The Western Illinois Sustainable Agriculture Society (WISAS) is a regional, farmer-based not-for-profit organization incorporating the counties of Adams, Pike, Scott, Morgan, Cass, Hancock, Brown, Calhoun and Schuyler. It was established in 1992 in Western Illinois to encourage farmer practices that strike a balance between short-term pro?tability and long term environmental quality and rural community vitality.
What does WISAS do?
- On-Farm Research - Making farmers aware of research results is just the first step in promoting the adoption of sustainable practices. Only through a deliberate process that traverses the spectrum of change, from awareness to understanding, experimentation, and evaluation, will new technologies and practices be adopted by Illinois farmers.
- Training the Trainers - Training information providers who work closely with farmers is one direction that WISAS has taken in its education efforts.
- Workshops - Workshops not only provide information on a specific topic but also provide a forum for sharing ideas and showcasing research and demonstration projects.
- Field Days - Many farmers interested in a certain sustainable practice want to see it themselves and hear directly from other farmers who have tried it to determine if it has application in their own operation. WISAS emphasizes field day presentations, farmers’ meetings and tours.
- Publications - WISAS works hard to provide research results and sustainable agriculture information to its members.
- State & Federal Legislators - WISAS provides information to both federal and state levels about the concerns and needs of rural communities.
PRINCIPLES OF AGRICULTURAL SUSTAINABILITY
A sustainable agricultural system...
- is based upon prudent use of renewable and/or recyclable resources.
- protects the integrity of natural systems so that natural resources are continually regenerated.
- improves the quality of life of individuals and communities.
- is guided by a land ethic that considers the long-term good of all members of the land community.
- is profitable.
What is “Sustainable” Agriculture?
Farmers in Illinois need new practices and technologies which can be integrated into current farming systems with minimum risk. In order to be both economically viable and environmentally sound they must:
- Be productive
- Reduce reliance on off-farm inputs
- Enhance soil health
- Reduce soil erosion
- Minimize loss of water and agricultural chemicals from the agro-ecosystem
- Conserve natural resources
The philosophy promoted by WISAS is that sustainable principles and practices are applicable to the mainstream of contemporary agriculture. Leaders in the movement continue to emphasize striving for the goal of sustainable agriculture.
Common Questions / Issues:
Why buy local? Buying local food carries a wealth of benefits:
You get exceptional taste and freshness . Local food is fresher and tastes better than food shipped long distances. Local farmers can offer produce varieties bred for taste and freshness rather than for shipping and long shelf life.
You strengthen our local economy . B uying local food keeps your dollars circulating in your community. Getting to know the farmers who grow your food builds relationships based on understanding and trust, the foundation of strong communities.
You support endangered family farms . There's never been a more critical time to support your farming neighbors. With each local food purchase, you ensure that more of your money spent on food goes to the farmer.
You safeguard your family’s health . Increasing your fruit and vegetable intake is a healthy move and k nowing where your food comes from and how it is grown or raised enables you to choose safe food.
You protect the environment . Local food doesn't have to travel far. This reduces carbon dioxide emissions and packing materials. Buying local food also helps to make farming more profitable and selling farmland for development less attractive.