Tag Archives: Openlands

The real dirt on community gardening in Chicago, food waste composting and Farmer John’s KickStarter Campaign

January 27, 2013

Building a community for community gardeners

It has not been a great year for gardeners in the City of Chicago.

It didn’t help that we were blasted by heat and drought last summer…and given how odd the winter and spring were, going into the 2012 growing season, I don’t even want to speculate what will happen this year. However, all one has to do is look at how little moisture we have had in the fall and winter so far this time around to know that things could be dicey come time to plant in the spring.

In addition, some of the things that allowed gardeners to gather together to commiserate about their disappointments and celebrate their accomplishments have disappeared. I’m talking in particular about the Mayor’s Landscape Awards Program, which was last presented in 2011 and which awarded my community garden, Green on McLean, a third place prize that year. So, after 50 years of giving gardeners in the City a sense of pride, the program was quietly dropped by the Rahm Emanuel Administration.

This year, there is another casualty: The Green and Growing Fair. For 20 years, this event was sponsored by GreenNet, Chicago’s Urban Greening Network, and featured a variety of vendors, workshops, demonstrations, and family activities as a way of launching the gardening season in Chicago. Fortunately, the GreenNet website is still an excellent reference for people who want to start or connect with a community garden.

These two gaps in the opportunities for gardeners to expand their knowledge and connections are on top of the dismantling of the Chicago Department of the Environment at the beginning of 2012 and the downsizing of the Greencorps Chicago Program, Greencorps staff and graduates (now under the Chicago Department of Transportation…huh?) were a valuable resource for community gardeners throughout the city until last year. Here’s the way it reads on Greencorps page at the City of Chicago website:

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the community gardeners who have worked tirelessly making their communities greener, healthier and safer.  Over the past 18 years, Greencorps Chicago staff and trainees have worked side-by-side with you, supporting your efforts while admiring your dedication, resilience, humor and cooking.  For 2013, due to reduced funding levels, Greencorps’ ability to support community gardens will be reduced.  With that in mind, we are planning a summit this winter with a variety of greening partners to develop a transition plan for this vital work.  Please check out the GreenNet’s Growing Forward effort at http://greennetchicago.org/growing-forward to stay involved.  Greencorps staff will also continue to work with community gardeners to assist in connecting them to organizations or other gardens in their area where resources may be available

In fact, I just attended the 2013 Greencorps graduation ceremony at Garfield Park Conservatory. It was sad to see that a class that had, in the past, numbered as high as 90 was down to 22 this year.

But gardeners are a resilient lot, and even as some good programs disappear, others rise up to take their places. Openlands, which already has its very successful TreeKeepers Program, is creating an interactive, hands-on class focusing on gardening without chemicals, using designs that depend on nature and not technology, conserving natural resources, and recruiting members who will use and “own” their garden.

It is called, not so surprisingly, GardenKeepers, and the goal is to teach its members how to organize and run a successful, long-lasting, community-managed allotment garden together with friends and neighbors. It doesn’t matter whether you already have an existing garden or you’re at the stage where you’re recruiting people and looking longingly at the empty lot on the end of the block.

GardenKeepers will be presented twice a year but, you should note, It is designed for groups, not individuals. A minimum of 4 people from each garden is suggested. The fee is $300 per garden ($75 per person in a group of 4) for the entire series of 6 classes. However, individuals may be able to attend horticulture-focused classes 3-6 if space allows.

The Spring 2013 course is taking reservations right now for classes that will held at the Garfield Park Conservatory. Here’s the schedule:

  1. February 16 – Getting Started
  2. February 23 – Special Event: Chicago Community Gardeners’ 1st Annual Planning Conference 
  3. March 2 – Creating a Sustainable Organization
  4. March 9 – Eco-Garden Design
  5. March 16 – Growing From the Ground Up
  6. March 23 – Plant Selection for a Healthy Garden
  7. March 30 – Containers, Hardscape, and Installation
  8. May 11 – Graduation Potluck

Now, about item #2, the Chicago Community Gardeners’ 1st Annual Planning Conference, or as my buddy and community garden worker Rob Kartholl (a.k.a. @Copedog on Twitter) likes to call it, The Big Commie Garden Conference. I kind of like that title, which means that powers-that-be will hate it.

