Members of the Lauritzen family and Farm Credit Illinois present a check to Senior Services Plus staff at the site of the high-tunnel greenhouse. Participants included (from left) Shannon Lauritzen, Kristine Lauritzen, Karoline Lauritzen, Penny Lauritzen, Jeff Lauritzen, Senior Services Plus Executive Director John Becker, Farm Credit Illinois Highland Vice President Carla Lappe and Senior Services Plus director of information and assistance and garden volunteer Kelly Chapman.
The Farm Credit System’s 100th year of service to rural communities and agriculture is highlighting leaders who are positively influencing the future of agriculture through the Fresh Perspectives program.
The state of Illinois is proud to host eight of the top 100 and one top 10 honoree — Penny Lauritzen of Lanark, Ill., in youth education for her work in beginning the Women Changing the Face of Agriculture career discovery event.
Lauritzen received $10,000 and chose to give each of her children and grandchildren $1,000 to support a community group close to their heart.
Jeff Lauritzen, of Godfrey, a financial representative for Country Financial, chose to give $1,000 to support a certified organic greenhouse at Senior Services Plus in Alton — the first in the Midwest dedicated to providing organic produce to seniors. A groundbreaking will take place in August and the greenhouse will be in full operation by September. Lauritzen’s gift will provide the soil and compost needed to fill the garden beds.
Produce grown in the greenhouse will supply the Meals on Wheels Program and School House Grill. Remaining produce will be sold to community members at a weekly farmers market. Proceeds from the School House Grill and farmers market directly support the Meals on Wheels Program.
“Thanks to Jeff and his family’s generosity, we are digging six garden beds 2 feet deep and filling them with certified organic compost and soil,” said John Becker, executive director of Senior Services Plus. “The donated soil will help us meet the USDA’s requirements to be certified organic even faster and to produce healthy food for our seniors and the community.”
Senior Services Plus is an agency of the Southwestern Illinois Division United Way, an organization Lauritzen has been involved with for 13 years serving on the allocations panel, auxiliary board of directors, executive board, and as campaign chairman.
“Despite state funding cutbacks, Senior Services Plus finds ways to serve the community’s needs,” Jeff Lauritzen said. “I’m proud to see this funding help start and sustain a project focused on growing fresh food for those in need.”
Farm Credit Illinois is a farmer owned and directed agricultural lending cooperative serving 8,500 farm families, agribusinesses, and rural landowners in the southern 60 counties of Illinois with competitive and flexible financing and crop insurance expertise. For information, visit farmcreditIL.com.