an image of two women standing inside a greenhouse

Center for Agrarian Learning Workshops

To celebrate the launch of MCC's new Center for Agrarian Learning, we're bringing you a series of workshops for farmers and land owners taught by experts in their field.

How to register:

Visit or call (815) 455-8588 and reference the course code number. All workshops take place at the college, 8900 U.S. Highway 14, Crystal Lake, unless otherwise noted. For more information, contact Sheri Doyel, Director of the Center for Agrarian Learning.

This Event Has Been Postponed

In the interest of the ongoing health and safety of our college community, MCC is taking additional proactive steps to administer social distancing practices, as encouraged by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to limit the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). As of Monday, March 16, we are postponing all public events hosted at MCC. As we continue to observe the fluid situation related to COVID-19, when there is an opportunity to reschedule this event, we will share that information as quickly as possible. Thank you.

  • 1/27/20 - Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman

    Monday, January 27 Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; Film begins at 7 p.m.

    Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman tells the inspiring story of heartland conservation heroes who are feeding the world while stewarding the land and water.

    The film is a tribute in part to people like Justin Knopf, a fifth-generation Kansas farmer revolutionizing industrial-scale agriculture to rebuild the fertility, biodiversity, and resilience of his soil, and Dusty Crary, a fourth-generation Montana rancher who forged alliances between cattlemen, federal agencies, hunters, and environmental groups to protect the Rocky Mountain Front.

    Based on a book by best-selling author Miriam Horn of Environmental Defense Fund, Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman was directed by Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Susan Froemke and Emmy winner John Hoffman, and narrated by award-winning journalist Tom Brokaw. Co-hosted by the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County and the MCC Sustainability Center.

    No registration required. Luecht Auditorium, Building B.

  • 2/4/20 Intro to Apple Tree Pruning: The Older and Neglected

    Whether you're working with mature apple trees or you've ignored your own trees for a number of years, it's never too late to get your trees on the path toward productive yields!

    This course will explore everything you need to get your mature apple trees back into shape. Speaker Grant McCarty will also discuss pruning cherry, peach, and pear trees, as well as caring for younger trees (under 3 years old).

    Topics include:

    • Basics of seasonal and older tree pruning
    • Different pruning methods
    • Disease/insect management
    • Apple tree grafting options
    • And more!

    Instructor: Grant McCarty | Fee: $19 | Course Code # NAL S01 001 | February 4, 6–8 p.m. | MCC, A229

  • 2/5/20 - 2/26/20 Beekeeping 101

    The demand for bees for pollination is on the rise, so there's no better time to learn about bees and beekeeping! We'll cover bee biology, modern beekeeping techniques, construction of hives, and how to acquire bees. Keep bees for the fun of it, as a side job, or to help your garden and orchard.

    Instructor: Larry Krengel | Fee: $59 | Course Code # NAL S06 001 | February 5–26, 6–8 p.m. | MCC, A112

  • 2/18/20 Cultivating Your Legally-Resilient Farm

    Don't lay awake at night wondering if a legal mistake is going to take your farm away. Developing a strong, legally-resilient farm business is easier than you think. Farm Commons' collaborative, accessible approach to learning farm law alongside farmer-peers will set you on the right path. This workshop isn't a set of boring lectures filled with legal lingo—it's led by a farm law expert and farmer co-presenters, guaranteeing you'll pick up the practical wisdom and knowledge you need to navigate legal issues with confidence.

    Framed around the ten steps every farm needs to take to build legal resilience, you'll leave this workshop with a personal action plan for your own farm. Checklists, model documents, and more, show farmers how to get the job done. Together, we'll build strong local farms and resilient community businesses with the law on our side.

    This workshop addresses farmers' greatest vulnerabilities in land matters and leasing, business structures, farm employment law, diversification and agritourism, as well as liability and food safety issues.

    Included information packet contains template for creating customized legal risk management plan, three activities, farm employment law guide, insurance chart, and flowchart for classifying employees on the farm.

    Instructor: This workshop is created and delivered by Farm Commons. Speakers: Eva Moss and Sara Vaile. Farmer-Presenters: Tim Brown and Cliff McConville| Fee: $59 Lunch is provided. | Course Code # NAL S02 001 | February 18, 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

    This workshop is co-sponsored by the Center for Agrarian Learning at MCC and Angelic Organics Learning Center.

    Angelic Organics Learning Center logo

  • 3/4/20 Seven Ways to Raise a Queen

    The number of small-scale beekeepers is increasing, and the demand for locally-raised queen bees is growing. Purchased queens are often raised in areas of Africanized honeybees or come from migratory bee operations where dangerous viruses are exchanged. Gain information and seven simple methods of raising honeybee queens. With a few insights and a small amount of equipment, the backyard beekeeper can raise locally-adapted queens from bee stock with a great record of winter survival, good temperament, and excellent honey production.

    Instructor: Larry Krengel | Fee: $25| Course Code # NAL S07 001 | March 4, 7–9:20 p.m. | MCC, A112

  • 3/10/20 Raising Backyard Chickens

    You'll learn the basics of raising poultry on a small scale. Topics covered will include laying hens, meat chickens, and turkeys, along with housing, feeding, and watering facilities. We'll explore feed rations, brooding, and where to purchase day-old chicks or pullets. Basic flock health and local regulations will also be introduced.

