New Local Food Systems and Small Farms Program Website

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Posted: April 30, 2014 at 10:15 am

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The University of Illinois Extension Local Foods Systems and Small Farms (LFSSF) Team now has a new “one-stop shop” website for clients to find information, resources, event calendars, and program registrations. The site was designed and developed by LFSSF team members to share information—in one place—for all of our unit programs, such as the statewide calendar. The website is geared toward farmers, those considering a farming operation, and those interested in local foods. Visitors can find the new website here.

 




Local Calendar 4/30/14 Green City Market Outdoor Opens, Morel Fest, New Wave Brewer’s Bash, Slagel Farm Dinner With Chef Paul Virant

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Posted: April 30, 2014 at 9:23 am

RampsGCMSpr14GCMproduce_basket

May is the month many of the outdoor markets open and thankfully signal that the polar vortex is truly behind us and spring is here!! Get to the opening of the  Green City Market this Saturday, they have a full morning of activities planned. The chef demonstration tent will feature founding board member and board co-president Sarah Stegner (Prairie Grass Cafe) and Carrie Nahabedian (Naha and Brindille), also a member of the board. The Evanston outdoor market opens 5/10, Daley Center 5/15 and 61st 5/17.

That elusive harbinger of spring in Chicago, ramps may be found at some of these markets but the early shopper will get the ramp. Ramps will continue to be included on some of the farm to table menus at restaurants in Chicago. But don’t delay in seeking out ramps, the window of their availability is very narrow.  Farm dinners(they should be called farm meal, some are brunches, lunches or dinners) with some of the most well known farmers get booked really quickly, while others tend to pop up and we will post them on the Beet calendar. Here is Slagel Family Farm’s schedule  (5/3-10/4) , their first dinner is this Saturday May 3rd with Chef Paul Virant. Prairie Fruit Farms has announced their schedule(5/25-12/4, a last minute addition are 2 family style brunches this Saturday May 3 and May 10. Mint Creek Farm’s next event is Mother’s Day May 11. A recent announcement is a summer solstice dinner to be held nearby at Frillman Farms on 6/21 by our friends at White Oak Gourmet.

There are some very active organizations in Chicagoland providing resources, classes and advocacy on local food. Some to put on your list are Illinois Stewardship AllianceAdvocates for Urban Agriculture, The Plant Chicago and WeFarmAmerica. PGP(Peterson Garden Project)  provides classes, programs and resources to teach you how to grow your own food, including a book “Fearless Food Gardening in Chicagoland” and soon it will be opening the Fearless Food Kitchen in Edgewater to teach you how to cook the food that you grow. Do you live in the Evanston/Skokie area? The Talking Farm has lot of volunteer work days available for students, families and corporate team building time at their Howard Street Farm, located at 3701 Howard St on the Evanston/Skokie boarder. They even have a “Talking Farm Hand Certification Program” for those interested in urban agriculture.

If you just do not have time to make it to one of the farmers markets every week but you still want to eat local produce, a produce share from the Green Grocer is an easy way to go. They source from the same farmers who sell at the markets but they handpick and curate the items that go into your weekly share so everything will be ripe to use and they offer flexibility for people who may travel because of work, live alone, or don’t necessarily want a weekly box.

The local calendar is picking up, now onto the week ahead, take advantage of the incredible markets and farmstead/craft/artisanal food and beverage scene that Chicago has to offer! Woo hoo spring is definitely here!

The Week’s Local Calendar

May 2

Chicago - Spring Off The Avenue - 5:30pm -8:30pm 444 W. Chicago Ave. The Chicago Lights Urban Farm and Free Write Jail Arts and Literacy are joining together for an event showcasing what’s growing in these two Chicago Lights programs.  The evening will feature art, poetry, and performances by Free Write Jail Arts, along with food, drinks, and networking in a beautiful greenhouse setting.

May 2-3

Ottawa - Midwest Morel Fest

May 3

Bridgeport – New Wave Brewer’s Bash Mash Tun Festival 3-7pm Co-Prosperity Sphere 3219 S. Morgan St. Join the Mash Tun Society as they celebrate the release of Mash Tun Journal # 5 and meet the new generation of breweries that have recently launched in Chicagoland. You get a copy of the new issue of the mag, a tasting glass, and pours of brews by New Wave breweries like: 18th Street, One Trick Pony, Dryhop, Off Color,  Ale Syndicate, Slap Shot, Atlas, Lake Effect BuckleDown, Une Année  and others. Complementary vittles and other surprises in store.

Champaign - Family Style Brunch at Prairie Fruit 9:30am and 11:30am seatings

******Chicago - Opening Day of the Green City Market in Lincoln Park!   Preorders for the new Green City Market Cookbook can be placed here. Here is a detailed list of the days activities.

Chicago - The Plant Chicago Workshop SeriesSummer Crops Seed Starting – 10am 1400 W. 46th St.

