Tag Archives: WCPT Holiday Harvest

The Big Holiday Harvest Broadcast

December 4, 2011

Welcome to the WCPT Holiday Harvest Broadcast!

The WCPT Holiday Harvest Food Drive is up and running, and I hope that means you’re planning to stop by one of our drop off locations throughout the Chicago area and contribute healthy, local and sustainable goods (that’s our suggestion, though we’ll take anything that a food pantry normally accepts) for distribution to people in need. The drive runs through December 11 and we’ve teamed with the great people at Faith in Place to make it happen.

Mike Sanders, host of Our Town, and I teamed up for a three hour WCPT Holiday Harvest extravaganza on Sunday, December 4. You can listen to the podcast from that broadcast HERE. We were broadcasting indoors and out and this was the guest list:

Here’s the full list of places where you can leave your contributions:

  • WCPT AM & FM, 6012 S. Pulaski Road, Chicago, IL 60629
    Donations are accepted:
    Monday-Friday 9:00am-5:00pm, Saturday-Sunday 8:00am-2:00pm
    Ring the bell during the week to drop off food
    Donations will go to one of the participating Holiday Harvest food programs.
  • First Evangelical Free Church , 5255 N Ashland Ave Chicago, IL 60640
    Donations accepted:
    Tuesdays & Thursdays 9:00am to 4:30 pm
    Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8:00 pm, Sundays 9:30 am to 4:00 pm
    Site of Faith in Place Winter Farmers Market on December 11. You can purchase local, sustainable goods, turn around and drop them right in the WCPT bin!
    Donations will go to Breakthrough Urban Ministries
  • Healthy Horizons Inc, 7034 Indianapolis Blvd # 1, Hammond, IN 46324-2244
    Donations accepted:
    Monday-Friday 9:00am-8:00pm
    Saturday 9:00am-6:00pm
    Sunday 12:00pm-5:00pm
    (Purchase some of their healthy grocery items, turn around and put them in the WCPT bin!)
  • Little Mountain-Hope Ministries, 5716 South Ashland Avenue, Chicago, IL 60636-1723
    Donations currently accepted Tuesday evenings and all day Sunday. More times to come. Donations will go to the Little Mountain food program.
  • Travelers Rest Spiritual Church, 7030 S Racine Ave, Chicago , IL 60636
    Donations currently accepted Tuesday evenings and all day Sunday. More times to come.
  • Amor De Dios United Methodist Church, 2356 South Sawyer Avenue, Chicago, IL 60623
    Donations currently accepted Thursday afternoons and all day Sunday. More times to come.
    Donations will go to the Amor de Dios food program.
  • Euclid Avenue United Methodist, 405 South Euclid Avenue, Oak Park, IL 60302
    Site of Faith in Place Winter Farmers Market on March 24, 2012
    Donations go to the Oak Park/River Forest Food Pantry
  • North Shore Unitarian Church, 2100 Half Day Rd Deerfield, IL 60015
    Donations accepted:
    Monday-Friday 10:00am – 2:00pm
    Sundays 9:00am-1:00pm
    December 4th Special Hours: 8:30am-3:00pm
    Site of Faith in Place Winter Farmers Market on December 4! You can purchase local, sustainable goods, turn around and drop them right in the WCPT bin!
    Donations go to their local food pantries.

If you’re wondering what a “healthy, local and sustainable” food drive is, check out the Holiday Harvest page on this website, where we have tried to show how very possible it is to donate healthy protein-rich foods, preserved and canned goods, healthy grains and dried fruits and more. We’re also promoting local purchases. For more information about that, go to Local First Chicago and read about their city-wide Buy Local campaign for the 2011 Holiday Season called “Unwrap Chicago: Eat, Drink & Buy Local.”

My thanks also to Barbara Melera at the historic D. Landreth Seed Company for donating about one hundred packets, featuring cilantro, chervil, basil and chives seeds, which we are forwarding to the various churches and food networks.

“Green on McLean” community garden takes home an award

I have repeatedly told the story on my show of the “miracle” of the community garden at the end of my block in the Logan Square Neighborhood. A group of us got together in the spring to create the garden on land owned by a local realtor. We knew that because the land is privately owned, we could be kicked off at any time.

Actually, that’s a challenge that many urban community gardens face. But we took it on because we knew that the neighborhood needed change. The litter-strewn lot needed a face lift. The gangbangers on the corner needed to go. And the people of the neighborhood needed to meet each other in a way that they hadn’t in decades.

