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Call for nominations for the Second Annual Beginning Farmer of the Year Recognition, sponsored by the Upper Midwest CRAFT farmer alliance and Angelic Organics Learning Center.

On November 26th residents of Blackhawk Courts gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving—farm style. This multi-generational family event brought over thirty people together to create & cook an assortment of pies. Prior to the event, pie-making participants decided about what type of pies they would like to make with fruit, nuts or vegetables.  In response to popular demand, pecan and banana cream pies were added to the menu. Other taste sensations included sweet potato and apple fillings, both of which were grown or gathered locally by the farm crew at Blackhawk Courts. The theme of the night was “let’s bake and eat...

Not only do farmers require ingenuity and creativity in dealing with issues that arise on the farm, today's modern small-scale, organic farmers must possess this same level of ingenuity when it comes to marketing and selling their products. Farmers must set themselves apart, create an edge in the market. As a 5-foot-tall, spunky, single woman farmer with long dreadlocks, Andy Hazzard naturally stands out.

On September 24th, we received a phone call at Angelic Organics Roots & Wings office from someone wondering if our organization was interested in harvesting some organically grown apples and pears. The call was given to me and the warm voice on the other end belonged to Joan Sabin of Rockton, Illinois. I responded with a resounding “YES!”

Imagine this scenario: as you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with your family, you begin to realize that each dish has a story.* Perhaps it’s a story about the farmer who grew your mashed potatoes or the friend who gave you his cranberry sauce recipe.

Now imagine: your kids made half the dishes on your Thanksgiving table - so they’re the ones leading the storytelling. They’re sharing tips for proofing yeast and laughing about how they almost spilled the filling as they put the pumpkin pie...

By Justin Farr, Farm Finance Program Coordinator

The Upper Midwest CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training) just finished our final field day of the season! We had an amazing field day focused on animal processing and pasture management that took place at two locations. We started the morning at Eickman’s Processing Facility where we were able to witness the complete slaughtering process, starting with the kill floor. It was a very eye-opening experience for everyone there. I was worried about observing a cow getting slaughtered, but I left with a sense of calm, thinking that these guys are doing it the...

Applications are available today! Please review details of the program online and take the eligibility quiz to see if you qualify for the program. Applications are due by November 30th, 2013 and can be found here.

By Vernice King, Eat2Live Garden Volunteer

 

Taco Bell? ...at a community garden event?

Hecky Yeah!  Its vegetarian, delicious, and economical. This copy cat recipe of Taco Bell's Catina Bowl has been a really big hit for my family. A simple google search for each of the components makes this meal extremely affordable and even more delicious than the restaurant's version. This salad sells for about $8 at TB. I'll bet that you can serve your whole family for that amount. I'll also bet that you already have most of these ingredients in your kitchen already. Feel free to...

Eat2Live, Harvest Dinner, Englwood, Chicago

By L. Anton Seals Jr., Project Coordinator, Chicago Urban Initiative

 

Project Coordinator, Urban Initiative
Project Coordinator, Urban Initiative
Project Coordinator, Urban Initiative

As the summer season came to a close, Eat2Live celebrated the new fall season with food, music and great dialogue at the 1st annual Community Harvest Dinner. With over 50 participants, and help from the University of Chicago’s community service center, the dinner was a great success. We pitched a tent and set the tables in the...

This year in Rockford we expanded the farm operation at Blackhawk Courts Farm and Garden significantly, increasing both productivity and community activity.  As the season winds down, we will soon enter a planning and visioning process with Blackhawk leadership to collectively envision the future of the farm. 

There is always so much to do. Many days, my to-do list seems to grow longer rather than shorter.  Lately, I have been finding myself mindlessly eating in front of my computer at lunch or skipping lunch all together.  Yesterday, I didn’t have time to eat lunch or dinner and I knew it was time for an intervention.

Today I packed some lettuce from my Angelic Organics CSA box and harvested some zebra tomatoes and purple peppers from the Learning Center garden.  I did not attempt to multi-task as I prepared my food.  Instead, I quieted myself and focused on...