Chicago - Graze Issue 5 Release Party 8-11pm The Charnel House 3421 W. Fullerton

Chicago - Growing Power Iron Street Farm Stand - 10am – 3pm 3333 South Iron St. Pick up your salad greens and they are ,also, selling at select Walgreens on the south and west sides!!

Elgin - Market Elgin - 9am -1pm 800 North State St.

*FD Fairbury, Il/Chicago - Slagel Family Farm Dinner - Farm tour and dinner 2:30pm Chef Paul Virant Vie/Perennial Virant $125 Bus option Noon 1800 N. Lincoln BYOB

La Fox Heritage Prairie Saturday Farmer’s Market  9am – 1pm 2N308 Brundige Road

May 4

GlencoeChicago Botanic Garden Winter Farmers Market - 9am – 1pm  1000 Lake Cook Rd

Logan Square - Logan Square Indoor Market  10am–3pm Logan Blvd 2755 North Milwaukee. The NOSH will share space with the Indoor Logan Square market at the old Pierre Bakery Building. Last day of the Logan winter market, spring/summer starts May 19th.

Oak Park - Winter Market Faith In Place -8:30am – 1pm St. Giles Catholic Parish 1045 Columbian Ave.

Rogers Park - Glenwood Indoor Farmers Market – 9am – 2pm Glenwood Bar 6962 N. Glenwood Ave. Last indoor market of the season includes the Rogers Park Garden Group annual garden sale.

SAVE THE DATE

May 8

Chicago – Beats and BBQ Growing Power Iron Street Farm - 5:30pm We’ll have delicious BBQ and veggies from the farm, as well as local beer to quench your thirst. Duane Powell of Maximum Audio Visual will be providing the “beets” for our BBQ. They’ll have tours of the farm at 6pm and 7pm.  Come see what’s growing, taste honey from our six bee hives, pet our adorable goats, and see the newest commercial compost facility in Chicago. Your ticket and donation help fund their work in Chicago.  Thanks to our Advisory Board for coordinating this exciting dinner.

May 10

Champaign - Family Style Brunch at Prairie Fruit 9:30am and 11:30am seatings

Evanston - Downtown Evanston Market Opens - (5/10-11/8) 7:30am – 1pm Located Intersection of University Place and Oak Ave. (behind Hilton Garden Inn, east of East Railroad Ave.)

May 11

Stelle(90 min from Chicago) - Mint Creek Mother’s Day Brunch – 11am

May 12

Chicago – Ada St. and County Barbecue Join The Hideout for “On The Table” -As of 4/28 this event was sold out, check the Hideout website or call to see f they have openings.

Chicago – Michigan Wineries Walk Around Tasting - City Winery 6-9pm 1200 W. Randolph

Chicago – SWANK-A-LICIOUS – Les Dames Escoffier Bi-Annual Fundraiser 5:30pm – 9:30pm Gallery 1028 1028 North Hooker St.

May 15

Chicago – Daley Plaza Farmers Market Opens – Country Financial announces winner of their market bag contest and it is a chance to pick one up to use for the season!

Chicago - Second Annual Chefs Playground - A benefit for The Academy of Global Citizenship Terzo Piano at the Modern Wing of the Art Institute

May 16

Join in and CELEBRATE Food Revolution Day!

May 17

Chicago –  The Plant Chicago Workshop Series - Container Gardening - 10am 1400 W. 46th St.

Hyde Park – 61st Farmers Market Opens – (5/17-12/13) 9am – 2pm 61st and Dorchester

Roger’s Park – The Red Cherry Supper Club presents Cultured – 6-10pm Join them for #CulturedGSM,  glorious evening of beautiful food, free flowing Revolution Brewery beers, signature cocktails, wine, cider, soft drinks and live entertainment.  Cultured: A Red Cherry Supper Club Event benefits Glenwood Sunday Market – your farmers market in Rogers Park, a program of Rogers Park Business Alliance. Sourced from the finest local farmers, food artisans, brewers, distilleries and performers, Cultured will occur in a fabulous surprise location to be announced to event attendees only. Ticket prices are all inclusive.

May 18

Chicago – Chicago Monthly Food Swap at Green Home Experts

May 19

Chicago - Trash Fish Chicago 2014Big Jones 6pm 5347 N. Clark This year, besides an impressive selection of hometown heroes, chef Susan Spicer will be joining us from New Orleans and chef Colby Garrelts is headed up from Kansas City. It’s bound to be a fun and delicious time, all to help support the work of Chefs Collaborative and promote ocean and fishing sustainability. Get your tickets today!

