Whether people are buying from grocery stores, farmers markets, or restaurants, the demand for locally produced food continues to grow both in McHenry County and across northern Illinois. This has been especially true since the onset of COVID-19 earlier this year.
“There’s been a huge increase in demand as people seek out food that is fresh and nutritious and has been handled less—it takes fewer people to get it from the field to the shopping bag,” said Sheri Doyel, director of the Center for Agrarian Learning at McHenry County College (MCC). “Many of our local farmers even deliver directly to people’s homes.”
With this increased interest comes a need for more training and education for those entering the field of agriculture or looking to scale up their existing businesses.
“Helping our local farmers is absolutely crucial in these times, and I’m happy to say MCC has already been working to support and connect these local and organic food farmers with the community,” said Doyel.
MCC is introducing their new AAS degree program in Entrepreneurial Agriculture this fall. Through a combination of hands-on farming techniques and business and marketing classes, the program will prepare students to both grow crops and run a business. No prior experience in agriculture is needed to join the program.
“After completing these courses, students can pursue a variety of exciting career paths including farm ownership and operations, greenhouse management, landscaping, floral production and design, or even bookkeeping and marketing specific to farm businesses,” said Doyel.
In addition to the AAS in Entrepreneurial Agriculture, MCC offers certificates in Entrepreneurial Agriculture Business/Marketing and Entrepreneurial Agriculture Production.