Anyway, The Big Commie Garden Conference will be a day-long event at the Chicago Center for Green Technology (CCGT) that attempts to bring together community gardeners all over the city to hobnob and discuss issues like water conservation, fundraising, sustainability of both the land and the people who work it, and more.

Julie Samuels, Community Garden Organizer for Openlands, returns to the show today to talk about GardenKeepers and The Big Commie Garden Conference. Copedog is also on hand to throw in a few comments.

By the way, Julie is the go-to person for registering for GardenKeepers. You can write her at jsamuels@openlands.org if you have questions, or just go to the GardenKeepers page for more information.

What is an “F-scrap” and what do we do with it?

Some statistics from Greenwaste.com to think about on a cold January day:

  • Did you know that we generate 21.5 million tons of food residuals annually? If this food waste were composted instead of being sent to landfills, the resulting reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be equivalent to taking more than two million cars off the road.
  • The Z-Best Composting Facility in Gilroy, processes 350 tons of food waste and yard clippings everyday into nutrient rich soil amendments to be used for agriculture and landscaping.
  • Almost any business can successfully divert food discards from landfills. Businesses with record-setting food diversion programs are recovering 50% to 100% of their food discards and reducing their overall solid waste by 33% to 85%.

Now, welcome to Illinois, where, until the passage of SB 99 a couple of years ago, we were in the dark ages regarding food waste–often called “F-scrap”–composting. It was very difficult and often prohibitively expensive to obtain a permit to compost food scrap commercially in Illinois because those facilities were considered “Pollution Control Facilities” under Illinois law.

While that bill made it somewhat easier for composting operations to succeed, as witnessed by this effort at Illinois State University and this pilot program in Highland Park, we still have a long way to go, especially where small operations are concerned.

Which is why it’s the upcoming Illinois Food Scrap Composting Seminar “Looking To the Future” in Lombard on Thursday, February 7, 2013 is such a good idea. The day-long seminar on composting of food scraps is open to just about anyone–businesses, schools, landscape services, greenhouses and others. Heck, even I’m going to be there.

It will cover the latest information on Illinois policies and legislation, markets and potential end uses for compost materials. Some of those topics include

  • how to establish and manage food scrap collection and composting programs
  • identifying end users and viable end markets for finished composted material
  • pertinent policy in Illinois regarding F-scrap compost operations
  • reports on results growing plants with compost material and lessons learned by those with established programs.

This event is made possible through a grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO) to the Illinois Recycling Association (IRA) who have worked with  SCARCE (School Composting and Recycling Conservation Education) and the Illinois Green Economy Network (IGEN) to develop and co-sponsor the seminar.

It’s not at all expensive for a day-long event. IRA members and college students get in for $30, while all others pay $40. But wait. There’s more! Cost includes lunch and seminar materials. A great deal.

You can Register online here or learn more at www.illinoisrecycles.org or 708-358-0058

I’m pleased to have SCARCE founder and executive director Kay McKeen back in the studio to talk about this event–and perhaps all of the other great things that SCARCE does, from book, ink jet and gym shoe rescues to cell phone and electronics recycling to providing information on how to properly dispose of medicines.

The Real Dirt on Farmer John’s KickStarter Campaign

If Roger Ebert is tweeting about you to his 800,000 followers, and posting for another 104,000 on Facebook, you know you’re doing something right. Here’s the Twitter message (which I have already retweeted): “We showed his film at Ebertfest. Now Farmer John is kickstarting. Here’s a video about this hero of organic farming. http://t.co/Yo7cczBl”.

If you follow that link, it will take you a KickStarter Campaign called Barns Are For People, Too, featuring the now-legendary Farmer John Peterson. He’s the guy who is behind Angelic Organics in Caledonia, Illinois, a farm that has been in his family for generations. That story was told in the 2005 documentary The Real Dirt on Farmer John, which has received just about every award imaginable, and which I can’t recommend highly enough.

Last week, I received a notice from Tom Spaulding, Executive Director of Angelic Organics Learning Center, which arose out of Farmer John’s efforts and which I have often talked about on my radio show. He informed me of the KickStarter campaign, and I knew immediately that I was going to have to invite him and Farmer John to the show.

