Of food, family, hostas and conifers

August 22, 2010

Get out your corks and crayons to benefit Purple Asparagus

Actually, they’ll do it for you, if you show up at the Purple Asparagus Benefit on Sunday, August 29, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Uncommon Ground Restaurant in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago. If you want to know about Purple Asparagus, you need to know about its president, Melissa Graham.

I met Melissa earlier this year at the Growing Home Benefit. As host of Chicago’s only gardening radio show, I was asked to host the annual benefit for the third consecutive year. So there I was, working out front, behind a hot microphone. What I soon discovered was that Melissa, who was responsible for the excellent dinner being served at this event, was working back in the kitchen, in front of a hot stove. I think I liked my job better…but I’m not a chef.

But when I was able to drag her out of the kitchen to take a bow, we started talking about Purple Asparagus, the not-for-profit Founded in 2005 and “dedicated to bringing families back to the table by promoting and enjoying all the things associated with good eating.” I’ll drink to that.

Among the programs sponsored by Purple Asparagus are Healthy Snacks Workshop in Schools, which is designed to help Chicago school children learn better eating habits; and Growing Healthy Kids, which is about collaborative efforts to improve the health of Chicago’s children.

By the way, there’s an online silent auction, so even if you can’t make it to the benefit dinner, you can still support a great cause. You might also want to link to Melissa’s blog Little Locavores, which has recipes for family friendly farmers market fare.
Speaking at the Hosta Happening at Rich’s Foxwillow Pines

Oh, those crazy kids! They’re stuck in the 70s. I mean, who does a “happening” anymore? Well, Rich and Susie Eyre do–not to mention Rich’s mom, Margaret Eyre, the Hosta Queen, who coordinates volunteers to help divide and sell the hostas…and there are several hundred varieties on sale. I don’t think there’s any truth to the rumor that she still closes down many Woodstock taverns (actually, I made that up).

But before you get distracted by Margaret’s nighlife, let’s get the relevant information out on the table. The Hosta Happening is at Rich’s Foxwillow Pines Nursery, 11618 McConnell Road in Woodstock on Saturday, August 28th from 9am to 4pm. As always, proceeds go to Heifer International (HI) . Heifer is a non-profit, humanitarian organization dedicated to ending world hunger and poverty by providing livestock, trees, training, and other resources to help struggling families build sustainable futures. I can’t tell you how many thousands of dollars Rich and Susie have donated to this great cause over the years.

And, next Saturday, I get to be a part of it. Here’s the schedule.

11:00 a.m. – Rich and Susan discuss Heifer’s work worldwide

1:00 p.m. – I do my talk “I’m Not Really a Garden Expert, I Just Play One on the Radio”

I don’t know what is more likely to draw people–Rich and Susie, my talk, a chance to meet the legendary Margaret, or the chance to buy 5 hostas and get one hosta of equal value free. I’m not going to bet on myself. Also, refreshments will be served all day.

One more thing, for you conifer geeks. Rich’s Foxwillow Pines is hosting the first ever Illinois Conifer Rendezvous on October 9 for American Conifer Society members and other conifer enthusiasts. Gary Wittenbaugh will talk about ‘ Gardening with Conifers.’  He has been gardening for over 35 years with an emphasis on dwarf, slow growing and unusual conifers.

Jerry Morris , plantsman and expert of the trees of the Rocky Mountains, is coming from Colorado and will discuss tree transplanting.

Other events include a bonsai demonstration, garden tours, and a tour of the Rocky Mountain Trees of Jerry Morris at Foxwillow Pines. Jerry Morris is bringing a collection of his bonsais for sale. Some are more than 100 years old. Of course, I would just kill one and feel awful, so I’m staying away from that sale.

There is a $10 fee for lectures and lunch.  Email office1@richsfoxwillowpines.com for more information.