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This Sunday the sun shown brightly and warmed up Chicagoland just in time for our CRAFT field day. September 14th CRAFT members gathered at Green Earth Institute in Naperville, IL to learn about postharvest handling. Amongst the group of CRAFT members were also special guests - four students from the horticulture department at College of DuPage, enrolled in "Organic Vegetable Production" taught by CRAFT farm member Kim Marsin of Sweet Home Organics.

Green Earth Institute is surrounded by many subdivisions within a suburb of Chicago. The farm is 60 acres total so it’s not really constituted as an...

Janice Forrest has one of those smiles that can turn even the worst day around. Her open and welcoming heart radiates through her bright grin. Her joyful nature is a breath of fresh air to a community that has gone through hard times.

Janice has worked with Zion Lutheran Church for 5 years as the Buddy House/Blackhawk Farm Involvement Supervisor at Blackhawk Courts, a Rockford Housing Authority (RHA) community. Blackhawk Courts Farm and Garden is a partnership between RHA, Zion Outreach and Angelic Organics Learning Center.

When I interviewed her recently, she told me...

Can I name this one Henry?” or something similar, has come from many of the kids that I’ve seen hold a worm.

A red wiggler. Our tiniest farm animals, they are also one of the most valuable.

Every day, we have to eat. We also tend to have a little bit of waste every day…that extra handful of rice, the last bite of a sandwich, an apple core or banana peel. 

The good news is that red wigglers have to eat, too. And they are good-to-the-last-drop definitely not-picky eaters. Throw in that apple core, they gobble it up. The rice...

Curious about urban chicken keeping? This is your chance to take a peak at the wide variety of chicken coops and breeds in the Chicago area at the 5th Annual Windy City Coop Tour on September 20-21 from 10 AM to 2 PM each day.

As many as 29 hosts in Chicago, Riverside, Blue Island and even Hammond, IN, will be opening their gates an sharing their coops, yards, and chicken-keeping wisdom with visitors.

In addition to chicken-gazing, visitors can also learn about other green features at some of the host sites. Like this home in Lincoln Square that also...

As the summer comes to an end I asked the Youth leaders and young adults from the Blackhawk Courts community to reflect on some of their experiences over this summer with the Roots & Wings program. Here is what they had to say:

Milca St. Fleurose (Age 16, Youth Leader Apprentice) 

"One experience that I’ve had through the Roots & Wings program this summer is going out to Pecatonica IL, and seeing Andy Hazzard’s farm. I have a love for nature so seeing all the green fields and feeling the fresh summer breeze makes me happy, as well as...

Irish Grove Farm, Stateline Farm Beginnings, Angelic Organics, farmer training

The Illinois Food, Farm, & Jobs Act has called for support of programs that recruit, train, and provide technical assistance to beginning farmers in order to meet the demand for 5,000 more local farmers in Illinois by 2020. Angelic Organics Learning Center has been fulfilling that role by training farmers for the past ten years.

farm dinner, angelic organics, peak harvest farm dinner, local food event, benefit event, angelic organics learning center, field-to-table

A golden glow blanketed the field of organic leeks and lettuce as guests made their way to their tables overlooking the colorful crops at Angelic Organics Farm. They gathered for a gourmet, 5-course meal prepared by celebrity chefs from Chicago and Rockford with produce and meat sourced directly from the farm.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is all about building relationships and supporting one another through good times and bad. Most CSA farmers rely on the money they make through their shares to support their families and many cannot afford health insurance or have very limited coverage. If a farmer or a member of their family becomes ill, they sometimes have to reach out to their community for support.

In June, one of our CRAFT farmers, Lori Vierow of Bob's Fresh and Local was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, or ALL for short. Lori's insurance does not cover all of her...

Bill Conover, Mindfulness Instructor, Angelic Organics Learning Center, meditation

Guest post by Bill Conover, Director, Spiritual Life Program at Beloit College and Mindfulness Workshop instructor


A cool summer sunset illuminating tower clouds over Angelic Organics fields. Thousands of fireflies dancing upward from the crops, sparks lifting off from a greenish fire. The steady diesel thrum and cough of a parked refrigerator truck, loaded with veggies bound for Chicagoland the next morning.

And out in the middle of that scene, at the end of their eighth and final weekly session in the Learning Center's Mindfulness Workshop, a small group of people practicing mindfulness, opening to it all ......

Guest post by Rozalinda Borcilă

This was our first time at Angelic Organics and the Learning Center. We live in Chicago, time is tight and so is our budget, so attending a five-day camp at the farm seemed like a stretch. Still, it was time for an adventure, or actually, it was time for two adventures in one. We decided to camp at Rock Cut State Park for six nights, and explore the Farm Animal camp during the day. Upon first arriving at the Learning Center, my daughter was, as always, a bit shy, a bit unsure of being left...

