Tag Archives: heirloom seeds

Mike gets an apology from the City of Chicago

August 19, 2012

The City of Chicago apologizes for tree damage on McLean Avenue

Yes, you read that correctly. This morning, live on my radio show, I will be receiving an apology from Tom LaPorte, Assistant Commissioner for the City of Chicago Department of Water Management, for damage done to trees on my block in the Logan Square Neighborhood. I will accept that apology on behalf of the good citizens of McLean Avenue.

If you’ve been listening to my show in the past few weeks or following developments on this website, you know that Water Management has been replacing water mains on my street. That’s not particularly newsworthy. After all, it’s no secret that our aging infrastructure is in desperate need of replacement.

What IS surprising, though, is the amount of damage the trees on my block sustained from the work crews. I have been posting photos of the carnage for two weeks. They are still on my home page. Now, I do understand that it’s hard to get heavy machinery down every block in the city without something being affected. But the level of damage sustained was so beyond the pale that I felt I needed to call it to the attention of the Department of Water Management and the Bureau of Forestry.

Last week, Senior Forester Joe McCarthy responded to my inquiry by saying, in part,

Everyday around ALL Cities, Towns etc, construction is ongoing.  New construction and repair/upgrades of homes and utilities (gas, water, sewer with connections from mains to each and every home) all affect tree health.  You are undergoing a main replacement.  This may cause gas mains to be relocated and all sorts of other dominoes that fall in place.  These large projects are typically reviewed as plans are developed, distributed and reviewed through a utility coordination process in Chicago’s Department of Transportation called Office of Underground Coordination ( OUC ).  Through plan review and training efforts we attempt to stem the tide (ounce of prevention worth more than a pound of cure) since enforcement can overwhelm staff and is limited to the most egregious cases.

He also sent me the text of a talk he made in Toronto a few years ago. In it, he talks about how trees are valued in Chicago:

Utility installations involve digging trenches as it is cheap and easy for installation. Trenching near a tree, especially a tree of large stature, can lead to disaster. The tree may not fall down right away or four months later, but eventually the tree will come down.

We have an office of underground communication where we coordinate digging and plan reviewing, as well as a damage prevention council where standards are set, as trees are an integral part of infrastructure in Chicago along with utilities, streets, and sidewalks.

Sidewalks and streets begin to decline as soon as they are installed and have a finite replacement period. Trees on the other hand, are the only infrastructure that increase in value after installation. Install a $500 tree and one day it could be an $80,000 tree. We start with education, teaching the importance of where the tree roots are, and how to work around them. If they cry, “oh it’s going to cost more”, you impose the value of the tree. If you’re going to have to do it the cheap way, you pay for the value of the tree if it has to come out.

I’m pleased to have Tom LaPorte from the Water Department and City of Chicago Senior City Forester John Lough on the program this morning. And may I say here that I thank Mr. LaPorte and the Department of Water Management for stepping up and accepting the responsibility for the damage. My goal–and Mr. LaPorte has made it clear that it is his goal, too–is to make sure that this doesn’t happen on other streets in other neighborhoods.

To that end, if you see damage caused by city workers or outside contracters who you think have been hired by the city, call Tom LaPorte, Assistant Commissioner, Department of Water Management at 312/742-1029, or Commssioner Thomas Powers at 312/744-7001.

Get ready to Tweet for the ICG Show

The Independent Garden Center Show comes to Chicago this week, and if that doesn’t have you jumping for joy, it’s understandable. It’s really a show for garden center professionals–whether you own one, sell your products for them, grow plants for them, or are involved in some other way…like talking about them on the radio.

So, as the more than 1,000 exhibitors hook up with thousands of IGC buyers, some of us get all goose-bumpy, just thinking about wondering the isles at the Navy Pier show. And, like last year, the folks who like to Tweet about these events are back in town. A number of them will be gathering at the Peterson Garden Project Learning Center for a live #gardenchat on Twitter from 7 to 8pm tomorrow evening (August 20).

If you’re not sure what that means, it’s basically a reason for you to log on to Twitter at that time, follow the hashtag #gardenchat, and post your comments. Other Twitter codes that you might find useful are #IGC12 and @IGCShow.