May 20

Chicago – 12th Annual Growing Home Spring Dinner and Auction – Salvage One 1840 W. Hubbard 5:30pm – 9:30pm Tickets

May 24

Chicago - The Plant Chicago Workshop Series Aquaponics 101 - 2:30pm – 4:30pm The ReBuilding Exchange 1740 W. Webster

May 25

*FD Champaign – Prairie Fruit Farms Dinner Honey Butter Fried Chicken Memorial Day Celebration Chicago sensation chefs Christine Cikowski and Josh Kulp of Honey Butter Fried Chicken and Sunday Dinner Club fame will return to the farm for our first dinner of the season. This event will be held from 1-5pm. It is a simpler menu and is priced at $85 per seat. (Sold out, availability will be determined by any cancellations)

May 31

*FD Champaign – Prairie Fruit Farms Dinner -1-5pm “Bring on the spring!”  Sit down with guest farmers John and Connie Caveny to savor some of their spring, grass-fed lamb.  Rhubarb, asparagus, greens, and other early season delicacies will complement the featured meat. (Sold out, availability will be determined by any cancellations) $125 text/tip BYOB liquor will be for sale at the event as well.

June 11

Andersonville – “Piggy Benefit for Southern Foodways AllianceBig Jones (southern heirloom cooking) – 6pm 5347 North Clark To quote Chef Paul Fehribach, “this will be a good one!” They are pleased to offer some deeply rooted Kentucky cooking for their second Piggy Bank Dinner, a benefit for the Southern Foodways Alliance. Julian Van Winkle will be there to discuss his storied bourbon (12, 15, and 23 year will be served) plus a couple of selections from Buffalo Trace Distillery, and they are cooking up a 5-course menu with receipts and inspiration from Lettice Bryan’s The Kentucky Housewife (Louisville, 1839) and The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery. SFA documentary films will be shown, The Poker Night String Band will play some righteous tunes, and good times will be had by all.

Lake Zurich - Opening Day of the Lake Zurich Farmers Market The Market will run every Friday, rain or shine, from June 13th through September 29th, 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Paulus Park 200 S Rand Rd

June 14

*FD Champaign - Prairie Fruit Farms Dinner -1-5pm Wild Game Dinner  Prairie Fruits Farm on the Range: Longhorn cattle, bison, and elk; they conjure up an image of open range on the western plains, don’t they? Yet, here we are in east-central Illinois, 20 minutes from K & D Ranch. They raise all three of these large and graceful herbivores on their farm near Kickapoo State Park, and they’ll be our guest farmers for this meat centric meal.  Expect late spring and early summer vegetables and fruits to adorn the menu as well. $125 text/tip BYOB liquor will be for sale at the event as well.

June 21

FD Fairbury, Il/Chicago - Slagel Family Farm Dinner - Farm tour and dinner 2:30pm Chefs Cosmo Goss and Chris Kuziemko The Publican/Publican Quality Meats $125 Bus option Noon 1800 N. Lincoln BYOB

Prairie View, Il – White Oak Summer Solstice Dinner on Frillman Farms

June 28

*FD Champaign - Prairie Fruit Farms Dinner -1-5pm The Urbana Butcher comes to the Farm Chef Josh Boyd earned his culinary stripes cooking at Bacaro and Carmon’s Restaurant in downtown Champaign. He’s recently opened “The Urbana Butcher” shop in downtown Urbana, to rave reviews.  He specializes in house-made sausages, pickles and country pates.  This dinner will transport you to the French countryside, where pork is king and fresh, impromptu menus are the norm (Sold out, availability will be determined by any cancellations) $125 text/tip BYOB liquor will be for sale at the event as well.




Not much space to garden? Try tomatoes in containers!

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Posted: April 25, 2014 at 9:37 am

Most people enjoy garden fresh tomatoes. The flavor of the home grown fruit of Solanum lycopersicum is far and above anything one can pick up at the local supermarket. For apartment dwellers or others who are spatially challenged as far as land for small scale tomato production is concerned, you are in luck. For there are many varieties of tomatoes, as well as many other vegetables, that can be grown in a very small space or even a container.

Container Gardening  Photo: Joel Gruver, Western Illinois University

Container Gardening
Photo: Joel Gruver, Western Illinois University

We in Northern Illinois are now entering the primetime of tomato planting season and so if you would like to grow tomatoes or peppers in containers there are a few things to consider. One is the size of the container. The larger the container, the happier the tomato plant will be. A three gallon container is probably the smallest type container to use, but with a five gallon or larger container you will probably do better.  The container should allow for drainage so if whatever container you use does not have drainage holes, holes should be drilled into the bottom.

The soil should be a mix of good garden soil along with compost along with a little sand to improve drainage. This is especially true if you use a plastic container, such as a bucket or a storage container or tote.  Feed the plants with any fertilizer labeled for tomatoes but keep in mind that the leaching rate will be faster in soil kept in a container. This will make it necessary to increase the feeding rate. It is also important to keep the soil moist but not too wet. Again, keep in mind that a container made of wood or other porous material will allow for water to evaporate faster than a plastic container would.

