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Lenae Weichel, longtime volunteer and supporter of Angelic Organics Learning Center, is working toward a good food revolution. Undaunted by the state of industrial agriculture, Lenae focuses on the positive choices that nurture a sustainable food system. She explains, “I think when any of us as individuals are thinking of sustainability, the little things matter. When we participate as consumers in a local food system, it has an impact. Each individual together becomes a group, and the little choices we make every day becomes a movement.”

#GivingTuesday, #ILGiveBig

Angelic Organics Learning Center has joined the #GivingTuesday and #ILGiveBig movements this year to support the concept of spending with a purpose. This new effort will harness the collective power of a unique blend of partners—charities, families, businesses and individuals—to transform how people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season. Coinciding with the Thanksgiving holiday and the kickoff of the holiday shopping season, #GivingTuesday and #ILGiveBig will inspire people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities, give back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes they support and help create a better world....

It was Halloween Eve in Rockford, IL. Members of Blackhawk Courts Farm and Garden as well as staff from Angelic Organics Learning Center and Zion Outreach were transformed into the undead. AHHH! Zombie Farmers!

toothpaste recipe

Laughter pours out of the room that women have gathered in for Swag and Sweetness Classes. The classes, serving women from Blackhawk Courts, are offered through a partnership between Rockford Housing Authority, Zion Outreach, and Angelic Organics Learning Center.

natural body careThe two-month series provide residents with the opportunity to make new friendships while learning to make body care products and sweet treats. One participant, Courtney Aldridge values the fellowship opportunity.  "You get to know each...

April Yuds leading Beekeeping Basics CRAFT Field Day at Lotfotl Farm

Watch our new short video about the Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (Upper Midwest CRAFT).

Beekeeping Basics: The Bees’ Knees Needs

Beekeeping at LotFotL (Living off the Fat of the Land) Community Farm

Arriving at LotFotL Community Farm on Tuesday, CRAFTers were greeted by some exceedingly healthy and jolly-looking pigs (as well as an impressive heap of winter squash).  However, it was a few hundred thousand head of LotFotL’s other livestock that was the focus of this beekeeping field day.

Beekeeper and farm manager April Yuds (pictured here with LotFotL owner/operator Tim Huth) started off this incredibly informative session with a tour of a Langstroth style hive and an overview of all...

Tipi Produce CSA Box

Over twenty CRAFT members took a break from their fall cleanup chores to enjoy a wonderful potluck lunch and learn about soil fertility at Tipi Produce outside of Evansville, WI, on Tuesday, October 7th.  Tipi is situated on seventy-six acres with over forty-five...

Coop Tour, Chicago, Urban Chickens, Chicken Coop

On September 20 and 21, the Learning Center and Chicagoland Chicken Enthusiasts held our 5th Annual Windy City Coop Tour. Between periodic showers, 29 hosts reported good traffic during the 4-hour windows that they were open for tour visitors, with an estimate of 350 at all sites. 16 Hosts were new to the tour, while the others had hosted at least one previous year – and 3 hosts have participated each of the 5 years of the tour! During that time, 70 hosts in at least 26 wards of Chicago and 5 neighboring communities have opened their yards to the...

Here at Angelic Organics Learning Center, we love chickens.

So much so that we have staff who have worked in their cities, towns, and villages to overturn the chicken laws so that residents can have feathered friends in their own backyard. (By the way, congratulations Roscoe, IL!)

We love chickens so much that we frequently stop a conversation mid-sentence to gawk at their awkardly hilarious run.

We love chickens and we can't get enough of them.

In light of this chicken-love, we recently decided that enough was enough. It was officially time for "Bring Your Chicken to Work" Day.

...
Blue Cross Blue Shield, Angelic Organics, Roots and Wings, Blackhawk Courts, urban agriculture, award

We are grateful to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) for awarding a $15,000 Healthy Kids, Healthy Families grant to support the Roots & Wings Urban Agriculture and Youth Development Program. The Roots & Wings network builds leadership, job skills and community through farming in the city of Rockford. Angelic Organics Learning Center coordinates the Roots & Wings network together with Rockford youth, their families, neighbors, and support organizations.

"Giving back to help our communities is...

This Sunday the sun shown brightly and warmed up Chicagoland just in time for our CRAFT field day. On September 14th, CRAFT members gathered at Green Earth Institute in Naperville, IL, to learn about postharvest handling. Amongst the group of CRAFT members were also special guests - four students from the horticulture department at College of DuPage, enrolled in "Organic Vegetable Production" taught by CRAFT farm member Kim Marsin of Sweet Home Organics.

