October News
Kenneth holds his tomato harvest at Roots & Wings Urban Farm and Garden
Background photo: Okra growing at Roots & Wings
Upcoming Events
A few tickets remain for our Roots & Wings Brunch
Bring your family to the lodge to celebrate Roots & Wings and enjoy live music and a delicious locally sourced brunch!
Letter from our Executive Director
As a farmer and naturalist, there is absolutely no landscape I don’t find deeply fascinating. I recently spent four days in a car, alone, crossing half of our vast nation absolutely riveted and captured by what I witnessed on my journey. I started in California and passed through Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska and Iowa before landing back home in Illinois. There were no dull moments, literally no boring stretches. Not one. 

During my solo journey, I witnessed the shocking juxtaposition of verdant, irrigated vegetable fields with arid, dusty, barren hillsides. I saw herds of cattle eating said dust and honestly, little else. As a cattlewoman myself, I was alarmed and mystified by their survival on the most degraded, denuded land. Do their intestines get clogged with dirt? And how does one unclog a dirt-filled cow intestine? 

I drove by huge fields of artichokes and potatoes and strawberries in various stages of their life cycle. I didn’t see but definitely smelled newly harvested cabbage and cauliflower. I saw row after row of grape vines. So. Many. Grapevines. 

I learned pistachios and almonds are harvested using what look like huge garbage dumpsters- jaws wide open to the heavily encumbered branches above. I realized that acres upon acres of almond and pistachio trees are just as biologically barren as acres upon acres of Midwestern corn or soybeans. I witnessed field after field of almond and pistachio trees being uprooted and burned in huge piles, one after another, mile after mile, due to catastrophic drought in the West because of climate change. 

I drove through hundreds and hundreds of miles of true desert and fell in love with its Joshua-tree-speckled openness. I was impressed and unnerved by the unforgiving heat, and became completely entranced by the stark beauty of red rock outcroppings and canyon landscapes. I loved its changes in altitude that are deceivingly hard to perceive, and even its random, shocking green circles of irrigated alfalfa in the middle of the Nevada and Utah sand. The farmer in me gets it…the naturalist in me really doesn’t.

So much was revealed about our nation, our land use, our culture, our priorities, our treatment of farmers with one road trip across the United States. Our consumption has resulted in mile after mile of altered landscapes. Our agricultural ingenuity has created artificial abundance in the middle of a desert. Our preferred adult beverage has replaced entire ecosystems of native grasslands and chaparrals. Our demand for cheap food and our lack of care for farm workers has led to communities of people living in complete and abject poverty interrupted by the occasional and always ostentatious mansion. 

We are surrounded by both beauty and devastation, innovation and exploitation. All of it fascinating, some of it invigorating, much of it disturbing. I always knew but my trip reinforced the fact that we have a lot of work to do, friends, to continue building sustainable local food systems that enhance our natural systems while honoring the people who labor within them.

A solo trip is an amazing way to experience the world and recharge; let’s continue on this journey to equity, sustainability and enriching, life-giving community together.

-Jackie de Batista
New: 1% for the Planet
If you have visited our website recently, you may have noticed this logo. 1% for the Planet is is an international organization whose members contribute at least one percent of their annual sales to environmental causes. With the support of Rockford Art Deli, we recently became a non-profit partner!

If you know of a business who is looking to support the environment through sustainable food systems, please share our profile!
Restoration Workdays Article
"Like everything we do here, we think about future generations."  - Randy Mermel

Randy and Jessie are On-Farm Educators who have been working on restoring the oak savanna on the Angelic Organics Learning Center property since 2013. In recent years, we have expanded to offer public volunteer restoration days as we have built up the nature trail system (read more about the trail completion here). Randy and Jessie explain, “In order to preserve and protect our old growth trees, we have to remove invasive species that impede oak regeneration. We feel privileged to be on this land and we feel it is our responsibility to steward it and try to restore some of the balance of the ecosystem.”

Restoration work, the act of removing invasive species using loppers, handsaws, and chainsaws, is a great activity for both introverts and extroverts. During our volunteer days, you can focus on your work, and there are also opportunities to socialize. You can truly show up as you are. 
Blog: What is Stateline Farm Beginnings® ?

Farm Beginnings® is a farmer training model that is farmer-led, community based, and rooted in sustainable agriculture. The purpose of Farm Beginnings® is to help beginning farmers establish strong relationships with nearby farmers, businesses,...

Read more
What's Growing at Roots & Wings
Part of the mission at Roots & Wings is to become immersed in our community and to build valuable and important relationships with people and other organizations by addressing common issues of food insecurity and barriers to access fresh, nutritious, and sustainably grown food. In an effort to increase our outreach and collaboration with others in the field and strengthen connections with other programs, I took a day to visit a couple of Urban Agriculture and Community Gardens in the greater Chicagoland area. The following two organizations share this common cause and are promoters of the urban farm movement. They take similar approaches but different paths in addressing these issues in their own communities. 
My day began by visiting Dulce Morales, owner of Cedillo’s Fresh Produce (CFP), located at the Eat To Live (E2L) Incubator farm in Englewood on the south side of Chicago. Several years ago I worked with the E2L program and was involved with installing the high tunnel that Dulce is now farming on. It has evolved since my time there and now CFP occupies all the space on this site including the high tunnels and the outside space as well. Some recently added chickens and she is in the process of establishing several beehives. Also, a packing station was recently installed with solar panels to provide electricity. The produce grown on the site is shared with the community, sold at several farmers markets, and sold through their CSA. At the end of my visit, Dulce and I vowed to stay in touch and she is planning a visit to the Roots & Wings farm soon to further our collaboration.
Dulce standing in front of her solar powered shelter
My afternoon was spent with Angela and Sam Taylor from Fulton Street Farm and Garden (FSFG) in Garfield Park on the Westside of Chicago. If you want to know anything about community gardens in Garfield park then you need to talk with them first! FSFG is located next to their home on an adjacent lot. They are part of a larger network of 39 community gardens that provide gardening space, community activities, and fresh vegetables to residents in the area. Several years ago I visited them and I remember eating fresh strawberries from their garden. Since then they have expanded this strawberry patch to another vacant lot that the Taylors purchased down the street. Further expansion includes an educational garden for residents in the community. While I was there I got a chance to visit and hear the inspiration behind many of the gardens that are a part of this network. During the summer, FSFG hires interns from the community to support the work and they hold events throughout the season to further connect with the residents in the community. Several weekends in the month you will find many of them selling their produce at the Hatchery, which provides space for them to process and store their vegetables for the farmers market located on site. 
Photo of Angela and Sam Taylor on a banner displayed in their neighborhood
I’m fortunate to know Dulce and the Taylors. They share the same mission to provide gardening space, fellowship opportunities, community building, and access to nutritional food in their neighborhoods. I’m thankful they were willing to share their experiences with me and I value their friendship and partnership. Our time together gave us a chance to exchange ideas and knowledge about gardening practices, community building efforts, and supporting access to healthy food. I have benefited from their acquaintance and we have planted the seed to work together to strengthen food justice in underserved communities. 

-Tedd Snowden
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