Tag Archives: Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Happy Holidays: Environmental Groups Take on IDNR

December 16, 2012

IDNR: “arbitrary and capricious decision” to approve Starved Rock mining permit – in other words, they’re being sued

It’s been exactly a year since I first got wind of the plan to site an open pit frac sand mine just outside the eastern entrance of Starved Rock State Park in LaSalle County. I went back to look at the website entry I posted for December 18, 2011 and, at that time, the LaSalle County Board of Zoning Appeals had just met and unanimously approved the special use permit to allow Mississippi Sand LLC establish its operation on 350 acres of farmland on the south side of the Illinois River.

In the twelve months since that initial decision, the mine has come closer and closer to being a reality. The full county board voted to approve the action of the zoning board, and Mississippi Sand began the process of submitting permits to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Office of Mines and Minerals (OMM) and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA).

Meanwhile, local and state activists began making their voices heard. Groups like the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club, Openlands and Prairie Rivers Network led the charge, but other groups and individuals have worked tirelessly to get the word out to the general public that the very character of this beloved state park could possibly be changed forever–and for the worse. I have interviewed countless people on my program–those representing environmental groups, and residents who stand to be directly affected by this affront to the beauty of the area.

Three weeks ago, to the dismay of those involved in the battle, IDNR OMM approved Phase I of the Starved Rock mine. But the latest chapter in this struggle between industry and the environment was written this week when the Sierra Club , Prairie Rivers Network, and Openlands filed a complaint in Circuit Court in Springfield, Illinois demanding judicial review of that sand mining permit.

It reads in part:

Defendant Mississippi Sand, LLC…failed to comply with SMLCRA [Illinois Surface Mined Land Conservation and Reclamation Act] by submitting a Conservation and Reclamation Plan…a Reclamation Map and Affected Area Map with its application for a surface mining permit, which inaccurately and inadequately describe its proposed silica mining project adjacent to the eastern entrance of Starved Rock State Park…in LaSalle County. Defendants Michael Woods, Michael Falter. OMM (collectively the “OMM Defendants”) and IDNR violated SMLCRA in that they approved the flawed Reclamation Plan. Reclamation Map, and Affected Area Map, and, as evidenced by their written findings, failed to consider adequately all of the thirteen factors relating to the short and long-term impacts of the proposed mine as required by SMLCRA…As a result, OMM Defendants and IDNR made an arbitrary and capricious decision to approve the Mississippi Sand surface mining permit. [Empasis mine.]

The “thirteen factors” cited above include the short and long term impact of the proposed mining on vegetation, wildlife, fish, land use, land values, local tax base, the economy of the region and the State, employment opportunities, air pollution, water pollution, soil contamination, noise pollution, and drainage, as required by the Surface Mined Land Conservation and Reclamation Act and its regulations.

The petition continues:

The actions and inactions of Agency Defendants will allow the degradation and destruction of private and public interests. The mine and its operations will injure the enjoyment and health of park users specifically and persons generally, as well as the healthfulness of properties near the proposed mine. Neighbors to Starved Rock, visitors to Starved Rock and wildlife will experience intermittent bursts of loud noise from explosive blasting at the mine site. Noise and air pollution will harm and directly disturb neighboring businesses including a nearby apiary. Aesthetic and health impacts on the park will likely reduce the number of visitors to the park and thereby harm businesses that rely on park visitors for revenue. Nearby properties may flood. Visitors to Starved Rock and neighbors may suffer from, and will fear harm from, carcinogenic respirable silica dust and other airborne pollutants from the proposed mine. Defendant Mississippi Sand will partially destroy and wholly alter the flow characteristics of Horseshoe Creek, which flows into Starved Rock. All of these impacts, and the community perception of such impacts, may reduce the value of nearby private property. Finally, Defendant Mississippi Sand may be unable to reclaim the mined land as its Reclamation Plan and Reclamation Map indicates and the law requires.

