Illinois is receiving nearly $540,000 in federal funds to expand the availability of fresh, locally grown produce.
According to Agriculture Director Bob Fider the money will come from the Specialty Crop Black Grant Program and will be split among 12 projects that are focused on local produce.
Fider says the grant money will help encourage production and make nutritious food available to more people and that Illinois' "fertile soil and favorable climate" are great for growing a variety of crops.
Besides being know for corn and soybeans, Illinois is also the nation's largest pumpkin and horseradish producers in the nation. Illinois is also a top state for such crops as asparagus, cauliflower, green peas and lima beans. The state's more than 17,000 acres of specialty crops produce around $137 million in sales.
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