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Thank you to our awesome crew of volunteers from Danfoss and United Way of Rock River Valley. The group of 9 volunteers came last week to help us get the 70 acres of Kinnikinnick Fields ready for our big BioBlitz event on Sept. 15. 

 

 

The crew trimmed branches, helped clear trails, and set up the goat demo area and picnic tables for the event. They even learned how goats help clear invasive species from the wooded areas. Everyone had a great time despite the rain! We hope to see you all again soon! ...

Sampling a Hmong farmer's cucumbers at Fondy Farm Project

After sharing a meal and warm greetings, the 31 farmers and farmer enthusiasts that convened at Fondy Farm Project circled up and settled in for a conversation on cooperative agriculture models. Led by Stephen Petro of Fondy Farm Project and Jay Salinas of the Wormfarm, both men gave a summary of their experiences working at incubators and facilitating the sharing of information and resources among farmers. Before diving into the nuances of these models, “farm incubators” were defined by the presenters as a place for beginning farmers to get started and from which they eventually graduate and move...

One of the activities in this week’s “What’s Cookin’ on the Farm” day camp was “Veggie Idol.”  We began the week with eight vegetables, each day eliminating the least popular, prepared in different ways.   On Monday, the raw round, we said goodbye to zucchini and summer squash.  On Saute Tuesday, cucumber and kale headed home.   Neither broccoli nor beets made it through the juice round (though I must say that beets were eliminated by just one vote). 

The competition got much sweeter on the final day with desserts: carrot cake vs. corn cake.   The grand winner?  Clearly carrots! 

What impressed...

One of the activities in this week’s “What’s Cookin’ on the Farm” day camp was “Veggie Idol.”  We began the week with eight vegetables, each day eliminating the least popular, prepared in different ways.   On Monday, the raw round, we said goodbye to zucchini and summer squash.  On Saute Tuesday, cucumber and kale headed home.   Neither broccoli nor beets made it through the juice round (though I must say that beets were eliminated by just one vote). 

The competition got much sweeter on the final day with desserts: carrot cake vs. corn cake.   The grand winner?  Clearly carrots! 

What impressed...

Presenter Kathy Ruhf from Land for Good

On the afternoon of Monday, July 30th, a dozen farmers and community members convened at the AOLC farm office to participate in a land tenure workshop and dialogue lead by Kathy Ruhf, Co-Director of Land for Good, a New England-based not-for-profit that works with landowners, land managers and entering farmers to keep “working lands working.”

The group was small enough to allow for ample discussion and feedback on participants’ personal land use situations. Beginning farmers were in attendance, seeking short- and mid-term alternatives to the cost of land purchase. Established farmers asked questions about farm expansion, farm relocation...

Danny Frohman, Wash/Pack Coordinator at Tempel Farms Organics

It's not every day that you hear, "When I grow up, I want to be a farmer..." but the staff at Angelic Organics Learning Center hears this sentiment often. Some individuals find fulfillment in growing food for themselves in their gardens in an effort to be more self-sustaining, or simply for the satisfaction of undeniably fresh produce. Others are looking for a safe and healthy place to raise a family and are drawn to opportunities for learning through interactions with animals and the natural world. Chicago resident Danny Frohman needed a change of pace...

Cedar Valley's chicken pens

Old and new friends alike gathered at Beth and Jody Osmunds’ farm, Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm, outside of Ottawa, IL in late-June for a hearty potluck and a tour of their 80-acre farm. One of the first meat CSAs serving the Chicago area, Beth and Jody have been refining their operation since they first started serving the market for sustainably raised meat products in 2002

 Born June 26th

Silver/Gray Color

Scottish Highland

Mothered by Melody, one of our white Scottish Highland cows

Joel Kellum identifying trees in the edible food forest.

On Saturday May 19th the first CRAFT Field Day of the season took place at King’s Hill Farm. Hosts Joel and Jai Kellum gave a thorough introduction to permaculture activities taking place on their farm to a large group of CRAFT interns, Stateline Farm Beginnings students and other CRAFT member farms: Freedom Organix, Radical Root Farm and Tempel Farms Organics

King’s Hill Farm, located outside of Mineral Point, WI, is situated on 830 acres of rolling hills and fertile fields. With 10 years of experience in organic produce farming, the Kellums have rejuvenated the land and had 4...

Spring-like weather has brought rounds of kids (human and goat!) to the Learning Center over the past two weeks.  Our grand total of goats for the season is now 40: 10 mothers, 23 kids, 3 yearling does, 2 bucks, 2 angoras.  Nearly 40 children joined those 40 goats over the past three weeks for our spring break Kids with Kids day camps.  We gave the last group of campers the challenge of learning as many names as possible for all of the goats. 

I’m glad to announce our winner: camper Dorie, who did an outstanding job identifying over...