I’ll be there in person, along with LaManda Joy (@TheYarden) from the PGP, Brenda Haas (@BG_Garden), and others who show up when I tweet at @MikeNow. Unfortunately, the event is by invitation only, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t join the fun on Twitter.

D. Landreth Seed Company is still going strong

It’s been awhile since I’ve talked to Barbara Melera of D. Landreth Seed Company. You might remember that they were on the verge of insolvency at the beginning of this year, but managed to fight back, thanks to the efforts and the purchases of hundreds of people who believed that this 227 year old American company deserved a little better than it was getting. My Chicago listeners stepped up big time, and I’m proud of that.

Well, Landreth is back as an advertiser on the show, just in time for planting Wild Saffron Crocus Bulbs. Here’s what Barbara has to say about them:

In addition to peas and herbs, THE SEED OF THE DAY FOR MID-SUMMER AND FALL PLANTING is going to feature three bulbs that should be ordered in July for planting in August. If you don’t plant a single thing this summer, you should plant one of the fall blooming crocus bulbs. They are one of the nicest surprises of the fall. They can be planted in full sun or partial shade, and they can be planted in containers. YES, they do come back each year, and YES they will spread – doubling about every 12 months.

Here is the ‘hitch’. Unlike the bulbs you plant in the fall or the bulbs you plant in the spring, fall blooming crocus have to be ordered in July or early August. We receive the bulbs in late August and ship them to you in late August. You, then, need to plant the bulbs in late August or early September and they will begin blooming for you in September or early October.

If you haven’t ordered them now, you’d better get going. Meanwhile, you can follow–and Like–D. Landreth Seed Company on Facebook.

The First 100 Native Gardens Walk…

…was yesterday. I’m sorry if you missed it. But there’s a reason that I’m mentioning this terrific event, sponsored by the Wildflower Preservation and Propagation Committee (WPPC) in McHenry County. More than100 homeowners planted native gardens in their yards and yesterday twenty-two of those yards were open to the public for a self-guided tour.

Homeowners planted woodland shade gardens, savanna gardens, prairie gardens, and rain gardens ranging in size from 100 square feet to over 600 square feet on lots ranging in size from a regular city lot to 6 acres. They’re all part of the “Natural Garden in Your Yard” (NGYY) mentoring program of the WPPC. The program is based on the concept that many small native gardens, when combined as part of the bigger picture can make a big difference for a cleaner, healthier environment for all. NGYY began in 2005 with 12 mentees. In 2012, there were 16 new mentees.

And, guess what? You can still get involved for next year.   Pat Sullivan-Schroyer wrote to me that the deadline for applications for the next mentoring class is August 25, 2012.  Interested homeowners/gardeners can go to the website: thewppc.org, and click on Natural Garden in Your Yard.  That gives a detailed description of the program as well as a link to the application.  There is no charge for participating in the program.  Their only cost will be for whatever plants they choose to purchase for their yards.

Join me at Knupper Nursery and Landscape next Saturday

I’m finally going to learn how to pronounce Knupper’s!!

That’s because Laurie Gravagna (who has a difficult enough name herself) stops by today to preview the first annual Veggie Fair at Knupper’s Nursery and Landscape in Palatine. It’s a free event and it will feature seminars and demonstrations, a vegetable contest, and even a pie eating contest. I am doing a presentation at 1:00 p.m. Here’s the schedule of events:

10:00 am – Water Bath Canning Demonstration by Kirstin Larson
Do you have more fruits and vegetables than you can eat?  Let Kirstin show you how to preserve your tomatoes so you can enjoy them all winter long!  She will also be discussing making jams and jellies.

11:00 am – Decorating Gourds for Fall by Paula Farrell
Join Paula Farrell as she discusses gourds.  From selecting fun shapes and sizes, to preparing and cleaning (or not cleaning) and how to turn them into lovely decorations for your home, you’ll learn everything there is to know about this fun fall vegetable.

