Winning elections, finding bees, discouraging critters and creating farmers

May 1, 2011

This just in…Team Chard WINS!!!

I’ve done it again…with a little help from my friends

A few years ago, I managed to steal the election for the “Unofficial Official Chicago Flower” contest in the Chicago Tribune. I asked my listeners to stuff the ballot box for praiire smoke and, of course, my minions responded in lock-step by TAKING DOWN THE COMPETITION!

Fast forward to 2011 and the One Seed Chicago competition, in which contestants radish, eggplant, and Swiss chard vied for this year’s favorite Chicago seed.. The winner was announced Saturday, April 30 at the Chicago’s Green & Growing Fair. If you saw the slide show that Kathleen has posted on this website, you’ll know that I was busy cleaning up a vacant lot on my block, which we hope will be the site of a community garden later this year. So I wasn’t able to attend the Green & Growing Fair.

I began checking Twitter and Facebook when I got home Saturday but was greeted by the sound of crickets chirping, tumbleweeds tumbling–oh, you get it. I believe it was a conspiracy to keep me from celebrating my well-earned success.

Then, at 4:12 p.m., this tweet from @copedog:

@bintie word on the street (via @NewlywedGarden) is that it’s
TEAM CHARD FTW!!! #oneseedchicago

YESSSSSS!!! EAT IT, SUCKAS!!! (Swiss chard, that is.)

Mr. Brown Thumb stops by today to allow me to gloat and to present me with my award for stuffing the ballot box. Well, actually, I don’t receive an award, and that’s okay. I’m very pleased with myself and that is its own reward.

By the way, for those of you who have never heard of One Seed Chicago, GreenNet-Chicago in conjunction with One Seed Chicago selects three candidate plants. Each year they alternate between voting on a vegetable and a flower. Residents from the Chicagoland area vote on their favorite and they distribute, for free, seeds of the winning plant as part of the season-long celebration.

One Seed Chicago is a not-for-profit project of NeighborSpace, Chicago’s land trust for community gardens. NeighborSpace works in partnership with three founding governmental agencies the City of Chicago, Chicago Park District, the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, as well as other nonprofit organizations and local community groups to preserve and expand community managed open space in Chicago.

Mike introduces “Queen of The Sun” at Music Box Theater

It’s no secret that our honey bees are in trouble. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has now been with us for four or five years, and while the specific cause has yet to be identified, more and more people are coming to the conclusion that a certain class of pesticides called neonicontinoids may very well be the ground zero regarding the disappearance of Apis mellifera colonies.

This seems to be the season for film documentaries about CCD, and one of them is currently showing at the Music Box Theatre through May 5th. It’s called Queen of The Sun: What are the Bees Telling Us? by Taggart Siegel, acclaimed director of the grass-roots hit  The Real Dirt on Farmer John. You can view the trailer here. Taggart drops by the studio this morning to talk about his latest effort, which Box Office Magazine calls “The feel-good advocacy movie of the year.”

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I will be introducing the film at its showing on Tuesday, May 3 at the Music Box Theatre. Not only that, we are giving away several pairs of tickets on the show this morning. The documentary is beautifully shot and, while it deals with a serious subject, is an uplifting film. If you don’t know much about CCD and the havoc it is wreaking in the bee world, this is a good way to get introduced to the subject.

Keeping critters at bay

Regular listeners know that Bobbex, Inc. is one of the great sponsors of The Mike Nowak Show. I’m happy to say that this is their third year on the program and I’m looking forward to many more. Greg Ecsedy is the son of the man who started the business, Bob Ecsedy (sound the name out loud and see if you can figure out how the company came to be called Bobbex.)

Without trying to take Rick DiMaio’s place, he says that current weather patterns in the Midwest, which are causing violent storms in the south, have also stalled the spring growing season. That affects how and when you apply deer repellents. Greg says that the many plants are now just starting to shoot up and are at their most vulnerable to deer, rabbits and other critters. So now is a good time to be spraying repellents, no matter which brand your prefer. (And I will remind you that two other great sponsors are Plantskydd and Bonide Repels-All.)

Greg also points out that recycling plays a large part in the creation of Bobbex. For instance, keeping critters as bay saves consumers from having to replant and use up more resources. In addition, Bobbex uses ingredients from the food industry that are “leftovers,” such as meat meal, chicken livers and gizzards, fish meal, fish oil and more.

Sustainable Food Fundamentals:
Introducing Wild Goose Farm at Prairie Crossing

The Farm Business Development Center at Prairie Crossing (FBDC), located on one hundred acre organic farm in Graylslake, Illinois, is known as an “incubator” for farms. Farmers are a part of the incubator for no more than five years, at which time they are expected to“graduate” to the next level of independence. One of those businesses is Wild Goose Farm, run by Meg Runyan, who is a Stateline Farm Beginnings graduate and a CRAFT member. Both programs are affiliated with Angelic Organics Learning Center, which is a valuable contributor to Sustainable Food Fundamentals.

Meg’s name for her farm comes from the idea that, as she says, “life often feels like a wild goose chase; it’s always full of surprises and farming is no exception!” Meg and friends grow a wide variety of certified organic organic herbs and vegetables, which they sell through Farmers’ Markets and their CSA program.

Meg loves the people who have mentored her. She says that they also act as sounding boards for different ideas. She notes that a lot of peer learning goes on, and all of it has helpted her learn and grow as a farmer. She says she has benefited from the incubator program, which works by providing land, farm infrastructure, and a positive learning environment that helps beginning farmers develop the entrepreneurial skills, farming knowledge and market networks needed to become successful professional farmers. The incubator provides support and resources to its farmers using a market-based fee structure where possible.

Once again, Pearl Valley Organix sponsors Sustainable Food Fundamentals. They produce HEALTHY GRO™ products for your lawn and garden, as well as Pearl Valley Eggs. And they do it in a way that is sustainable, turning their chicken manure into several OMRI listed fertilizers, and even recycling their waste water on site at the Pearl Valley Farm.