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AOLC Blog

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...

We're really looking forward to our upcoming Versatile Herbs class at the farm on July 14th, especially because we're welcoming Evelyn Cooley and Silvia Abel-Caines as guest instructors. Not only will we learn about how to incorporate herbs therapeautically into our diets, we'll create natural body care products to take home.To learn more about our instructors and their backgrounds with herbs and herbal medicine, read on.

To sign up for the class, head over to our events calendar.

What drew you to studying herbs?
Silvia: My interest in herbs started when I decided to focus on alternative treatments...

We've been offering cheesemaking classes at the Learning Center for many years, and it's one of our most popular offerings. Why?

Maybe it's because aspiring cheesemakers love meeting and milking our goats. We think the farm setting is a perfect place to learn about cheesemaking, because students really see the process from start - in our fields - to  finish - in their bellies!

Maybe people love our cheesemaking classes because because they're a fun and unique way to spend a Saturday. For example, this past weekend's cheesemaking students included a group of girlfriends out for a Saturday afternoon, plus...

Photo Contest at Angelic Organics Farm

Whether the focus is the Technicolor farm buildings, the unique livestock, the textures of the veggie fields, the macro shots of blooming flowers or the sweeping, pastoral landscape, people love taking pictures at Angelic Organics Farm.  We know that people have captured a great deal of beauty on this farm over the years and that is why we are holding the 15th Anniversary Summer Farm Photo Contest! 

 

You are invited to submit your favorite photos of Angelic Organics farm or Angelic Organics Learning Center urban or farmer training program.  All submissions will be featured on our Facebook page. ...

Neddy receiving her doctorate at Drew University

Fifteen years ago, Neddy Astudillo and her husband Tom Spaulding, Executive Director of AOLC, founded the Learning Center with help from John Peterson and a handful of other Angelic Organics shareholders.  Neddy and Tom were the Learning Center’s first On-Farm Educators.  We chose to highlight Neddy this month for the Web of Interconnections because she had such a strong founding role in our organization and because we are so proud of her for recently getting her Doctorate of Ministry in Ecotheology!  We recently spoke with her about her life’s work and the birth of the Learning Center.  

AOLC: When was...

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. 

 

...

Rockford kids winnowing freshly-ground farm-grown corn meal on the farm

May 20, 2013

Dear Staff of Angelic Organics Learning Center,

 

Thank you so much for providing our sixth graders with a fantastic learning experience on your farm.  They came away so excited (and so tired!), and they truly enjoyed their time. There were even some who were not initially looking forward to the trip that ultimately decided they had fun, and there were others who did not want to leave!


I appreciate that you were able to be flexible with your programming to meet our curricular needs.  Linking the farm trip to our curriculum, including the...

A year in retrospect: Rebecca Haldeman, the Farmer Training Program Assistant and organizer of the CRAFT alliance, wrote this post in response to finding her place within Angelic Organics Learning Center and CRAFT. She will soon be leaving the Learning Center and embarking on a journey in pursuit of her music career. You can watch her grow and "like" her progress on Facebook: www.facebook.com/rebshaldeman

May 25, 2012

A couple of weeks ago I was browsing the produce section at Willy Street Co-op in Madison, Wisconsin. I always scan the shelves for the purple "locally...

Midwest Coast, Angelic Organics, AOLC, art, farm, photography, organic

Pastoral life has long captured the imaginations of artists and photographers.  As many farmers are retiring without children willing to take over the family farms, their bucolic barns decay and industrial farms and subdivisions take over the rural landscape.  Angelic Organics farm is creating an alternative legacy.  A family farm since the 1930’s, it has seen many transformations.  In addition to being a working organic farm, John and Haidy Peterson have developed the farm as a living work of art. 

 

For the first time ever, Angelic Organics Learning Center is offering a special tour of the...

