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By Debora, Milca, Ketura St. Fleurose and Kolten Luvert, Roots & Wings Youth Leaders

Have you ever wondered how to give back to your community? Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a great way to get fresh produce and support the community. A CSA is paying ahead for the farmer to grow your vegetables.

It might come as a surprise, but the Roots and Wings Youth Leaders and ECO Advocates students are the ones growing the vegetables for a CSA.

We come together to form a “Youth Farm” located at the Tinker Swiss Cottage and Gardens.

It is unique....

urban garden, urban agriculture, youth garden, Rockford community garden

By Spencer Ellsworth, Urban Farm Manager, Roots & Wings

One fine June Thursday in Rockford, a group of people met early in the morning to talk about squash. 

“If we put them in the Northeast quadrant, they’ll be able to vine up the fence.”

“Plus, they’ll be farthest away from that fat groundhog.”  The groundhog had already come around, looking for a feast, despite the fence’s bottom edge having been sunk a foot into the earth. 

“Gotta dig the beds first, though.” 

“Good thing we have help today!”  This convention of strategic minds was the twice-weekly Blackhawk Courts Farm &...

Kindergarteners and first graders from Yale Elementary plant seeds in Englewood

By Martha Boyd, Program Director, Urban Initiative (Chicago)

This spring at Yale Elementary, Eat to Live provided enrichment activities in the classroom, after school program, and the Garden. Students related the Growth Cycle of plants with the parts we harvest and eat. They held red wrigglers from the food composting wormbin, and learned that worms have 5 hearts (don’t cut them in half)!  They tasted self-sown lettuce and lambsquarters (wild spinach), and learned to prepare healthy recipes. By mid-June, students and Garden volunteers planted half the Garden with tomatillos, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, corn, summer squash, and cucumbers. Deborah...

Brain Shobe, Emerson National Hunger Fellows Program & AOLC intern
Brian Shobe, a Duffy Intern from Beloit College who worked with us in our Rockford Roots & Wings youth gardens, was recently awarded a fellowship with the Emerson National Hunger Fellows Program.  The Emerson Program supports a diversity of local and national approaches to eliminate hunger, poverty and social inequality, particularly racism. The fellowship is only offered to 20 people each year, making this quite a notable accomplishment!  We had the pleasure of talking to Brian recently and hearing about the ways his experience with AOLC helped him to learn, grow, and connect. 

 

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Comcast, Angelic Organics Learning Center, Urban Farming, Earth Day, Englewood

By Martha Boyd, Program Director, Urban Initiative (Chicago)

On Saturday April 27, Comcast Cares and Links Unlimited celebrated Earth Day with the Eat to Live crew in E2L's Community and Learning Garden in southeast Englewood.  They cheerfully weeded out grass from garden beds, hauled many loads of compost, and collected the winter's trash and debris.  Comcast employee Roberto singlehandedly moved about a ton of compost, while his co-worker Vernice posed next to her newly-fluffed beds.  She plans to help the E2L Garden grow all season.  The work day ended with a visit by the Fresh Moves Mobile Market, returning monthly for E2L's...

AOLC, Nicholson Conservatory, Atwood Award

It’s been a good year for AOLC’s Urban Farm Educator Katie Townsend.  Earlier this year, the Sinnissippi Audubon Society named her 2012 Conservationist of the Year.  Last week, she was awarded the Seth B. Atwood Award Park and Conservation Service Award for her outstanding contributions in conservation and education at the Rockford Park District City of Gardens program at Nicholas Conservatory in Rockford, IL. 

In addition to her work with AOLC’s Roots and Wings Initiative, Katie has been engaged with organizations dedicated to conservation and environmental education for the past 30 years.  The bulk of her career...

Kim Wasserman, LVEJO, Nieto Goldman Environmental Prize

By Jessie Crow Mermel, Communications Coordinator & On Farm Educator

In 1998, Kim Wasserman Nieto rushed her gasping baby to the emergency room.  Kim later discovered her son’s asthma attack was induced by environmental pollution.  Other residents in her community, Little Village, a densely populated neighborhood of mainly Latino families in Chicago, were also suffering from a host of respiratory problems and even premature deaths.

 

  The culprits were the Crawford plant and Fisk plants, owned by Midwest Generation.  These two “cloud factories,” as they were innocently called by local children, were two of the oldest and dirtiest power...

hoop house, urban gardening

By Katie Townsend, Urban Farm Educator 

April 8, 2013 greeted us with wet rain. No worries I thought as the students will be snug in the Hoop House planting seeds for their gardens as well as the plots cultivated by the Roots and Wings Youth Leaders and the starts for the farm at Blackhawk Courts. Then the phone call came …our covering for the Hoop House on Kent Street had been destroyed.

My heart sunk. The resilient Eco Advocate students and Green Americorp Project Leaders had already fixed the structure once after extensive vandalism. (See picture of the Hoop House...

Urban Livestock Expo

By Martha Boyd, Program Director, Urban Initiative (Chicago)

On February 16th, over 200 visitors convened at the Garfield Park Conservatory to learn about caring for livestock in the city. 

Many people helped make the first annual Urban Livestock Expo a success – the organizers: Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA), Angelic Organics Learning Center, Chicago Chicken Enthusiasts, the hosts, the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance, the 15 presenters, 20+ volunteers AND the standing room only crowd who came to learn from experienced practitioners about keeping chickens, ducks, bees, goats,...

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...

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