Special thank you to On-Farm Program Director Laura Sjoquist and On-Farm Educators Jessie Crow Mermel and Randy Mermel for their leadership.
“Eating is an agricultural act,” said Wendell Berry, the famed farmer-advocate, environmentalist and writer. It was a quote that Jackie de Batista, Angelic Organic Learning Center’s Executive Director, emphasized during her address kicking off our “Welcome to the Farm” fundraising dinner on Saturday, August 21st.
This quote captures the vision fueling our programs — which help local, sustainable producers in our region learn, grow and connect with the eaters who benefit from the nutritious, delicious food they produce. The consummate act of eating is not something separate and apart from agriculture; it is the end of a process that is inextricably linked to the farm.
Jackie expressed her gratitude to the attendees for their financial support, which is critical for Angelic Organics Learning Center to overcome the unprecedented challenges of the past year and a half. She became Executive Director in November 2019 with experience as a farm educator (10 years at 4-H Youth Development Educator with University of Illinois Extension in Rockford) and farmer (she and her husband own Irish Grove Farms, a sustainable livestock operation in Pecatonica).
Just four months into her tenure, the COVID crisis hit, disrupting our in-person programming and requiring a pivot to online for the Stateline Farm Beginnings “Farm Dreams Intensive” program. Jackie is grateful for the determination of our staff and volunteers who continue to build a stronger, thriving local food system.
Dinner attendees gathered at tables under a tent, which came in handy during a rain shower that punctuated the otherwise beautiful summer evening. They dined on Moules Salad (featuring mussels, potatoes and greens), Jungle Curry (a Thai-inspired vegan dish using vegetable scraps that often go to waste), and a lemon-blueberry tart created by The Norwegian restaurant of Rockford. Owner Emily Hurd Christensen and Chef Dom Romano spoke at the dinner about their dedication to Good Food values. Before and after dinner, guests enjoyed live music performed by the quartet Trillium.
Angelic Organics Learning Center thanks the Rockford Art Deli, a print and design company, for sponsoring the event; New Holland Brewing Co. and Candid Wines for donating their excellent beverages; Bob Benenson, who covered the event for his Local Food Forum newsletter; and our goats and chickens for entertaining the guests by just being themselves.