By Liz Whitehurst, Program Director, On Farm Initiative

 

Dave Kostka is one of our original On-Farm Educators. When he is on the farm, you're likely to find him identifying insects or sharing his expansive knowledge of nature and agriculture through jokes and stories. When he isn't on the farm, you'll likely find him at his own market garden, where he grows tomatoes, herbs, corn, and more for a farmer's market.

One of his favorite things to grow is corn: not the genetically modified stuff that many farmers in our area grow, but heritage varieties. Besides sweet corn and popcorn,...

Danica Hoehn
Program Director, Roots & Wings Network

 

We cooked together in the rain last Wednesday at Blackhawk Courts Farm & Gardens in Rockford, IL. Folks ran home
from the outdoor cooking session & came back donning big umbrellas to shelter the cooks as they roasted green
tomatoes, garlic, green onions, & all kinds of peppers on the three burner propane stove.

The plan: transform simple garden fresh ingredients into salsa, then salsa to chili chilaquiles, and then salsa to soup.
Ambitious & just like personal transformation, it was messy and mysterious. The final...

Trogg's Hollow, Chris Prchal, Stateline Farm Beginnings, CRAFT

Trogg's Hollow, Chris Prchal, Stateline Farm Beginnings, CRAFTWhen Chris and Marcy Prchal started a family, they decided to go into farming. They weren’t aiming to strike it rich; they simply wanted to provide for their family of six, give their children a meaningful upbringing, and support the community with sustainably grown, real food.

Thank you to everyone who submitted photos for the Farm Photo Contest!  We received many beautiful entries and it was interesting to view all the different perspectives of the farm.  You can enjoy all of the submissions on our Facebook page

milkweed

By Martha Boyd, Program Director, Urban Initiative, Chicago

This summer, at the Eat to Live Garden in Englewood, many Yale Elementary School students knew about the connection between common milkweed and Monarch butterflies, who lay their eggs on milkweed plants. When a Monarch caterpillar hatches, it eats milkweed leaves until it forms a chrysalis and -- if all goes well -- becomes an adult butterfly and continues on its journey.

 

I saw only one or two Monarchs this early summer when the milkweeds were starting to flower in the Eat to Live Garden -- but they attracted many other...

Farmer John from Angelic Organics Farm discusses his methods to weed prevention.

By Jenny Meyer, Program Director of Farmer Training Initiative

Program Director of Farmer Training Initiative
Program Director of Farmer Training Initiative

On Tuesday, August 6th the Upper Midwest CRAFT (Collaborative Farmer Alliance for Farmer Training) fulfilled an objective conceived by C.R.A.F.T.’s steering committee last November: offer an extended field day that caters specifically to earnest, established beginning farmers so that the length and detail of the day’s activities draw a high farmer turnout from a broad portion of CRAFT's geographic area.

By featuring trainings from...

Rooted in Community Food Justice Rally

By Ketura and Milca St. Fleurose and Desmond Moore

 

Three Roots and Wings’ Youth, accompanied by Market Manager, Tedd Snowden, attended the national youth-led urban agriculture conference-Rooted In Community (RIC) in Los Angeles, CA in late August. Milca and Ketura along with farm apprentice, Desmond Moore were selected as workshop presenters for the conference.

 

We caught up with three of the youth, Ketura and Milca St. Fleurose and Desmond Moore to learn about attending this national gathering. When asked why they went to the conference (besides the fact it was in L.A.) the answer was: “To learn...

By Rosana Thompson, parent

Owner of Chai Town Tea

Tears streamed down her face as she grieved that “Banana”, the baby goat she helped name, would not be little when they would return the following year to goat camp. Never in my wildest parenting dreams did I see this coming. Both of my little girls had fallen in love with farm animals, an attachment almost as strong as the one I feel for them. During the three days, the girls collected chicken eggs, made deviled eggs and corn bread from fresh ingredients, cooperated with other children from Chicagoland and...

This fall, we’re offering extra sessions of some of our most popular programs: Winemaking! Animal Day! Plus, we're adding new stuff: cheesemaking for kids and a yoga mini-retreat for the Equinox!


In other words, we have an awesome fall season planned and we want you to be a part of it. If you haven't signed up for fall programs yet, do it now!

Read on to learn more about what we just added.

Animal Day for Families: Saturday, September 14, 10 AM - 3 PM, $20. This class is so popular, we added an extra...

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