Vanessa Quiñones, the dynamic owner-operator of The Victory Garden Farm, joined Angelic Organics Learning Center’s farmer training community in 2014 as a Stateline Farm BeginningsⓇ participant. In 2021, the public voted her as Beginning Farmer of the Year, an award presented by Routes to Farm, an alliance of farmer training organizations across Illinois and Indiana.
The Victory Garden Farm sits on five beautiful acres in Fredonia, Wisconsin. The farm’s mission statement reads, “We strive to leave the land better than how we found it by increasing biodiversity and building strong sustainable systems. We supply our local community, friends and family with the healthiest, best tasting food possible.”
The farm operates a successful farm store, with products that have been featured on many local restaurant menus. Vanessa understands the need to continually pivot, and the viability of her farm grows each year. In 2021, despite the constraints of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, The Victory Garden Farm doubled in size and hired its first two employees. Her latest accomplishment? Vanessa went on vacation at the end of the 2021 growing season – something all farmers know as a feat to behold.
Vanessa masterfully balances her passion with the realities of the unforgiving trade. When asked what advice she would give to her younger self, Vanessa says, “Start small! Do not take on too many enterprises at once.” Great advice from a farmer who has learned to roll with the punches.
Keep up with Vanessa’s work by following The Victory Garden Farm on Facebook and Instagram.
about the Award
The Beginning Farmer of the Year award is sponsored by the collaborating Farmer Alliances in Routes to Farm, serving beginning farmers across the greater Chicago foodshed. Routes to Farm is generously supported by Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust.
Perry first heard about Angelic Organics Learning Center through our friend Bob Benson, author of Local Food Forum. Last August, Perry and his wife attended our Welcome to the Farm dinner and he says, “I was sold.” Perry prioritizes sourcing his ingredients from biodynamic farms, and he appreciates that Angelic Organics Learning Center educates people of all ages on the value of biodynamic agriculture. He has witnessed miraculous results using regeneratively grown and spagerically extracted botanicals and mushrooms.
Perry joined 1% for the Planet because “It’s the right thing to do, and aligns with our mission of placing our planet and product quality first.” In addition to donating 1% of his business profits to Angelic Organics Learning Center, Perry plans to get involved with us by attending programs and sending his children to our Farm Camp. He says he can’t wait to get dirty and learn!
Located in Northfield, Illinois, FuFlun’s Foods offers artisanally crafted adaptogenic herbs and fungi perfected in nature, not a laboratory. Their products are proven and appreciated by naturopathic doctors, acupuncturists, and some of the most discerning retailers in the world including California’s ultra-trendy Erewhon Market. Learn more about their practices and products at FuFlunsFoods.com.
Many campers come back year after year, and their parents will tell you why:
My son loves the animals and respects what happens on the farm. He enjoyed the work as much as the fun. This is an awesome experience for him and he loves returning each year.
My granddaughter attended and she learned so much! The experience encouraged her to learn more about farming, where food comes from, and what organic means, just to name a few. For me, there is nothing that has made me happier in the last year and a half than picking up a kid with a dirty face, mud up to their knees, red cheeks from the sun and a huge smile on their face! Best experience ever.
[We love the] opportunity for our children to: learn about sustainable farming, have unique and enriching experiences, and have camp experiences that are outside and with animals. Our children have immensely enjoyed each and every camp at Angelic Organics Learning Center, so much so we have donated to the center to keep it going and available to all.
Our spring and summer camp dates and pricing can be found here. We believe that every child should have the opportunity to attend camp. We are proud to have a scholarship fund through which we can make sure kids of all backgrounds have the chance to go to camp. If you would like more information on financial aid, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Letter from our Executive Director, January 2022
We may have struggled over the past few years through a dramatic expansion in facilities and programming, through drastic transition in staffing and leadership, and through a debilitating pandemic, but we sit at the cusp of the most promising year since I started in late 2019.
It’s 2022. Welcome to the Year of Glass!?
Each year the United Nations invites its member states to observe themed International Years in order to raise awareness around various topics which reaffirm, among other things, the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It’s a neat idea, and I can see how it could help spur governmental action to support sustainable development. 2022 is the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture, the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development, the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development, and the International Year of Glass.
There are suggestions for ways in which member states can celebrate each theme. Please note when it comes to celebrating glass, we’re invited to “to observe the International Year, in an appropriate manner and in accordance with national contexts and priorities, through activities aimed at raising awareness of and directing policy attention to the importance of glass in daily life.” In other words, make sure you keep the funny business to a minimum when it comes to glass, got it?
It’s 2022. Welcome to the Year of the Tiger!?
According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2022 is the Year of the Tiger. The Water Tiger, to be specific. The Tiger is known as the king of all beasts in China and can be a symbol for power and prestige, strength and braveness. The Tiger can also symbolize loneliness, however, because their strong personalities make it difficult to get along with others. Various internet sources say that the Water Tiger of 2022 implies a year of caution, growth, development, challenge, creation, and planning, and that babies born this year are predicted to be smart, humorous, and good at socializing, lucky when it comes to making money, and have a strong ability to adapt to new things. Wow!
It’s 2022. Welcome to the Year of the Learning Center!
Angelic Organics Learning Center is many things to many people. We’re farmer trainers. We’re food and farm educators. We’re urban farmers. We’re integral members of the communities we serve. We may have struggled over the past few years through a dramatic expansion in facilities and programming, through drastic transition in staffing and leadership, and through a debilitating pandemic, but we sit at the cusp of the most promising year since I started in late 2019.
We have a full calendar of programs ready to teach, charm and captivate, we have a strong and nearly complete staff team, we have a supportive Board of Directors, we have a fine-tuned Covid response and mitigation strategy, and we have a growing community of enthusiastic participants and supporters. Most importantly, we have the most beautiful vision, which we work toward with joy and celebration, every day of the year.
At Angelic Organics Learning Center, we envision a dynamic and enduring partnership between farmers and consumers who strive for economies, ecologies, and cultures that respect the land and honor the people who work it, know healthy food as a human right, celebrate the beauty and mysteries of life and the living earth, encourage authenticity and self-reliance and cooperation, and are sustainable over many generations.
It's 2022. Welcome to those of you who recently joined our community via our peer-to-peer fundraising campaign and welcome back to our important, steadfast supporters who’ve walked with us toward our vision for a long time. I wish you all a healthy, prosperous and very happy year.
Jackie de Batista, Executive Director
We are excited to share that two of our board members have stepped into new roles- Brad Kemp is now Board President, and Jamie Zimmerman is Vice President. Tina Williams will continue as Secretary, and Andy Larson as Treasurer. Brad and Jamie share why they joined and what they are looking forward to.