Due to Farmer John’s Stroke, Angelic Organics CSA is Closing

If you are a shareholder of Angelic Organics CSA and you have not received our elaborated announcement of the closing of our CSA, please check your junk/spam email folder. If you have a Gmail account, be sure to check your “promotions” folder for the email we sent you.

I have some difficult news to share with our shareholders and other friends of the farm.

My Health

I experienced a moderate stroke in March. I was taken by ambulance to the ER, where I was kept for several days. I was then moved to the ICU, where I received care for several more days. After that, I was transferred to a rehabilitation facility for two weeks.

Before my stroke, we were going full steam ahead with seeding in the greenhouse. During my hospitalization and after, the crew filled the greenhouse with seedlings. Upon my return from the rehabilitation facility, I felt I was recovering well enough to manage the upcoming season. 

However, there is a condition called post stroke regression, which I am now experiencing. The left side of my body is weak; my energy declines severely by midday, as does my ability to walk. I fall asleep in meetings. I wobble around the farm, staying upright so far. Nighttime sleep is elusive. My speech and mental functioning are sometimes compromised.

Additionally, research informs me that my chance of another stroke is heightened due to having had a prior stroke. Furthermore, due to my condition of atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat), my odds of a heart attack are increased. Statistically, my odds for longevity are quite diminished. 

Therefore, unfortunately, I am not able to run the CSA anymore. Before the stroke, when I could devote relentless energy to farming—often 80+ hours per week—it was barely enough to keep the farm in balance. In my compromised state, I am maybe a quarter or a third as effective as before.

Additionally, my lovely wife Haidy has been experiencing poor health for years, and she has been unable to consistently be in the office and at my side, making it even harder for us to continue running the farm.

A Life of Farming

I’m 74 years old. I started helping my family on this farm when I was seven. In 1990, I transformed the farm into Angelic Organics CSA.

I’ve had a 67-year run with farming on the same farm, passionately engaged with the soil, crops, equipment, buildings, weather, and community.

No Replacement Farmer

I have tried over the years to train different candidates to take over my role to no avail. As my farmer friend Richard de Wilde (of Harmony Valley Farm in Wisconsin with 150 acres of mixed organic vegetables) told me years ago, there are only nine people in the country who can do what he and I do at our large scale, and those other seven have their own farms. He recently told me that he had started to search for an assistant farmer in 2008, and none of the candidates came close to qualifying over the next ten years. Finally, he found someone suited for the role, who has now been with him for several years.

In case you need a reminder of the demands of this type of farming, revisit this issue of Farm News that highlights the complexity of managing this farm: Farmer John Writes: A Swirl of Work.

I asked Victor, my highly competent, knowledgeable and engaged employee, who has been here for 14 years, if he was interested in taking on the management of the farm in my stead. He did not hesitate to say, “no, I could not do it, plus I see what it has done to you, my friend. I don’t think anyone can do it but you, and you no longer can.” Longtime employees Nathan and Pollo gave similar responses.

(Of course, people who are less informed about running a large diversified CSA farm are quick to offer simplistic solutions for my replacement. “What can be so difficult about it?” they sometimes ask. See above.)

Shareholders Can Harvest the Early Season Crops

Since I am no longer able to farm, there will be no crew to harvest the crops already in the fields, and no more deliveries.

As we have done every season, this spring we planted the early season crops that were started in the greenhouse in March. These early season crops will mature into lovely vegetables. 

I am inviting shareholders and pack volunteers to come to the farm and harvest these early season vegetables during designated times on Saturdays once the crops are ready, probably from late June through July. 

Shareholders and pack volunteers will be notified of the harvest days and times as well as the crops that are ready to be harvested as the time approaches. Don Glasenapp, our Pack Volunteer Coordinator, and Mayra Guerrero Lopez, our H-2A worker, will greet and orient shareholders on these harvest days. The crops will be in the fields north of the farmstead along the driveway.

