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Jessie Crow Mermel
Wild edibles, wild crafting, Angelic Organics Learning Center

Our Summer/Fall 2015 Let's Grow Calendar and Newsletter is at the printer, but you can get a sneak peak of it now! We are excited to offer many of our favorite classes again this year - like Cheesemaking and Animal Day for Families - but we also have many brand new offerings!

Jessie Crow Mermel

Unfortunately, bird flu is in the news again..and it's a serious concern for all poultry owners in the Mississippi Flyway, which includes Illinois. A strain of highly-pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), variant H5N2, has been discovered in numerous Midwestern states within the past month or so. This virus has not been transmitted to people or entered the food supply, but literally millions of chickens and turkeys have already died or been euthanized due to this disease. It has affected both large commercial operations and small backyard flocks, so it's time for every poultry owner in Illinois to take precautions and begin...

Liz Whitehurst

Zoe is one of our newest on-farm educators, and she is next up in our series "The Real Dirt on On-Farm Educators." Thanks to our Duffy intern Lauren Strug for putting this series together! Read on to learn more about Zoe!

Liz Whitehurst

This post is the next one in our series "The Real Dirt on On-Farm Educators", which was created by our Duffy Community Partnerships intern Lauren Strug to help the world get to know our On-Farm Educators. Read on the learn more about Neddy Astudillo, who is one of the co-founders of the Learning Center, as well as an On-Farm Educator.

Jessie Crow Mermel

Creeping Charlie and henbit are two kinds of “ground ivy” in the mint family, with bad reputations for taking over lawns and gardens with their spreading stems. BUT they are also some of the earliest food sources for spring pollinators and beneficial insect predators looking for nectar. AND when you sit quietly and look closely, their flowers are delicate and gorgeous miniature trumpets, offering welcome color before most other plants have started to green up from winter.

Jessie Crow Mermel
Make Moving Pictures, Pablo Korona, Yatte Moore, Tia Smith, Roots & Wings, Blackhawk Courts

Yatte Moore discovered two passions and talents in the past two years that he didn't know he possessed: farming and filmmaking. Yatte's brother Desmond Moore was working with Angelic Organics Learning Center at Blackhawk Courts Farm & Gardens and got his older brother involved. Farming wasn't easy work, but Yatte found that he was good at it. "It made me a man," Yatte explains of working on the farm.

He discovered he possessed another talent when he enrolled in Make Moving Pictures Film School, a project sponsored by Rockford Housing Authority (RHA), Community Foundation of Northern Illinois,...

Jessie Crow Mermel
Boreson Farms, organic farm, CRAFT, Wisconsin

The Learning Center’s Farmer Training Initiative would like to introduce the new participants in our Farm Asset Builder program for 2015, the second year of this program.  Farm Asset Builder is a matched savings account program in which participants’ savings toward an approved farm asset are matched in a two-to-one ratio while they participate in a customized menu of financial management education and technical assistance opportunities.

Penny Peterson, Wishful Acres Farm
“Wishful Acres Farm began as a "wish" over 10 years ago, and became a reality in 2009. Our small family farm consists of several acres...

Liz Whitehurst

This post is part of our series "The Real Dirt on On-Farm Educators" which was created by Lauren, our Duffy Community Partnerships intern from Beloit College, to help the world get to know our amazing team of On-Farm Educators a little bit better. Next up we have Mary - read on to learn more about her!

Spencer Ellsworth

Helloooo?  Spring?  Are you there, Spring? ...Anyone?  Oh!  There you are!  Don’t EVER scare me like that again!  We were SO WORRIED about you.  We at Roots & Wings are ready to get outdoors and make something good come out of our small piece of Earth.  

We planted our new apple, pear, plum and cherry trees, and we see the garlic popping up that we put in last fall.  Ms Janice has been flyering...

Liz Whitehurst

Jessie is next up on our series "The Real Dirt on On-Farm Educators" created by Lauren Strug, our Duffy Community Partnerships Intern from Beloit College. When she is not leading on-farm programs, Jessie is Communications Coordinator for Angelic Organics Learning Center, which means she's our social media maven, perennial photographer, primary graphic designer, chief storyteller, and coordinator of this blog. Learn more about Jessie here!