Percheron, draft, horse, Angelic Organics, organic, plow, AOLC, Tom Spaulding

By Jessie & Randy Mermel, On-Farm Educators

Babe is one of our most gracious farm hosts.  She happily obliges visiting children to brush and pet her as she stands there, eyelids heavy with the pleasure of attention.    For many children who visit the farm, Babe is the first horse they have ever touched.  Her affectionate nature helps ease any apprehension about her massive size.  Naturally, she is one of the most popular animals on our farm.

We celebrate Babe, our lovely black Percheron horse, this month as she turns 30 on May 14th!  30 is an advanced age for...

Eco Advocates, Angelic Organics Learning Center, AOLC, Roots & Wings, low tunnel

 By Eco Advocates, Desmond Moore and Roger Ross.  

Recorded and Edited by Katie Townsend- Urban Farm Educator

 

The Ecos created a low tunnel because our high tunnel was vandalized during spring break. The construction crew consisted of Joey Grimmett, Roger Ross and Desmond Moore. Another name for a low tunnel is a caterpillar. Undamaged plastic from the original high tunnel was draped over PVC pipe hoops that were fastened to a raised bed. Now the seedlings for our farm tasks could be started under the little greenhouse. This all happened on Kent Street on the southside of Rockford,...

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...

Dominic Green, Gentleman Farmer, Angelic Organics Learning Center

By Dominic Green, AOLC Boardmember

I was privileged to represent AOLC at the 98th Anniversary Celebration of the Chicago Community Trust at the Harris Theatre on Tuesday evening. For those who don't know, CCT connects donors to Chicago community needs, granting more than $150M to nonprofits in 2012. AOLC has been a grant recipient for many years now.

CCT helps literally hundreds of organizations, so it was a nice honor for AOLC to be highlighted on the evening in the "Food & Health" section. Host Bill Curtis gave a clear, succinct introduction to our work,...

Whole Tree Architecture at Angelic Organics Learning Center

By Jessie Crow Mermel, On Farm Educator & Communications Coordinator

“Design will save the world” is the tagline for Inhabitat.com, a website dedicated to featuring green design projects around the world.  Yesterday, Angelic Organics Learning Center’s whole tree architecture and sustainable building features were highlighted on Inhabitat.com in a piece by San Francisco-based writer and photographer Mark Boyer.

Boyer’s article and accompanying photo gallery illustrate the convergence of the structural and aesthetic innovation that architect Roald Gundersen of WholeTrees Architecture & Structure employed on the buildings of the Learning Center.  Gundersen has a knack for collaborating...

Spring on the farm is amazing. Signs of the season are emerging: lots bright green grass, powerful thunderstorms, an overflowing greenhouse, and, of course, seriously adorable baby goats.

Although we had winter weather well into April, kidding season started right on schedule. We started with eight pregnant does in March and now we have fourteen happy, healthy baby goats.

 

Kidding season is full of incredible moments, but here are just a few:

 

1. One of the first births of the season was a dramatic one. After over 40 minutes of hard labor, it was clear that mama goat...

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...

Cilantro interplanted with carrots in an unheated hoophouse.

On a blustery April 25th, twenty-six CRAFT members started the day at Hazzard Free Farm to learn about season extension. Hazzard Free Farm, started in 2007, is situated on a 240-acre plot in northern Illinois and consists of 10 acres in organic vegetable/herb production and 20 acres in organic grains. Farm enterprises include CSA, short-chain wholesale, and direct sales to other farmers. Owner/operator Andy Hazzard is also starting a farm incubator for farmers-in-training.

During the Field Day we focused on Hazzard Free Farm's multi-year effort to extend the growing season through hoophouse and greenhouse use. We toured three...

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...

Eco Advocates, Angelic Organics Learning Center, AOLC, Roots & Wings

By Tedd Snowden, Market Manager, AOLC Roots & Wings

 On April 16th & 17th, Roots & Wings held an “All Partner Business Plan 2-day Summit.”

 There were three main goals for the summit:

  • To allow Roots & Wings partners and supporters an opportunity to deepen their personal relationship with each other and to share and discuss the work they have in common.
  • To have all partners share the business plans they have been developing over the last several months in order to receive feedback, guidance, and direction from their peers.
  • To allow the business owners and farmers that
  • ...

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