Angelic Organics Learning Center sustains urban growing

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118477932025002.jpg’, ‘Photo by Drake Baer’, ‘Angelic Organics Learning Center is pleased to sponsor the 2007 Kickapoo Country Fair July 29-30. ‘);

Angelic Organics needed to raise just $2,041 by July 15 to meet the $13,750 challenge for its Annual Campaign! Gifts are matcched dollar-for-dollar—there’s no better way to support the Learning Center this year. Give online, give by phone at (815) 389-8455, or mail a check payable to Angelic Organics Learning Center to 1547 Rockton Road, Caledonia IL 61011.

Upcoming events to learn, grow, and connect

Animal Day for Families (July 21, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.)

Kickapoo County Fair (July 29-30)

For event details or to register, visit the complete calendar of events at

Fresh from the Field

By Martha Boyd

Urban Programs Facilitator

The Learning Center’s Urban Initiative staff often work in gardens with people, guiding them in manual labor using tools. Most of us living a home-to-office-to-car lifestyle have little experience choosing the best instrument to facilitate a physical task. We do it infrequently, and without coaching or direction.

Last week in the garden, I had a moment of clarity about matching the right tool to the right person, and the right task. Twelve of Growing Home’s employees-in-training came to help out a community garden in Woodlawn. We assist Growing Home ( with training, and several of their participants will join our first class of urban growers in our new Growing for Market program.

Our tools included two broadforks, which have long tines attached to a horizontal bar, with two vertical handles. When you stand on the bar and pull back on the handles, the tines dig down and open up compacted soil.

The two men who took on the task of turning up new sod are both strong and able. The smaller man likes working outdoors and is enthusiastically curious about garden ecology. The bigger guy is usually diffident about horticulture and gardening—he is studying computers and business management.

At a break, the big man announced a “management strategy” to divide the group and the task: the two broadforks would lead and turn up the sod, followed by shovels and rakes and hands to pull out the quackgrass with its intensely intertwined rope-like roots. I had never seen him take that kind of initiative and asked why he was working so hard that morning. He said, “This is for the community,” and continued single-handedly (with broadfork) turning over some 200 square feet of quackgrass sod. At some point, the smaller man noticed that the two broadforks were different widths, and he was working with the wider one. Laughing, they switched so he wouldn’t have to jump on it to make the same dent in the sod.

This was a moment when work on the land, for a purpose that motivated them, compelled two people’s personal investment and successful problem solving toward an accomplishment they believed in. It made me think about mismatched tasks and tools whose results have been a food system that wreaks ecological havoc to produce unhealthy food. As we strive to build a healthy local food system, the Learning Center seeks to match the right people and tools to its many tasks. We hope you’ll join us!

Seasonal Spotlight

Since 1999, Heifer International has been an important partner to Angelic Organics Learning Center’s Urban Initiative. In recognition of their work and that of other Chicago-area organizations to address urban hunger and poverty, Heifer International organized a global Symposium on Urban Agriculture in Chicago June 17-23 to look at successful models, resources, and strategies. Heifer staff and partners from cities and countries around the world (including New York City, Bolivia, Brazil, Poland, the Netherlands, Ghana, and Nepal) visited two urban sites where they could see the work of Angelic Organics Learning Center firsthand—the South Chicago Artists’ Garden and Growing Home’s Su Casa market garden. While the group was not able to visit the urban growing sites in Rockford, the youth leaders of the Roots & Wings program provided the centerpieces for the tables at the Symposium banquet that attracted nearly 200 donors, volunteers and staff.

Angelic Organics Learning Center is pleased to sponsor the 2007 Kickapoo Country Fair July 29-30. Each year, more than 2,000 people descend on the headquarters of Organic Valley in the picturesque hills of southwestern Wisconsin for this rural heritage and farming festival. The event is a showcase of rural cultural traditions, farm and garden exhibits, music, dance and the arts. The Learning Center will highlight farmer training efforts with an information booth at this exciting event. To learn more, visit

from the July 18-24, 2007, issue

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