You should know, by the way, that I MC’d a fundraiser at the farm last fall, and Farmer John took me on a somewhat bumpy tour of the land in his Jeep. That was an experience in itself. Now I want to return the favor and help the good folks out there continue to teach new generations about the land and how to grow food sustainably.

The KickStarter is all about completing the work of transforming the old dairy barn and corn crib into community spaces, as Farmer John says, “filled with light and vibrant colors and breathtaking views of the Midwestern prairie.” He says he has about half the work done and he needs $150,000 to finish the project. Yeah, that’s a lot of loot, but who told you that running a farm and not-for-profit organization was cheap?

I will be making a contribution. I hope you do, too.

Wild Things 2013 Conference is next Saturday

Just a reminder that the fifth biennial Wild Things 2013 Conference happens next Saturday, February 2 at the UIC. This wonderful event, featuring about 90 different sessions, is organized by Audubon Chicago Region in cooperation with the Habitat Project, the Volunteer Stewardship Network, and Chicago Wilderness through funding from the USDA Forest Service and US Fish & Wildlife Service. It also doesn’t hurt that organizations like the Chicago Park District, The Field Museum, the Forest Preserve District of Cook County and Openlands are involved.

The keynote speakers will be Doug Tallamy, who continues to preach the gospel of biodiversity, and Joel S. Brown, who speaks on how urban species might be evolving. Here are the abstracts of their talks.

While online registration is now closed, I don’t think anybody is going to mind if you walk in the door thirsty for knowledge about our natural areas and their inhabitants. It’s only $40, or $25 if you’re a student. The full schedule is here.

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

Protecting Chicago’s Trees and Its Wilderness

November 11, 2012

TreeKeepers on the move

Twenty-one years ago, Openlands started a project to engage Chicagoans in a effort to better care for what is sometimes known as the urban forest. The program was called TreeKeepers, and in two intervening decades, Openlands has trained more than 1300 volunteers to become TreeKeepers–people focused on community forestry who are planting, maintaining and monitoring trees throughout the greater Chicago region.

I’m proud to say that I’m TreeKeeper #417.

To become a TreeKeeper, volunteers are required to attend seven three-hour Saturday classes, where they learn the biology, physiology and benefits of trees, soil science, tree identification (still one of my weak points), mulching, pruning and planting. The teachers are professional experts from City of Chicago Bureau of Forestry, the Chicago Park District, Morton Arboretum, Bartlett Tree Experts, The Care of Trees and other companies and municipal departments.

Once trained, Openlands’ TreeKeepers stay involved through our monthly calendar of workdays or by starting projects in their own neighborhoods. In 2010 alone, TreeKeeper volunteers dedicated more than 15,000 volunteer hours to protecting our urban forests.

Given the success of TreeKeepers in Chicago, I was pleased to see that the program might be moving out from the city limits. According to Glenda Daniel, Associate Director at Openlands, the City of Evanston might be next. She tells me that a number of Evanstonians, have come to the city to take the course, including Wendy Pollock, who is involved The Truth About Trees, an upcoming three-part PBS special about the natural history of trees, the deep connections between humans and trees, and the critical role trees play for all life on Earth.

This group has been working with Citzens Greener Evanston to help bring TreeKeepers to the city. If you live in Evanston and you’re interested in this effort, there will be a meeting this Tuesday, November 14 at the Evanston Ecology Center, 2424 McCormick Boulevard in Evanston from 7 to 9pm.

If you’re not a resident of Evanston, never fear. Daniel tells me there the TreeKeeper movement is spreading, and that there is

a new commitment by Openlands to be part of a broader Regional Forest Initiative with Morton Arboretum, Chicago Wilderness and others.  Openlands’ interest is in growing a bigger active constitutency for the urban forest throughout the region.  This will include support for local TreeKeeper chapters, but we’ll also be planning to hold courses in the suburbs that mirror the one we hold in the city.  Morton Arboretum will be hosting Openlands for a TreeKeepers course next spring (and possibly also in the fall), and the following year we plan to develop a course somewhere on the North Shore.  We will be recruiting pro bono faculty from the region’s premier tree care firms (like Bartlett Tree Experts, Davey and its newly merged partner, The Care of Trees), the Forest Service office in Evanston, and various municipal foresters.   

