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Washing Veggies

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 as an ‘urban farm’ but it’s definitely not in the country. The original owner of the farm placed a conservation easement on the farm ensuring it’s survival as a farm forever. Currently the farm has a 335 member CSA set up ‘market-style’ meaning shareholders come out to the farm and select an allotted amount fresh-picked produce weekly or bi-weekly. This style of CSA allows shareholders to really see where exactly their produce comes from.

Steve Tiwald and Farm Manager Duncan Simonson led the group through each step of postharvest handling. Duncan is a wealth of knowledge on the subject since he handles these steps daily with both volunteers and crew members. He discussed how to handle specific veggies like delicate lettuces and greens, tougher root crops in the barrel washer, and even curing onions.

After a thorough tour of the wash/pack station, cool-bot coolers, and the distribution area, participants viewed implements and equipment, two high tunnels and the fields to get a better sense of overall production. Duncan and Steve provided great information on varietal selections, equipment use, and rotations.

To learn more about CRAFT Field Days visit

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See what else the Farmer Training Inititiatve at Angelic Organics Learning Center has to offer at


Written by Sheri Doyel, Farmer Training Program Facilitator and Shelbie Blank, Farmer Training Program Assistant