A win for front yard veggies, two great conferences, and trying to get a win for clean air

February 13, 2011

Victory Garden!! Northbrook allows front yard veggies!

You might remember last year’s late summer brouhaha involving a modest vegetable garden that a modest family in Northbrook just happened to put in the wrong place–their front yard. When a neighbor decided to issue a complaint, Alex Lyakhovetsky and his mother Dora quickly became the poster children for the suburban Locavore movement

It seemed a little bizarre to me that a lawn, which has been described as a “biological desert,” might be preferred over a plot of land that produces food. Regardless, the matter ended up on the agenda of the Village of Northbrook Board of Trustees. I attended the meeting where Dora presented them with a basket of tomatoes that had been grown in her own yard. “It’s wonderful,” she said, and placed it on the table in front of them.

Fast forward to Tuesday of this past week, when the board met to discuss whether a vegetable garden was an appropriate use of a front yard. Lee Goodman, who spoke eloquently to the board last September in defense of the Lyakhovetsky garden, fired off an email to me. It read:

The Northbrook village board decided tonight to allow people to have vegetable gardens in their front yards, without any size restrictions, and without prior permission. It took us a long time to get this decision, and I consider it a total victory. Hopefully people will follow Dora’s example and plant vegetables, and other municipalities will follow Northbrook’s lead.

Woo-hoo! I called the Lyakhovetskys and the lovely Dora (who laid a beautiful cantaloupe on me last fall) called it her “victory garden.” Hence the headline above. Alex Lyakhovetsky and Lee Goodman are on the show this morning to discuss the action of the City of Northbrook.

Garfield Farm presents 25th anniversary native plant seminar

Garfield Farm Museum has an all-star cast for its 25th annual Prairie, Woodlands, and Wetlands Management Seminar on Saturday, February 19 from 8:30 am-4:30pm. A couple of the speakers, Roy Diblik from Northwind Perennial Farm and Connor Shaw from Possibility Place Nursery, are friends of my show. Also featured are John Engstrom, Cathy McGlynn and Jerome Johnson.

What I like about this day long event is that it’s directed at the average land owner–from backyard gardeners to owners of natural area acreage. The seminar covers all the key methods and techniques of preserving and using the best adapted plants for the Illinois environment.

Jerome Johnson, Executive Director of Garfield Farm Museum and Cathy McGlynn join me on the program this morning. Cathy is Coordinator of the Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership (NIIPP) and will be talking about new and established invasive plants in prairies.She will also talk about the New Invaders Watch Program (NiWP) and how the average citizen can get involved in stemming the tide of invasive plants. How do we do this? By knowing about each plant’s natural history, identification, native look a-likes, control methods, and current known locations. Sound like a lot of work? You betcha. And necessary, too.

There is a $50 donation for the all day seminar which includes lunch and refreshments. That is SUCH a deal! I want to help Jerome fill the place next Saturday.

Speaking of great conferences…

The Wildflower Preservation and Propagation Committee, or WPPC (and I keep telling them that they need a name that rolls off the tongue a little more easily) is holding it’s 19th annual Natural Landscapign Seminar on Saturday, February 26, 2011 from 8:00 am to 3:45 pm at McHenry County College Conference Center, 8900 US Route 14 in Crystal Lake, Illinois. This year’s program is called
“Tending the Earth”.

On next week’s show, I will be talking to Carole Brown, who will be presenting the talk “Ecosystem Gardening: Native Plants are Essential.” She is a conservation biologist, passionate naturalist, photographer, author and educator. I’m also hoping to talk to Steven Apfelbaum, chairman and principal ecologist of Applied Ecological Services, Inc. His talk is called “Nature’s Second Chance”

Normally, I don’t preview my shows a week in advance, but the WPPC had some issues with getting their conference invitations out via snail mail recently, and I’m stepping in. They invited me to speak up in McHenry County a few years ago and they’re a great organization. I hope people turn out in force for the seminar.

Valentine’s Day is “Clean Power Ordinance People’s Hearing” Day

How about sending a love note to Chicago’s air tomorrow?

49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore was on the show a couple of weeks ago to talk about how a hearing on the Clean Power Ordinance, which he introduced last year, had been put on the back burner by the Chicago City Council, more than likely at the behest of the Daley Administration.

But that’s not going to stop Moore. Tomorrow morning, starting with a press conference at 9:30 a.m., Ald. Moore with convene his own ad hoc hearing on the Clean Power Ordinance, and I encourage you to be there. The site is City Hall Council Chambers, 2nd Floor, 121 North LaSalle Street in Chicago.

Meanwhile, Greening Together: A Benefit to Re-Elect Joe Moore, which was postponed by the Blizzard of ’11, has been rescheduled for this this Wednesday at Uncommon Ground Restaurant, 1401 W. Devon Avenue in Chicago. Even if you don’t live in the 49th Ward (and I don’t), you might want to consider supporting this true champion on environmental issues and citizen participation in Chicago government.