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September each year marks the graduation of a new crop of farm families from our year-long Stateline Farm Beginnings® Farmer Training program. Designed to help new farmers launch a sustainable farm enterprise, the year-long program includes classes, field days, and one-on-one mentoring for beginning and transitioning farmers. This month, 18 new farm families graduated, many of whom are already hitting the ground running with their new farm enterprises.

 

“This year’s class is definitely the most ambitious group we’ve ever had, “ says Learning Center Director of Farmer Training Sheri Doyel. Graduates plan to produce a diversity of products...

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Last year, Angelic Organics Learning Center partnered with the Rogers Park Green Space and Food Systems Coalition to develop a new multi-plot community garden, the Schreiber Park Ruby Garden in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. The garden is now home to 64 community garden plots (and growing!) tended by area residents and community groups, including a number of refugee groups based in the neighborhood.

 

Ruby Garden held its first community workday of the season on April 24 when over 30 participants got their hands in the dirt and created four new raised garden beds with recycled materials....

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2009 Stateline Farm Beginning Graduates launch new CSA, Sweet Home Organics!

 

Driving home from a Farm Dreams class at Angelic Organics in the spring of 2008, Kim Marsin and Rachel Reklau couldn’t speak.

 

Frustrated with the corporate world and craving a more self-sufficient and fulfilling lifestyle, the couple had signed up for the workshop to explore possibilities for living closer to the land. They were overwhelmed by the diversity of stories they encountered there, and by the realization that a similar undertaking—with all the seemingly radical lifestyle changes it entailed—was facing them.

 

But once the initial...

Shiquita Shumaker (right) and Rockford youth participate in the 5th Annual Black Farmer's Market event at Navy Pier.

 

Angelic Organics Learning Center partners with a network of community-based organizations in the Rockford area that make up the Roots & Wings network. Roots & Wings aims to increase the leadership and life skills of local youth and adults through participatory development projects, hands-on garden-based education, and community service.

 

Shiquita Shumaker, 28, has made positive changes in her life through her work as coordinator of the Roots & Wings youth leadership and gardening program at her apartment complex, Concord Commons. Shiquita admits that she’s never been good about eating her vegetables. Now, she’s not...

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The members of the Rogers Park Green Space and Food Systems Coalition have long believed in the power of growing food to energize a community.

 

When the group – an urban project partner of Angelic Organics Learning Center – lost their ten-year-old garden last November, they were forced to dismantle a space that hundreds of individuals worked very hard to create. But the new community that formed around the deconstruction of the garden rallied once again on Saturday, June 27th, when the group installed a new community garden at the Chicago Park District’s Schreiber Park....

 

Last fall, Learning Center partners in urban food system projects in Southeast Chicago installed season extension infrastructure – plastic hoop “low tunnels” where plants can survive cold spells in fall and early spring. Our partners at the South Chicago Art Center erected their low tunnel in the Artists’ Garden over beds of lush greens in late September. By mid-October, it was the Bush Community Garden’s turn. Both are part of an emerging coalition, building their local food system with Learning Center liaison, Thea Carlson.

 

The Bush Neighborhood on Chicago’s Southeast side inhabits an isolated pocket of deteriorating houses...

 

Hi, I’m Rachel. I’m one of the children lucky enough to go to the Learning Center’s 2008 spring Day Camp. One of my friends was attending the camp back in March, and I went with my mom to take her there. When I saw how much fun it would be, I asked my mom if I could go. She said yes! Enough about me: This is my goat story.

 

We all chose partners and were assigned goats. My friend and I were assigned goats named Roja and Hope, which were white. Hope’s ears were small, and Roja’s very...

Heifer International brings visitors from all over the world to learn from the South Chicago Artists’ Garden

 

In 2003, the South Chicago Art Center lost their urban garden lot to development. That year, Angelic Organics Learning Center partnered with the Arts Center to develop a new and larger garden space on four city lots.

 

This community garden and educational space was also supported through a partnership with Heifer International, an organization that assists communities to produce healthy food for community development all over the world.

 

Over the past several seasons, adults and youth in South Chicago have received training from Learning Center staff and transformed vacant land once littered with broken glass and dominated...

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Driving east from Roscoe, Illinois, toward Angelic Organics farm one sees a familiar site: hundreds of new tract homes gobbling up rich agricultural land. It is a worrisome trend when viewed alongside daily stories of tainted imported foods. If we lose the farmland and continue to lose farmers, where will our food come from?

 

If you pass the tract homes and keep driving east, two bright signs crop up on the right hand side of Elevator Road: one reads “Pine Row Farm: vegetables, eggs” and the other “Margie’s Grass Kickin’ Chickens: vegetables, chicken, pork.” Hungry for fresh, local...

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Margaret grew up on a conventional dairy farm in northern Illinois and always wanted to farm, but thought it was too unrealistic. She and her husband Mark, a city kid, got a few cattle as soon as they moved onto their six acres. They wanted to make sure that their daughters were brought up around livestock. So the girls both helped to raise a few beef cattle and show them through 4H and at the county fair each year.

 

When asked about Mark as a farm laborer, Margaret drew back and laughed. She said that when they first...

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