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Farms are Fundamental: Angelic Organics Learning Center presents at the Kellogg Forum

It's been a busy year for Angelic Organics Learning Center, including the man at the helm, our Executive Director, Tom Spaulding. In October, Tom travelled to Denver, Colorado to present at the Forum 2016: A Call for Leadership Action. The three-day event was sponsored by the Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance - a global network of leaders, activists, thinkers and doers. 

“Farms are the places where human beings negotiate their relationship with the living Earth,” said Tom.  “It’s fundamental. Human civilizations formed around farms. History shows that if we don’t get this relationship right, our future is bleak.  If we get it right, we have the foundation set for generations to come.”

Tom was invited to present on the mission and programs of the enterprises of Angelic Organics Association – the farm and learning center – as part of a full day intensive working group on the topic “Food Dilemmas: Production, Security and Health.”  Co-presenters included Chef Ann Cooper, founder of Chef Ann Foundation, Timothy LaSalle, former CEO of Rodale Institute, and Professor Bonnie Braun, University of Maryland School of Public Health. 

The group focused on the intersection of farming and health, lifting up and building on the examples shared from the Learning Center and other organizations.  The Learning Center shared its aim to regenerate agriculture using its quadruple bottom line as a measure – ecology, economy, equity and expression.  “A sustainable local food and farm system must incorporate all four elements of this quadruple bottom line,” asserted Tom Spaulding.  “Our approach builds out and scales up from the experience of a specific Biodynamic and community supported agriculture farm in northern Illinois.  We join with hundreds of farmers and thousands of eaters, as well as partners and allies in urban, suburban and rural communities who share in the goal of renewing our culture, economy and the land.”  The Learning Center’s program initiatives with farmers and eaters were shared as practical applications of this quadruple bottom line and models for replication or adaptation.

The working group spent considerable time the importance of living soils for the health of farms and human health.  Many industrial farming practices deplete soil life and erode soils, and thereby compromise the sustainability and health of farms and human beings. Tim LaSalle shared emerging soil science research that documents living soils fix dramatically more carbon than forests. In an era of climate chaos, a shift to farming practices that increase biological life in the soil may fix enough carbon to slow down and potentially reverse the rising temperatures from carbon in the atmosphere. For more on the science, visit the Carbon UndergroundThe working group developed an agenda for action and an invitation to the hundreds of Kellogg fellows to contribute to it.  Volunteers, participants and staff of Angelic Organics Association will be invited to contribute to this initiative.

The Forum featured speakers whose presentations contributed to a fuller understanding of the Learning Center’s holistic approach to agriculture (i.e., its quadruple bottom line), linking the question of whether children thrive to health policy, to economics, to ecology, and to equity.  The keynote address was on “Child Wellbeing in the Context of Violence” was given by James Bell, Founder and Executive Director of the W. Hayward Burns Institute. The Forum’s Matusak Courageous Leadership Award was given to Gail Small, an assistant professor of Native American Studies at Montana State University.  Gail’s Cheyenne name is Vehonnaut (“head chief woman”) and she grew up on the reservation near Lame Deer, MT.   There, she founded Native Action, which established the first bank, public high school, and chamber of commerce on the reservation.  She is widely acclaimed for her work on the intersection of culture, resource management and environment. 

We are immensely proud of you, Tom Spaulding, not only for incorporating regenerative agriculture practices into our own local food & farm system, but for sharing our work and philosophies with other organizations and institutions. The more we learn and connect, the greater impact we will have on creating a healthier earth and food system for everyone.