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When you are used to simply buying your food off of a shelf at a supermarket, you may not give much thought to all that had to happen for it to arrive there. There are many levels of necessary steps behind the scenes that ensure that our food gets to consumers. There are those who transport it. Those who harvest it. Those who plant and grow it. But even before we get to those steps, there is a critical component that initiates the creation of that food: pollination.
Many of today’s farmers were raised on farms where it’s been the family business for decades and through generations. That wasn’t the case for Carl Smits, owner of Smits Farms in Chicago Heights. His father was a builder, but somehow Smits was always drawn to farm life. “I always liked tractors, farms and growing things, even as a little boy,” he said.
A company in Cook County was recently named a semi-finalist in the 2023 Ag Innovation Challenge by the American Farm Bureau Federation® and Farm Credit, a national business competition that showcases U.S. startups developing innovative solutions that address challenges facing America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities. TrackerSled, which is based in Oak Park and is a Cook County Farm Bureau® member, introduced a prefabricated, onsite assembly pop-up solar farm called the SunFarmor at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Annual Convention in San Juan, Puerto Rico in January where final award winners were announced.
Getting agricultural products from a farm to a consumer is a process that involves more steps than you may realize. In some cases, the transport is done by truck and by rail, but there's also a large amount that has an added step of being moved by water and Cook County happens to be huge shipping hub.