Tomatoes grown in containers Photo: www.insideurbangreen.org

Tomatoes grown in containers Photo: www.insideurbangreen.org

There are many tomato varieties out there that have been bred especially for use in a container. These varieties will of course do well in a container setting, but many heirloom or hybrid varieties will also do well and should be tried.  Determinate varieties will grow better if you also have limited height in the spot that you are planting the tomatoes, such as on a balcony. If you are growing your tomatoes on a patio or a place with no such restrictions then you can use any type of plant as you can stake the plants, or use wire cages,  as you would in a traditional garden or field.

I have tried a few tomatoes in containers and the following I have found to do great.

Several container specific varieties:

A cherry variety that does well in any container is Tiny Tim. It is a very compact plant but produces tons of flavorful cherry tomatoes. The seed for Tiny Tim are getting harder to find for some reason and it has been nonexistent in garden centers lately.  It is an heirloom and many people have saved the seed for this tomato. The seed can still be found commercially at Victory Seed. It is an early producer that takes about 45 days.

Tiny Tim Tomato Photo: JandLSeed.com

Tiny Tim Tomato Photo: JandLSeed.com

A tomato hybrid that was bred for containers is the Patio tomato put out by Bonnie Plants. Bonnie Plants seems to have cornered the market in live garden plants at all of the big box stores so this variety is not hard to find. These plants are determinate and only grow to about 24 inches tall. It produces well and like many hybrids it is resistant to fusarium wilt (F), alternaria stem canker (A), and gray leaf spot (St). It matures in about 70 days.

Patio Tomato Photo: Bonnie Plants

Patio Tomato Photo: Bonnie Plants

Several determinate varieties to try:

Both Roma and San Marzano are determinate paste tomatoes. Both will produce well and can be found at many garden centers and most seed companies. As they are determinate, the plants are bush type plants and will stay relatively compact. This being said, you may still want to stake or cage them as they both will produce large amounts of fruit. The tomatoes produced by both of these varieties are excellent in sauces and I also like them in salad as well. They mature in about 70 days.

Celebrity is another determinate tomato that seems to do well in a container. It is a hybrid that produces larger tomatoes that are about 8 ounces and 4 inches across. It grows to about 3 feet and probably needs to be staked or caged. It is resistant to verticillium wilt (V), fusarium wilt races 1 and 2 (F), nematodes, and tobacco mosaic virus (T). Celebrity take about 65 days to mature but produces well until frost.

Tomatoes in Containers Photo:www.finegardening.com

Tomatoes in Containers Photo:www.finegardening.com

Other varieties:

Better Boy holds the world record for the amount of tomatoes produced by one plant. This plant produces tons of tomatoes and does well in a container. The fruits of this plant can be over one pound each so it would be advisable to cage this plant in a sturdy container. The flavor of the Better Boy tomato is excellent even though it is not an heirloom. Better Boy is an indeterminate variety and is resistant to verticillium wilt (V), fusarium wilt (F), and nematodes (N). It matures in about 70 – 75 days.

Better Boy Tomato Photo: Burpee

Better Boy Tomato Photo: Burpee

Green Zebra Tomato Photo: Burpee

Green Zebra Tomato Photo: Burpee

An heirloom variety of tomato that I have found does well in a container setting is Green Zebra. This is an indeterminate plant that produces smaller green striped tomatoes. They have excellent flavor and matures in about 78 days. This plant can reach 9 feet in height so staking is probably required.

As with all tomatoes the varieties listed above need plenty of full sun. They need even watering to ensure that fruit will not rot and keep in mind what was said above about what material the container is mad from.

Fresh garden tomatoes are one of things to look forward to in the summer. Just because you do not have a lot of space or a backyard to grow tomatoes does not mean that you can’t still grow your own! Try a few in a container this year!

Better Boy tomatoes  growing in containers Photo: www.agardenpatch.com

Better Boy tomatoes growing in containers Photo: agardenpatch.com

A few places to find container tomato plants and seeds:

Victory Seeds

Bonnie Plants

Burpee Seeds

J and L Gardens

 

(Click on pictures to see larger view)

 

 




If It’s This Week, It’s Weekly – Eat Local Links

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Posted: April 24, 2014 at 11:20 am

wpa_eatfruit WE should be the ones keeping you up to date on farmer’s market news… At least someone wants to see GMO labeling. Making the farmer pitch. Are you keeping up with Local Beet Contributor Matt Kirouac’s new web site? A little background reading for those looking to catch-up.  (Part II here.) Eat local Virginia. Eat local Burlington, Vermont. No one eat’s local like they do in this part of Canada.




The Local Calendar 4/16/14 One Last Soup and Bread, Mint Creek Brunch, Green City Market

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Posted: April 16, 2014 at 10:55 am

ramps illianamintcreekeggs Kinni

Spring ramps have made it to some of your favorite restaurants, Chef Stephanie Izard tweeted Wednesday, “Ramps being delivered today! Hitting goat menus tomorrow! Yay spring might actually be here!!”, Lula Cafe tweeted today, ” Working on the first course for farm dinner tonight! Skatewing, clams, first of the season ramps.”

