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Eco Advocates Visit Rock River Valley Food Pantry

The Eco Advocates is a Comprehensive Community Solutions program in partnership with the AOLC Urban Initiative Roots & Wings network. The Eco Advocates vocational preparatory program for young adults combines academics, training in green technology and urban agriculture, life skills, leadership development, and community service. 

Last year, the Eco Advocates grew organic vegetables at the Tinker Swiss Cottage gardens and sold them at the Rockford City Market.  This year, they will be starting a CSA and are exploring other ways they can be of service in the community. They are...

Honey Bees

By Deb Crockett, Senior Program Director

If you think winter has been hard on you, be glad you aren’t a honeybee!  The more that I learn about honeybees, the more amazed I am by their strategies and adaptations to make it through the winter.   Clustered in a tight group the size of a softball, the worker bees rotate from the inside to the outside to maintain the temperature of the core, protecting the queen from winter chills. 

 I am always eager, on a warm winter’s day, to check the hives to see if there is any activity.  The bees “hold...

Cassie and Mike Noltnerwyss of Crossroads Community Farm

The 2013 Upper Midwest CRAFT Field Day Schedule got off to an early start this year, with our first on-farm event at Crossroads Community Farm in Cross Plains, Wisconsin. Owner and farmer Mike Noltnerwyss hosted 12 CRAFT members on January 29th for an informative and valuable afternoon of conversing about organic vegetable production.

John Hendrickson of Stone Circle Farm moderated the discussions, which focused on seven crops: onions, sweet peppers, cucumbers, melons, broccoli, tomatoes and ginger. For each crop the farmers chimed in about the experiences they’ve had and obstacles they’ve faced in regards to seed varieties,...

Lexicon of Sustainability:  Farmer John

Unless we are outside traversing a nature trail, we are continually inundated with words and images.  These messages point the way, give directions, attempt to sell products or ideas, tell stories, and inspire us.  Artist Douglas Gayeton understands the power of images and words to help us understand, inspire us, and give us direction.  He recognizes that in order to work toward sustainability in the world, people need to understand what sustainable words mean; that people need a Lexicon of Sustainability.

He and his wife Laura Howard Gayeton set out on a three-year journey across...

A Permaculture-inspired vegetable garden

The term sustainability is getting used more frequently, but what do we really need to create sustainability in our world?

Altfrid Krusenbaum of Krusengrass Farm

In 2013, Angelic Organics Learning Center (AOLC) and the Upper Midwest CRAFT farmer alliance will recognize four beginning farmers and one farmer mentor who have been outstanding leaders, innovators or community-builders in the northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin region.  

Farmers are invited to nominate their farm by creating and submitting a video by February 25, 2013. Five cash prizes will be awarded during a public ceremony to be held on Friday, March 15 at the Good Food Festival in Chicago.   

A $1,000 honorarium will go to the "Beginning Farmer of the Year" spotlighted for recognition by...

Buttercup

By: Jessie Crow Mermel, On-Farm Educator 

Although this farm was once a dairy farm, there hadn’t been cows here in decades until 2007, when Buttercup and her daughter Maizy, two Scottish Highland cows, were brought here from Little Creek Farm in Wisconsin. These two beautiful cows contributed to providing entertainment and beauty to visitors as well as the all-important fertilizer for the farm. 

On June 8th, 2009, my children stood by me, along with families from a home school overnight, to watch as Maizy gave birth to a male calf, Mai. She needed some assistance from Executive Director Tom Spaulding and...

This summer, the youth leaders applied for and received a grant of $2,000 from the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, which allowed them to develop and launch a new free CSA program for low-income seniors in their neighborhood.

Bill Mitchell in the garlic fields

With a busy season coming to a close, Angelic Organics Learning Center's Farmer Training team has been pouring over evaluations and surveys from the past several months. In reviewing our fall CRAFT survey, we noticed the success of many Stateline Farm Beginnings® graduates and asked several to share their stories. Here is what Bill and Angie Mitchell of 3 Flat Acres had to say.

Angelic Organics Learning Center (AO): How did you get into farming as a career?

3 Flat Acres (3FA): First we must note that farming is not our only career.  Angie maintains a...

Altfrid Krusenbaum introducing his dairy herd

The fount of knowledge that flowed from Altfrid Krusenbaum’s lips in two and a half hours was staggering. Delivered with a casual, down-to-earth and generous demeanor, the CRAFT farmers in attendance soaked up Altfrid’s counsel on a brisk day in early October at Krusen Grass Farms in Elkhorn, Wisconsin

The CRAFT Field Day opened with Altfrid backgrounding us in the operations of a seasonal pasture-based dairy farm—a rarity in his field, as most dairy farmers choose the constant cash flow that accompanies year-round calving. However, at Krusen Grass the clear beginning and ending of tasks that seasonality brings...

by Jessie Crow Mermel and Randy Mermel, AOLC On-Farm Educators

 

Angelic Organics shareholders, families, local community members, volunteer naturalists, birders, photographers and water scientists teamed up with Farmer John Peterson, some farm crew members and the Angelic Organics Learning Center team on a beautiful September afternoon. We celebrated our participation in human and non-human community with a Bioblitz on the new 70 acres in Caledonia, IL.  The purpose of a Bioblitz is for scientists, naturalists, and volunteers to spend a day intensively cataloging all plant and animal species found on a given area.  We spent the day from 9...