For now, if you think you want TreeKeepers in your town, contact Glenda Daniel at Openlands. Meanwhile, she and Lydia Scott from Morton Arboretum will be holding a webinar on December 5 aimed at municipal foresters and talking about the advantages of working with and how to work with trained volunteers.

Chicago Wilderness Conference

It seems that lately I’ve been promoting one terrific environmental conference after another. This week is no exception, as the the Chicago Wilderness Congress 2012: Shaping the Future of Regional Conservation arrives at The Forum at the University of Illinois at Chicago, 725 W. Roosevelt Road in Chicago on Tuesday, November 15.

If you’re not familiar with Chicago Wilderness, you should be. It is a regional alliance of more than 260 organizations working together to restore local nature and improve the quality of life for all living things, by protecting our lands and waters. The alliance is geographically and organizationally diverse, strengthening their ability to take conservation action at a regional scale.

The Chicago Wilderness Congress gives those members an opportunity to address how this diverse alliance can continue shaping the future of this region as a national and international leader in collaborative conservation.

There’s a lot to cover in all of the tracks of this Congress. They include

I’m happy to welcome Arnold Randall, Chair of Chicago Wilderness, and the General Superintendent for the Forest Preserve District of Cook County to talk about this impressive event.

Take action on Starved Rock State Park!

The Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club has set up a Take Action page that allows folks to easily send an email to Barb Lieberoff at Illinois EPA about the proposed frac sand mine discharge into Starved Rock State Park.  Here is the link.

The IEPA is proposing to issue a general NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elmination System) permit which will allow Mississippi Sand, LLC to discharge wastewater from their proposed frac sand mine into Horseshoe Creek. Discharges from the proposed mine site on the eastern edge of Starved Rock State Park would enter the creek, which flows into the park before emptying into the Illinois River near Lone Point.

You can read more at the link above, but the point is that Horseshoe Creek has a better chance of being protected if the Illinois EPA requires Mississippi Sand obtain an individual NPDES permit.

You can write directly to the EPA at these addresses:

Barb Lieberoff
Illinois EPA – Division of Water Pollution Control
Permit Section
1021 North Grand Avenue East
Post Office Box 19276
Springfield, Illinois 62794-9276



Seriously, send me photos of your volunteer junipers!

Speaking of trees, last week I talked about my article in he latest issue of Chicagoland Gardening Magazine called My Favorite Plant. It’s about a juniper that self-seeded in my yard a few years ago. I let it grow, and now it’s…well, you can see the photo on the left. As I state in the article, the reason it’s my favorite is because it chose me, not the other way around.

Turns out that it’s probably the relative common Juniperus virginiana. Now I want to see how many other people have had the same thing happen to them. If you unexpectedly had a juniper show up in your landscape, send me a photo, preferably with you in it, too. It doesn’t count if you planted the shrub–it needs to have arrived on its own. As I receive the photos, I’ll create a “rogues’ gallery” of junipers on my website. Send your pix to mike@mikenowak.net

Still a chance to get a live evergreen for the holidays

And I want to give one more plug to Glacier Oaks Nursery in Harvard, which is featuring living Christmas trees that can be planted in your landscape in the spring. Propagator Mary T. McClelland, who was on the show last week, says they have White Pines and White Cedars, which are natives, as well as Blue and Green Spruce. They’re small enough to load into a car and you decorate them like a cut tree, keeping them well watered. After the holidays, move them into an unheated garage or enclosed porch until spring. Or you can heel them in the ground with hefty mulch layer around them.

The best part is that Glacier Oaks Nursery donates 25% of each evergreen to support the Land Conservancy of McHenry County. You can get more information on the offer here. But be aware that the evergreens will be wrapped and ready for pick up on November 16 & 17 from 10am – 2pm at The Land Conservancy office in Woodstock. Click here to get a map of the area.

Follow up on my native plants rescue

I reported last week that I had gone to Northerly Island on Saturday to pick up some natives for my community garden, Green on McLean. You might be aware that an ecological restoration of the island is beginning this fall. In anticipation of that, the Chicago Park District, with the help of Greencorps Chicago, invited folks to come to a “Plant Rescue.”

I ended up with a car full of Little Bluestem, New England Aster, Gray Headed Coneflower, and a few other goodies.

As you can see on the left, they ended up on the corner of the parkway just in front of Green on McLean. I have every expectation that they will grow happily next year. Stay tuned.