Thus, Green on McLean was created and, if you’ve heard the story before, you know that we accomplished most of the goals stated above. We grew some pretty decent vegetables, taught the neighborhood kids how to plant seeds, seedlings and potted plants, taught them how to water and care for those plants, and even battled aphids and cucumber beetles. We put up a blog, had pot luck dinners in the garden and watched as the garden grew and became a sacred place in the neighborhood (no gangbangers allowed–and they respected that rule…most of the time).

We even entered the Mayor’s 2011 Landscape Awards competition. We know that ours is far from the most impressive community garden in the city, but we were proud of what we had accomplished. And, on Saturday, December 3, five of the garden stalwarts–Olga, Carrie, Daeshawn, Moncerratt and I–picked up our 3rd Place Award for Community Landscapes in Region 1. Some of the photos are on this site. It’s pretty neat.

By the way,continuing a tradition I have followed for about a decade, I will have the 2011 Chicago Gardener of the Year, Enrique Gonzalez of Hoxie Prairie Garden, on the show next Sunday.

“Feed the Need” with the WCPT Holiday Harvest Food Drive

November 27, 2011

WCPT Holiday Harvest Food Drive begins December 1–Feed the Need!

Gosh, I’m so excited that you would think Christmas was coming or something. Or maybe it is. Or maybe next Thursday, December 1 is the first day of the WCPT Holiday Harvest Food Drive, which runs through December 11. Our thanks to our partner, Faith in Place, which has lined up a number of the drop off locations listed below.

When you bring your locally bought, healthy and sustainable foods (though we’ll take anything, really), you should look for the barrel marked with the WCPT Holiday Harvest logo (pictured left). Of course, you can’t just show up at 3:00 a.m. and expect to drop in your goodies, so here are the times that we know about so far. If a location in your area doesn’t have all of the information you need, never fear–I will be updating this page as I receive it:

  • WCPT AM & FM, 6012 S. Pulaski Road, Chicago, IL 60629
    Donations are accepted:
    Monday-Friday 9:00am-5:00pm, Saturday-Sunday 8:00am-2:00pm
    Ring the bell during the week to drop off food
    Of course, Mike Sanders and I will be standing outside to receive your donations during our special Holiday Harvest Broadcast on December 4 from 8:00 to 11:00 a.m.
    Donations will go to one of the participating Holiday Harvest food programs.
  • First Evangelical Free Church , 5255 N Ashland Ave Chicago, IL 60640
    Donations accepted:
    Tuesdays & Thursdays 9:00am to 4:30 pm
    Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8:00 pm, Sundays 9:30 am to 4:00 pm
    Site of Faith in Place Winter Farmers Market on December 11. You can purchase local, sustainable goods, turn around and drop them right in the WCPT bin!
    Donations will go to Breakthrough Urban Ministries
  • Healthy Horizons Inc, 7034 Indianapolis Blvd # 1, Hammond, IN 46324-2244
    Donations accepted:
    Monday-Friday 9:00am-8:00pm
    Saturday 9:00am-6:00pm
    Sunday 12:00pm-5:00pm
  • Little Mountain-Hope Ministries, 5716 South Ashland Avenue, Chicago, IL 60636-1723
    Donations currently accepted Tuesday evenings and all day Sunday. More times to come. Donations will go to the Little Mountain food program.
  • Travelers Rest Spiritual Church, 7030 S Racine Ave, Chicago , IL 60636
    Donations currently accepted Tuesday evenings and all day Sunday. More times to come.
  • Amor De Dios United Methodist Church, 2356 South Sawyer Avenue, Chicago, IL 60623
    Donations currently accepted Thursday afternoons and all day Sunday. More times to come.
    Donations will go to the Amor de Dios food program.
  • Euclid Avenue United Methodist, 405 South Euclid Avenue, Oak Park, IL 60302
    Site of Faith in Place Winter Farmers Market on March 24, 2012
    Donations go to the Oak Park/River Forest Food Pantry
  • North Shore Unitarian Church, 2100 Half Day Rd Deerfield, IL 60015
    Donations accepted:
    Monday-Friday 10:00am – 2:00pm
    Sundays 9:00am-1:00pm
    December 4th Special Hours: 8:30am-3:00pm
    Site of Faith in Place Winter Farmers Market on December 4! You can purchase local, sustainable goods, turn around and drop them right in the WCPT bin!
    Donations go to their local food pantries.

As noted above, Mike Sanders of Our Town and I will join forces for a three hour Holiday Harvest Broadcast on December 4 from 8:00 to 11:00 a.m. (I can’t mention that enough.)

