illiana Ag Alliance will be offering for the upcoming season.
Requests and inquiries may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the word “Seed” in the Subject portion of all correspondence related to this post, as I have created multiple filters for incoming messages. I’d hate to miss your message of support for the “Seed and Start Campaign” hosted by Illiana Ag Alliance!