Archive for January, 2013

011It’s a little early for St. Patrick’s Day but we made an Irish Feast for Multi-Cultural Night at school.  I coerced my Mom (and Dad) into helping with decorations and food.

There were at least ten other ethnic stations serving Indian, Phillipino, Ukrainian, Italian, and other foods.  We were next to the French Creperie! My very ‘meat-and-potato’ Dad tried Ethiopian food and an Indian dessert!  The kids learned several ethnic dances and songs and dressed in traditional costumes.  As you would expect, it was loud, chaotic, and great fun for everyone.

The Irish Menu consisted of:
Potato Leek Soup
Dublin Coddle (slow cooked Irish stew)
Soda Bread
Brown Bread
Irish Apple Cake

Watch the celebration on local news


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Area food enthusiasts, local farmers, and sustainable food advocates are certainly enthused about the possibilities being discussed for the old Hanna City prison.  About 20 minutes from Peoria, the site could be a perfect Midwest training ground for a whole bunch of sustainable food efforts.

Peoria County acquired the 38.5 acres from the State of Illinois several years ago with strict stipulations on how it could be redeveloped.  I guess no one had any BIG ideas until now!  Previously utilized as a prison work camp, a home for boys and a 1950’s Air Force radar base, the walls could certainly tell some stories. The acreage includes residential buildings, classrooms, an institutional kitchen, a greenhouse, and a gymnasium as well as some pretty fertile soil. Most all of the buildings are structurally sound but the place has been empty since 2002 so it would take some serious clean-up and probably some demolition to get it up and going again.

Now for the BIG ideas …. the County hosted a planning charrette on December 8, 2012 to explore three different business models for redevelopment of the property:

1. Develop the property, utilizing the existing structures for development of a small farms incubator or training center.

2. Create a cooperative food hub with area producers, utilizing the buildings for aggregation and distribution.

3. Utilize the property for a farm to school laboratory, working with area schools to provide hands on learning opportunities.

There should be recommendations and a report based on the December planning meeting available soon.  For email updates, contact Kathie Brown, Extension Educator – Community & Economic Development at

Read more about the history and possible uses of the property:

This old prison in Illinois may be transformed into a farming paradise, grist, 12/20/12

Peoria County is working with ideas of how to use old prison at Hanna City, Peoria Journal Star, 12/3/12

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