Angelic Organics—A new way to do farming

What if you could receive a variety of fresh vegetables on a weekly basis, direct from the farmer? What if the vegetables were of the highest quality and organically raised? What if the program also supported efforts to reconnect the community to the land in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner? There you have the guiding principles behind Angelic Organics.

The enterprise began in 1990, when farmer John Peterson of Caledonia decided to try organic cultivation on what remained of a once-thriving family farm. Bob Bower, general manager of Angelic Organics, said: “He wanted to have a more personal relationship with the land.” One that was free of chemical herbicides, insecticides and petroleum-based fertilizers.

In 1992, Peterson was introduced to Biodynamics while receiving a homeopathic treatment in Mexico. Peterson asked his homeopath if there were similar methods to care for the land. His homeopath told him about Biodynamics, a set of organic farming techniques that were first promoted in 1924 by Austrian social philosopher Rudolf Steiner.

Biodynamics is a system of organic agriculture based on nine special “preparations.” One preparation is specifically prepared manure. Another is a silica-rich rock powder. The rest of the preparations are made from herbs and other plant materials. The preparations are added to compost, or sprayed on soil and plants at various times during the growing season. Each preparation stimulates and enhances biological activity.

About the same time Peterson adopted Biodynamics, Bob and Cynthia Scheffler, who were interested in the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) movement, saw the Angelic Organics logo on a bag of onions that they had bought, and approached Peterson with the CSA concept. One of the main goals of a CSA is to build a self-sustaining farm, one using its own feed and manure to support its needs. Angelic Organics is close, but does ship in some grains and manure, albeit all locally, some from right next door. Also in a CSA, a group of subscribers or shareholders, pay in advance for a weekly delivery of herbs, vegetables, and fruits during the course of a growing season, insurance for the farmer.

Bower said: “We’re putting a face, an area of land, and a more personal relationship in front of the customer. The people have a deeper relationship with us. They will come out to the farm two or three times a year to see how the job gets done. We may have 3- or 400 people out here. It’s really satisfying from both directions.”

So, is CSA participation for everyone? Bower says: “No! It does require a personal commitment from the shareholders. It doesn’t work for people who are too busy, don’t like to cook, or don’t like a wide variety of vegetables.”

In addition to producing Biodynamic organic food for more than 1,000 shareholders, the farm is partnered with a non-profit organization, the CSA Learning Center at Angelic Organics, the purpose of which is to educate people about organic farming, and build ecological awareness in the community.

More information:

Angelic Organics

1547 Rockton Rd.

Caledonia, IL 61101

(815) 389-2746

From the April 13-19, 2005, issue

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