New Year, New Chance, New Seed Competition, New Cookbook

January 1, 2012

A new year…and D. Landreth Seed Company can see the light

One of the most inspirational stories of 2011–and now of the new year–has been the continuing struggle of the D. Landreth Seed Company, as the 227 year-old business claws its way out of near financial ruin. If you’re a regular listener to this show, you know that I started following this story after I was made aware of it in a post by Mr. Brown Thumb (more on him later).

Basically, a note was called on the outstanding debt of the company and they had about a month to show that they could paid the bill. Their goal was to sell one million catalogs in…who knows how long. The original deadline was September 30th but that was extended as orders came in. Owner Barbara Melera appeared on my show a number of times to talk about how things were going. While she was always upbeat, she wrote that behind the scenes, things were tougher than they needed to be because of their credit card processor, First Data Merchant Corporation:

On October 14th we received a letter from First Data telling us that they refused to be our credit card processor and that they were terminating the relationship on October 27, 2011, BUT they were keeping at least $50,000 plus any transaction funds posted after 10-27-2011 for six months, supposedly to cover all of the refunds they were going to have to make because of the scam we were running.

Scam?? If that’s the case, then Melera is one of the great scam artists of all history. I mean, not only did she con me (easy enough to do), but she dragged along people like Oprah, Martha Stewart, Ellen Degeneres and Rose O’Donnell, not to mention companies like John Deere and Organic Valley, as well as organizations like the Sierra Club and Mother Nature Network. So I was gratified to see this posted on the Landreth Seed Company Facebook page this week:

GREAT NEWS!! Your facebook posts, letters and emails and voicemails WORKED. We have just received a call from FDMC, literally moments ago, and they are releasing our funds which should be in our account by Friday. YOU DID THIS. They would never have listened to us, but they did listen to all of you. It is now being said that social media will mean the democratization of process and you have just proven this. You have proven that true justice can be accomplished, quickly and efficiently, even in America. Thank you, Landreth friends.

Well, after seeing that, I knew that I was going to have Barb back on the show on this New Year’s Day. Meanwhile, keep the orders coming! Listeners to my show have really stepped up, which makes me feel like a proud pappa. You can get a sense of the quality of this catalog by linking to sample pages here. 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 and click the icon on the upper right hand side of the page.

One Seed Chicago contest goes online LIVE on my show!

Mr. Brown Thumb, who I mentioned above in reference to the D. Landreth Seed Company, is back on the show today to announce the contestants in the One Seed Chicago 2012 competition. He is joined by Ben Helphand, Executive Director of NeighborSpace, Chicago’s land trust for community gardens, which is the chief organization behind the competition.

Each year One Seed Chicago selects one plant to be the focus of a season-long celebration. Actually, One Seed Chicago chooses three plants, and voters decide which is most worthy of being celebrated. In the past, the votes have alternated between flowers and vegetables. If you watched the competition last year, you know that the contestants were radish, eggplant and Swiss chard.

Of course, it was hardly a fair fight, once I threw my support behind Swiss chard. At that point, my loyal followers (all 3 or 4), stuffed the ballot box, if only to keep me from sulking. At the end of the voting, when Swiss chard was announced as the winner, I was declared Chard Overlord and accorded all of the rights and privileges therewith (and post haste, if I’m not mistaken). As a result of my stomping all over the democratic process last year (which I thoroughly enjoyed), I’ve decided TO NOT STEAL THE ELECTION THIS YEAR!

I’m not sure how much I’m supposed to reveal about this year’s vote, so I’m going to let Mr. Brown Thumb handle that duty. In fact, not only will MBT be revealing the three seeds, but he promises to hit the switch that puts the contest online LIVE DURING THE SHOW! It will be an unprecedented marriage of the broadcast and Internet media. Well, perhaps not unprecedented, but pretty cool, anyway.

As I mentioned , One Seed Chicago is a project of NeighborSpace, in partnership with GreenNet Chicago. Other sponsors are Openlands, Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance and Illinois Extension-Cook County. Residents from the Chicagoland area vote on their favorite as a reward for your vote (it’s kind of a bribe, I guess), you receive a packet of seeds of the winning plant. Teachers can request a classroom size packet along with an educator guide.

Sustainable Food Fundamentals
“Farmstead Chef”: fixin’ good food fixins that’re good for the planet

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not big on cookbooks, chiefly because I don’t cook. I don’t draw, either, whether with ink, pencil or crayons. Other than that, I’m pretty open to things.

That being said, however, I’m not an idiot and I know when a book–even a cookbook–has a lot going for it. Which is why John Ivanko and Lisa Kivirist, authors of Farmstead Chef  are on the show today. Okay, that and we happen to have mutual acquaintances. More on that in a moment.