Thank you to our awesome crew of volunteers from Danfoss and United Way of Rock River Valley. The group of 9 volunteers came last week to help us get the 70 acres of Kinnikinnick Fields ready for our big BioBlitz event on Sept. 15. 

 

 

The crew trimmed branches, helped clear trails, and set up the goat demo area and picnic tables for the event. They even learned how goats help clear invasive species from the wooded areas. Everyone had a great time despite the rain! We hope to see you all again soon! 

Sampling a Hmong farmer's cucumbers at Fondy Farm Project

After sharing a meal and warm greetings, the 31 farmers and farmer enthusiasts that convened at Fondy Farm Project circled up and settled in for a conversation on cooperative agriculture models. Led by Stephen Petro of Fondy Farm Project and Jay Salinas of the Wormfarm, both men gave a summary of their experiences working at incubators and facilitating the sharing of information and resources among farmers. Before diving into the nuances of these models, “farm incubators” were defined by the presenters as a place for beginning farmers to get started and from which they eventually graduate and move...

Presenter Kathy Ruhf from Land for Good

On the afternoon of Monday, July 30th, a dozen farmers and community members convened at the AOLC farm office to participate in a land tenure workshop and dialogue lead by Kathy Ruhf, Co-Director of Land for Good, a New England-based not-for-profit that works with landowners, land managers and entering farmers to keep “working lands working.”

The group was small enough to allow for ample discussion and feedback on participants’ personal land use situations. Beginning farmers were in attendance, seeking short- and mid-term alternatives to the cost of land purchase. Established farmers asked questions about farm expansion, farm relocation...

Danny Frohman, Wash/Pack Coordinator at Tempel Farms Organics

It's not every day that you hear, "When I grow up, I want to be a farmer..." but the staff at Angelic Organics Learning Center hears this sentiment often. Some individuals find fulfillment in growing food for themselves in their gardens in an effort to be more self-sustaining, or simply for the satisfaction of undeniably fresh produce. Others are looking for a safe and healthy place to raise a family and are drawn to opportunities for learning through interactions with animals and the natural world. Chicago resident Danny Frohman needed a change of pace...

Cedar Valley's chicken pens

Old and new friends alike gathered at Beth and Jody Osmunds’ farm, Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm, outside of Ottawa, IL in late-June for a hearty potluck and a tour of their 80-acre farm. One of the first meat CSAs serving the Chicago area, Beth and Jody have been refining their operation since they first started serving the market for sustainably raised meat products in 2002

 Born June 26th

Silver/Gray Color

Scottish Highland

Mothered by Melody, one of our white Scottish Highland cows

Joel Kellum identifying trees in the edible food forest.

On Saturday May 19th the first CRAFT Field Day of the season took place at King’s Hill Farm. Hosts Joel and Jai Kellum gave a thorough introduction to permaculture activities taking place on their farm to a large group of CRAFT interns, Stateline Farm Beginnings students and other CRAFT member farms: Freedom Organix, Radical Root Farm and Tempel Farms Organics

King’s Hill Farm, located outside of Mineral Point, WI, is situated on 830 acres of rolling hills and fertile fields. With 10 years of experience in organic produce farming, the Kellums have rejuvenated the land and had 4...

Spring-like weather has brought rounds of kids (human and goat!) to the Learning Center over the past two weeks.  Our grand total of goats for the season is now 40: 10 mothers, 23 kids, 3 yearling does, 2 bucks, 2 angoras.  Nearly 40 children joined those 40 goats over the past three weeks for our spring break Kids with Kids day camps.  We gave the last group of campers the challenge of learning as many names as possible for all of the goats. 

I’m glad to announce our winner: camper Dorie, who did an outstanding job identifying over...

Roots & Wings Youth Leaders harvest fresh vegetables from their gardens to sell at farmers' markets and donate to their community

Congratulations to the Roots & Wings Youth Leaders on their recent grant from the In Youth We Trust grant program of the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois.

 
The Roots & Wings Youth Leaders, part of the Learning Center's Urban Initiative in Rockford, are a group of teens who work together to plan, plant, tend, harvest, cook, and sell vegetables from urban gardens in Rockford. Youth Leaders are role models for younger gardeners in our Urban Initiative, and often speak at public events in Rockford.

 
In Youth We Trust is a youth philanthropy program of...

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