Farm dinners(should be called farm meal, some are brunches, lunches or dinners) with some of the most well known farmers get booked really quickly. Mint Creek is offering the first event of the season Easter brunch this Sunday. Here is Slagel Family Farm’s schedule for the season (5/3-10/4) . Their first dinner is Saturday May 3rd with Chef Paul Virant. Prairie Fruit Farms has announced their schedule(5/25-12/4) but they stagger their offerings, so their first 5 dinners went on sale and they just announced 2 family style brunches on May 3 and May 10. The offerings for the rest of the summer will be available for sale at the end of May. The best way to stay informed about ticket availability for these dinners is to sign up for the farm newsletters on their websites.

PGP(Peterson Garden Project) is one of the leading organizations in Chicago providing classes, programs and resources to teach you how to grow your own food, including a book “Fearless Food Gardening in Chicagoland” and soon it will be opening the Fearless Food Kitchen in Edgewater to teach you how to cook the food that you grow.

Do you live in the Evanston/Skokie area? The Talking Farm has lot of volunteer work days available for students, families and corporate team building time at their Howard Street Farm, located at 3701 Howard St on the Evanston/Skokie boarder. They even have a “Talking Farm Hand Certification Program” for those interested in urban agriculture.

It is that time of year for the Country Financial Farmers market bag contest! They’re giving away scholarship money to three Chicago high school students! If you know a student with a gift for art, encourage them to enter their Chicago Farmers MarketsReusable Bag Design Contest. The student with the winning design will win a $1,000 scholarship and see their art on thousands of farmers market canvas bags. Two runners-up will get $500 scholarships. Get more info on how to enter! We love their bags, we love that they are reusable and we love that Chicago high school students get scholarship money from this!

The 2014 CSA Guide is out! If you are a small to mid-size farmer reading this or know one let them know about the USDA’s resources for them, there is a webpage with all sorts of info here! There are so many organizations in Chicagoland providing resources, classes and advocacy on local food. Some of our favorites are Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Advocates for Urban Agriculture, and WeFarmAmerica.

Lots going on, 2 weeks until the Green City Market goes outdoors! The local calendar is picking up, now onto the week ahead, take advantage of the incredible markets and farmstead/craft/artisanal food and beverage scene that Chicago has to offer! We are very lucky!!!

The Week’s Local Calendar

April 16

Chicago - Soup and Bread at The Hideout - 6pm Last week! –  The Hideout 1354 West Wabansia Bread is donated as ever by their pals at Publican Quality Meats. Pay what you can donations benefit a local food pantry.

April 19

Chicago - Edible Gardens Workshop Green City Market - 9a;30am – 10:15am Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum  Planting the Garden of your Dreams Jeanne Nolan, founder of the edible-garden business The Organic Gardenerand author of the new book From the Ground Up, explains how to shatter the winter blues with a spring garden.

Chicago - Green City Market Indoor Market at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum  8am -1pm Opening Day for Outdoor is May 3!  Preorders for the new Green City Market Cookbook can be placed here.

ChicagoGrowing Power Iron Street Farm Stand - 10am – 3pm 3333 South Iron St. Pick up your salad greens and they are ,also, selling at select Walgreens on the south and west sides!!

ElginMarket Elgin - 9am -1pm 800 North State St.

La Fox Heritage Prairie Saturday Farmer’s Market  9am – 1pm 2N308 Brundige Road

April 20

Chicago - Dark Matter, Brooklyn Brewery and Half Acre Present Devil’s Lettuce Release Party (FREE) 6pm The Double Door 1572 North Milwaukee

Chicago - Logan Square Indoor Market  10am–3pm Logan Blvd 2755 North Milwaukee. The NOSH will share space with the Indoor Logan Square market at the old Pierre Bakery Building. Last day of the Logan winter market, spring/summer starts May 19th.

GlencoeChicago Botanic Garden Winter Farmers Market - 9am – 1pm  1000 Lake Cook Rd

Kempton(90 min from Chicago) - Mint Creek Easter Brunch - 11am Ticket price ($75) includes a fabulous brunch prepared by Chef Guia Hoffman at the beautiful and inviting Greenhouse Bed and Breakfast, of which she is part-owner. According to Harry, no one does brunch better than Guia — and all who know her are inclined to agree. Mint Creek meats will be featured, as will local produce (from the Greenhouse Bed and Breakfastand Three Plaid Farmers) when seasonally available. You’ll also enjoy a first-hand, interactive tour of the farm, where you’ll get out amongst the animals and learn all the ins and outs of the place from head farmer/owner Harry Carr.

Oak Park - Winter Market Faith In Place -8:30am – 1pm St. Giles Catholic Parish 1045 Columbian Ave.