Roots & Wings Youth Leaders harvest fresh vegetables from their gardens to sell at farmers' markets and donate to their community

Congratulations to the Roots & Wings Youth Leaders on their recent grant from the In Youth We Trust grant program of the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois.

 
The Roots & Wings Youth Leaders, part of the Learning Center's Urban Initiative in Rockford, are a group of teens who work together to plan, plant, tend, harvest, cook, and sell vegetables from urban gardens in Rockford. Youth Leaders are role models for younger gardeners in our Urban Initiative, and often speak at public events in Rockford.

 
In Youth We Trust is a youth philanthropy program of...

Calf #1

The newest additions to our herd of Scottish Highland cows are Melody and her two heifer calves (her own daughter and a friend), pictured above. The look identical, but we assure you there are two of them!
 

Submit your picks for their names to learn@learngrowconnect.org by May 15, 2012. We’ll pick our favorites and the winner will receive $25 off any upcoming Learning Center program or public workshop. In your submission, feel free to specify names for calf #1 and calf #2, if you have a preference.

Good luck!
 ...

Bronwyn Weaver, left, owner of Heritage Prairie Farm and farm manager Nate Sumner, harvest a cold weather variety of spinach, growing in one of the farm's greenhouses. (Chuck Berman, Chicago Tribune / February 12, 2012)

"Restaurants take a fresh look at local produce" describes ways that restaurants are serving more locally grown produce, to the benefit of their businesses, clientele, and farmers. The article features Bronwyn Weaver, co-founder of Heritage Prairie Farm, and a member of CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training), facilitated by the Learning Center. Weaver explains how restaurant partnerships help small farms:

"When they embrace local foods, it really can make a huge difference to the farming community; it really helps to make us viable."

CRAFT was founded in 1997 by a group of family farmers...

The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation recently featured a blog story about the Learning Center's farmer training program, and program graduate Bob Vierow, of Bob's Fresh & Local.

Mr. Vierow is one of more than 100 farmers who have graduated from our Stateline Farm Beginnings ® farmer training course since it began in 2005. Beginning farmers learn from established farmers throughout the region, and 76 percent of graduates report they are currently farming.

We are grateful for the ongoing support and partnership of the Donnelley Foundation. The Foundation has provided essential funding for our farmer...

The farm was covered in ice and fog on the morning of Feb. 3. IT manager Tara Lamb took these lovely shots during a walk around our beautiful farm....

After taking the Learning Center’s “Basic Backyard Chicken Care” workshop in the fall of 2009, entrepreneur John Emrich had a light bulb moment.

 

“When I logged on to the Chicago Chicken Enthusiasts discussions page, I noticed that 9 out of 10 posts were about how to get organic chicken feed for backyard chickens. There wasn’t a local source for organic chicken feed.”

 

Emrich launched his organic chicken feed delivery business, Backyard Chicken Run, soon after and made his first delivery in January 2010. He now serves more than 100 customers throughout Chicago and the suburbs, delivering organic chicken...

The on-farm Learning Center in winter

By Katie Townsend, AOLC Urban Farm Educator

 

My Dear Students,

 

It is New Year’s Eve. Before I revel the night away my habit is to revisit the year. Sometimes I retrace my footsteps. I like to stand one last time in the places I have labored and dreamed. So I find myself at the sleeping garden we have tended together. Tiny snowflakes melt into blackened soil. We have done our part and nature is about to do her rejuvenating work. Snow, compost and hope all go together. You will see come April.

 

Dan Janssen, a University Extension...

Our thanks to the 3rd graders from Chicago Waldorf School, who helped build a beautiful whole tree arbor for our garden this week.  Despite 24 hours of rain, they kept good spirits preparing the wood, augering 3 foot holes, and packing the soil into place. 

 

The third graders study Jewish traditions and holidays, and their field trip coincided with Sukkot, the harvest celebration. Traditionally, a family will build a shelter, decorate it with fruits of the harvest, and sleep and eat under it to remind them of God’s provision. A perfect time for a visit to the farm, as...

Randy Mermel and the Playing with Your Food Day Camp

It was a busy summer at AOLC for children who particpated in the day camp programs!  The summer kicked off with Farm Adventure Day Camp where the kids worked cooperatively to build a raft to float on the creek, cooked food from scratch and sold chocolate beet cupcakes to shareholders as they arrived to pick up their boxes.  Through-out the summer, kids have experienced field-to-table cooking, caring for farm animals, adventures in nature, learning about organic farming, picking veggies from the fields, milking goats and much more. 

 

The final campers of the summer experienced perfect weather at the Playing...

Our four year-old cow Maisie gave birth on Thursday, June 30th to a bull calf. Mom and baby are both doing well. We are taking suggestions for names now through July 31st. Submissions may be dropped off at the Learning Center, or emailed here. Farm John will select the winner. The winner gets a pie!...

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