In one of the more interesting aspects of this action, the environmental parties bringing suit contend that the Office of Mines and Minerals violated the Illinois Surface Mined Land Conservation and Reclamation Act (SMLCRA) by “Failing to Consider Adequately its Statutorily-Required Factors.” However, they then turn around and declare that “SMLCRA Violates the Due Process Guarantee in the Illinois and United States Constitutions as it was Applied by the Agency Defendants in This Case.”

SMLCRA is unconstitutional to the extent that it is held to provide that no notice or predecisional hearing is required for the members and supporters of Plaintiffs whose protected property interests are placed at risk by the issuance of this permit.

A. Due Process requires that IDNR hold a hearing on a non-coal surface mining permit application at the request of persons whose property interests will be jeopardized by the permitted activity.
B. Due Process requires IDNR to consider comments on a non-coal surface mining permit submitted by persons whose property interests will be jeopardized by the permitted activity.
C. Therefore, if SMLCRA is held to allow IDNR to issue permits for activities that endanger protected property interests while denying those whose interests are at stake any opportunity to be heard at a meaningful time, in a meaningful manner, SMLCRA violates the Due Process Clauses of the United States and Illinois Constitutions.

Finally, the plaintiffs charge that IDNR Defendants’ Violated the Illinois Natural Areas Preservation Act by Failing to Fulfill Consultation Requirements.In the end, the suit seeks to void the permit; “providing such further and additional relief as this Court deems just and proper.”

Today, I’m pleased to have Cindy Skrukrud, Clean Water Advocate for the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club, return to the show to talk about the law suit and where we go from here. From an article in the NewsTribune out of LaSalle, Illinois:

Tony Giordano, president of Mississippi Sand, LLC, said the sand mine project was ready to begin next spring but now that a lawsuit has been filed it could delay the project for as long as a year.

“This has been the most scrutinized sand mine in the state of Illinois,” Giordano said. “It’s frustrating. This lawsuit has little merit. There are multiple state agencies that have examined mines and given us permits. In the end, we’ll get our permits and have to look at that time what the market will bare [sic].”

Or maybe the project will be scuttled entirely. ‘Tis a consumation devoutly to be wished.

If you want your voice to be heard, there’s still time. Here’s how you can contact Governor Pat Quinn. He’s been awfully silent on this issue. Makes me nervous.

Lisa, Sarah and Mike offer great books for holiday gifts… Part Deux

Last week we interviewed a few authors of books that we thought would make good holiday gifts. However, as you know, my show is only two hours long, which means that a number of good books didn’t get discussed.

So welcome to the second part of our discussion. Let’s start with some books recommended by Lisa Albrecht, who really got short shrift last week. My apologies, Lisa. Take it away:

Rooftop Revolution: How Solar Power Can Save Our Economy — and Our Planet — from Dirty Energy by Danny Kennedy
Obviously I am biased but this is my favorite. Danny Kennedy likens the move toward solar to the Industrial Revolution, hence the name. He predicts a “Solar Assent” as we move from dirty energy to clean sources that each of us can own individually. My favorite part – each chapter has a section called “What You Can Do as a Rooftop Revolutionary”. I like action and often I am inspired by a book or message but lack a “next step”. Danny not only offers them but his website includes the links and back ground that you need to join the revolution.

Power Trip, The Story of America’s Love Affair With Energy by Amanda Little
I recently met Amanda Little, who shared her exploration of the energy industry first hand, including a journey to the top of an oil rig and the catacombs of NY tunnels. Although I am not finished, the book reads like a Lonely Planet of the energy industry and is engaging adventure, painting pictures of technology few get to see firsthand. Sectioned into two parts, the first reveals the evolution of oil/energy over the last century. The second discusses new possibilities, offering hope and vision.