As I have mentioned repeatedly, our goal is to do a drive that is “healthy, local and sustainable,” at least to the extent possible and practical. Over the past several weeks on the Holiday Harvest page on this website, we have tried to show how very possible it is to donate healthy protein-rich foods, preserved and canned goods, healthy grains and dried fruits and more.

Last week I talked to Suzanne Keers, co-founder & executive director of Local First Chicago, about their city-wide Buy Local campaign for the 2011 Holiday Season called “Unwrap Chicago: Eat, Drink & Buy Local.” The idea is to educate citizens on the importance of buying locally. Of course, WCPT and The Mike Nowak Show hope that you shop and buy local food, which you will then donate to the WCPT Holiday Harvest. Simple, no?

This week, I’m pleased to be able to talk to Rev. Dr. Bill Shereos, Senior Pastor of First Free Church in Andersonville, which is one of our drop off locations. They will be sending their collection to Breakthrough Urban Ministries in the Garfield Park neighborhood.

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.

Will the prairie–and bison(!)–make a comback in Illinois?

Okay, kids. Time for a quick quiz. (Bet you didn’t see this coming.) Of the 21 million acres of prairie that were originally in the Prairie State (um, that’s Illinois, in case you’re stumped), what percentage is left?

A. 10%
B. 1%
C. 0.1%
D 0.01%

If you answered D.–ding, ding, ding!–you’ve been paying attention to just how cavalierly Americans over the centuries have treated their natural resources. I’m getting ahead of myself here, but take a look at the Timeline of the American Bison, courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Believe me folks, it ain’t pretty.

But back to praires. In 1996, a remarkable thing happened for the remaining prairies in Illinois. The Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie was established on the former Joliet Arsenal. What made Midewin (prounounced mi-Day-win, and pronouncing it correctly is kind of the secret handshake of Illinois environmentalists) so remarkable is that, among other things, it was the first national tallgrass prairie in the country. The long-range goal was to take 20,000 acres of military and farm land and bring back as much prairie ecosystem as is humanly possible.

Interestingly, Midewin, just a stone’s throw from Chicago in Wilmington, Illinois, is part of the National Forest System, which might seem odd because it is far from being a forest. Perhaps that’s not so bad because the National Forest Foundation, a nonprofit group that works with the U.S. Forest Service to provide financial and technical support, announced in October that it was putting it’s muscle behind the restoration.

About 2,000 acres of prairie fields have already been restored at Midewin, but the land is still dotted with military bunkers and checkered with abandoned farm fields. Much needs to be done, which is why the NFF announced a 10-year plan to restore another 18,000 acres and even reintroduce bison on to the property–hence the bison reference earlier. C’mon, how cool is that? I’ll bet you didn’t even know that there were bison roaming Illinois at the beginning of the 19th Century…unless you clicked on the link above.

Midewin is the eighth site to be part of NFF’sTreasured Landscapes campaign. What does that mean? Well, money, for one–to the tune of helping to raise $174 million for the 10-year restoration project. To get a sense of what they hope to accomplish, take a look at this video. One of their partners in this unique venture is The Wetlands Initiative.

I’m pleased to welcome Mary Mitsos, Vice President of Conservation Programs for the National Forest Foundation and Paul Botts (in the interest of full disclosure, he is Beth Botts’ brother), who is Executive Director of The Wetlands Initiative, to talk about how the future of prairies of Illinois is about bringing back some of its past.

Sustainable Food Fundamentals
The D. Landreth Seed Company 2012 Catalog is on its way!

This is just a quick note to let you know that if you’re one of the people who are trying to keep the historic D. Landreth Seed Company in business by ordering a catalog, there will soon be one in your mailbox. A friend of mine who ordered five catalogs received hers on Black Friday (seems fitting, somehow, that she didn’t have to be among the crazed shoppers).

Barbara Melera, owner of D. Landreth, the oldest seed house in America, wrote to me on Facebook that people who ordered multiple copies are already receiving theirs. If you requested only one (stupid me!), they will arrive soon.

You can get a sense of the quality of this catalog by linking to sample pages here. It makes a great gift for your gardening friends, and they’re only five bucks a pop. Meanwhile, you can 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.

A couple of articles about climate change

Meteorologist Rick DiMaio is a wealth of information, not only about the weather, but about climate change, and he’s always alerting me to stories about the latest in climate science and news. This one echoes Rick’s own thoughts about how a little bit of warming can lead to weather extremes.

However, it can be difficult to have a civil conversation over the holiday dinner table with climate skeptics. If you find yourself in that situation, Mother Nature Network has some tips about the subject in an article called How to discuss climate change with your uncle during the holidays. It might just save your self-esteem…if not your sanity.

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.