Protecting trees, public lands and urban chickens

September 18, 2011

The 2011 STIHL Tour des Trees October 2!…but not in Chicago

Remember last year when we did the big broadcast from the Great Lawn at Millennium Park as the kickoff of the STIHL Tour des Trees and there were sixty-something riders in orange who road out of the city and across Illinois for about a week and Rolling Stones keyboard player Chuck Leavell was there and Producer Heather Frey got all excited about him playing for her and posted a video of it on Facebook and then I met the riders in Kewannee, Illinois, where we visited the historic Potter Osage-orange tree and then the riders came back to Chicago and wrapped up the whole thing at the Morton Arboretum?

You don’t? Where the heck were you?

Regardless, another year has gone by and the TREE Fund .is launching its 2011 version of the bike ride. This year it’s called the 2011 STIHL Tour des Trees VA2DC Tour and the action takes place on the East coast. The 2011 Tour kicks off with a 30-mile, 1-day Ride for Research presented by Mid-Atlantic STIHL in Virginia Beach, VA October 2, then heads west to Williamsburg, Richmond, Charlottesville and the Appalachians. Seven days and 500 miles later the Tour concludes with a triumphant entrance into Washington DC on October 8.

While, unless you live near Washington, D.C., you’re not likely to be able to get out and cheer for the riders, you can still support Team Illinois by going to this page and making a contribution. You can also find other teams to support or just make a donation to the TREE Fund here. The TREE Fund provides research grants, scholarships and educational programs to advance knowledge in the field of arboriculture and urban forestry.

Mary DiCarlo, Fund Development Specialist and John Kirchner, City of Chicago forester, join me on the show this morning. They report that once again, Chuck Leavell will be tickling the ivories as part of the festivities in Virginia. In case you’re not aware of his connection with trees, Leavell and wife Rose Lane White Leavell turned her family’s plantation near Macon, Georgia, into what has become a textbook tree farm: Charlane Plantation. He’s also behind The Mother Nature Network, a lively website featuring daily environmental news, green commentary and simple steps to save money, stay healthy, and support the planet.

National Public Lands Day at Churchill Park in Glen Ellyn

National Public Lands Day (NPLD) hasn’t been around all that long–only since 1994, when it was created by by the National Environmental Education Foundation. However, in a very short time, it has become the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer event for public lands in the United States. Last year, 170,000 volunteers worked at over 2,080 sites in every state, the District of Columbia and in many U.S. territories. And what did they accomplish?

* Removed an estimated 450 tons of trash
* Collected an estimated 20,000 pounds of invasive plants
* Built and maintained an estimated 1,320 miles of trails
* Planted an estimated 100,000 trees, shrubs and other native plants
* Contributed an estimated $15 million to improve public lands across the country

NPLD will be held next Saturday, September 24 throughout the country. I went to the NPLD website and searched for events in Illinois within a hundred miles of where I live in Chicago and came up with places like

Deer Grove Forest Preserve, Palatine
Forest Preserve District of DuPage County
Gompers Park, Chicago Park District
Taltree Arboretum & Gardens, Valparaiso, Indiana
Spring Valley Nature Center, Schaumburg Park District
Washington Park, Chicago Park District
Rollins Savanna, Lake County Forest District
Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie
Gordon Park Beerline Trail, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

There are many, many more that you can find on this page on the NPLD website.

I am pleased to say that I will be at Churchill Park in Glen Ellyn, a hidden gem featuring wetlands, prairie and wooded sections. I will say a few words to kick things off at 9:00 a.m. and after we wake people up following my speech, crew leaders will take volunteers out to help with three project areas (harvesting native seeds, planting trees, and trail work). Caribou Coffee is supplying brew, there will be light refreshments, and even small prairie seed packs and a prairie dropseed plant for the volunteers. At 11:00, it’s time for an educational hike of the property.. Please wear appropriate clothing such as long pants and closed-toe shoes.

Renae Frigo, Naturalist with the Glen Ellyn Park District joins me this morning to preview the event to and encourage people everywhere to participate in this very worthy day of volunteering to help the environment.

Sustainable Food Fundamentals:
Nobody here but us chickens…and the people who raise them

Last year it was called the Hen-apalooza Chicagoland Chicken Coop Tour. This year it’s the 2nd Annual Windy City Coop Tour (personally, I think they should have stuck with Hen-apalooza but most people think I’m a loose cannon, so there you go.)

Whatever you call it, the event is scheduled for three hours next Sunday, September 25. It’s a chance for folks to get a look at what it’s like to keep chickens for fun and, er, eggs. Chicago chicken keepers will teach you about their personal experiences with backyard chickens. You can visit their coops and hens, ask questions, and take photos. It’s self-guided, so you can create your own route and visit any or all of the 26 locations between 11AM and 2PM.

In addition, Urban Chicken Consultant Jen Murtoff will give demonstrations of chicken handling and basic hen health at 3532 W. Belden (site #14) from during the same three hour period.

Last year, my friend and chicken owner Michelle Thoma talked to me about the first tour. This year, she is on the organizing committee and will join me once again. By the way, if this sound like something you have been thinking about, you might consider joining Chicago Chicken Enthusiasts. They’re a network of backyard chicken enthusiasts in & around Chicago with some modest goals:

* Learning from each other and enjoying the flock of folks keeping city chickens
* Promoting and preserving city policies that allow backyard chickens
* Reaching out and teaching best practices, and dispelling myths

If you go to their site, you can join their discussion forum on the CCE Google group or even follow them on Facebook.

Landreth Seed Company follow up

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been following the plight of the oldest seed house in America, Landreth Seed Company. The company finds itself in deep financial trouble and needs to sell one million catalogs in the next month. I’ve written and talked on the show about how the social media community has stepped up to get the word out. Last week, I interviewed owner Barbara Melera about the dire situation. You can hear that conversation on this special podcast.

Meanwhile, the company has been posting updates of sales on its Facebook page, Landreth Seed Co. At last count, the status was $57,643 in sales and $1,633 on, which equals 11,855 catalogs. Sorry to belabor the obvious…but they have a LONG way to go.

You can help by BUYING A CATALOG RIGHT NOW!. Also, make your voice heard on social media sites. Here are a few: 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 and click the icon on the upper right hand side of the page.

Caring for your fall vegetables

As we lurch into the fall season this week, I thought I’d pass along a great article I received from Diane Blazek at the National Garden Bureau. It’s called, straightforwardely enough, “Frost Tolerance of Fall Vegetables.” Especially if you live here in the Midwest, this will come in handy during the next few weeks.