12:00 pm – Seasonal Cooking Demo. by Dave’s Specialty Foods
Chef and owner Dave Esau of Dave’s Specialty Foods in Mt. Prospect will amaze you with his culinary skills and wit as he prepares a tasty recipe using seasonal ingredients for all to try.  www.davesspecialtyfoods.com

1:00 pm – “Thriving in Hard Soil” by Mike Nowak (that’s me)
I will talk about my experience creating a community garden in my Logan Square neighborhood and give advice on how to start a garden in your neighborhood.

2:30 pm – Pie Eating Contest
Come out and enjoy some good old fashioned fun!  Contestants will be competing to finish their pie the fastest (without using their hands).  The Pie Eating Contest is limited to ages 15 and up.  There is no charge, but pre-registration is required and there are a limited number of spaces.  You may register by coming into the store or giving us a call.

2:45 pm – Veggie Contest Judging
Submit your homegrown vegetables in our contest. Ribbons and prizes will be awarded in each category.  Please drop off all entries on Friday, August 24 before 6:00 pm.  Judging categories are as follows:

• Most Uncommon Vegetable
• Heaviest Tomato
• Ugliest Tomato
• Heaviest Zucchini
• Prettiest Multi-colored Pepper
• Potato Pageant**

**The Potato Pageant is a costume contest for potatoes.  You don’t have to grow it, just pick one up from your favorite grocery store.  They can be superheroes, animals, cartoon characters or whatever you can imagine them to be.  It is open to all ages.

It all sounds goofy–and fun. Join me if you can. Here are directions.

And I would be remiss…

If I didn’t mention that my good friends Rich and Susan Eyre are having another of their hosta sales at Rich’s Foxwillow Pines in Woodstock, Illinois. It’s actually called the Hosta Sale and Arts & Crafts Fundraiser and you can learn more about it here.

Here’s the info:

Saturday August 25, 2012, 9am-4pm
Rich’s Foxwillow Pines Nursery, Inc
11618 McConnell Road Woodstock IL 60098

For more information, write coniflora@richsfoxwillowpines.com or call 815-338-7442.

The best part is that all proceeds benefit Heifer International and Mano a Mano International Partners. Can’t get any better than that. Thank you, Rich and Susan.

New Year, New Chance, New Seed Competition, New Cookbook

January 1, 2012

A new year…and D. Landreth Seed Company can see the light

One of the most inspirational stories of 2011–and now of the new year–has been the continuing struggle of the D. Landreth Seed Company, as the 227 year-old business claws its way out of near financial ruin. If you’re a regular listener to this show, you know that I started following this story after I was made aware of it in a post by Mr. Brown Thumb (more on him later).

Basically, a note was called on the outstanding debt of the company and they had about a month to show that they could paid the bill. Their goal was to sell one million catalogs in…who knows how long. The original deadline was September 30th but that was extended as orders came in. Owner Barbara Melera appeared on my show a number of times to talk about how things were going. While she was always upbeat, she wrote that behind the scenes, things were tougher than they needed to be because of their credit card processor, First Data Merchant Corporation:

On October 14th we received a letter from First Data telling us that they refused to be our credit card processor and that they were terminating the relationship on October 27, 2011, BUT they were keeping at least $50,000 plus any transaction funds posted after 10-27-2011 for six months, supposedly to cover all of the refunds they were going to have to make because of the scam we were running.

Scam?? If that’s the case, then Melera is one of the great scam artists of all history. I mean, not only did she con me (easy enough to do), but she dragged along people like Oprah, Martha Stewart, Ellen Degeneres and Rose O’Donnell, not to mention companies like John Deere and Organic Valley, as well as organizations like the Sierra Club and Mother Nature Network. So I was gratified to see this posted on the Landreth Seed Company Facebook page this week:

GREAT NEWS!! Your facebook posts, letters and emails and voicemails WORKED. We have just received a call from FDMC, literally moments ago, and they are releasing our funds which should be in our account by Friday. YOU DID THIS. They would never have listened to us, but they did listen to all of you. It is now being said that social media will mean the democratization of process and you have just proven this. You have proven that true justice can be accomplished, quickly and efficiently, even in America. Thank you, Landreth friends.