Clean Break: The Story of Germany’s Energy Transformation and What Americans Can Learn from It by Osha Gray Davidson
As a solar professional, Germany is revered as the Meca of Clean Energy, both a source of shame and inspiration as an entire country with the sunshine of Alaska successfully shifts to renewable energy. Osha Gray Davidson visited Germany this summer to witness the success and tell the story of Germany’s desire to break up with dirty energy after Chernobyl in 1986 and the movement that is known as Energiewend or “energy change”. He explores the social climate that has driven their success and a nationwide commitment toward a cleaner, self-reliant future and how we might be able to do the same in the US.

Meanwhile, a couple of other selections popped up on my radar screen, thanks to the good folks at The Mountaineers Books.

On Arctic Ground: Tracking Time Through Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve by Debbie S. Miller
What if I told you that there is a tract of U.S. land that is larger than the state of Maine and that is largely untouched by our all-too-greasy-hands? Well, it does exist in Alaska (where else?) and it has the unfortunate name of the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska. Yup, what might be the most pristine place left on the planet (with the possible exception of Antarctica (and who wants to go there besides me?) is ready to be exploited by the people who have turned exploitation into a science (yes, I’m talking about us…as in U.S.!) Debbie Miller has explored just a fraction of this territory and in this very cool and important book–made even cooler by the fabulous photographs– explains why we might want to preserve this area instead of milking it dry for its oil and gas.

Cairns: Messengers in Stone by David B. Williams
What do I know about cairns? Pretty much nothing. And what do YOU know about them? I’m guessing the same. Which is why we need David Williams to tell us about what are essentially piles of rocks that have meaning. For thousands of years cairns have been used by people to connect to the landscape and communicate with others, and are often an essential guide to travelers. Cairns, among other things, can indicate a trail, mark a grave, serve as an altar or shrine, reveal property boundaries or sacred hunting grounds, and even predict astronomical activity. Who knew? (Apparently, David did.)

Books recommended by Ron Wolford at Illinois Extension

Wyman’s Gardening Encyclopedia

Dirr’s Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs

Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening

Vegetable Gardening in the Midwest – University of Illinois

Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers – The American Horticulture Society

Crockett’s Victory Garden

Step-by-Step Gardening Techniques Illustrated

The benefits of trees, CSAs and funding the IDNR

December 2, 2012

Dr. Rex Bastian helps your trees recover from a tough 2012

One thing I’ve learned over my years as a gardener and a gardening radio show host is that there is no such thing as a “normal” growing year. No matter how you slice it, there’s always going to be some kind of weather anomaly that causes trouble, whether it’s cold, heat, storms, drought, flooding or some combination of the above.

That being said, 2012 will be remembered as a year where very little seemed to be “normal.” It started with an abnormally warm winter that turned into an off-the-charts string of 80 degree days in March. It was the warmest March in the contiguous 48 states in our history. That led to excessive heat in much of the country in spring and summer, accompanied by drought in a many areas, including the Midwest. Once again, we hit a new high, as July became the hottest month ever recorded in the United States.

The heat abated in some areas, but the drought has persisted, leading Illinois Extension and its counterpart at Purdue to create websites devoted to drought information.

If you’re a gardener, it’s relatively easy to see when your annuals and perennials take a hit from heat and lack of water. However, the average person isn’t always aware of the damage being done to trees, which often take much longer to respond to environmental changes. But if you’re a tree farmer, you know that it has not been a good year for your crops, and the effects could be around for awhile.

That’s why I’m pleased to welcome Dr. Rex Bastian from The Care of Trees back to the show. As you might know, The Care of Trees has been a loyal sponsor of The Mike Nowak Show ever since I started at Chicago’s Progressive Talk in 2008. Dr. Bastian is Vice President of Field Education and Development for TCOT and has a Ph. D. in Entomology from Iowa State University

And he knows his stuff. Get ready with your tree questions at 773/763-9278. We will discuss how this year’s amazing weather has affected your trees and the insects and diseases that can prey upon your trees. We’ll also tell you what to look for next spring, as your trees begin to leaf out after being subjected to all kinds of indignities in 2012.

