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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...

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

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...

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...

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...

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The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University released a multi-state economic impact study on increases in fruit and vegetableimage production in a six-state area (including Illinois and Wisconsin) that was released this past week. Fresh Taste and the Illinois Local Food, Farms and Jobs Council, partners to the project, released the report in Illinois with a press conference on April 28th. As a co-chair of the Council that released the report in Illinois, I see...

Heirloom tomatoes

A recent Chicago Tribune article featured two of the Learning Center’s CRAFT network members farms, who are finding innovative ways to get their produce into the hands of busy commuters. Scotch Hill Farm and Harvest Moon Farms are two of more than 70 Upper Midwest CRAFT member farms. The owners of Harvest Moon are also graduates of the Learning Center’s Stateline Farm Beginnings program. We are proud of our farmers!

 


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