Jessie Crow Mermel

On Valentine’s Day 2015, a happy crowd gathered at the Chicago High School for Agriculture Sciences for the 3rd annual Urban Livestock Expo. Sponsored by Angelic Organics Learning Center with partners Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA) and the Chicagoland Chicken Enthusiasts, the Expo offered visitors intensive sessions on raising chickens, ducks, goats, rabbits, quails, honeybees, and solitary bees in their backyards.

    - Presenter Abe Lentner’s daughter Lucy showed off her ribbon-winning ducks.
    - Ryan Detwiler shared his enthusiasm for Coturnix quails (which he and husband Corey Gilson call “kitchen chickens”) while Corey greeted visitors eager...

    Jessie Crow Mermel
    good food festival, chicago, farm hack

    Grab your lunch and come join farmers from around the regional foodshed in an open session to share your best farm hacks: innovative techniques and tools that you've developed or discovered to save time, energy and, of course, money. From root washers to chicken feeders, discuss your best ideas and systems, and present your prickly problems to other farmers.

    Liz Whitehurst

    Next up in our blog series "The Real Dirt on On-Farm Educators" is Joe Haverly, one of our newest On-Farm Educators. We're lucky to have him! Thanks to our Duffy intern Lauren Strug, who put together this series, you can get to know Joe.

    Liz Whitehurst

    Here is the next installment in our ongoing series "The Real Dirt on On-Farm Educators." Our Duffy intern Lauren Strug from Beloit College is conducting interviews with members of our On-Farm Educator team so that you can get to know the people who make our On-Farm Initiative happen. Read on to meet Josh, one of the newest members of our team.

    The Rockford Urban Initiative announces its 2015 Cares & Shares CSA program, coordinated by our committed Youth Leaders! Our 10-week summer share provides you with clean, healthy, dazzling vegetables (and sometimes melons!) every Wednesday, all of which is grown, harvested, and packed by Rockford youth.

    Jessie Crow Mermel
    Snowy garden, George Washington Carver

    I find myself at the sleeping farm on 15th Ave in Rockford, Illinois. The scene and mood is sterile compared with the energy and hubbub of the summer growing season. I miss growing fresh vegetables, cooking with the youth leaders and the people that visit Blackhawk Courts Farm and Gardens. I try to wish the snow away, but then stop. Every season even a snowy winter is part of a grand scheme. Snowflakes as well as compost replenish our earth.

    Jessie Crow Mermel
    Jessica Rinks, Purple Leaf Farm, Beginning Farmer of the Year Awar

    Locally grown produce and agriculture has seen a recent surge in popularity. Consumers enjoy a fresh, sustainable, and often organic product that supports their local communities. This demand for local food has encouraged more young people to take up farming as a career. One of these farmers, Jessica Rinks of Purple Leaf Farms, will be recognized with the 3rd annual Beginning Farmer of the Year Award at the opening symposium of the Good Food Festival & Conference on Friday, March 20, 10:15 AM at Chicago’s UIC Forum.

    Liz Whitehurst


    This post is part of an ongoing blog series - The Real Dirt on On-Farm Educators - created by Lauren Strug, our Duffy Community Partnerships Intern from Beloit College. Although Deb’s primary work is overseeing all of our initiative as the Senior Program Director, she also leads on-farm programs. Keep reading to learn more about Deb!

    How long have you worked at Angelic Organics?

    I started in 2004, so I’m starting my twelfth year.

    What experiences inform your work at the Learning Center?

    I’m the...

    Liz Whitehurst
    Educator Randy using the cob oven at Angelic Organics Learning Center

    I’m Lauren and I am the Duffy Community Partnership intern at Angelic Organics Learning Center from Beloit College. I’m doing a series of interviews called “The Real Dirt on On-farm Educators” which highlight all the educators who teach classes at the Learning Center. Read on to learn more about On-Farm Educator, Randy!

    Liz Whitehurst
    Microgreens from Wishful Acres Farm

     For the second year in a row, we're holding two special cooking classes for Valentine's Day, and this year, I was determined to include a locally-sourced salad. Now, with a couple feet of snow on the ground and temperatures in the single digits, growing fresh salad greens in no small feat, and it turned out that sourcing them wasn't easy, either.

    I started by asking our co-workers in the Farmer Training Initiative if they knew of growers in the CRAFT Network doing season extension (using row cover,...

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