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DeMange Family Farms Receives Local Food Infrastructure Grant

Editor’s Note: In a previous version of this story Anne Matthews was incorrectly identified as Eric DeMange’s wife. She is the operations manager for the St. Jacob location. The Times-Tribune regrets this error.

by Stephanie Malench

ST. JACOB — DeMange Family Farms announced that they were recently awarded a grant for $106,000 through Illinois’ new Local Food Infrastructure Program.

One of the largest vegetable farms outside Cook County, DeMange Family Farms has two locations in St. Jacob and East St. Louis and is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. The sixth-generation farm is operated by Eric Demange with Anne Matthews, operations manager for the St. Jacob location. 

with Eric as the overall operation manager and Anne managing the St. Jacob location.

The grant allows DeMange Farms to build a 2,640 square foot energy efficient packing shed with an expandable cooler system and a restroom for staff on a 60-acre parcel on the St. Jacob location near the pumpkin patch and sunflower field entrance.  The new facility, which is scheduled to be completed in July, will allow the farm to process and cold-store enough produce within 48 hours of harvesting to meet the increasing demand for fresh local produce in both communities and surrounding areas that are food deserts with limited access to grocery stores and food stands.

DeMange Farms participates in food programs with the East Side Health District, LinkUp, and Senior and WIC nutrition programs. Last September, DeMange Farms also received $30,000 in Link matching vouchers that were almost all distributed and redeemed by the end of November.

Seventy-five percent of DeMange Farms’ business is direct to consumer through its farm stand at 5750 Pocket Rd in East St. Louis, farmers markets, and six weeks a year at their farm stand at 1205 Cypress Rd in St. Jacob. They also sell produce to independently owned grocery stores, roadside stands, and produce brokers.

The St. Jacob farm is responsible for 75% of the produce grown.

Matthews said “We are ready to lay the foundation for the next 150 years. We have been growing in the local food infrastructure network for five years and have had a 10% increase in our harvest and distribution each year for the past seven years. We are now to the point where we are able to make infrastructure investments so we can go to more farmers markets and participate in the Illinois Eats program that provides local produce to public schools and Department of Corrections.”

DeMange Farms was one of 19 farmers and food businesses to win $2 million in state funding to increase food security, strengthen the food supply chain and grow local economies. Funding requests were received from 247 applicants requesting up to $150,000 each during the December 2023/January 2024 application period. The grant was funded through the Illinois Department of Agriculture and was administered through the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, a farmer-driven eater-powered alliance that finds, connects, trains, and amplifies the leadership of farmers and eaters to educate policy makers. Applications were reviewed by a committee of 10 Illinois-based agricultural and food system experts.

Fourth, fifth and sixth generation Owners of DeMange Family Farms. Pictured FROM LEFT are Eric Vincent DeMange, Vincent DeMange and Vincent DeManage Sr. (Photo submitted by Anne Matthews)

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