Well, after seeing that, I knew that I was going to have Barb back on the show on this New Year’s Day. Meanwhile, keep the orders coming! Listeners to my show have really stepped up, which makes me feel like a proud pappa. You can get a sense of the quality of this catalog by linking to sample pages here. Log onto these various social media sites to continue to get the word out: Landreth Seed Co, Save Landreth Seed Company, Order their 2012 Catalog!, and more. If you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag #savelandreth. If you just want to make a contribution, go to ChipIn.com and click the icon on the upper right hand side of the page.

One Seed Chicago contest goes online LIVE on my show!

Mr. Brown Thumb, who I mentioned above in reference to the D. Landreth Seed Company, is back on the show today to announce the contestants in the One Seed Chicago 2012 competition. He is joined by Ben Helphand, Executive Director of NeighborSpace, Chicago’s land trust for community gardens, which is the chief organization behind the competition.

Each year One Seed Chicago selects one plant to be the focus of a season-long celebration. Actually, One Seed Chicago chooses three plants, and voters decide which is most worthy of being celebrated. In the past, the votes have alternated between flowers and vegetables. If you watched the competition last year, you know that the contestants were radish, eggplant and Swiss chard.

Of course, it was hardly a fair fight, once I threw my support behind Swiss chard. At that point, my loyal followers (all 3 or 4), stuffed the ballot box, if only to keep me from sulking. At the end of the voting, when Swiss chard was announced as the winner, I was declared Chard Overlord and accorded all of the rights and privileges therewith (and post haste, if I’m not mistaken). As a result of my stomping all over the democratic process last year (which I thoroughly enjoyed), I’ve decided TO NOT STEAL THE ELECTION THIS YEAR!

I’m not sure how much I’m supposed to reveal about this year’s vote, so I’m going to let Mr. Brown Thumb handle that duty. In fact, not only will MBT be revealing the three seeds, but he promises to hit the switch that puts the contest online LIVE DURING THE SHOW! It will be an unprecedented marriage of the broadcast and Internet media. Well, perhaps not unprecedented, but pretty cool, anyway.

As I mentioned , One Seed Chicago is a project of NeighborSpace, in partnership with GreenNet Chicago. Other sponsors are Openlands, Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance and Illinois Extension-Cook County. Residents from the Chicagoland area vote on their favorite as a reward for your vote (it’s kind of a bribe, I guess), you receive a packet of seeds of the winning plant. Teachers can request a classroom size packet along with an educator guide.

Sustainable Food Fundamentals
“Farmstead Chef”: fixin’ good food fixins that’re good for the planet

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not big on cookbooks, chiefly because I don’t cook. I don’t draw, either, whether with ink, pencil or crayons. Other than that, I’m pretty open to things.

That being said, however, I’m not an idiot and I know when a book–even a cookbook–has a lot going for it. Which is why John Ivanko and Lisa Kivirist, authors of Farmstead Chef  are on the show today. Okay, that and we happen to have mutual acquaintances. More on that in a moment.

If you have any sensitivity at all towards the local/sustainable/healthy/whateveryouwantotcallit food movement that is taking our country and its kitchen tables by storm, this is the cookbook for you. Regardless of how appealing it sounds, not everybody is going to do what Ivanko and Kivirist did–start Inn Serendipity, an organic and largely fossil fuel-free farm complete with Bed and Breakfast in Wisconsin.

Which is why it’s such a good thing that they are passing along their knowledge of what it’s like to live–and eat–close to the land. But they do it by suggesting rather than preaching. As they say in the book:

Farmstead Chef showcases the creative and budget-friendly side to eating lower on the food chain more often, while taking responsibility for the food we put into our bodies–by growing it, sharing it, savoring it. By lower on the food chain we mean more fruits and vegetables and less meat. Not “no meat”…This “farmsteadtarian” cookbook–preparing healthy meals with ingredients sourced as close as possible from a farm, ranch or artisan food purveyor–is anything but prescriptive, proclaiming you will die an early death if you touch an ounce of sugar, eat meat or unwind with a strawberry daiquiri at the end of the day.

Whew! They had me worried for a second. Pass the merlot.