    Instructor: Jen Riemer | Fee: $25 | Course Code # NAL S09 001| March 10, 5:30–7:50 p.m. | MCC, A102

  • 3/12 - 8/20/20 Dig, Grow, Eat: Garden Talks for the Whole Season

    In the garden, how different is May 15 from June 15? Very different! Each month in the upper Midwest brings new joys and challenges, different tasks, and the need to anticipate what is to come. Join Lisa Hilgenberg, horticulturist at the Chicago Botanic Garden, as she guides you through what to expect and how to prepare for each the month ahead. From spring through fall, you'll receive detailed information on how to succeed without becoming overwhelmed. Topics include seed starting, varietal selection, bed design, irrigation and trellising, weed control strategies, pest and disease issues, harvesting cues, and garden clean up. Organic vegetable production will be the focus, with flowers and herbs covered as well. If time allows, May – August might also include observations in the Master Gardener garden at MCC.

    Enroll in a single session ($12) or the series of six sessions ($59). | Fee: $59 for series of six sessions | Course Code # NAL S12 001 | March 12–August 20, 6–7:30 p.m. | MCC, A229

    All sessions 6–7:30 p.m. at MCC in A229

    • Early Spring Garden Talk | Course Code # NAL S12 002 | March 12
    • Spring Garden Talk | Course Code # NAL S12 003 | April 16
    • Late Spring Garden Talk | Course Code # NAL S12 004 | May 7
    • Early Summer Garden Talk | Course Code # NAL S12 005 | June 11
    • Summer Garden Talk | Course Code # NAL S12 006 | July 9 
    • Fall Garden Talk | Course Code # NAL S12 007 | August 20

    Instructor: Lisa Hilgenberg, Chicago Botanic Garden

  • 3/14/20 Wholesale Success Canceled
  • 3/16/20 Hemp Growing Info Day

    Rachel Berry of the Illinois Hemp Growers Association and Liz Rupel of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance will explore the production of CBD and fiber hemp and current Illinois hemp regulations (including the most recent updates). Local farmers who grew in 2019 will also be presenting about their first-hand experience with this crop. Rachel and Liz will discuss how three types of hemp are grown, processed, and used while also exploring their transportation and marketing outlook. Examples of products from each kind of hemp will be available to see.

    This will be a classroom-style learning experience, so bring your questions! Bring your own lunch. Coffee and tea provided.

    Instructors: Rachel Berry and Liz Rupel | Fee: $10 | Course Code # NAL S04 001  | March 16, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. | A229, MCC

  • 4/2/20 - Seasons of Change on Henry's Farm

    Thursday, April 2 | Refreshments served at 6:30 p.m. Film begins at 7 p.m.

    Seasons of Change on Henry's Farm

    Central Illinois farmer Henry Brockman has spent the past quarter-century working alongside nature to raise delicious organic vegetables and establishing himself as a very popular anchor vendor in the Evanston Farmer's Market. But farming takes a toll on his aging body and Henry dreams of scaling back. So he puts his former apprentices in charge of Henry's Farm while he takes a personal "fallow year" with his wife Hiroko in her native Japan. Nothing, however, turns out as planned. While former intern Kris leads the farm crew, record rainfall devastates the crops. Daughter Aozora, a brand-new college graduate and poet, returns to work long hours on the farm while longing to write. Meanwhile, Henry's sabbatical frees his mind enough to let climate change enter his consciousness, unbidden and unwelcome, and he realizes he will have to re-envision the future of farming — for himself and for coming generations.

    After the film, both the director, Ines Sommer, and producer, Terra Brockman, will be present for questions and discussion. This film is co-sponsored by The Land Conservancy of McHenry County and the Center for Agrarian Learning at MCC.

    No registration required. Luecht Auditorium, Building B.

  • 4/7/20 Growing into Your Business: Loans and Lending for Food and Farm Entrepreneurs

    Growing a food and farm business often requires taking on debt. Upfront capital requirements and early operations expenditures can leave enterprises strapped for cash, and therefore highly vulnerable to disruptions. It's important to determine when to expand, when to seek funding, and what obstacles you might encounter along the way. In this workshop, you'll learn how to get started without debt, how to decide when a loan is right for you, and, when the time comes, how to get approved.

    Instructor: Andrew Larson | Fee: $19 | Course Code # NAL S11 001 | April 7, 6–8:30 p.m. | A229, MCC

  • 4/11 - 4/20/20 Beekeeping Field Study

    This short course will provide practical, hands-on instruction for installing, manipulating, and inspecting colonies of bees. The class will meet in a bee yard, so appropriate clothing and bee equipment will be necessary. Spring is the time to start with bees, and this course will walk you through it step by step. Learn what you need to know to start out right with your bees.

    Instructor: Larry Krengel | Fee: $59 | Course Code # NAL S08 001 | April 11–18, 10 a.m.–Noon | Off-campus location

  • 5/19 - 7/7/20 Fruit and Vegetable Crops

    Learn about growing fruit and vegetable crops in Northern Illinois from the planning stages through harvest. We'll discuss hardy fruit crops appropriate for our area along with specific vegetable crops including cultivar selection, cultural needs, pest management, and harvesting. This class will be a combination of lecture and lab. You must purchase two books for this class costing approximately $41, available at The Fruit Gardener's Bible by Lewis Hill and Leonard Perry and How to Grow More Vegetables by John Jevons.

    Instructor: Rich Tobiasz | Fee: $199 | Course Code # NAL S10 001 | May 19–July 7 Tuesdays and Thursdays 8:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m. at MCC

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