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Tours Feature Prawns and Subscription Farming

URBANA - Two tours in July sponsored by University of Illinois Extension represent the broad diversity in what is considered sustainable agriculture.

One tour will visit a farm-raised prawn farm, while the other will tour a community-supported agriculture meat and poultry operation.

"From farm-raised fish to livestock raised without the use of drugs or hormones, these two tours represent sustainable ways to 'grow' healthy food of all kinds," said Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, Small Farm and Sustainable Agriculture Extension specialist who is coordinator of the tours.

The tour on 11 July will visit Lyons Fisheries in Sandoval where Brenda and J.C. Lyons raise prawns, a type of shrimp.

"The prawn industry in Illinois has made drastic changes since the demise of the Illinois Fish Farmers Co-op that processed and marketed the prawns for the industry," said Brenda Lyons. "There are now about a dozen prawn growers left in Illinois," she said.

"The majority of these growers have developed their own markets by holding harvest festivals that offer food and entertainment on harvest day."

Lyons said that on the tour visitors will learn about the transitioning markets in aquaculture and how they are transitioning towards fish production.

Visitors will see how farm-raised freshwater prawns are raised through the summer months then rainbow trout during winter.

There will be a presentation with information about how to get started in the industry, aquaculture support, and state rules and regulations. The tour will include the hatchery, nursery, and grow-out ponds as well as live prawns on display. Frozen rainbow trout as well as freshwater prawn cookbooks will be available for sale.

On July 22, Extension will host a second tour of Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Community Supported Agriculture is a program in which a farmer or producer contracts for a monthly "subscription" of their product with customers. Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm Community Supported Agriculture sells subscriptions for their hormone-free poultry and livestock.