Eat to Live garden in early July

….is the motto of the Eat to Live project, and certainly that is happening this summer! 

We are grateful to the many neighbors, volunteers, and friends who have contributed hours spreading compost, planting, weeding and harvesting in the Eat to Live garden space at 70th and Princeton. 

We have shared hundreds of pounds of bounteous greens and roots with neighbors and volunteers, with families from nearby Harvard School, with seniors from the Vincennes Senior Center, and with guests of the Maria Shelter. 

Regular summer volunteer hours take place on Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoons.  Come and join us! ...

Angelic Organics Farm Adventure Summer Day Camp entrepeneurs

Last week at Farm Adventure Day Camp, the campers faced new, exciting challenges each day - making products to sell to shareholders, caring for the livestock, building rafts to float on Kinnikinnick Creek, beautifying the garden, clearing trails and more. It was a large group of kids in this sold-out day camp, but they all worked together to brainstorm ways to meet their challenges and democratically choose solutions.

As people started tumbling out of cars I could see their faces light up as they took it all in. The kids didn't waste a second before scrambling over fences to pet the goats, running through the orchard, checking out the campfire, and gathering sticks. What is the deal with boys and sticks anyway?

Molly Bresline of Breslin Farms, a CRAFT farm

The morning after a series of thunderstorms and strong winds moved through northern Illinois, twelve CRAFT members traveled along miles of wind-damaged cornfields to convene at Breslin Farms to learn about how the Breslins incorporate cover crops into their rotations. While the Breslin’s rye field experienced wind damage, our hosts remained optimistic about being able to harvest the crop, speculating about its resiliency due to years of cover crop benefits—nicely prefacing the day’s conversation.

Father-and-daughter team John and Molly Breslin are in their fourth year of transitioning a family farm from conventional to organic row crops. They focus...

By Meg Augustine, Farm Finance Program Coordinator

It’s mid-year, and our Farm Asset Builder participants are well into their growing season. They have also reached the midpoint of Angelic Organics Learning Center’s Farm Asset Builder Program—a program in its inaugural year. The Farm Asset Builder Program is a matched savings program that provides farmers with the opportunity and motivation to save. At the end of our pilot year, farmers in compliance with program requirements will receive up to $2,400 to contribute to a farm asset thanks to our sponsors and donors.

Our sponsors are helping farmers gain...

Peak Harvest Farm Dinner at Angelic Organics 2013

The 7th annual Peak Harvest Farm Dinner is the largest fundraising event for Angelic Organics Learning Center and there are many ways to contribute.

Farming with Horses 2014 CRAFT Field Day

By Shelbie Blank, Farmer Training Program Assistant

Nestled in-between subdivisions, highways, and strip malls is the farm home of Lane Linnenkohl’s two Percheron draft horses: Molly and Sally and two Morgans: Daisy and Violet.  Lane keeps his horses at a farm that his cousin leases; his cousin uses this land to grow corn. A bank located just across the street owns this farm and Lane struck a nice deal with them. Instead of the bank having to pay someone to come in and brush hog the adjacent lots twice a year, Lane hays these fields free of charge. Lane uses...

Integrating Livestock into Vegetable Operations Field Day

By Meg Augustine, Farm Finance Program Coordinator

It was one of the first great, sunny, spring days of the year when CRAFT Farmers gathered with Matt and Peg Schaeffer in Monroe, Wisconsin to learn about Sandhill Family Farms' efforts to incorporate livestock into their vegetable farming operations. Sandhill Family Farms operates a well-known community supported agriculture (CSA) farm that serves the Chicago area, and Matt and Peg’s family recently obtained a herd of sheep to diversify the farm's offerings to customers in the fall.

Field day participants eagerly listened while Matt explained the importance of protecting and maintaining pasture in...

Summer camp season is upon us! We're getting ready for the best summer ever, full of farm-fresh snacks, adventures with goats and chickens, hikes through the woods, artworks by creative kids and so much more.  Check out our summer camp mini-gallery below for a taste of what's coming up on the farm.

And don't miss out! There are still a few spots left in some camps. Sign up now!

Roots & Wings, Urban Agriculture, Urban Farm, Urban Garden, Youth Leader, Angelic Organics Learning Center

As we quickly approach the beginning of the June, I am reminded that only few weeks ago we had an accumulation snow on the ground (Brrrrr….). Over the last few months much work has been done at the Roots & Wings Youth Farm and the Blackhawk Courts Farm and Garden in preparation for the growing season.

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