Meanwhile, I asked Dr. Bastian to supply me with some of the websites he likes. Lo and behold, many of them are the ones I recommend to my listeners and readers. Great minds…oh, you know.

Trees Are Good – Website sponsored by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) that provides good information and links on proper tree care and Certified Arborists

Morton Arboretum Plant Health Care Report – Periodic updates during the growing season addressing current tree/landscape issues/concerns. Chicago area focus.

Chicago Botanic Garden Plant Information Services – Plant information, fact sheets, diagnostic services. Chicago area focus.

University of Illinois Home, Yard, and Garden Pest Newsletter –  Periodic updates during the growing season addressing current tree/landscape issues. State wide focus.

National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center – Short/long term estimation of future weather conditions.

Kim Marsin has a CSA for you (it might be hers)!

Speaking of being at the mercy of Mother Nature, there’s nothing like growing food to keep you humble. I know about it from a very small scale, but people like Kim Marsin and her partner Rachel Reklau at Sweet Home Organics know about it up close and personal.

They’re part of the new breed of organic farmers. You’ve heard me call them “commuter farmers” because they don’t live on the land that they cultivate…though rumor has it that they’re in the midst of moving closer to their operation at Primrose Farm, which is part of the St. Charles Park District.

And just yesterday (Saturday, December 1), they were doing a presentation on marketing to this year’s class of Stateline Farm Beginnings® students at Angelic Organics Learning Center. The program is a farmer-led training and support class designed to help people plan and launch sustainable farm businesses. Since 2005, graduates of the program have launched more than 35 new sustainable farms in our region.

I will finally get to meet Kim in person at the WCPT studios, after having spoken to her by phone perhaps a half dozen times on my show. She’s currently using her seemingly boundless energy to encourage folks to sign up for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, like the one at Sweet Home Organics.

The way it works, according to Local Harvest, a website that helps you track down CSAs in your area is that

a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a “membership” or a “subscription”) and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.

In addition to Local Harvest, Marsin recommends checking out Family Farmed.org’s CSA page with the caveat that the 2012 CSA data is still posted.

More funds for IDNR…will that help Starved Rock?

I received a message from Jennifer Walling at the Illinois Environmental Council yesterday:

I am very pleased to let you know that the funding bill for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources passed the Illinois Senate.  This bill passed 39 yes – 11 no.

Today’s roll call is available here. The Governor will have to sign the bill before it can become law.

Thank you to Representative Frank Mautino and Senator Toi Hutchinson, the sponsors of this bill in the House and Senate.  It’s a great day for conservation in Illinois thanks to these legislators, our array of advocates through Partners for Parks and Wildlife , the staff at IDNR, and all of the supporters and advocates who championed this legislation.

As anybody who has listened to my program lately knows, I have been frustrated by IDNR’s seemingly contradictory roles as protector of natural resources in Illinois but also as an agency that facilitates their havesting and sale.

The case in point is the proposed open pit frac sand mine outside the eastern entrance of Starved Rock State Park. IDNR says on its website that “Outdoor recreation opportunities such as boating, camping, fishing, hunting, picnicking, sightseeing, wildlife observation, swimming and trail use create a $3.2 billion annual economic impact in Illinois, supporting 33,000 jobs statewide.”

And yet, those very activities near Starved Rock State Park are under threat because of the proposed sand mine.

I hope Jennifer has good news about how the monies coming to IDNR will be good for our natural environment.

Bill McKibben’s “Do the Math” tour comes to Chicago

What do the numbers 2, 565 and 2,795 have in common?

Before you reach for The Google and start typing “prime numbers” into the search engine, let me use two words: Global Warming. Here are two more words: Bill McKibben . He was one of the first people to raise the alarm about climate change, in his 1989 book, The End of Nature , and went on to found the group 350.org , which is based on the number of CO2 parts per million (ppm) in the atmosphere that many scientists claim is the safe limit for humanity. Unfortunately, we’re already up to 392 ppm…oops, our bad. And it gives you an idea of why McKibben speaks about the subject with a certain amount of urgency.

