Past Event

Seeding Change? The Future of our Farms and Communities - Greenville

In recent decades, farming across Illinois has evolved dramatically in the face of technological, environmental, and economic change. Join us for an evening of food, music, and conversation as we discuss possible future developments in agriculture and their potential impacts upon rural communities in Illinois, featuring perspectives from within and beyond the region. We’ll consider such questions as…

  • What are some of the most significant opportunities and challenges facing small farms and industrial agriculture in our state at present?
  • How might ongoing technological innovation benefit small farmers as well as industrial agriculture?
  • How can agricultural producers achieve a healthy combination of profitability and ecological stewardship? How might that combination contribute toward the long-term economic and cultural viability of local communities?

Simon King grew up on a farm in rural Michigan and is now the director of the Carnegie Mellon University Design Center. Drawing on his first-hand experience with both farming and design, he’ll talk about how technological innovation might shape the future of small farms and industrial agriculture alike and perhaps combine some of the positive attributes of different approaches to farming.

Next, author and columnist Alan Guebert will respond to Simon’s presentation from a regional perspective and share thoughts about how potential agricultural shifts could affect area communities in the coming years.

We’ll then hear from Amy Marcoot of Marcoot Jersey Creamery near Greenville. She’ll describe the recent evolution of her family’s seventh-generation Bond County dairy farm into a producer of sought-after artisanal cheeses in relation to broader trends identified by Simon King and Alan Guebert.

Afterward, a free meal highlighting locally grown and prepared food will provide an opportunity for conversation in which all are welcome to participate. We’ll cap off the evening with a performance by the King Family Band.

We hope you’ll join us to discuss these critical issues and to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Illinois’s farming communities.


Simon KingSimon King grew up on a farm in rural Michigan and is now the director of the Carnegie Mellon University Design Center, a new interdisciplinary space that connects students and faculty from across campus through design.

Prior to Carnegie Mellon, Simon was a Design Director and Business Lead at IDEO in Chicago, where he led the studio’s Interaction Design discipline. During 8 years at IDEO, his work spanned diverse mediums and audiences including medical imaging equipment, vehicle HMI platforms, personal health apps, and financial planning tools.

His book Understanding Industrial Design: Principles for UX and Interaction Design, is published by O’Reilly Media. He holds an MDes in Interaction Design from Carnegie Mellon University and a BFA in Graphic Design from Western Michigan University.

Alan GuebertAlan Guebert is an award-winning agricultural journalist and author who was raised on a 100-cow southern Illinois dairy farm.

A 1980 graduate of the University of Illinois, he has been a writer and an editor for several major agricultural publications in the U.S. and overseas. He began the syndicated agriculture column “The Farm and Food File” in 1993, and it now appears weekly in more than 70 newspapers throughout the United States and Canada. Guebert has won numerous awards for his magazine and newspaper work. In 1997, the American Agricultural Editors’ Association honored him with its highest awards, Writer of the Year and Master Writer.

Alan resides with his wife Catherine, a social worker, in rural Delavan, Illinois. They have two grown children. One of whom, Mary Grace Foxwell, collaborated with Alan to write The Land of Milk and Uncle Honey: Memories from the Farm of My Youth (University of Illinois Press, 2015).

Amy Marcoot Headshots-13Born and raised in southern Illinois, Amy Marcoot is well acquainted with small farming communities. As the president of Marcoot Jersey Creamery (located five miles south of Greenville), she applied modern innovation and technology to transition her family’s seventh-generation dairy farm into a manufacturing facility producing highly sought-after artisanal cheeses. Publications including Sauce and Feast, the Illinois Farm Bureau’s Partners magazine, the AAA’s Midwest Traveler magazine have featured Marcoot Jersey Creamery’s award-winning cheese.

Amy believes wholeheartedly in combining the heritage and legacy of the past with the entrepreneurial spirit of today to add value to the small family farm and sustain the next generation.

Amy graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in education and earned a master’s degree in counseling from Eastern Illinois University.

This event is free and open to the public, but capacity is limited and advance RSVP is required. Walk-ins will be accepted only if space is available.

If you require a sign interpreter or any other arrangements to fully participate in this program, please contact at least 72 hours in advance of the event. For more information, please call 312.422.5580.