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The Learning Center receives 3-year Beginning Farmer grant from USDA

By Britney Stubbs, Manager of Foundation & Government Relations

Angelic Organics Learning Center is proud to announce that we are recipients of a three-year, $600,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). Our project, which is a collaboration between the Learning Center and our partners at The Liberty Prairie Foundation, is one of only 37 nationwide to receive the grant! It’s an incredible honor that speaks to the quality of our programs and our proven track record of training new sustainable farmers.  

The Learning Center has nearly 20 years of experience in training the next generation of sustainable farmers through our Farmer Training Initiative. More than 175 farm families have graduated our Stateline Farm Beginnings class. The Upper Midwest CRAFT network, which is facilitated by the Learning Center, is now a coalition of more than 90 sustainable farms. Through business planning classes, on-farm field days, mentorships, and more, we help these farmers launch and strengthen their farm business.  

The USDA funding will allow us to expand our farmer training programs, and provide programs and services to more than 200 beginning farmers in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.  Over the next three years of the grant, we will:

  • Increase farmers' financial management through the launch of “Open Books:” a new program for beginning farmers that includes a series of farm finance working groups and mentorships with successful farmers.  

  • Expand our financing programs that increase beginning farmers’ access to capital.  

  • With the help of Liberty Prairie Foundation and the Farm Business Development Center, we will increase land access for beginning farmers using innovative farmland transfer strategies and creating a link program that connects retiring farmers with beginning farmers in need of land.

  • Build the collective knowledge of the farmer training field by sharing our project’s results and best practices

“Together with our partners, and with the support of the USDA, we will help more farmers than ever before launch and grow organic and sustainable farm businesses that grow the local economy and increase access to healthy, locally-grown foods,” said Tom Spaulding, Executive Director of the Learning Center.

We look forward to sharing more about the exciting and emerging program developments supported by the BFRDP grant in the coming months.  Read the official USDA press release for more information about the Beginning Farmer Rancher Development Program.

To find more resources and programs for beginning farmers and ranchers please visit, a component of the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.