His latest attempt to cut through the clutter about Justin Bieber and fiscal cliff nonsense is something he calls the “Do the Math” tour, which arrived in Chicago on Wednesday evening on the way to completing its 21-city U.S. run in a little under a month. Lisa Albrecht and I (and a few hundred friends) watched McKibben and others take to the stage to impress upon his audiences that we’re already speeding toward an environmental cliff and, instead of putting on the breaks, we keep hitting the accelerator.

That’s where the numbers 2, 565 and 2,795 come in. The 2 stands for the the global temperature rise that would have “catastrophic” consequences for our planet. That won’t happen unless the world releases 565 gigatons of carbon dioxide that are stored in its fuel reserves. Unfortunately, fossil fuel companies already have 2,795 gigatons of carbon dioxide in their fuel reserves and, at the current rate of consumption, they’ll get to the 565 mark in 16 years. Think those oil guys are interested in slowing down or switching to cleaner and sustainable energy sources? If you do, you haven’t been paying attention to the political debate in the past 30 years or so.

So forget the Mayan Calendar. The McKibben Calendar has the planet set to enter uncharted waters (and air) in 2028. Unless we do something right now.

McKibben’s strategy–and it makes as much sense as anything else I’ve heard to this point–is to go on the offensive by encouraging individuals, churches, schools/universities and municipalities to disinvest in the oil companies. “we are asking that people who believe in the problem of climate change stop profiting from it.”, said McKibbon. The movement is laid out in the campaign Fossil Free, where you can find a campaign, start a campaign, download a disinvestment toolkit, sign up for updates and more.

Looks like we’d better get started. We’re already in way over our heads.

Still fighting to save an Illinois treasure

August 5 , 2012

Starved Rock v. Mississippi Sand: It’s not over ’til it’s over

It seems more than ironic to me that the home page for Starved Rock State Park contains this phrase: “VOTED THE #1 ATTRACTION IN THE STATE OF ILLINOIS – is a world apart from anything else in Illinois! You will know it the minute you enter the park, as you wind your car through the towering trees.”

I wonder how long it will continue to be the number one attraction in Illinois…if Mississippi Sand LLC is allowed to scar the eastern entrance with an open pit mine that will produce silica sand to be used in the fracking process…and don’t even get me started on that. We’re told that it will bring around 39 jobs to the area. Please look at that number–39! Meanwhile, Starved Rock is a destination for more than two million visitors each year.

And if you want to know how dangerous that sand can be, you might want to sneak a peak as this Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for Mississippi Sand LLC sent to me by listener–and lawyer–Steven Penn. He just happens to be part of Penn Rakauski, a firm that handles asbestos-related cases, though he has written to me about the dangers of silicosis, which can be caused by exposure to the very dust that will be kicked up in this mine. As Penn states, ” Company websites are often the best evidence against them.”

The battle to preserve the natural wonders that make Starved Rock unique continues to rage–if not much in the press (when’s the last time you saw a news story?), then certainly between environmental and civic groups and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). The problem is that IDNR has a mandate not only to protect our natural resources, but to facilitate their extraction, too.

As I told IDNR Director Marc Miller at Governor Pat Quinn’s signing of the landfill ban legislation on Chicago’s south side a couple of weeks ago, “You can’t serve two masters.” He didn’t argue with me.

So where does that leave us right now? Basically, wondering whether IDNR, which has stalled, obfuscated and been fairly opaque in this matter (in my opinion), will finally get around to having public hearings. Recently, the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club, which has been one of the groups in the center of this fight, sent out a letter outlining the situation. They started with the statement, “The fight to protect Starved Rock State Park from an open pit frac sand mine isn’t over.” But protecting the park won’t be easy. From their letter:

Unfortunately IDNR’s Office of Mines and Minerals approved Mississippi Sand‘s mining permit on June 15th and has sent the company a bond and fee letter. A written response from the company with the correct financial information will finalize the mining permit. There is no regulatory deadline for responding to the letter and we suspect that the company will want to be assured that their air and water permits are good to go before responding.