If you have any sensitivity at all towards the local/sustainable/healthy/whateveryouwantotcallit food movement that is taking our country and its kitchen tables by storm, this is the cookbook for you. Regardless of how appealing it sounds, not everybody is going to do what Ivanko and Kivirist did–start Inn Serendipity, an organic and largely fossil fuel-free farm complete with Bed and Breakfast in Wisconsin.

Which is why it’s such a good thing that they are passing along their knowledge of what it’s like to live–and eat–close to the land. But they do it by suggesting rather than preaching. As they say in the book:

Farmstead Chef showcases the creative and budget-friendly side to eating lower on the food chain more often, while taking responsibility for the food we put into our bodies–by growing it, sharing it, savoring it. By lower on the food chain we mean more fruits and vegetables and less meat. Not “no meat”…This “farmsteadtarian” cookbook–preparing healthy meals with ingredients sourced as close as possible from a farm, ranch or artisan food purveyor–is anything but prescriptive, proclaiming you will die an early death if you touch an ounce of sugar, eat meat or unwind with a strawberry daiquiri at the end of the day.

Whew! They had me worried for a second. Pass the merlot.

The chapters feature the various types of meals that we eat: breakfast entrees, breads, soups, “sides, sauces and salads,” nibbles (appetizers), main dishes, “cakes, pies and sweets,” and drinks. There is a final chapter devoted to their son Liam’s favorites and tips on pantry stocking. The recipes are simply and efficiently explained so that even a novice like me can follow them (no small feat). Ivanko and Kivirist stress eating “seasonally,” but they are not dogmatic about it, mercifully.

Along the way there are tips about cooking and sustainability and healthy eating. There are also short articles, which they call “Kitchen Table Talks,” that feature farming friends, urban gardeners, chefs and the like. That’s where our mutual acquaintances come in–Beth and Jody Osmund of Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm, who have been on my show several times. Farmstead Chef devotes a Kitchen Table Talk segment to the Osmunds under the title “Meet Your Meat Maker.” See? I told you that they weren’t dogmatic about food. Meat is certainly welcome on the table, as long as it is raised and killed humanely and sustainably.

There’s a lot I’m missing here, including the dishes, like

  • zucchini feta pancakes
  • fresh tomato breakfast pie
  • winter squash spice muffins
  • homemade vegan pitas and pita chips
  • cheese roasted asparagus
  • creamy spinach salad
  • vegan hearty root vegetable dip
  • creamy leek pastries
  • herb-infused spare ribs
  • fried green tomato & basil sandwich
  • beet burgers
  • Italian sausage risotto (courtesy of Beth and Jody Osmund)
  • strawberry dessert pizza
  • pear crumb pie
  • homemade graham crackers

Hey, you’ll just have to get the book. You’ll think that the 20 bucks you paid is the best bargain you’ve made in all of 2012. That’s a joke, of course, but the cookbook is terrific.

Saving Starved Rock State Park

The controversy surrounding Starved Rock State Park and the attempt to put an open pit sand mine next to its entrance is still on my radar…and should be on yours. I will be discussing this issue on next week’s show. In the meantime, find out more about the issue from the Illinois Sierra Club. You can submit a comment to the LaSalle County Board here.

New electronics recycling law for 2012

As of this morning, if you throw out those old electronics, you could be fined for it. That’s the result of a new law that went into effect as of January 1, 2012. Mike Mitchell, Executive Director of the Illinois Recycling Association, talked about this a few weeks ago on the show. The new law expands the number of covered electronic products in Illinois from four to seventeen. Here’s the full list:

  • Televisions
  • Monitors
  • Printers
  • Computers ( laptop, notebook, netbook, tablet )
  • Electronic Keyboards
  • Facsimile Machines
  • Videocassette Recorders
  • Portable Digital Music Players
  • Digital Video Disc Players
  • Video Game Consoles
  • Small Scale Servers
  • Scanners
  • Electronic Mice
  • Digital Converter Boxes
  • Cable Receivers
  • Satellite Receivers
  • Digital Video Disc Recorders

While you could be fined for throwing out any of these devices, the real purpose of the law is to hold the manufacturers accountable for the growing amount of electronics in landfills. According to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, “For calendar year 2012 all manufacturers of the new list of covered electronic products must now register with the Illinois EPA and meet an annual recycling goal.” Any manufacturer not complying with the Illinois Electronic Products Recycling and Reuse Act is liable for a civil penalty not to exceed $10,000 for the violation and an additional civil penalty not to exceed $10,000 for each day the violation continues.

Click here for more on the Electronic Products Recycling & Reuse Act and the responsibilities to manufacturers.

And don’t forget to recycle your holiday trees and lights

I have no idea what Chi-Town Cheapskate is, but I give them kudos for putting together a one-stop shopping guide to recycling not just Christmas trees, but the lights, too. So in the interest of giving credit where credit is due, I’m posting the link to their recycling article, mainly because, unlike most of the stories I’ve seen, they also include suburban locations. Good on you, Chi-Town Cheapskate, whatever you are.