New Partnership: Rockford Art Deli
Almost everything about the Rockford Art Deli business has environmental intention behind it- from the supplies used in the shop to trying to only buy from vendors and suppliers that show how and where products are made. Jarrod is also a founder of Allmade Apparel, an ethically sourced and environmentally friendly shirt company, and about 80% of Rockford Art Deli shirts are Allmade. Jarrod is always on the hunt for products to sell in the shop that are made from recycled materials.
The Rockford Art Deli has been printing shirts for our summer camps for years. Jarrod first visited Angelic Organics Learning Center in the summer of 2021 where he fell in love with our mission and our spaces. Jarrod took the opportunity to sponsor our Farm Dinner, which sealed the deal for him. He says, “What a magical place that more people should know about and experience.”
We are so grateful for eco-minded business leaders like Jarrod who are investing in our community. To learn more about Jarrod’s story of starting the Rockford Art Deli, visit their website.
In 2008, we began planning and making trails on the 70 acres of woodlands that are nestled between our Lodge and Angelic Organics Farm. Our staff and volunteers have been working for years to remove invasive plants in order to liberate the native oak trees and restore balance in our woodlands. Although removing honeysuckle by hand is physically and personally rewarding, this is perhaps the slowest method of ecosystem restoration.
Thanks to a generous donation, we were able to hire Bluestem Ecological Services to use their tools on our land. They drove a brush mower over the flattest areas and took down large invasive trees that block sunlight and steal nutrients from native plants. Although the land looks a bit barren now, the woods will be lush and green again in just a few weeks.
Our plan for the future of the woodland includes continuing our regular volunteer restoration work days, reintroducing fire as a natural maintenance tool, using our livestock to graze invasive resprouters, and planting more native species in the areas that have been opened up.
If you’re looking for a sign that it’s time to turn your farm dream into reality, this is it!
Stateline Farm Beginnings® is farmer led, community based, and rooted in sustainable agriculture. Cultivating a diverse network of aspiring and beginning farmers, the program gives participants a leg up in achieving viable farm dreams and fosters the growth of the regional farm leaders of the future.
Stateline Farm Beginnings® is a yearlong course, with 100+ hours of interactive class time and three courses: Farm Dreams Intensive
Cohort 1: January to March | Cohort 2: May to July
Skill Building Practicum
Cohort 1: March to October | Cohort 2: July to October
Farm Business Intensive
Cohorts 1 & 2: October to December
To learn more or apply for Cohort 2, visit our Stateline Farm Beginnings® page.
We are excited about the upcoming season. We have scoured through the many seed catalogs, marveled at the beautiful vegetables inside, narrowed our selections down and now we wait with anticipation for them to arrive. While waiting, we recently received a generous gift that makes us very excited for the growing season.
Tomato Bob is a family-run seed farm located in Hilliard, Ohio that has been growing for over 20 years. They offer high quality, unique heirloom seeds to local areas and they ship to various farm communities across the midwest. Tomato Bob and his family believe in helping farm communities as well. For the 2022 farming season, the family has donated various vegetable seeds to our Urban Farm, Roots & Wings. Thank you to Tomato Bob and his family for their contribution to our youth development through urban agriculture!
The seeds donated to Roots & Wings include eggplant, radish, swiss chard, tomato, cabbage, arugula, lettuce, beet, honeydew melon, squash, carrot, and broccoli. To learn more or order your own seeds from Tomato Bob, visit their website.
Thank you to all who have purchased or donated a CSA share from Roots & Wings. We still have a few summer and fall shares available- details here.
Tedd, Program Director of Roots & Wings and Yatte, Urban Farm Manager at Roots & Wings
Our MOSES Adventure
The Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education and Service (MOSES) is a nonprofit organization that provides education, resources and expertise to organic and sustainable farmers. A cornerstone of their work is the annual MOSES Organic Farming Conference, the country’s largest conference on organic and sustainable farming, which takes place in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
Our native Floridian Farmer Training Program Coordinator, now frost-hardy upper Midwest transplant, Ritchie reported that he had “an immensely enjoyable time.” Not only was this the most time he has spent within leek-swinging distance with his organizational family since moving north, this was also the first time since the pandemic began that he had been in close company with so many immeasurably diverse food system people who have aligned and overlapping purposes, perspectives, and experiences. He thoroughly enjoyed learning about the use of topographically-tailored, wooded riparian buffers in surface water management. He was deeply grateful for the candor and solidarity within BIPOC sessions. And he was intrigued by both old and young farmer approaches towards, and their visions of, post-capitalist economies and organizations centered around informal currencies.
“Thanks again to the joyful people with whom we made and shared meals, those we’ve journeyed far with in confined spaces, the late-night visitors, friends we’ve bickered loudly amongst regarding horoscope accuracies, jousted sarcastically against over friendship rankings, cooperatively faced eviction with in light of food pairings, and confronted on all planes of over-amiability including the howling embarrassment of drooling mid-speech. Let’s all do better next year." - Ritchie
How did you get started?
I grew up surrounded by nature and animals in Michigan. My parents had a small hobby farm where my mom raised sheep and we had a mischievous goat named Sundance that I loved. A graduate school program brought me to Chicago for an internship and after graduation I took a job in the city. I always felt like something was not quite right and I missed open spaces, nature and animals. Eventually, I was able to change jobs and work in the suburbs. I was drawn to a Conservation Community in Grayslake called Prairie Crossing where at the heart of the neighborhood was a working organic farm. I met many local small farmers from living there and became passionate about local food in the Chicagoland area. Soon after moving there, I applied to a farm business development program that was offered at the farm. Most of the other beginning farmers there were growing vegetables, but I was super drawn to goats and all of the different products you could make from their milk and fiber. I never thought that I would be accepted into the program because I did not have degrees or a real background in agriculture. I was so excited when I was accepted. I purchased three goats as soon as I was accepted and the herd slowly grew from there! My husband and father-in-law built me a small barn on wheels where I could move the goats from pasture to pasture with portable electrical net fencing. I spent four years in the program before moving to Pecatonica and purchasing my own land and farm to build a dairy to make cheese.
What are your proudest achievements?
Our soap was featured on Oprah’s website in 2011 as one of her perfect presents. In addition, our soap was carried nationwide in Crate & Barrel stores for a one year contract. The biggest achievement was purchasing our own farm and figuring out how to build a certified dairy and a creamery!
Do you have advice for someone who wants to start farming?
My advice would be to keep your day job as long as you can. There is a tremendous amount of money that you will need to start a farming enterprise with unexpected costs when buying farm land or building infrastructure. Make friends in your community if moving to a rural place. You need your neighbors in the country! Find a good livestock veterinarian. They are worth their weight in gold and hard to find. You always end up needing one during kidding season in the middle of the night.