April 21

Evanston – Free Screening Growing Cities at Farmhouse 703 Church St. 6:30pm Sponsored by Whole Foods Evanston

April 21- 25

Chicago – Checkout all the Whisky Week events!

April 22

Champaign - Ramp Fest The Land Connection Dinner and Silent Auction - 6:00 p.m. $150.00 Prairie Fruits Farm 4410 North Lincoln Avenue Please help them celebrate the coming of spring with a farm-to-table meal prepared by Chef Alisa DeMarco of Prairie Fruits Farm featuring ramps, the first wild green of the season

SAVE THE DATE

April 25

Chicago – 15th Annual Whiskyfest Chicago – This has SOLDOUT already but keep checking the calendar for all the other ancillary events that happen during this week!

Chicago - A Charitable Confection - A dessert cocktail party. Presented by Grandbaby Cakes. To support Project Orange Tree an active Chicago-based youth movement to stop the violence by both educating teens about its systemic causes and empowering youth to change the cycle. Project Oasis allows for the purchase land in Chicago’s most urban areas to transform them into much needed community gardens in food deserts and safe, peaceful areas for the surrounding youth.

April 26

Chicago – TND Presents 2nd Annual Safari Supper – 6pm   TND (Tuesday Night Dinner) Presents: invites you to join them for the 2nd annual Safari Supper, a progressive dinner showcasing Chicago’s underground dining community. Guests will travel to several distinct Chicago venues, each hosted by a different supper club. Included in the event are paired drinks, curated art and live music – all by way of bus. This sounds like A LOT OF FUN!!!!!!!!!! Tickets and more information here VIP

April 27

Crystal Lake – Eco-Friendly Food and Beer FestDuke’s Alehouse & Kitchen 2-6pm 110 Main St.

Lincoln Square - Salute to Women in Wine & Cheese - 7-8:30pm Provenance Lincoln Square  2312 W. Leland Avenue With Mother’s Day on the horizon, they are  inspired to create a different take on their wine & cheese pairing class. Taste a lineup of offerings made by great women cheese & wine makers. Join senior staff members Richard & Nicole for a fabulously tasty lineup! Cost is $35 per person. Participants receive 15% off any purchases made that night.

May 2

Chicago - Spring Off The Avenue – 5:30pm -8:30pm 444 W. Chicago Ave. The Chicago Lights Urban Farm and Free Write Jail Arts and Literacy are joining together for an event showcasing what’s growing in these two Chicago Lights programs.  The evening will feature art, poetry, and performances by Free Write Jail Arts, along with food, drinks, and networking in a beautiful greenhouse setting.

May 2 – 3

Ottawa - Midwest Morel Fest

May 3

Champaign – Family Style Brunch at Prairie Fruit 9:30am and 11:30am seatings

ChicagoOpening Day of the Green City Market Outdoor Location!

Chicago – Graze Issue 5 Release Party 8-11pm The Charnel House 3421 W. Fullerton

*FD Fairbury, Il/Chicago - Slagel Family Farm Dinner – Farm tour and dinner 2:30pm Chef Paul Virant Vie/Perennial Virant $125 Bus option Noon 1800 N. Lincoln BYOB

May 8

Chicago – Beats and BBQ Growing Power Iron Street Farm - 5:30pm We’ll have delicious BBQ and veggies from the farm, as well as local beer to quench your thirst. Duane Powell of Maximum Audio Visual will be providing the “beets” for our BBQ. They’ll have tours of the farm at 6pm and 7pm.  Come see what’s growing, taste honey from our six bee hives, pet our adorable goats, and see the newest commercial compost facility in Chicago. Your ticket and donation help fund their work in Chicago.  Thanks to our Advisory Board for coordinating this exciting dinner.

May 10

Champaign - Family Style Brunch at Prairie Fruit 9:30am and 11:30am seatings

May 11

Stelle(90 min from Chicago) - Mint Creek Mother’s Day Brunch – 11am

May 12

Chicago – SWANK-A-LICIOUS – Les Dames Escoffier Bi-Annual Fundraiser 5:30pm – 9:30pm Gallery 1028 1028 North Hooker St.

May 15

Chicago - Second Annual Chefs Playground - A benefit for The Academy of Global Citizenship Terzo Piano at the Modern Wing of the Art Institute

May 20

Chicago – 12th Annual Growing Home Spring Dinner and Auction – Salvage One 1840 W. Hubbard 5:30pm – 9:30pm Tickets

May 25

*FD Champaign – Prairie Fruit Farms Dinner Honey Butter Fried Chicken Memorial Day Celebration Chicago sensation chefs Christine Cikowski and Josh Kulp of Honey Butter Fried Chicken and Sunday Dinner Club fame will return to the farm for our first dinner of the season. This event will be held from 1-5pm. It is a simpler menu and is priced at $85 per seat. (Sold out, availability will be determined by any cancellations)

May 31

*FD Champaign – Prairie Fruit Farms Dinner -1-5pm “Bring on the spring!”  Sit down with guest farmers John and Connie Caveny to savor some of their spring, grass-fed lamb.  Rhubarb, asparagus, greens, and other early season delicacies will complement the featured meat. (Sold out, availability will be determined by any cancellations) $125 text/tip BYOB liquor will be for sale at the event as well.