Green Earth Institute is surrounded by many subdivisions within a suburb of Chicago. The farm is 60 acres total so it’s not really constituted...

Janice Forrest has one of those smiles that can turn even the worst day around. Her open and welcoming heart radiates through her bright grin. Her joyful nature is a breath of fresh air to a community that has gone through hard times.

Janice has worked with Zion Lutheran Church for 5 years as the Buddy House/Blackhawk Farm Involvement Supervisor at Blackhawk Courts, a Rockford Housing Authority (RHA) community. Blackhawk Courts Farm and Garden is a partnership between RHA, Zion Outreach and Angelic Organics Learning Center.

When I interviewed her recently, she told me...

As the summer comes to an end I asked the Youth leaders and young adults from the Blackhawk Courts community to reflect on some of their experiences over this summer with the Roots & Wings program. Here is what they had to say:

Milca St. Fleurose (Age 16, Youth Leader Apprentice) 

"One experience that I’ve had through the Roots & Wings program this summer is going out to Pecatonica IL, and seeing Andy Hazzard’s farm. I have a love for nature so seeing all the green fields and feeling the fresh summer breeze makes me happy, as well as...

Irish Grove Farm, Stateline Farm Beginnings, Angelic Organics, farmer training

The Illinois Food, Farm, & Jobs Act has called for support of programs that recruit, train, and provide technical assistance to beginning farmers in order to meet the demand for 5,000 more local farmers in Illinois by 2020. Angelic Organics Learning Center has been fulfilling that role by training farmers for the past ten years.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is all about building relationships and supporting one another through good times and bad. Most CSA farmers rely on the money they make through their shares to support their families and many cannot afford health insurance or have very limited coverage. If a farmer or a member of their family becomes ill, they sometimes have to reach out to their community for support.

In June, one of our CRAFT farmers, Lori Vierow of Bob's Fresh and Local was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, or ALL for short. Lori's insurance does not cover all of her...

Eat to Live garden in early July

….is the motto of the Eat to Live project, and certainly that is happening this summer! 

We are grateful to the many neighbors, volunteers, and friends who have contributed hours spreading compost, planting, weeding and harvesting in the Eat to Live garden space at 70th and Princeton. 

We have shared hundreds of pounds of bounteous greens and roots with neighbors and volunteers, with families from nearby Harvard School, with seniors from the Vincennes Senior Center, and with guests of the Maria Shelter. 

Regular summer volunteer hours take place on Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoons.  Come and join us! ...

As people started tumbling out of cars I could see their faces light up as they took it all in. The kids didn't waste a second before scrambling over fences to pet the goats, running through the orchard, checking out the campfire, and gathering sticks. What is the deal with boys and sticks anyway?

Molly Bresline of Breslin Farms, a CRAFT farm

The morning after a series of thunderstorms and strong winds moved through northern Illinois, twelve CRAFT members traveled along miles of wind-damaged cornfields to convene at Breslin Farms to learn about how the Breslins incorporate cover crops into their rotations. While the Breslin’s rye field experienced wind damage, our hosts remained optimistic about being able to harvest the crop, speculating about its resiliency due to years of cover crop benefits—nicely prefacing the day’s conversation.

Father-and-daughter team John and Molly Breslin are in their fourth year of transitioning a family farm from conventional to organic row crops. They focus...

By Meg Augustine, Farm Finance Program Coordinator

It’s mid-year, and our Farm Asset Builder participants are well into their growing season. They have also reached the midpoint of Angelic Organics Learning Center’s Farm Asset Builder Program—a program in its inaugural year. The Farm Asset Builder Program is a matched savings program that provides farmers with the opportunity and motivation to save. At the end of our pilot year, farmers in compliance with program requirements will receive up to $2,400 to contribute to a farm asset thanks to our sponsors and donors.

Our sponsors are helping farmers gain...

Farming with Horses 2014 CRAFT Field Day

By Shelbie Blank, Farmer Training Program Assistant

Nestled in-between subdivisions, highways, and strip malls is the farm home of Lane Linnenkohl’s two Percheron draft horses: Molly and Sally and two Morgans: Daisy and Violet.  Lane keeps his horses at a farm that his cousin leases; his cousin uses this land to grow corn. A bank located just across the street owns this farm and Lane struck a nice deal with them. Instead of the bank having to pay someone to come in and brush hog the adjacent lots twice a year, Lane hays these fields free of charge. Lane uses...

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