Victor, Nathan and Mayra prepare for the final planting of onions

The crops that shareholders can likely harvest are:

  • beets
  • kale
  • storage onions
  • sweet onions
  • scallions
  • Swiss chard
  • garlic
  • parsley
  • sage
  • thyme
  • anise hyssop
  • summer savory
  • flowers

What about Our H-2A Workers?

Two H-2A workers from Mexico, Mayra and her cousin Antonio, arrived here before I realized that I can’t continue with the CSA. 

An additional H-2A worker, Jesus, for whom we created a GoFundMe campaign this spring, is still hoping to come to the US with his three daughters and seek asylum; however, he is currently forbidden from leaving Mexico by the prosecutor for the upcoming trial for the murder of his wife by her cousin. It seems unlikely that Jesus and his family will be able to come. Still, the money that the GoFundMe campaign raised–over $23,000– mostly from our shareholders, will help Jesus and his family tremendously.

Regrettably, the remaining five H-2A workers will not be returning. They are most special, and we will deeply miss them.

An Opportunity to Say Goodbye to the Farm

I know that many shareholders are unable to make this trip to the farm, but for those who can come, it will be a suitable time to say goodbye to Angelic Organics after 34 years as a CSA farm. 

Due to my compromised health, it is unlikely that I will be available for interaction with our visitors on these harvest days. Also, the buildings will not be available for exploring or viewing during this time, but there will be picnic tables and a bathroom available.

The Ending

Since we are a Community Supported Agriculture farm, shareholders partake in the abundance and adversity of their farm. The stroke was a big blow.

The farm has made a compensatory effort to provide early season vegetables to our shareholders through the U-Pick arrangement described above; this has required an outlay for staff, seed, greenhouse management, tillage, transplanting, and weeding. 

More broadly, we have put a great deal of money and time into preparing our equipment for upcoming seasons, and have put a vast amount of money and work into building up soil fertility with compost and cover crops over the years in preparation for this season and future seasons.

I think it is worth mentioning that it has been a tough road these past few years—declining CSA sales, increased competition from box stores, meal kit services, and demand for bigger discounts while costs of production have gone up.

I apologize for how our closure might affect our shareholders and other friends of the farm. I hope that shareholders will come and partake in the early season harvest, and bid the farm farewell.

A Note about Correspondence

I am unable to engage in feedback regarding this momentous development. Although I have a social nature, I simply do not have the strength post-stroke to navigate the various reactions of shareholders to this announcement. My wife is also too ill to engage with feedback. 

I plan to have someone respond at least minimally to email correspondence. There is no office staff on the farm, so please don’t drive to the farm hoping to speak with an office person.

The Future of Angelic Organics

Due to my health decline, I have come to the difficult decision to put the farm up for sale this year. My intention is to seek a values-aligned buyer so that the farm will be stewarded by a like-minded person into the future. Given the diminishing popularity of the CSA model, it is likely that the buyer of the farm will not pursue the CSA model, though it is of course possible that he or she will want to offer a CSA.

The farm has extensive infrastructure for supporting organic and biodynamic vegetable farming as well as cultural gatherings. We will seek a steward who is committed to biodynamic and organic principles, and who prioritizes beauty and cultural life.

theater in barn loft

At this point, the plan is to sell everything later in the year—the farmstead with its sprawl of well-kept buildings, our 180-year-old stone house on Rockton Road at the end of the farm driveway, the extensive line of machinery, and a dizzying array of household goods. Pretty much everything is so well curated to sustain a whole farm organism, but I cannot continue to nurture and maintain it. Of course, this broad plan might change as time unfolds, but for now this is the intention. One never knows what the future holds.

For now, I will continue to be the general manager of Angelic Organics which will still carry on in name.

We are communicating with our partner organizations – Angelic Organics Association (a land trust), Angelic Organics North LLC, and Farmers Rising (formerly Angelic Organics Learning Center) – to find the best path for all as we transition out of farming. 

