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New Year, New Roles at Angelic Organics Learning Center!


Dear Friends of Angelic Organics Learning Center,

As we enter 2018, we are grateful for your support and the support from our community of friends, partners, and funders who made this year’s success possible.  We are inspired by the thousands of people -- farmers and eaters -- who participated in our programs and learned new skills to help them grow, get, and eat good food.  Together, we are building a local sustainable food and farm system. 

We are thrilled to announce two leadership changes in the Angelic Organics family effective February 1, 2018.  Both are part of a thoughtfully planned two-year transition led by the Board and senior staff to position the organization for its next phase of growth and development. 

Tom Spaulding, founding Executive Director, will move from his position of 20 years at the Learning Center to assume leadership of Angelic Organics Association (AOA) - the umbrella organization and community land trust for the Angelic Organics Farm and Learning Center.  Tom will lead AOA as it protects the land in perpetuity for organic/biodynamic agriculture, farming education and land regeneration.

We are equally excited to announce that Debra Crockett, a 15-year Learning Center professional, is promoted to Executive Director effective on February 1.  Deb is a farmer, naturalist, and educator, and most recently served as the Learning Center’s Associate Executive Director.  Deb is a proven leader, providing program direction in varying capacities at the Learning Center since 2004.  In her tenure, she served as a Program Director for the Rockford and On-Farm educational program initiatives, and from 2013-2016 provided management support for all of the organization’s program areas as Senior Program Director.  In early 2016, to prepare for succession, Deb was promoted to Associate Executive Director and widened her leadership roles to include the organization’s annual operations and direction of support staff.  

As founding Executive Director and chief architect of the Learning Center, Tom envisioned, launched, and sustained programs to prepare the next generation of sustainable farmers and the eaters who support the local sustainable food and farm economy.  His leadership was instrumental in transforming the Learning Center from a group of volunteers based out of a chicken coop to the nearly $2 million dollar organization it is today.  The farm campus has grown from the original 23-acre community supported farm to the current 200-acre home farm in Caledonia, the Eat to Live Incubator Farm and Learning Gardens in Chicago, and the Blackhawk Courts Farm & Garden in Rockford.

Throughout, Tom grounded the Learning Center’s mission and programs within the context of a vibrant community-supported and biodynamic farm.  With Tom’s leadership, we have been a foundational player in regenerating agriculture in our region, renewing relationships among people, the land and each other, and seeding the field with leaders -- farmers and eaters -- in both urban and rural contexts.  We are profoundly grateful for Tom’s vision and dedication to building the Learning Center as a vehicle to build a local sustainable food and farm economy.  

The Learning Center’s accomplishments in the past year are a tribute to Tom and Deb’s partnership and leadership.  Our work has positioned us for growth and adaptation in a rapidly changing food and farm landscape.  With your support, we:

  • Launched the Lodge.  Officially opened the Angelic Organics Lodge - our new facility for multi-day farm stays.

  • Launched the Eat to Live Incubator Farm in Chicago. Welcomed Cedillo's Fresh Produce as the first farmers on our Eat to Live Incubator Farm at 71st and Princeton.  They sold their vegetables and herbs at five farmers markets throughout the city.

  • Expanded our Rockford Training Farm. Extended the Roots & Wings CSA in Rockford to include a Fall share.  Apprentices and Youth Leaders helped the Rockford staff team grow, harvest and pack fall veggies for the 4-week extended share.  

  • Opened a path to farming for Military Vets. Expanded opportunities for military veterans to participate in our farmer training programs, by providing veterans with scholarships, and launching a new pilot program - Take Root.

Looking to the future, Deb and the board will engage the Learning Center’s constituencies and stakeholders to shape the Learning Center’s next organizational strategic plan. Throughout this process, we will continue to be guided by our mission to build local sustainable food and farm systems.  

Thank you again for a wonderful year.  We look forward to working with you to map our way forward to regenerate agriculture and connect thousands more people with good food, farms, the land, and each other.

If you would like to connect with us, feel welcome to reach me at 773-710-1588 or marykhoury1968@gmail.com, or Deb at 815-389-8455 ext. 153 or deb@learngrowconnect.org.  Hope to see you on the farm, in the garden, and around the kitchen table soon!

Best regards,

Mary Khoury

Board President
Angelic Organics Learning Center