Angelic Organics Learning Center partners with a network of community-based organizations in the Rockford area that make up the Roots & Wings network. Roots & Wings aims to increase the leadership and life skills of local youth and adults through participatory development projects, hands-on garden-based education, and community service.
The members of the Rogers Park Green Space and Food Systems Coalition have long believed in the power of growing food to energize a community.
Last fall, Learning Center partners in urban food system projects in Southeast Chicago installed season extension infrastructure – plastic hoop “low tunnels” where plants can survive cold spells in fall and early spring. Our partners at the South Chicago Art Center erected their low tunnel in the Artists’ Garden over beds of lush greens in late September. By mid-October, it was the Bush Community Garden’s turn. Both are part of an emerging coalition, building their local food system with Learning Center liaison, Thea Carlson.
In 2003, the South Chicago Art Center lost their urban garden lot to development. That year, Angelic Organics Learning Center partnered with the Arts Center to develop a new and larger garden space on four city lots.
This community garden and educational space was also supported through a partnership with Heifer International, an organization that assists communities to produce healthy food for community development all over the world.
Driving east from Roscoe, Illinois, toward Angelic Organics farm one sees a familiar site: hundreds of new tract homes gobbling up rich agricultural land. It is a worrisome trend when viewed alongside daily stories of tainted imported foods. If we lose the farmland and continue to lose farmers, where will our food come from?
Margaret grew up on a conventional dairy farm in northern Illinois and always wanted to farm, but thought it was too unrealistic. She and her husband Mark, a city kid, got a few cattle as soon as they moved onto their six acres. They wanted to make sure that their daughters were brought up around livestock. So the girls both helped to raise a few beef cattle and show them through 4H and at the county fair each year.
Each year, more people come to Angelic Organics Learning Center in search of a career change. The Learning Center’s farmer training programs have guided many of them on a new, promising path. No matter their previous occupation, these students have become rejuvenated and drawn satisfaction in farm work. Just ask former veteran chef Chris Cubberly.
In Rockford, Illinois, lives a young woman with a big dream. Monica Logwood, a 16-year-old open to a world full of possibilities, has become a role model to younger children through her participation in the Learning Center’s Roots & Wings program. Although thriving now, Monica wasn’t always enthusiastic about getting involved and helping her community.
In October 1998, the idea for the Learning Center was born of the marriage of rural and urban. The proud parents were farmers and shareholders of the community supported agriculture initiative at Angelic Organics farm. For a week, a small group gathered in the living room of the Peterson farmhouse. We saw the possibility of the farm—as a community resource, a rich cultural connecting place, and a source of inspiration and practical learning—serving as a partnership of farmers and urban residents seeking to rebuild a healthy local food system and a better quality of life.