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McHenry County College to expand urban agriculture program with $500,000 donation

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CRYSTAL LAKE – McHenry County College will expand its urban agriculture program after receiving a $500,000 donation. The anonymous gift will go toward “Transforming Sustainable Agriculture Enterprises in McHenry County through the Delivery of Innovative Education,” a project that will provide experiential learning about intensive, organic food production, business management and marketing, according to a news release from the college.

A two-year pilot program will allow students to research sustainable agricultural trends and practices, develop programming to support the needs of farmers, facilitate partnerships across the agriculture community and promote the use of sustainable practices and food production in the region.

Ultimately, the goal is for students to learn small-scale organic food production in a farm setting year-round, according to the release.

“This generous donation will help us expand our horticulture programming and facilities in the area of urban agriculture and local food crop production,” horticulture instructor and department chairman Bruce Spangenburg said in a news release. “We look forward to further developing the education efforts of MCC related to growing local sustainable food crops to better serve residents throughout the area.”

The project stems from recommendations of local and regional planning efforts that highlight the need to invest in sustainable local food systems in Illinois, according to the release.

MCC will partner with Loyola University’s Institute of Environmental Sustainability, the McHenry County Farm Bureau, the McHenry County Soil and Water Conservation District, the University of Illinois Extension and other local organizations.