As for future plans for my wife and me, we don’t know yet to where we will relocate once the farm is sold. If my health permits, my plan is to finish my books that have been on hold for decades due to farming demands. I’m fine not farming, though I will of course miss it in some ways. Farming is the reason why I’ve been living here for my whole life. Now that I won’t be farming anymore, I am feeling strongly the allure of the world’s mystery and vastness—I hope to have the improved health to embrace these.

A Heartfelt Thank You

I know that many of you have been emotionally and financially invested in Angelic Organics for many years, some of you for decades. I understand that this news will likely come as a shock, and that you might feel disappointed in this outcome. 

I have given it my all, and I hope that you will understand. My hope is that the future owner of the farm will continue what I have created in some form.

Thank you to each one of you for supporting Angelic Organics Farm. Some of you have been with us since the beginning.

I am deeply grateful for the journey we have shared. I hope that your life has been enriched by the farm, and that this enrichment will stay in your hearts.

Farmer John

This letter from Farmer John was written in collaboration with his wife Haidy and is supported by the following allies:

With great respect and affection, our family and the Board of Angelic Organics North wish John and Haidy blessings and healing. You have dedicated your life to enlivening us and the earth with clean food and healthy soil. May life care and provide for you both with as much loving soul as you have extended to our CSA community. 

— Alison Brown, Manager of Angelic Organics North LLC


Dear Shareholders, 

I am writing as a longtime shareholder and the volunteer president of Angelic Organics Association, a community land trust born from the combined efforts of Angelic Organics CSA and Angelic Organics Learning Center (rebranded Farmers Rising in 2024).  

Like many of you, the arrival of this news from Farmer John is heartbreaking.  I imagine that many of you have heard Farmer John say that the farm’s purpose was not to grow vegetables.  Instead, he had a greater purpose in mind – “to put a farm into our hearts.”  AND SO HE DID!  Whether we ate from the bounty of this place or participated in on-farm experiences and civic alliances over the past 34 years, how could this farm not fall into our hearts? And no wonder it hurts to see our community farm close.  Our lives and the life of our community have been transformed because this farm embraced us in a multiplicity of ways.

I know I speak for all our AOA trustees when I say that we are open and ready to work with John and Haidy and sibling organizations to find the best possible path to farm succession. We know that there is no perfect path forward from this big change. We want John and Haidy to retire with dignity, and we recognize the farm and our lives will be forever changed as John and Haidy transition out.  

May the circle of allies and shareholders assist with the succession and find renewal as the circle expresses gratitude and bids goodbye to John and Haidy even as we open space for a successor to step forward among us. 

In gratitude and for healing,
Thomas Spaulding, President of Angelic Organics Association


Farmer John would say the most festive part of the week was when the pack was in session. He loved to grow vegetables and was very particular about their presentation in the boxes. He wanted the shareholders to experience the colors and aromas of the farm through their share. The volunteers gathered each week to happily fulfill Farmer John’s vision. As Coordinator of Pack Volunteers for seven years, it has been an honor and my pleasure to have served in this role at Angelic Organics Farm. 

  On behalf of all the pack volunteers we would like to wish Farmer John and Haidy well with their health and future plans.

– Donald Glasenapp, Coordinator of Pack Volunteers


As the former Executive Director of the Biodynamic Association and as a long-term friend to John and Haidy, and as a long-term advisor to the farm and to the Learning Center, I wish to express my support for this decision. John is a heroic, larger than life figure, what he has accomplished is herculean and worthy of the highest admiration. But John is also a human being who deserves the opportunity to heal and humbly move into a new phase of life. I pray that the shareholders will have the courage, compassion and generosity to release John from the stress of another growing season, and from the financial burdens of the farm. Let us bless and release this incredibly talented and fragile human being and in so doing, help birth him into his next phase of development. 

Robert (Karp) Karbelnikoff