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Forefront: Ideas in Food and Farming

To celebrate the launch of MCC's new Center for Agrarian Learning, we're bringing you innovative thinkers (and doers!) in the food and farm economy like Ben Hartman; Rod Ofte; Erin Meyer, Rachel Bernier-Green, and Andy Hazzard; and Lisa Kivirist. With Forefront: Ideas in Food and Farming, we're showcasing entrepreneurs who are solving problems with their passion and skills and sharing the how and the why of it all. Ideas abound and strategies are tried and tested as all are motivated to experiment and think outside the box.

This speaker series is intended for farmers, land owners, chefs, local food enthusiasts, and anyone interested in the food economy. Come get informed and inspired the fourth Sunday of each month, January – April. All Forefront sessions will be held in the Luecht Auditorium at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake.

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.

Whole Grain Revolution
Erin Meyer, Rachel Bernier-Green, Andy Hazzard

Sunday, March 29

2 p.m., Free but registration required

Join moderator Erin Meyer of Basil's Harvest as she sets the stage for a baker, farmer, and dietitian to discuss their personal experiences working with and growing specific grains, explore the challenges they face doing so, and share how they came together through the Artisan Grain Collaborative.

Learn details about each business—Rachel Bernier-Green's innovative and socially-minded bakery 'Laine's Bake Shop in Chicago; Andy Hazzard's sixth-generation Hazzard Free Farm (and mill!) in Pecatonica; Erin Meyer's diet-conscious Basil's Harvest; and their combined work with the Artisan Grain Collaborative. You'll come away with a better understanding of the important relationship between farmer and baker, and about how the practices around regenerative agriculture and whole grains can improve soil health, human health, and impact local economies.

Register for Whole Grain Revolution

photo of Erin Meyer


Erin Meyer

The mission of Basil's Harvest is to support a sustainable and innovative community of regenerative farmers by helping to build soil health and aiding these farmers in accessing markets in which to sell their products. As a dietitian and chef with a master's degree in sustainable food systems, Erin uses her previous experience as an executive, a diabetes educator, food service entrepreneur, and educator to emphasize equitable access to regional foods into institutions, dietary shifts for community health, and environmental protection through experiential education.

photo of Rachel Bernier-Green

Rachel Bernier-Green

Rachel is the owner and head baker at ‘Laine's Bake Shop, LLC and holds bachelor's degrees in finance and accounting and a master's degree in taxation. In 2013, Rachel created ‘Laine's Bake Shop, an online bakery catering company with a social mission. ‘Laine's Bake Shop was founded to create delicious, scratch-made treats with a focus on creativity, honest ingredients, and unparalleled customer service—and to revitalize urban communities, starting with the south side of Chicago.

‘Laine's has supplied corporate clients including the Obama Foundation, Google, and McDonald's, and now supplies products to Whole Food Market stores as well as several local restaurants and cafes. ‘Laine's opened a retail location in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago in the spring of 2019 and is currently building out a production facility in the Woodlawn neighborhood. Rachel is an alumni of the prestigious Good Food Business Accelerator at 1871 and previously served as Director of Resource Development for the Chicago chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants.

photo of Andy Hazzard

Andy Hazzard

Andy is a sixth-generation farmer that grew up on a large conventional farm. In 2007, she began vegetable farming focusing on community supported agriculture (CSA), farmer's markets, and wholesale to the restaurant industry. In 2012, she started experimenting with smalls grains, and by 2013 she opened a small milling operation. After several years of running two operations at two locations, she now is focused completely on small grains and direct-to-consumer and wholesale markets. Her farm's niche is focused on heirloom varieties of corn, wheat and barley. She also grows oats and hulled grains. She is particularly interested in seed saving, improving open pollinated varieties, and developing new varieties.

Meet all the Forefront speakers

Future Forefront Sessions

  • April 26: Soil Sisters: How Women Transform Our Food System

    Sunday, April 26, Lisa Kivirist, author of Soil Sisters: A Toolkit for Women Farmers along with Homemade for Sale, Farmstead Chef, Rural Renaissance and ECOpreneuring.

    2 p.m., Free but registration required

    What's the key ingredient to healthy communities? Women leading food system change. Women make up one of the fastest growing segments of new farmers today, and they come from a long and deep history and tradition of cultivating the soil. This fresh crop of women farmers is finding innovative ways to champion local agriculture and foster greater collaboration and cooperation. Collectively, they improve the health of our environment, stimulate the economy, build a greater sense of community, and nurture a more vibrant food system. What does our future hold and how can we support more women taking on leadership roles to change what's on our plate? Come celebrate the historic roots and inspiring stories of women farmers today — and in the future.

    Following Lisa's presentation, we'll hear from three farmers, each with different challenges and successes linked to their location, product mix, experience level, identity, and pathway into farming.

    Register for Soil Sisters

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