June 11

Chicago/Andersonville – “Piggy Benefit for Southern Foodways AllianceBig Jones (southern heirloom cooking) – 6pm 5347 North Clark To quote Chef Paul Fehribach, “this will be a good one!” They are pleased to offer some deeply rooted Kentucky cooking for their second Piggy Bank Dinner, a benefit for the Southern Foodways Alliance. Julian Van Winkle will be there to discuss his storied bourbon (12, 15, and 23 year will be served) plus a couple of selections from Buffalo Trace Distillery, and they are cooking up a 5-course menu with receipts and inspiration from Lettice Bryan’s The Kentucky Housewife (Louisville, 1839) and The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery. SFA documentary films will be shown, The Poker Night String Band will play some righteous tunes, and good times will be had by all.

June 14

*FD Champaign - Prairie Fruit Farms Dinner -1-5pm Wild Game Dinner  Prairie Fruits Farm on the Range: Longhorn cattle, bison, and elk; they conjure up an image of open range on the western plains, don’t they? Yet, here we are in east-central Illinois, 20 minutes from K & D Ranch. They raise all three of these large and graceful herbivores on their farm near Kickapoo State Park, and they’ll be our guest farmers for this meat centric meal.  Expect late spring and early summer vegetables and fruits to adorn the menu as well. $125 text/tip BYOB liquor will be for sale at the event as well.

June 21

*FD Fairbury, Il/Chicago - Slagel Family Farm Dinner - Farm tour and dinner 2:30pm Chefs Cosmo Goss and Chris Kuziemko The Publican/Publican Quality Meats $125 Bus option Noon 1800 N. Lincoln BYOB

June 28

*FD Champaign - Prairie Fruit Farms Dinner -1-5pm The Urbana Butcher comes to the Farm Chef Josh Boyd earned his culinary stripes cooking at Bacaro and Carmon’s Restaurant in downtown Champaign. He’s recently opened “The Urbana Butcher” shop in downtown Urbana, to rave reviews.  He specializes in house-made sausages, pickles and country pates.  This dinner will transport you to the French countryside, where pork is king and fresh, impromptu menus are the norm (Sold out, availability will be determined by any cancellations) $125 text/tip BYOB liquor will be for sale at the event as well.




Vegetables are People Too!

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Posted: April 16, 2014 at 9:42 am

Help Peasant Plot Through Their Kickstarter

Ok, it’s not our name, nor our kickstarter, but it’s a cause and some farmers we like.

Spend a bit of time around the many eat local wonks populating our region, and you’ll here we need more farmers, that the eat local ethos teeters on the ability to grow more eat local suppliers. Todd and Julia McDonald heard that call, and they’ve been trying to do their part to grow.  They have a farm, Peasant Plot,  in Manteno, Illinois.  They try hard to grow it the right way.

And spend a bit of time around local farmers, and you’ll here there’s never enough money to take care of things; upgrade; expand.  Farming, sustainable farming, aint easy.  At the end of the day, there’s rarely enough coin left for growth.  Hence, farms often take to alternative fundraising efforts.  Here, Julia and Todd went to Kickstarter.  They’re hoping to raise $15,000 for needed equipment and infrastructure improvements.  They call it Vegetables are People Too.  Not our name, but it’s a cause and some farmer’s we like.  Consider helping.  The Kickstarter goes through April 28, 2014.




Next Weekly Harvest of Flawed Indices & More Eat Local Links

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Posted: April 14, 2014 at 8:40 am

Hopefully you can find away around Crain’s paywalls to read this update on Local Foods.

Mariano’s also looking to get bigger, better into local foods.

Vegetables are people too.  Consider this kickstarter.

The great whitefish crisis of 2014.

Given some time, I’ll explain why the “Locovore Index” remains flawed.

But Maine likes where it sits.

Remember you read about local matzah on the Local Beet first.

Happy Blog-a-versary to the Minnesota Locavore.

Eating local does not require giving up on Chocolate.

 




Eat This

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Posted: April 11, 2014 at 11:52 am

tomato mountain spinach

Ok, you’re walking right past the asparagus display this week at Whole Foods. Right. You don’t feel the need to violate your eat local principles just because it’s “Spring.” Shelling fava beans does not meet some primordial call of the Motherland does it. You can resist the urge/a> to have peas, because, frankly unless they’re frozen you’re really not getting good peas now anyways.

What passes for the Spring season is still weeks away in the Chicago area. Can you manage as a locavore. Of course. Commit to eating local now and you’ll never waver. Scoff at those who think they have to put distant items on their menus now. You are eating this instead.

