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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...

Integrating Livestock into Vegetable Operations Field Day

By Meg Augustine, Farm Finance Program Coordinator

It was one of the first great, sunny, spring days of the year when CRAFT Farmers gathered with Matt and Peg Schaeffer in Monroe, Wisconsin to learn about Sandhill Family Farms' efforts to incorporate livestock into their vegetable farming operations. Sandhill Family Farms operates a well-known community supported agriculture (CSA) farm that serves the Chicago area, and Matt and Peg’s family recently obtained a herd of sheep to diversify the farm's offerings to customers in the fall.

Field day participants eagerly listened while Matt explained the importance of protecting and maintaining pasture in...

This blog was reprinted with permission from The Call of the Land by Stephen McFadden. In April, Vandana Shiva visited Angelic Organics. She quotes Farmer John in this lecture in Kansas City.

By Shelbie Blank, Farmer Training Program Assistant

    Monday, April 21st CRAFT members gathered at Montalbano Farms to get a detailed look into Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification. It was a warm, windy day, threatening rain, so—first things first—farm tour! Farmer Christina Goy and Farmer Camelia Minasian guided the group past the barns out back to the hoophouses and 96’x30’ greenhouse. Christina spoke about GAP standards required for greenhouses, hoophouses, and also the fields. She also answered questions and told us about their farm’s newly acquired land; mending soils that were previously farmed conventionally and reverting them back into organic....

By Shelbie Blank, Farmer Training Program Assistant

February 28th CRAFT members gathered at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in East Troy, Wisconsin for the annual CRAFT Open Meeting! Learn more about the meeting details, the first CRAFT Field Day of the year "Rightsizing Your Farm" panel discussion and a QuickBooks Recordkeeping workshop which also took place at the meeting.

Upper Midwest CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training), along with 12 other CRAFT farmer alliances from across North America, met at Hawthorne Valley Farm Jan 2-4 in Ghent, New York, for an inaugural in-person meeting of CRAFT farmers and coordinators. This special meeting happened in conjunction with, and was hosted by, the Farm Beginnings Collaborative, a network of 9 US nonprofits--including Angelic Organics Learning Center--that offers the Farm Beginnings strategic farm business planning program to their farmer networks.

On November 26th residents of Blackhawk Courts gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving—farm style. This multi-generational family event brought over thirty people together to create & cook an assortment of pies. Prior to the event, pie-making participants decided about what type of pies they would like to make with fruit, nuts or vegetables.  In response to popular demand, pecan and banana cream pies were added to the menu. Other taste sensations included sweet potato and apple fillings, both of which were grown or gathered locally by the farm crew at Blackhawk Courts. The theme of the night was “let’s bake and eat...

Imagine this scenario: as you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with your family, you begin to realize that each dish has a story.* Perhaps it’s a story about the farmer who grew your mashed potatoes or the friend who gave you his cranberry sauce recipe.

Now imagine: your kids made half the dishes on your Thanksgiving table - so they’re the ones leading the storytelling. They’re sharing tips for proofing yeast and laughing about how they almost spilled the filling as they put the pumpkin pie...

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