StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11732995079075.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of www.aboutorganics.co.uk‘, ‘Avoid purchasing processed foods. Shop the perimeter of the store, says Paul Ratté, ND, a naturopathic practitioner at Northwestern Health Sciences Universitys Natural Care Center at Woodwinds, in Woodbury, Minn. In the inside, the price goes up and the quality goes down. Buy food that rots. Choose fresh food first, frozen second and canned third.‘);
Upcoming events to learn, grown and connect
Spring is arriving early at Angelic Organics Learning Center with our Chicago Office Open House Feb. 24. Refreshments are generously donated by Goodness Greenness and Sunday Dinner Chicago.
Reserve your space now for these upcoming on-farm workshops:
Fun with Farm Animals, March 10;
Understanding Organic Foods, March 10;
Farm Dreams, March 17;
Kids with Kids Mini-Day Camp, March 28-30; and
Kidwatch 2007, March 31-April 1.
Fresh from the Field
By Tom Spaulding, executive director
As a founding member of the Learning Center, this is my ninth season on the farm. When our small group of farmers and urban volunteers launched this organization, one of our dreams was to see new farmers get started in organic, bio-dynamic and community-supported agriculture.
Here we are, nearly a decade later, and the Learning Center is, as farmer David Cleverdon puts it, the center of gravity for farmer training. Last year, our first graduating class of Stateline Farm Beginnings has created 10 new farms!
Two of the grads, Chris Cubberly (Red Tail Farm) and Jeff Miller (Dea Dia Organics) recently shared their start-up joys and struggles at our recent board meeting. Jeff and Chris inspired me to imagine what our local food system will look like in 10 more years if our farmer training programs continue to generate 10 more farmers like them each season. How will our community change?
At 10 new farms per year, we will have 100 sustainable farms in 2017 feeding fresh, local and organic produce to more than 121,500 people! Heres the math (forgive me, Im a former math major): If each farm averages 15 acres, then we will have 1,500 new organic acres in production. If each acre provides fresh vegetables for approximately 81 people per year (Im using the example of Angelic Organics, which at an average of three people per household, feeds 81 people per acre off its 50 acres), then these 1,500 new acres will feed approximately 121,500 people.
The ecological impact of these 100 farms will be equally impressive. Writer and agricultural commentator Wendell Berry reminds us that for every conventionally-produced pound of grain we harvest in the Midwest, we export 5 pounds of topsoil downstream through erosion. This means that when the average corn farmer harvests 9,600 pounds of corn off an acre, he/she loses 48,000 pounds of our soil. In contrast, the living soils on sustainable farms resist erosion and actually build organic matter. Our 100 new sustainable farms will keep more than 72 million pounds of soil on local farms each year!
I could go on with the math, but Im sure you get the point. In partnership with you, these leading farmers can help us to transform our local food system. We are in good company, there is much work to do, and it is an inspiring place to be!
Happy 10th anniversary to the Collaborative Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT)! Jan. 22, farmers and educators gathered at the Learning Center for the CRAFT annual meeting. We are grateful for those who stepped up to serve on a new CRAFT steering committee that will advise Learning Center staff on farmer training activities over the course of the year: Bob Bower, David Cleverdon, Janet Gamble, Tracey Hall, John Hendrickson, Mary Ann Ihm, Kay Jensen, Don Larson, Larry OToole, Laura Paine, Mike Sands, Matt Sheaffer, Tom Spaulding and Steve Tiwald.
Despite sub-zero temperatures, eight hearty gardeners came to the farm last weekend for our Planning Your Organic Garden workshop. Our solar-heated straw-bale building kept us cozy as we got our hands dirty learning about soil and made plans for planting veggies in warmer months.
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Angelic Organics Learning Center is at 1547 Rockton Rd., Caledonia, IL 61011 and phone, 815-389-8455.
Angelic Organics Learning Center Chicago Office is at 6400 S. Kimbark Ave., Chicago, IL 60637 and phone, 773-288-5462. Visit Angelic Organics online at their Web site, www.csalearningcenter.org.
From the Feb. 28-March 6, 2007, issue