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August 5, 2016

Could the Decatur area become the “Silicon Valley” of food innovation? That's how high the partners are aiming after Round One of a first-ever Food Innovation Challenge, pairing 10 small businesses from around the Midwest with local mentors in a competition for $100,000 in cash and services for the winning idea. The cash comes from Archer Daniels Midland Co. and the services from National Foodworks Services, which opened eight weeks ago with ADM's support, to assist entrepreneurs start or expand food-based businesses. Ryan McCrady, president of the Economic Development Corporation of Decatur and Macon County, said the city has a history of innovation and is uniquely positioned as a Midwest Inland Port to help businesses get their products to market faster. “We believe, selfishly, that we can get you to your customers faster than any place in the Midwest,” he said. “We can get to nearly a third of the country's population in a one-day truck drive from Decatur.”


Research at Drexel University reports that a brief experience of art making can produce physiological changes. This measurable shift, which reflected a lowering of stress levels, was found in experienced artists and novices alike. In the study, participants had the option of creating any kind of imagery, with no expectation of creating a final artwork. The written responses to the experience were quite positive. Some referred to it as relaxing, others referred to it as being fun and enjoyable, a form of distraction, and a reminder of childhood. The results of the study suggest that engaging in a short burst of creative activity has measurable physical benefits, even if you’re no master artist. So if you need to lower your stress, don’t hesitate to take a break — but rather than grabbing a cup of coffee, reach for a chunk of clay.

The Land Connection will host an agritourism workshop August 27 and 28 at the Ottawa Visitors Center in Ottawa, Illinois. The workshop will include tours of farms near Ottawa that specialize in agritourism, including an orchard, a pumpkin patch, a country store, and a farm that educates the public about sustainable agriculture. On the second day, presentations and discussions will address how to bring the public onto your farm while also being profitable and avoiding risks. The fee is $90.00 per day, or $175.00 for both days, which includes all materials, meals, tours, and presentations. More information and registration can be found on the website.


August 15-18 - Midwest Community Development Institute, Moline, IL
August 27 - 28 - Agritourism Workshop, Ottawa, IL
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