The chapters feature the various types of meals that we eat: breakfast entrees, breads, soups, “sides, sauces and salads,” nibbles (appetizers), main dishes, “cakes, pies and sweets,” and drinks. There is a final chapter devoted to their son Liam’s favorites and tips on pantry stocking. The recipes are simply and efficiently explained so that even a novice like me can follow them (no small feat). Ivanko and Kivirist stress eating “seasonally,” but they are not dogmatic about it, mercifully.

Along the way there are tips about cooking and sustainability and healthy eating. There are also short articles, which they call “Kitchen Table Talks,” that feature farming friends, urban gardeners, chefs and the like. That’s where our mutual acquaintances come in–Beth and Jody Osmund of Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm, who have been on my show several times. Farmstead Chef devotes a Kitchen Table Talk segment to the Osmunds under the title “Meet Your Meat Maker.” See? I told you that they weren’t dogmatic about food. Meat is certainly welcome on the table, as long as it is raised and killed humanely and sustainably.

There’s a lot I’m missing here, including the dishes, like

  • zucchini feta pancakes
  • fresh tomato breakfast pie
  • winter squash spice muffins
  • homemade vegan pitas and pita chips
  • cheese roasted asparagus
  • creamy spinach salad
  • vegan hearty root vegetable dip
  • creamy leek pastries
  • herb-infused spare ribs
  • fried green tomato & basil sandwich
  • beet burgers
  • Italian sausage risotto (courtesy of Beth and Jody Osmund)
  • strawberry dessert pizza
  • pear crumb pie
  • homemade graham crackers

Hey, you’ll just have to get the book. You’ll think that the 20 bucks you paid is the best bargain you’ve made in all of 2012. That’s a joke, of course, but the cookbook is terrific.

Saving Starved Rock State Park

The controversy surrounding Starved Rock State Park and the attempt to put an open pit sand mine next to its entrance is still on my radar…and should be on yours. I will be discussing this issue on next week’s show. In the meantime, find out more about the issue from the Illinois Sierra Club. You can submit a comment to the LaSalle County Board here.

New electronics recycling law for 2012

As of this morning, if you throw out those old electronics, you could be fined for it. That’s the result of a new law that went into effect as of January 1, 2012. Mike Mitchell, Executive Director of the Illinois Recycling Association, talked about this a few weeks ago on the show. The new law expands the number of covered electronic products in Illinois from four to seventeen. Here’s the full list:

  • Televisions
  • Monitors
  • Printers
  • Computers ( laptop, notebook, netbook, tablet )
  • Electronic Keyboards
  • Facsimile Machines
  • Videocassette Recorders
  • Portable Digital Music Players
  • Digital Video Disc Players
  • Video Game Consoles
  • Small Scale Servers
  • Scanners
  • Electronic Mice
  • Digital Converter Boxes
  • Cable Receivers
  • Satellite Receivers
  • Digital Video Disc Recorders

While you could be fined for throwing out any of these devices, the real purpose of the law is to hold the manufacturers accountable for the growing amount of electronics in landfills. According to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, “For calendar year 2012 all manufacturers of the new list of covered electronic products must now register with the Illinois EPA and meet an annual recycling goal.” Any manufacturer not complying with the Illinois Electronic Products Recycling and Reuse Act is liable for a civil penalty not to exceed $10,000 for the violation and an additional civil penalty not to exceed $10,000 for each day the violation continues.

Click here for more on the Electronic Products Recycling & Reuse Act and the responsibilities to manufacturers.

And don’t forget to recycle your holiday trees and lights

I have no idea what Chi-Town Cheapskate is, but I give them kudos for putting together a one-stop shopping guide to recycling not just Christmas trees, but the lights, too. So in the interest of giving credit where credit is due, I’m posting the link to their recycling article, mainly because, unlike most of the stories I’ve seen, they also include suburban locations. Good on you, Chi-Town Cheapskate, whatever you are.

Working to save D. Landreth Seed Company, celebrating the #2 pencil, and encouraging Chicagoans to “eat, drink & buy local”

November 20, 2011

Help keep the historic D. Landreth Seed Company alive:
Give the gift of one of their fabulous 2012 catalogs!