Before approving a permit DNR is supposed to consider the short and long term impacts ((see 62 Ill. Adm. Code 300.70(a)) but there are no findings documents detailing such work. We are concerned that the Office of Mines and Minerals is simply deferring to the county decision rather than using their regulatory authority to truly evaluate all the impacts. The Sierra Club is also concerned with the DNRs response to the citizen complaint letter that was written in March that had voiced project concerns and requested a public hearing under the Illinois Rivers and Streams Act. DNR gave a one-page response to a detailed 10-page letter and did not respond until July 3, almost 20 days after they had already approved the permit. This untimely response along with their response to comments submitted during the public availability session have been disappointing and show a lack of care for both our beloved state park and the surrounding residents. (Emphasis mine)

At the meeting we also asked for air and water monitoring to establish current conditions on the site. Right now no baseline monitoring is required nor are there permit conditions requiring monthly monitoring once operations begin. The air and water and related construction permits from IEPA are on a slower timeline and we are hopeful that the numerous comments generated will cause the decision makers to think twice before approving the permits.

In the meantime individual calls to the Governor and Lieutenant Governor as well as the director of the Office of Mines and Minerals at IDNR about your concerns related to this mine project will help ensure basic protections are put in place for humans and wildlife.

Governor Pat Quinn: 217-782-0244
Lt. Governor Sheila Simon: 217-558-3085
Michael Woods- Director of OMM at IDNR: 217-782-6791

Fortunately, friends of Starved Rock seem to have found a friend in Thomas Davis, Chief of the Environmental Bureau in the State Attorney General’s office. He has fired off letters to Anne Mankowski, Director, Illinois Nature Preserves Commission; Randy Heinhorn, Acting Director, Illinois Nature Preserves Commission; and Michael Woods, Acting Director for the Office of Mines and Minerals of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

It doesn’t take much reading between the lines to see that he’s not pleased with the way the permitting process has been proceeding. In particular, he seems concerned that due process is being circumvented in regard to the Illinois Natural Areas Preservation Act and the Consultation Procedures for Assessing Impacts of Agency Actions on Endangered and Threatened Species and Natural Areas at Part 1075. He writes to Michael Woods:

Your letter, however, takes an unduly narrow view of your agency’s statutory obligations: “The Department has no authority to consider potential mining in reviewing this application as the expansion of the mine would be speculative due to unknown market conditions and other variables in the future.” I respectfully suggest that there is plenty of legal authority. The scope of mining proposal is certainly not speculative; the company detailed its plans in the proceedings before the county board. Please consider that a public hearing as requested by the Illinois River Coordinating Council and concerned citizens would allow the Office of Mines and Minerals to properly evaluate all proposed mining, its short and long term impacts, and to determine whether a permit may be issued. After all, the Office of Mines and Minerals is not required by the Act to issue a permit. The statutory language (“shall approve”) is directory and not mandatory where the legislature delegates to an agency discretion to be exercised under certain conditions. In other words, Section 5(g) mandates a conservation and reclamation plan prior to issuance of a mining permit and directs approval of such a plan if it complies with the statutory requirements.

I would encourage you to allow a public hearing on the mine proposal; this is admittedly a discretionary matter, but certainly good government. The consultation requirement, however, is mandatory and the Office of Mines and Minerals must comply with the Part 1075 rules.

We’ll see if pressure from the Attorney General’s office can slow down this unhealthy juggernaut. To discuss the issue with me this morning, I welcome Tracy Yang, Clean Water Organizer from the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club, and Steven R. Penn of Penn Rakauski.

