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Integrating Livestock into Vegetable Operations Field Day

By Meg Augustine, Farm Finance Program Coordinator

It was one of the first great, sunny, spring days of the year when CRAFT Farmers gathered with Matt and Peg Schaeffer in Monroe, Wisconsin to learn about Sandhill Family Farms' efforts to incorporate livestock into their vegetable farming operations. Sandhill Family Farms operates a well-known community supported agriculture (CSA) farm that serves the Chicago area, and Matt and Peg’s family recently obtained a herd of sheep to diversify the farm's offerings to customers in the fall.

Field day participants eagerly listened while Matt explained the importance of protecting and maintaining pasture in...

Summer camp season is upon us! We're getting ready for the best summer ever, full of farm-fresh snacks, adventures with goats and chickens, hikes through the woods, artworks by creative kids and so much more.  Check out our summer camp mini-gallery below for a taste of what's coming up on the farm.

And don't miss out! There are still a few spots left in some camps. Sign up now!

Roots & Wings, Urban Agriculture, Urban Farm, Urban Garden, Youth Leader, Angelic Organics Learning Center

As we quickly approach the beginning of the June, I am reminded that only few weeks ago we had an accumulation snow on the ground (Brrrrr….). Over the last few months much work has been done at the Roots & Wings Youth Farm and the Blackhawk Courts Farm and Garden in preparation for the growing season.

Over the years, Nellie has shown numerous goats at 4-H competitions and won many blue ribbons. She has also taken the Farm Leadership Camp several years, volunteered her help at many day camps (see photo below of her handing out hand-made gold medals for the farm Olympics she created), and currently works on the livestock crew. This summer, Nellie will be starting as a Junior On Farm Educator and helping share her immense knowledge of the livestock and her passion for farming with young kids.

Farm Beginnings Farm Finance Program Coordinator Meg Augustine Angelic Organics

Sunshine (well intermittent sunshine at least-- oh the joys of an Illinois spring), fresh air, happy goats, proud, industrious farmers, and a welcoming, knowledgeable staff. In a phrase, this has been my experience since the beginning of May when I took on the role of farm finance program coordinator at Angelic Organics Learning Center. What a fantastic, dedicated group of people. The enthusiasm is contagious, and the proximity of my office to the vegetable fields has given me an unexpected, yet welcomed round-the-clock craving for vegetables.

Angelic Organics CSA Rockford Chicago organic biodynamic vegetables

Angelic Organics CSA Rockford Chicago organic biodynamic vegetablesIf you love fresh, organic vegetables, Angelic Organics CSA Farm delivers to Chicago and Rockford, to a site conveniently located near you. Imagine, fresh from our fields, a Peak Season share with luscious sweet corn, vine ripe tomatoes, succulent peppers, glowing eggplant, sweet melons…then the fall crops: broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, winter squash…

By Kellie Laurson, On-Farm Initiative Program Assistant

As the clay seeped through the spaces between my toes, I felt connected.

Straw. Sand. Manure. Water. Hands. Feet. Heart.

This is the recipe for community as taught to me last weekend at a cob workshop, facilitated and hosted by Randy and Jessie Mermel, two of our beloved On-Farm Educators. I’ve had the opportunity to be at the Learning Center daily for over 2 years now as on-farm staff. The spirit of the place keeps me coming back. I love our food. I love our animals. I love our...

By Tom Spaulding, Executive Director

I am deeply saddened to report to you that Maizy the cow, the matriarch of the Learning Center's herd of Scottish Highland cattle, passed away this morning at 9 am. 

The cause of death is still unknown.  The vet took blood samples on Friday night and we will see if they reveal any information this coming week.  This all happened very suddenly.  Wednesday last week, she seemed normal.  Then, on Thursday, she had difficulty walking and little appetite, so I called the vet.  He discovered she had a prolapsed uterus and...

This blog was reprinted with permission from The Call of the Land by Stephen McFadden. In April, Vandana Shiva visited Angelic Organics. She quotes Farmer John in this lecture in Kansas City.

Last month, Roots & Wings Youth Leaders met with Beloit College students and Vandana Shiva at Beloit College. The Youth Leaders presented information about youth-led urban agriculture to the college students and then participated in a round-table discussion with esteemed activist, Dr. Vandana Shiva. See what the Youth Leaders thought about the experience.

By Shelbie Blank, Farmer Training Program Assistant

    Monday, April 21st CRAFT members gathered at Montalbano Farms to get a detailed look into Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification. It was a warm, windy day, threatening rain, so—first things first—farm tour! Farmer Christina Goy and Farmer Camelia Minasian guided the group past the barns out back to the hoophouses and 96’x30’ greenhouse. Christina spoke about GAP standards required for greenhouses, hoophouses, and also the fields. She also answered questions and told us about their farm’s newly acquired land; mending soils that were previously farmed conventionally and reverting them back into organic....

The weather vane on top of the cupola of the timber frame barn here at the Learning Center does not sport the common farm animals, like roosters or pigs. This particular weathervane is adorned with dolphins.

Angelic Organics Learning Center's Chicago Program Director Martha Boyd, who moderates the Chicagoland Chicken Enthusiasts, staffed a table for CCE at the 12th Ward's Green Fair in McKinley Park on April 11.

The Blackhawk Buddy House has been packed the last two days with eggcellent crafts. On Thursday, the younger children dyed eggs with natural dyes, made with coffee, tumeric, onion skins, cumin, cabbage and hibiscus flowers. Over 38 children came from Blackhawk Courts housing project to dye their eggs. It was a bustling kitchen!

Practitioners of farmer training in Illinois – farmers, educators and others from farmer associations, community colleges, nonprofits, universities, farm incubators, university extension, state and federal agencies, and more – are invited to gather and consider questions critical to our local food and farm economy on April 14th.

We in the On-Farm Initiative are so excited about a special course we're offering at the end of this summer. For the first time, we're hosting a 10-day Permaculture Design Certificate class. We hope that this unique, intensive course will inspire and equipment students with all kinds of skills and knowledge for taking care of the earth and creating healthy, resilient food systems. (You can register here!)

We're welcoming Wayne Weiseman of the Permaculture Project to the farm as our instructor. To get to know him a bit better, we asked him some questions about his...

When I received a text at 2:41 PM saying Nike was in labor, I was sad that we were going to miss the birth of yet another baby goat! Little did I know that we would do more than witness the miracle of a birth, but assist in a complicated delivery.

We’ve all changed just a little bit in the off-season, and grown outward, upward, or inwardly. Youth Leaders and apprentices who were, before, slightly tentative, have stepped forward with a fresh confidence and focus. Younger youth, like Kijuan, have started to craft their special, unique-snowflake selves and shown us how they can be a valuable part of the team.

Look who arrived with the spring weather!

See who won the Beginning Farmer of the Year Award and Mentor Farmer of the Year Award at the Good Food Festival!

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