If you’re a regular listener to the program or if you’re a serious gardener, you are aware of the plight of the historic D. Landreth Seed Company. The oldest seed house in America, dating back to 1784, had its accounts frozen by a garnishment order on August 31 of this year. Owner Barbara Melera and her husband Peter had thirty days to sell one million 2012 catalogs to satisfy their creditors and keep the doors open.

And then a kind of miracle began to unfold. Word got out in the social media, including Twitter and Facebook. which spread to the mainstream media and even further. I first got wind of the story in a post by Mr. Brown Thumb and quickly invited Barbara to be on my show on September 11. At that point, though things looked bleak, various people, organizations and companies began lending their support and the orders were starting to roll in.

You can see the full list of Landreth supporters on the company’s home page, but it includes names like Huffington Post, American Express, The Fabulous Beekman Boys, Planet Green, Martha Stewart, National Public Radio, Oprah Winfrey, The View, Elen Degeneres, Organic Gardening Magazine, Rosie O’Donnell, Sunset Magazine, John Deere Company, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, The Sierra Club, Mother Nature Network, Slow Food USA, Farm Aid, Organic Valley and dozens more. I’m proud and honored that The Mike Nowak Show is #4 on the list.

By the time Barbara visited with me again on October 2, the company had received enough orders to buy more time. At that time here are what the numbers looked like, thanks, in part to the legendary “Mike Nowak Bump”:

Online orders: $122,096
Phone orders: $635
Contributions via www.chipIn.com: $7,643

Tota Raisedl: $130,374

Here are the numbers as of today, November 20, 2011:

Online orders: $148,150.61
Phone and mail orders: $7,329.00
Contributions via chipin: $12,162.50

Total Raised: $167,642.11
Equivalent Catalogs Ordered: 33,528

As you can see, it ain’t easy to sell a million catalogs. But once they start landing in mailboxes all over America, the sheer quality of this publication will encourage a new spurt of orders. How do I know? I happen to have in my hot little hands a printer’s proof of the actual catalog, courtesy of Barb Melera. It’s so valuable, in fact, that after this morning’s show she is making me mail it back to her.

The 2012 D. Landreth Seed Company catalog is indeed a treasure. It features reproductions of past catalog art, etchings, drawings, photographs and quotes from past catalogs, like this from the 1848 catalog:

“The Lettuce is a hardy annual, introduced or cultivated in England since 1562, but from what country is unknown. The use of Lettuce, as a cooling and agreeable salad, is well know; it is also a useful ingredient in soups. It contains, like the other species of this genus, a quantity of opium juice, of a milky nature, from which of late years, medicine has been prepared under the title of Lactucarium, and which can be administered with effect in cases where opium is inadmissable…”

Hmm. No wonder lettuce shows up in so many salads. Then there’s this from the May 3, 1934 address by Burnet Landreth, Jr. before the Poor Richard Club of Philadelphia on the One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the D. Landreth Seed Company:

“In 1849 David Landreth, Jr. was the first to graft in the greenhouse a tomato on a potato root. In this instance, the tomato plant nourished by the potato roots produced tomatoes in the usual form, but in the second place the potato stem grafted on a tomato root could not produce its tubers under the ground, but produced fruit the size of a small pea at the access of all the stems, a most curious result, show how Nature strives always to reproduce itself.”

There are plenty more goodies like that in the catalog. And, of course, the seed lists for the incredible variety of heirloom vegetables, herbs and flowers. If you haven’t purchased a catalog yet, do it today. Or even better, order several as holiday gifts for your friends and family.

Once again, here are various links that you can use to get the word out: Facebook sites Landreth Seed Co, Save Landreth Seed Company, Order their 2012 Catalog!, and probably more. If you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag #savelandreth. If you just want to make a contribution, go to ChipIn.com and click the icon on the upper right hand side of the page.

Where would we be without Faber-Castell and the #2 pencil?

It’s hard to believe that in one show I could be spotlighting two companies that are more than 200 years old. The pencil and premium writing company, Faber-Castell, is even older than D. Landreth Seed Company and, as they celebrate their 250th Anniversary this year, they do it in sustainable fashion. Not only is Faber-Castell CO2-neutral but its operations absorb more carbon dioxide than they produce. In fact, they are 3 times carbon neutral.

