HALLOWEEN AND POPCORN ARE THE PERFECT COMBO!

Thank you to A Spicy Perspective for this oh-so-yummy recipe using Illinois’s state snack!

Halloween Popcorn Mix

Candy coated party popcorn mixed with favorite Halloween candies!

Ingredients:

12 ounces purple candy melts
14 cup popped popcorn (from 1/2 cups kernels)
11 ounces candy pumpkins
1 cup green chocolate coated candies
1 cup candy corns
3 tablespoons Halloween sprinkles
salt

Directions:

  1. Place the candy melts in a microwave safe bowl.  Cook for 30 seconds.  Stir and repeat, until smooth.
  2. Place the popcorn on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Thoroughly salt the popcorn.  Then pour the melted candy over the top and stir to coat.  Once coated, apply the sprinkles.
  3. Allow the popcorn to dry.  Then break apart and toss in the candy.
  4. Store in an air tight container until ready to serve.

AGRICULTURE ENABLES INVENTION, ARTS, CIVILIZATION

Check out this amazing video from Iowa Corn. We couldn’t have done it better ourselves.

Agriculture is an amazing industry that average folks have simply lost touch with. It’s super important, and we know you know that, but have you forgotten all the amazing things that a successful agriculture industry allows us to do and accomplish?

NRCS – WHAT IT IS AND WHY WE NEED IT

The NRCS, otherwise known as the Natural Resources Conversation Service, is an organization through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This group works to protect agricultural land and improve conservation practices. There are two branches of the NRCS: AECP, the Agricultural Easement Conservation Program, and HFRP, Healthy Forests Reserve Program.

Let’s talk about the HFRP first. This branch helps protect and preserve forestland on private properties. The goal of the HFRP is to reduce the number of endangered and threaten species, as well as increase plant and animal biodiversity throughout forestlands. A new component of the HFRP includes opening this program to land owned by Indian tribes.

The other branch is the AECP. The goal of this conservation branch is to protect land currently being used in agriculture and preventing it from being sold for non-ag purposes. Many states in the eastern part of the country, such as New York and Pennsylvania, have farmland preservation programs at the county level. The AECP also works to preserve wetlands, which goes to improve

In Illinois, we have the Farmland Protection Program, located in Kane County. A collar county of Chicago, many do not imagine a county with much farmland. However, since it is so close to the city, it is more imperative to ensure the farm acreage stays in agriculture. Being a native Kane county resident, I can say we have a unique layout for our county. We are pretty well split between developed and undeveloped land.

The Farmland Protection Program was established in Kane County in 2001. Since then, there have been over 5,500 acres preserved. How does this program work? Essentially, the county purchases the developing rights of that land. The farmer is still in charge of caring for the land, and can still use the land to grow crops. The only difference is the land must stay in agricultural use, since the county purchased the developing rights. No neighborhoods or shopping centers can be built on protected acres. The land also must continue to be used in agriculture; in other words, the farmers must still utilize the land as part of their operation.

Why are programs like AECP and HFRP important? Because as many of us have heard, the world population will grow to over 9 billion people by the year 2050. With a growing population, we have to have resources to continue to grow food, more than we ever have in the past. With programs through the National Resources Conservation Service, our county is better prepared to help feed the growing world.

Susie Thompson
Illinois State University