Three events that will help the planet…and I’m MC at one of them

#1.- Join me out in lovely Caledonia, Illinois for the 5th Annual Peak Harvest Farm Dinner benefit on Saturday, August 11! The event benefits Angelic Organics Learning Center, which helps urban and rural people build local food systems. They reach more than 4,000 people each year through their programs at partner farms and urban growing sites in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.

The dinner, from 5:00 to 8:00 pm, will be a seasonal 5-course gourmet meal in the beautiful fields of Angelic Organics, 1547 Rockton Road, Caledonia, IL. Dishes will be prepared by some of the region’s most recognized chefs, including:

Marc Bernard of  Big Bowl
Molly Johnson of  Calihan Catering
Christine Cikowski and Joshua Kulp of  Sunday Dinner
Nathan Chappell of  Rushing Waters Fisheries
William Harriman of  Angelic Organics

For folks from Chicago, there will be an exclusive pre-event reception at 2:00 p.m. at  Big Bowl , 60 E. Ohio St., Chicago, and ride a shuttle bus to the farm. Enjoy seasonal appetizers and cocktails, courtesy of Chef Marc Bernard. Purchase your ticket and reserve your seat here.

Sponsors for the event include Whole Foods Market, Urban Partnership Bank
The LeFort Martin Fund of the Chicago Community Trust  All proceeds from this annual fundraiser benefit the educational programs of Angelic Organics Learning Center. For additional information visit http://www.learngrowconnect.org/farmdinner or call Corinne at 773-288-5462

Dinner tickets: $150 Bus tickets (from Chicago): $25.

Corinne Henry, Director of Development and Communications at Angelic Organics Learning Center, joins me on the show this morning to talk about the shindig.

#2 – “An Evening at the Garden” is this Thursday, August 9, from 6-8pm at the Kilbourn Park Organic Greenhouse.

You might remember that they had their wonderful plant sale in May. As a matter of fact, I grabbed some tomatoes, peppers, ground cherries, tomatillos and borage for my community garden Green on McLean at that sale.

Chef Jeff Adamek and Pastry Chef Jennifer Templeton are creating appetizers featuring produce that comes straight out of the Kilbourn Park garden. Here’s some of what they’ll be offering:

Bacon, kale, and tomato on brioche with sweet pepper conserves
Savory flatbreads with:
Tomato, roasted garlic, oregano and pecorino cheese
Roasted peppers, basil pesto, and fresh chevre
Mint Creek lamb, rosemary, feta, and kale
Berry custard filled pate choux with cantaloupe mint salad

But wait, there’s more! There will be live acoustic guitar jazz and a silent auction that includes unique hand crafted items for your garden. The goal is to raise enough money to begin work on the new Nature’s Playground, a natural play space within the garden, and to improve the infrastructure of the greenhouse (which sorely needs it, if I may speak from personal observation).

Tickets are available at Brown Paper Tickets. $40 per person in advance (Kids under 12 are half price) Tickets at the event will be $45/adult; $25/child. Kirsten Akre from Kilbourn Park Organic Greenhouse drops by today to talk about the event.

#3 – Explore a full weekend of alternative energy and sustainable living at the 11th annual Illinois Renewable Energy & Sustainable Lifestyle Fair at the Ogle County Fairgrounds in Oregon, IL.. It’s sponsored, of course, by the Illinois Renewable Energy Association (IREA) and it takes place Saturday, August 11th, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Sunday, August 12th, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Keynote Presenters will be Paul Fenn (Local Power), Fred Kirschenmann (Redesigning the Human Adventure: Challenges & Opportunities) and John Perlin (History of Solar Homes in the Midwest). There are seminars, workshops and booths that will get you moving toward incorporating renewable energy in your everyday life.

And talk about a bargain! Here are the admission prices:

Adults: $5/1 day or $7/2 days
Youth: $3/1day or $5/2 days
Children: (under 12 in the company of a parent) Free
IREA Members: Free

There you are, kids. Go to one or more of these fun, interesting events and help change the world.