Food, Farms, Trees and Holiday Decorations

November 21, 2010

The Holidays Loom…

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” according to the song. In my opinion, the jury is still out. However, most of us don’t have the choice of opting out of the madness, so I guess we should make the best of it. For instance, if you’re going to put Christmas lights on your outdoor trees, you should know what you’re doing. And I can’t think of a better source of tree knowledge than The Care of Trees.

Thom Kraak is Senior Designer for The Care of Trees, which means he’s the go-to guy for outdoor decorating. If you’re interested in having your lights hung professionally, you can always check out the services offered by The Care of Trees. However, Thom is also on the program today to offer some simple wisdom for doing the job yourself. Don’t forget that if you miss today’s live broadcast, you can always listen to podcasts of The Mike Nowak Show.

Shawn Kingzette is District Manager of the Chicago Office for The Care of Trees, and a long-time friend of this show. I dragged him into this discussion because I wanted to get an arborist’s advice about preparing your outdoor trees and shrubs for the coming winter. In addition, I’ve been harping on how little rain we’ve had in the past several months. My view is corroborated by the Morton Arboretum, which sent out this advisory this week.

…but there’s no need to panic if you need a beautiful display

Are you one of those people who can grow practically anything if it’s in your garden bed, but is completely baffled when it comes to containers? Fear not–Marni Wilson, garden designer at Mariani Landscape, is here to offer some great advice on creating attractive holiday scenes. Wilson says that you don’t necessarily need to get everything done at once–it’s possible to start a landscape and add to it later. Of course, she has tips on quick and easy holiday decorating–especially containers, which can be very rewarding, if you get it right. And, something that makes me happy, Wilson has information about how to reuse some of your decorations (mostly greens and boughs), when you’re ready to take down the display.

Good Growing: Illinois Local Food, Farms and Jobs Council

“Illinois consumers spend $48 billion annually on food. Nearly all of this money leaves the state.”
All I can say is “Mind boggling.” That quote (the first one, not mine) is from the Executive Summary of a report called “Local Food, Farms & Jobs: Growing the Illinois Economy,” written just about a year and a half ago as an introduction to the creation of the Illinois Local Food, Farms and Jobs Council. Its work–to keep a larger share of Illinois food dollars in Illinois–has really just begun.

Tom Spaulding, is Director of the council, and Executive Director for Angelic Organics Learning Center. He’s on the show to talk about what has been accomplished so far and what can be expected from this important public act. An important part of the mission is to train new farmers, agriculture laborers and food entrepreneurs over the next decade, in an attempt to keep food dollars in Illinois.

He’s provided me with some good links about farming and related issues: