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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!

Angelic Organics Learning Center: Urban Initiative (Roots & Wings) 3rd annual Be Healthy Walk is this Saturday (May 28th). All are welcomed to join together with us to do something healthy and fun and at the same time help the Roots & Wings Youth Leaders celebrate the beginning of their Spring academic period.

One of the joys of working at the Learning Center is experiencing the farm for the first time through the eyes of a child.  That connection with the farm is often delightful, and surprising, coming in forms so different from the connections adults make with the farm.

This week, the Waldorf 3rd graders were helping me care for the chickens during animal chores.  We opened the door to the eggmobile, and the three girls hopped right up.

The chickens, as they settled in towards night, had begun to roost.  For those uninitiated to farm life, chickens sleep on...

Little Village Environmental Justice Organization and the Learning Center's Martha Boyd help Little Village community residents work in an urban garden

Edible Chicago recently featured the Learning Center's partner, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) in the article "Plants Sprout, Justice Served in Chicago's Little Village,"  by Terra Brockman. Located in South Lawndale (Little Village), LVEJO has developed three garden sites with assistance from the Learning Center. Providing technical assistance, project and budget planning, and funding for equipment and other garden supplies, the Learning Center has worked with LVEJO to help community residents grow, get, and eat good and healthy fresh food. Learning Center staff have been able to offer workshops to project leaders and...

Dear Friends,

I'm glad to let you know that we have yet 2 more new arrivals today on the farm!!!

At 10:45AM, I (Deb) found that Aphrodite had given birth to Zoe, an all white doeling with short ears.  I ran to tell the rest of the staff, who  joined me in welcoming Aphrodite's 2nd baby girl, Zinnia!  Zinnia is smaller than Zoe, and has a very light tan coat much like Lily.   She also has short ears (and wattles).

The birthing process was very smooth for all involved.  Aphrodite and...

Baby Lily

By Nellie Conover-Crockett, Age 11, Livestock crew

I was at home with my mom when we were called by Suzanne at about 2:30 in the afternoon.  She told us that one of the goats, Thalia, had some mucus and looked like she would have her baby soon.  We hurried out to the farm to find Thalia pacing and panting.  We decided to stay with her for a while. 

It seemed like it was taking a LONG time. 

Myles and Myles

Learning Center day-camper Myles (pictured above) turned 8 this week, and received an unusual birthday present: a newborn goat as a namesake! 


Spring is kidding season at the Learning Center, and on March 23, our first three baby goats were born during our popular Kids with Kids daycamp! The camp group present on the day of a goat birth gets the priviledge of naming the new kids.

Program Director Deb Crockett reports that everyone was a bit disappointed after the first day of camp, as none of the goats had given birth yet. "But this morning, when...


It’s emerging! A youth-led urban agriculture hub in Southwest Rockford, IL. A hoop house, built by over 30 Rockford youth, is up and is being prepped for its first season of production.

The 2011 plans for cultivation and growth of over 6 urban agriculture sites are being developed by 3 contributing organizations. These plans even include youth owned micro-enterprises; Rockford truly has amazing youth with great ideas!

FamilyFarmed EXPO

Join us at the FamilyFarmed Expo March 17-19 at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The EXPO is a three day conference, trade show and food festival for farmers, businesses, individuals and families. The event is sponsored by, whose mission is to expand the production, marketing, and distribution of locally grown and responsibly produced food, in order to enhance the social, economic and environmental health of our communities.

Throughout the three-day event, Learning Center staff, partners, and John Peterson, farmer and founder of our farm partner ...

AOLC volunteer beekeepers

Photo of AOLC beekeepers courtesy of John Lodder.

Heidi is one of five dedicated volunteers who make up the Learning Center’s beekeeping team, and tend our beehives weekly at our urban farmstead in Woodlawn at 6400 S. Kimbark. You can learn more about our bees and how to start your own hive at our upcoming Beekeeping workshop on March 26. Heidi was interviewed by AOLC Grants Coordinator Laura Wetter.


Q. When and how did you first become interested in beekeeping?

Heidi: My curiosity was piqued (like many others) when Colony Collapse Disorder made the news....

Farm Beginnings Class of 2011

By: AOLC Grants Coordinator Laura Wetter

Each winter, the Learning Center offers Stateline Farm Beginnings, a year-long training program that helps beginning and transitioning farmers develop a vision and whole farm plan for their emerging farm business under the guidance of leading sustainable agriculture growers.

On Saturday, February 19, Stateline Farm Beginnings held the final session of the nine-seminar business planning course portion of the program. Since October, Stateline Farm Beginnings students have spent Saturday mornings and afternoons learning from experienced farmers and the Learning Center staff about the practical aspects of farming, and refining their visions...

Dea Dia Organics, owned and operated by Stateline Farm Beginnings graduates and Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT) member farmers Jeff and Jen Miller, was featured in Medill Reports in late 2010, in an article accompanied by a video interview.

"We knew we wanted to have our own business, a business that my wife and I could own and operate," said (Jeff) Miller. "We thought, if we could pick anything and leave money aside, farming was the one thing we kept coming back to."

The Millers have been able to start...

Image: Winter bee from an AOLC hive in Chicago

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AOLC Chicago Urban Initiative Program Director Martha Boyd weighs in on proposed Chicago zoning changes that would affect urban agriculture in a recent Chicago Tribune article, The city that grows: Officials, local farmers divided on new urban agricultre rules.


You can read also the proposed ordinance on the city's website. Stay tuned to our blog for further updates on the outcome of this debate.




Where were you on November 19th, 2010? If you were not at the 2nd Annual Harvest celebration hosted by the Roots & Wings Youth Leaders, you missed a dinner that included turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, fresh salad, squash, lemon pie, sweet potato pie, and cheese cake.

Many of the food items were prepared by the Youth Leaders themselves and some of the food came out of some of our Rockford gardens. Most people enjoyed seconds and thirds.


See our most recent AOLC monthly e-newsletter, Click Here


Sign up to receive our e-newsletter where we update you on the latest happenings at the Learning Center, and connect you with opportunities to get involved....

In honor of the passing of Ms. Juanita, I am posting this photo of the beloved bird and Adam Spaulding-Astudillo, our very own 'chicken whisperer'.  For more info on Juanita, see the blog post link below. 

Thank you Juanita and Adam!

Warmly, Tom Spaulding

Image Eggs

For a moment you could have gotten Easter and Thanksgiving confused this past weekend at the Learning Center. “I found an egg!” a third-grade Girl Scout exclaimed excitedly. Together I was with a group of 12 girls and a handful of parents as they were meeting and learning about chickens and their role on farms and in our food processes. Their excitement heightened when they found out that they could hold or pet the chickens, something many explained to me that they had never had the opportunity to do before.


Girls from second to seventh grade gathered around tables...


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