June News from the Learning Center
Photo of two children smiling and holding handfuls of cob, a mixture of sand, straw, clay and water, during the recent Kids with Cob event.
Keep scrolling to read about our recent Kids with Cob event.
Comings and Goings

Food systems work is naturally cyclical. And so it goes with work at Angelic Organics Learning
Center. As we pass from spring to summer, a naturally busy season on a farm, we celebrate the
return of camps, camp staff, our first CSA deliveries at Roots & Wings, and the invigorating, life-giving, managed chaos of daily youth programs on the farm. We are also thrilled to welcome a
new Communications and Development Manager and new Board member this month. We hope you’ll read more about each of these announcements and activities below, and also celebrate with us the cycles that make our work so meaningful.

We continue to connect our past to our future via the natural life cycle of comings and goings at
the Learning Center. Thank you for being a part of this amazing journey.

Warmly,
Jackie de Batista
Executive Director
What's Growing at Roots & Wings?
Photo of one of the new signs posted at the Roots & Wings property.
One of the new signs posted at Roots & Wings.
Last week we delivered our first CSA of the season. This is an anxious and exciting time for all of us. Months of work all comes down to this moment, when we see if all the planning and effort has paid off. Overall we are pleased, and like any other farm, some things grew a little faster (summer squash) and others a little slower (radishes) then anticipated. We offered over 11 different fruits, herbs and vegetables in this first share. As the summer progresses, we will offer a broader assortment as our vegetables start to produce. I can’t wait to enjoy my first tomato from the farm!

This year we are growing a lot of new vegetables for the first time, including kohlrabi, fennel, shelling beans, parsnips and more. We are growing over eight varieties of tomatoes and peppers and three varieties of corn (popping, sweet, and for cornmeal). Also, we are hoping to offer more fruit this season. Our plum, apple, and pear trees are finally starting to produce. Hopefully we can get to them before the insects and birds do. To date, we have caught and safely released five groundhogs and one cat, but the bugs have not been too intense. I hope I’m not speaking too soon about the bugs. 

We had new Roots & Wings signage developed over winter and signs have been strategically placed around the farm. The signs will help announce to the surrounding community who we are and what we do, as well as lift up our partners and supporters. 

Finally, I want to welcome Kenneth McDonald back as Farm Apprentice! Ken has been a part of our program for many years and last year was the first time we were able to offer him an hourly wage. We appreciate Ken’s contributions and dedication. Here’s to you Ken!

Warm regards,
Tedd, Yatte & Ken
Getting Muddy on the Farm at Kids with Cob
What is cob? Usually, when we ask this question to visitors, we get answers having something to do with corn. Cob is actually an old English word meaning "lump", and it makes an exceptional natural building material. If you've visited the farm before, you may have seen our cob oven where we bake pizzas and bread. Cob can also be used for other structures such as benches and buildings. On Farm Educator Randy Mermel brought cob classes to the farm 13 years ago to add to our curriculum of natural building workshops that are periodically offered. He was originally inspired by cob as an alternative building material after living in the Pacific Northwest and witnessing vast tracts of forests that were clear cut for lumber. Kids with Cob has been offered many times throughout the years as a way to introduce families to the fun and expressive building material and also instill some ecological values. The families gathered to mix the cob - a mixture of sand, straw, clay and water and then set off to build a structure for the mini ecovillage we created together. Imagination was the cornerstone to the activity and we had some wonderfully creative projects. We were so excited to see it return this year with a wonderful turn-out of returning and new friends. Kids of all ages enjoyed getting their feet dirty mixing cob during the "cob dance" and we even had some cob gymnastics - a first this year! The program was so popular that we will offer it again in the early fall and look forward to doing some cob building with overnight campers next week!

Since preserving forests inspired cob, we also included a tree planting during the program. Board member Charles Johannsen brought a rare American Chestnut tree to plant near Kinnikinnick Creek with participants to create shade for future children visiting Angelic Organics Lodge. 
a child in bridge pose surrounded by cob creations
board member Charles Johannsen planting a tree with three children
People of all ages enjoyed the Kids with Cob event.
Stateline Farm Beginnings Graduate Story
Photo of Jannette's booth at the farmers market, including plants and products on a table and a banner that says Mindful Farm.
Jannette's booth at the Vernon Hill Farmers' Market

Jannette Ortiz launched her farm business this past week and sold her products at the Vernon Hills Farmers' Market for the first time. Her business, Mindful Farm, offers soaps, plants and other goodies grown from her passion for natural skin care. Jannette says the foundation for her success is the Stateline Farm Beginnings program, led by Angelic Organics Learning Center.

As the daughter of a farmer, Jannette had a love for growing plants, but lacked the knowledge and confidence to take her personal garden to a higher level. She started the Stateline Farm Beginnings program in 2019 with a half acre of land, no clear vision, and an interest in “just seeing what could happen.” Designed to help launch or expand farm businesses, the yearlong course guides participants in shaping a farm dream into a strategic farm business plan rooted in profitability and longevity. Through connecting with farmer presenters, agricultural professionals and her course cohort, Jannette says she gained the self-confidence and expertise to turn her dreams into reality. Read the full story here.

Mindful Farm products include goat milk soaps, vegan soaps, powder facial masks, body butters, lip balms and other natural products which will be added throughout the summer. Jannette also grows and sells plants, including calendula, mint, red raspberry, Roman chamomile and plantain lilies. You can find Jannette’s Mindful products at her online store and at Vernon Hills Farmers Market every other Thursday, now through October 14th.
New Staff Member: Julie Uram
Photo of Julie Uram
We are happy to welcome Julie Uram, our new Communications and Development Manager, to the Angelic Organics Learning Center Team! Born and raised in Rockford, Julie is dedicated to the intersection of people, food and nature. She started volunteering with the CSA pack at Angelic Organics last summer, and continued volunteering with the Oak Liberation Front at the Learning Center. Along the way, Julie got to know our team and felt a compelling energy from the farm. She is thrilled for this opportunity to work hard for what she is most passionate about. Before joining the Learning Center team, Julie served as an AmeriCorps member at Severson Dells Nature Center where she coordinated the 815 Outside partnership and led guided hikes across Winnebago County.
New Board Member: Rebecca Adewumi
We are excited to welcome Rebecca Adewumi to our board! Rebecca was first introduced to community gardens in her youth.  Seven years ago she rediscovered her love for gardening with a small balcony garden. About 5 years ago she started maintaining a spot in her local community garden, so she really understands how needed and useful these gardens can be. She believes there is a vital connection between the food we eat & our overall health. Rebecca earned her MBA from Florida A&M University and is a proud Rattler. When she is not working, she loves helping the community and participates in many service projects with her sorority and other community organizations.
Photo of Rebecca Adewumi
Join the Local Food Forum
Angelic Organics Learning Center is happy to spread the word about Local Food Forum, a new newsletter covering all aspects of our region's local food community. The author, Bob Benenson, is a longtime friend of Angelic Organics from his recently concluded tenure as FamilyFarmed's Communications Manager. Bob is a passionate advocate for small farms and beginning farmers, including those from populations currently underrepresented. Two outstanding features of Local Food Forum are the Seasons of Change series, in which different types of farmers share stories throughout the seasons to improve consumers' understanding of what it takes to get food from farm to table, and Market Mondays, with sweeping coverage of the farmers market season that includes vendor profiles. Paid subscriptions (just $50/year or $5/month) are recommended and free subscriptions are available; click here to review past issues and to subscribe