If you’re wondering how that is possible, all you need to know is that, two decades ago, Faber-Castell initiated a pioneering plantation project in Brazil on former grassland with a poor sandy soil. It is, located in the middle of the Brazilian savannah near Prata (Minas Gerais state), more than 2,500 kilometres away from the Amazon rainforest. The pine used for the woodlands is a tropical species called Pinus caribea, which grows quickly, can flourish even in poor conditions, and is easy to replant.

Since 1999 the Faber-Castell plantations have also been certified by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council): a demanding international standard for “environmentally compatible, socially equitable, and sustainable forestry”. The Chain of Custody (COC) certification guarantees furthermore that the origin of the wood can be traced all the way from harvesting the timber to packaging the pencils. Faber-Castell maintains its own tree nurseries. Seedlings are continually planted out to replace each row of trees felled: a sustainable ecological cycle. In addition, their forest project offers 30% of the land as a refuge for endangered species in Brazil – over 280 species live on this land

Of course, many people know Faber-Castell as the company that invented the #2 pencil. They currently produce 2 billion pencils every year and they were the first manufacturer in the industry to make water-based varnish, which is safer for factory workers and consumers (think about all the kids and adults who like to chew on pencils).

While I was angling to have CEO Count Anton von Faber-Castell on the show (mainly because I’ve never spoken to a real count), I’m pleased to talk to Jamie Gallagher, President and CEO of Faber-Castell USA/Creativity for Kids, based in Cleveland, Ohio.

Sustainable Food Fundamentals
Unwrap Chicago: Eat, Drink & Buy Local for WCPT’s Holiday Harvest

Things are really coming into focus for the WCPT Holiday Harvest from December 1 through December 11. We’ve identified most of the drop off locations, which will include

  • North Shore Unitarian Church
    2100 Half Day Rd Deerfield, IL 60015
    (Their farmers market is on December 4th)
  • First Free Angelical Church
    5255 N Ashland Ave Chicago, IL 60640
    (Their farmers market is on December 11th)
  • Amor De Dios United Methodist Church
    2356 South Sawyer Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60623-3331
  • Euclid Avenue United Methodist
    405 South Euclid Avenue
    Oak Park, IL 60302-3901
  • Healthy Horizons Inc
    7034 Indianapolis Blvd # 1
    Hammond, IN 46324-2244
  • Englewood Food Network
    (Site to be determined)

And, of course, the WCPT studios of Chicago’s Progressive Talk, where Mike Sanders of Our Town and I will join forces for a three hour Holiday Harvest special on December 4 from 8:00 to 11:00 a.m. Our thanks to our partner, Faith in Place, which has lined up several of the drop off locations.

Our goal is to do a drive that is “healthy, local and sustainable,” at least to the extent possible and practical. Last week, on the Holiday Harvest page on this website, we discussed the preserved and canned goods. This week, the focus is on local, and I couldn’t have found a better fit than Suzanne Keers, who is co-founder & executive director of Local First Chicago.

Local First Chicago is teaming up with City of Chicago’s Department of Housing and Economic Development, the Chicago Office of Tourism & Culture and more than 50 neighborhood chambers of commerce, community organizations and businesses in a city-wide Buy Local campaign for the 2011 Holiday Season. They’re calling it “Unwrap Chicago: Eat, Drink & Buy Local” and the purpose is to educate citizens on the importance of buying locally.

They are asking each household in Chicago to pledge to redirect at least $100 of planned holiday spending from chain stores to locally owned merchants. Why? For one, pledge signers will be entered in a raffle for local gift certificates More importantly, though, it would result in $25 million being pumped into the local economy. In addition, buying locally

• Puts more dollars back into your community,
• Creates and preserves local jobs, and
• Reduces your carbon footprint.

I couldn’t agree more, especially when it comes to WCPT’s Holiday Harvest. One of the reasons we are working with Faith in Place and using their Winter Farmers Markets locations as drop off places is because we hope you will purchase something there, turn around and put it in one of our bins. Voila! Shopping locally!

We are continuing to update the Holiday Harvest page, and I hope I hope you’ll check it out from time to time and begin gathering food to donate during our drive. Our motto: Feed the Need. Thanks for whatever you can do.