Farmer John Writes about our Extraordinary Community Site Hosts

 In Farm News

Welcome to our Sixth Harvest Week

Angelic Organics is blessed with many extraordinary site hosts—generous, community-minded, committed, and engaged. We could not function as a Community Supported Agriculture farm without the devoted service of our site hosts.

It is not an especially easy job to host. Shareholders sometimes don’t break down their boxes, leaving this task to the host: occasionally a shareholder picks up in a week when no pickup is scheduled for that person and someone else does not receive a box; often shareholders want to arrange to pick up their boxes outside of delivery hours; box mates sometimes leave messes behind when divvying up their share.

Please join me in commending our site hosts. They see the value in serving their communities through a farm they believe in, and the food it provides. Many of them have stayed committed to serving their community through hosting a site for many years.

This winter, we endeavored to learn more about our hosts and to share their stories with the members of their respective communities. Although there are many stories I would love to share with you about our site hosts and their inspiring lives, I will focus on just one host for this week’s column. Perhaps in an upcoming issue of Farm News, I will feature another of our extraordinary hosts.

Tom and Nancy Melvin, Hosts of the Ravenswood Manor Site Since 1992
“I love hosting. I love supporting this form of new initiative. I love being part of the future of agriculture. I love John’s writing and Haidy’s sense of humor. I love meeting my shareholders at all times of the day and night and striking up conversations about meaningful topics. I love sharing recipes. I love it all!” ~Nancy Melvin

History: Nancy and another teacher at the Waldorf School called Farmer John in the early ’90s asking him if he would consider creating a Chicago drop site for his newly formed CSA out in Rockford. That first year our garage welcomed a small group of Ravenswood Manor neighbors and Waldorf parents and teachers wanting biodynamic food for their families. Now we have two delivery days with more than a hundred families a week coming through the bright orange door of our garage, dedicated to vegetables. When we needed to replace the original roof we added a distinctive lantern of windows to provide lovely interior light – still no electricity after dark.

Ravenswood Manor Pickup Site Hosted by the Melvins

Ravenswood Manor Pickup Site Hosted by the Melvins

Now: Tom and Nancy are both artists. Someday that garage may double as a drawing studio; for now Tom’s painting studio is nearby in Albany park. His work can be found at and includes woodblock prints, huge architectural trompe l’oeil, sign painting and small gouache watercolors. Nancy is a textile artist and a waldorf grades and handwork teacher of more than 20 years. She currently works within the community of artisans at Union Handmade, 3860 N. Lincoln Ave in Chicago making organic cotton clothing and toys and hand dyed silk scarves with dyes from her garden: Rudolf Steiner calls the newest art to be created the social arts and both Tom and Nancy feel that supporting biodynamic farming by hosting a large and friendly drop site is truly an act of social artistry.

Last winter Tom got a commission from Burpee to paint illustrations for a seed packet of bee and butterfly friendly flowers to be used by the National Park Service. Silk scarves that he painted with bees pollinating their favorite flowers are at Union Handmade, 3860 N. Lincoln Ave. Chicago IL 60613. Below is a detail.

Silk Scarf Illustration by Tom Melvin

Silk Scarf Illustration by Tom Melvin

Note for those attending our Field Day: when visiting the Granary to view the beet papyrus installation by Julia Goodman in the cupola, make sure to notice the Lazure painting on the walls of the Granary by Tom & Nancy Melvin.

CSA Meeting during the upcoming Field Day, Sat, July 18
Please join us in commending our site hosts and discussing your pickup site during the CSA meeting at the upcoming Field Day.

Mizuna Harvest

Mizuna Harvest

Crops Coming Your Way Soon
Cucumbers are about ready to tumble into your box. In the next one to three weeks, you’ll also receive celery, fennel, parsley and carrots, amongst the numerous other vegetables, such as salad and cooking greens, zucchini, and sweet onions. The sweet corn looks on schedule for Week 7, but it might arrive as late as Week 8.

Your Spring Cabbage

Your Spring Cabbage

Sign up for the Free Recipe Service
Make sure you sign up for the Local Thyme recipe service we offer with this year’s share. It received many great reviews from our shareholders last season. Go to Enter the farm code AOLTFREE under “I am a member of a CSA farm.”  Click the sign-up button.

Let us Know
Let Shelly know anything you’d like to share about this week’s box email hidden; JavaScript is required. Please note the week and day of delivery, your site, when you picked up your box, and any comments about your box.

Please Fold Your Boxes Properly and Return Them
The farm re-uses the vegetable boxes. Flaps are easily torn when the boxes are dismantled improperly, and then the box bottom might later burst open with fresh, organic local produce heading towards the floor. Please return your empty, flattened vegetable boxes to your delivery site. If you receive home delivery, place them in the location where your box is delivered.

More from Shareholders
Visit us often at, where we post exciting farm developments regularly, and shareholders post recipes, tips, and photos.

The Upcoming Angelic Organics Field Day
We hope you will attend our Field Day (previously called the Open House) on Saturday, July 18. Plan to arrive late morning for hayrides, a self-guided tour of the farmstead (with an emphasis on color), a visit to the animals at the Learning Center, a potluck feast, and a trip to the U-Pick garden, perhaps for some green beans and a bouquet of flowers. (If you are reading this in your Saturday hard copy of the newsletter, sorry you missed our event.)

Check out the important Field Day details and schedule here:

Saturday’s Box Contents

Please Note: this summary is written before you receive your box—be aware that some guesswork is involved. As always, be sure to thoroughly wash all of your vegetables.

Salad Greens – lettuce
Cooking Greens – chard
Stem Crops – celery, fennel
Fruiting Crops – zucchini/summer squash, cucumbers
Brassicas – cabbage
Alliums sweet onions
Herbs – parsley, dill

Your Farmer, John

Angelic Organics Learning Center Annual Peak Harvest Dinner
Join Angelic Organics Learning Center for their 8th Annual Peak Harvest Farm Dinner on Saturday, July 25! Enjoy a five-course meal, prepared by premier chefs who use seasonal produce fresh from the Angelic Organics farm. Bus transportation from Chicago will be provided. All proceeds support Angelic Organics Learning Center and their educational programs that help build local food systems. This event sold out last year, so get your tickets soon! For more information, call 815-389-8455.

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