Illinois Stewardship Alliance is a membership-based organization that cultivates a local food and farm system that is economically viable, socially just, and environmentally sustainable. They seek to build a world where soils are treated as a precious resource, local food producers earn a fair, living wage, local food education is integrated into all levels of education, infrastructure is rebuilt to accommodate local food systems, and good food is available for all.
Illinois Stewardship Alliance has been promoting good stewards of the land in Illinois. Andy Shireman and his father Charlie have a long history of being good stewards. Practices on their farms include strip-till planting, water and sediment control basins, grade stabilization structures, grassed waterways, nutrient management strategies, and controlled traffic techniques. All these practices work in concert with cover crops. Andy is working to triple the amount of soil organic matter in his soils by planting 3,500 acres of cover crops.
“With my system of strip-till and cover crops, I am determined to build back what we took off these soils,” says Andy. “Building back our lost soil organic matter will increase productivity and profitability.”
To date, the team of Andy and Illinois Stewardship Alliance’s Conservation Associate, Woody Woodruff, have presented at over 15 conferences, workshops, and field days, reaching more than 500 farmers.
Woody’s diverse experience and educational background in sustainable farming have provided him with a wealth of knowledge and practices related to soil and water health.
“Through my work history and education I have constantly been exposed to issues and solutions in 21st century agriculture and have found myself with a never-ending supply of new activities to try on my farming operation. To me, being a good steward of the land is like being a good musician. You reach a personal goal in mastering your music through practice. The satisfaction is always short lived in knowing you can do better,” says Woody.