CALEDONIA, Ill. — Farmer John Peterson believes everyone needs a farm to love. He’s raising $150,000 on Kickstarter, the popular crowd-sourced fund-raising site, to turn the dairy barn and corn crib at Angelic Organics farm into a space for visitors who make the pilgrimage to northern Illinois to reconnect to food and farming.
“Everyone needs to hold a farm in their heart. This is that farm for thousands of people,” said Peterson, whose campaign at www.KickstartFarmerJohn.com, launched Jan. 15.
Peterson’s colorful life story was documented in the popular film The Real Dirt on Farmer John. The film was an international sensation, and Peterson found an audience inspired by his perseverance and resilience.
Peterson’s farm is now home to the non-profit Angelic Organics Learning Center, a resource for adults and children seeking to connect to the land, discover the skills and wisdom that sustained past generations, and renew our ecology, economy and culture.
Angelic Organics Farm and the Learning Center draw thousands of guests annually for workshops, tours and agricultural meetings. Many of the classes are in the dairy barn and the corn crib that Peterson and his farmhands have begun to transform by hand into majestic community spaces, filled with light and vibrant color and breathtaking panoramic views of the Midwestern prairie.
Through his Kickstarter campaign, Peterson will complete the necessary construction and safety measures to fully convert the dairy barn and corn crib into public spaces with a stage, fire escapes, emergency lighting and stairwells. He will develop the spaces mindful of their glorious forms and their robust pasts. Light, texture, color and materials will be woven into a tapestry of beauty and function to anchor and enhance the social gatherings.
The improvements will transform a successful working farm into the premier gathering place for children’s groups, beginner farmers, members of his hugely successful CSA, national organic and biodynamic farming associations, and people who just yearn for the chance to smell fresh-cut hay in summer, hold a newly-hatched chick in their hand, and taste a carrot still cool from the earth.
From the Feb. 20-26, 2013, issue