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AOLC and CRAFT Announce First Annual "Beginning Farmer of the Year" Recognition

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 the CRAFT Steering Committee. A $100 honorarium will be given to each of the three additional beginning farmer honorable mentions. 

The beginning farmers selected will each nominate a farmer for ‘Farmer Mentor of the Year’ and one farmer mentor will be selected by the CRAFT Steering Committee for the recognition, which carries a $200 honorarium.  

The recognitions will be presented in a public ceremony at the Good Food Festival in Chicago on March 14-16, 2013. The Good Food Festival is delighted to offer complimentary 3-day passes to the five farmers selected for recognition. The beginning farmer videos may be featured during the Good Food Festival. Winning farmers will also have the opportunity to be featured in regional press, promotional, and program materials. 

Beginning farmers who want to be considered for this recognition can self-nominate by submitting a 3-4 minute video that answers six questions (see instructions below).  Nominees will upload their video to YouTube and email us the link by February 25th.

The CRAFT Steering Committee will review the top submitted videos and select via email voting the four farmers for special recognition (see criteria below). The Steering Committee will also select the ‘Farmer Mentor of the Year’ from the nominations provided by the four beginning farmers selected. 

The four beginning farmers and the farmer mentor should be able to attend the public recognition ceremony on Friday, March 15, 2013, at the Good Food Festival, agree to be featured in press releases and program promotion, and take part in media interviews as requested. The submitted videos will become AOLC property and may be used solely by AOLC and its program partners for publicity and in online marketing materials to promote beginning farmer training. 

Instructions for Nominees: 

To nominate yourself and your farm, upload to YouTube a 3 to 4 minute video and send an email us with the link to view your video by February 25, 2013.  

Each video must answer these six questions to be eligible:

1. What is your name and what is your farm’s name?
2. Where is your farm, how much land do you farm and what is it like?
3. What does your farm sell and to whom?
4. What is the biggest obstacle you face or have overcome as a beginning farmer?
5. What is new on your farm next season? How are you innovating or growing?
6. Why do you farm? 

Criteria for Selection: 

1. video is less than 4 minutes and all questions are addressed
2. video shares a compelling, creative, humorous, and/or inspiring story
3. video demonstrates how farmer has been a leader, innovator, or community-builder
4. video features footage of the farm and the farmer
5. the farmer is a member of Upper Midwest CRAFT farmer alliance or a graduate of Stateline Farm Beginnings
6. the farmer is in the first 10 years of farm business operation

Note:  AOLC will ask the four beginning farmers who are chosen for recognition to each nominate one name for a ‘Farmer Mentor of the Year’ recognition, and to describe how they were helped or inspired by the veteran farmer they nominate.

Angelic Organics Learning Center is the coordinating body for the Upper Midwest CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training), a farmer-led coalition of more than 100 organic, Biodynamic and sustainable farms in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. CRAFT farmer alliances are found across North America. Angelic Organics Learning Center facilitates Stateline Farm Beginnings and is a member of the national Farm Beginnings Collaborative.  Farm Beginnings and CRAFT farmer training programs are community based, rooted in sustainable principles, and farmer-led.

AOLC's Farmer Training Initiative is supported by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant #2012-49400-19578. To find more resources and programs for beginning farmers and ranchers please visit, a component of the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.