For instance, frost kissed spinach season came very (very) late this year. Normally, we’d be extolling the virtues of cold grown Wisconsin spinach in the middle of winter, but this year it got too cold even for this green. It’s finally arrived. It’s a true treat of the season. Unlike shipped in asparagus and peas that will taste wane, imitations of what they can be. This will taste alive and special. It carries sweetness a plant creates when battling against the elements. Do you think those coddled California plants do that. It’s highly versatile. You can bring frost kissed, local spinach, across a spectrum of temperatures from raw, as a salad; wilted (as a salad again!), sauteed, to more fully braised. What you get this time of year is so ample you can expand your repertoire. Make local dolmades with the giant leaves. Use the stems as an entire second cutting of the species. Juice to detox.

Need another unique, seasonal, treat? How about over-wintered parsnips. Something else the everlasting gardens out West cannot duplicate. You can get asparagus later. Can you get these roots with flavors amped up by extra time in the ground. Again, cold is our friend. Again, the plant in battling the elements produces something tastier, special.

You can find what’s in season now, now. Irv and Shelly have local spinach on their roster. The Vivacious Condiment Queen should also have spinach at the year-round Evanston market. Growing Power is a great source for seasonal parsnips. When your friends wonder how you did not put asparagus on your Seder table; peas on the Easter buffet, you can tell them, eat this. This local stuff actually in season.




Fruit Vendor Wanted for PCC Austin Produce Market

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Posted: April 11, 2014 at 10:52 am

PeachesBlackberriesStraw:GCM

In the spirit of spreading good food to all communities, this request came in:

 Fruit vendor wanted!

 

PCC Community Wellness Center (PCC) is in need of a Chicago area fruit vendor to help us provide fruit at our summer market, the PCC Austin Produce Market. PCC is a non-profit community health center that provides affordable, quality healthcare to the Austin community. The Austin community is a known food desert that lacks adequate access to fresh food. Now entering its fourth year, the PCC Austin Produce Market is one of many ways PCC creates better access to full body health and wellness for individuals and the community. A vendor who can drop off fruit is preferred.
Please contact Lucy Flores, Program Manager, at 708.524.7685 or email at LFlores@pccwellness.org for more details.




What’s Not in Season is In Season

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Posted: April 9, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Klug asparagus

Despite my best intentions, I managed to skip Local Family blogging the entire month of March. When we last met, I went before you to insist myself and my family remained a Local Family despite the lack of posting. I explained that we continued to eat local; it was just we were not throwing ourselves into full born Everlasting Meal mode. When one does not do a lot of tamar-ing, one falls into lazy locavore mode. Opening a jar of summer pickles here, making do with raw radishes there. Eating local with as little effort as possible. I’ve been accumulating pictures of #lazylocavore meals for an actual post, but I am not ready to post. It’s not so much that needing to be posted as this. What’s not in season.

What’s in season? My yearly griping about getting ahead of Spring. See here for instance. I’ll get a whiff that asparagus is showing up on area menus before it’s broken through any local dirt, or I’ll hear about a delicious pea dish being offered. Usually, it’s the chefs and restaurants I like the most that provoke me. Ten months of the year, they’ll prowl the markets, building meals out of what is local and seasonal. Even in the darkest periods they’ll abide by the locavore ethos. Then we get to Mid-March, early April. The idea of one more root crop dish drives them batty. It has to be the season for asparagus, peas, fava beans. Hell, someone’s even selling squash blossoms. They go for it, getting all that Spring things from outta of the area. It drives me batty.

Why cannot all of us wait. This Local Family will not put anything green on its Passover seder table (OK, we’ll cheat with some parsley and other herbs). The meal will have potatoes, carrots and beets and cabbage all from our remaining larder. We’ll manage just fine without any asparagus.

Abiding by What’s Not In Season In Season makes things burdensome. Yet, I enjoy the suffering. Waiting, waiting, waiting for the really good asparagus just adds to the pleasure. Like completing an especially grueling workout-of-the-day, we train ourselves to better compete in the Eat Local games. You have to be ready to eat this way any day, right? The pain in scrounging for one more local meal as the others given in to Cali-produce builds esprit d’corp in the Bungalow. We are proud we know what’s in season and eat accordingly. In my several years of Spring griping, I am not sure I have turned anyone away from what they perceive as being in season now. Will you be the person to give in to join us in the burden.

I may be a very lazy locavore these days, with a terrible recent track record for postings. It may be another month until I post again. Months. Whenever I post again, I guarantee you sometime early next Spring, you’ll see another post like this.




The Local Calendar 4/9/14 CoffeeCon, Cochon 555, Pastoral Artisan Producer Festival

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Posted: April 9, 2014 at 8:00 am

GrowingPowerPastoralartisanCochon555

Coffee, cheese, and pig are on the calendar this weekend besides the markets. You can pick up these incredibly vibrant salad greens at Growing Power Chicago Iron Street Farm Saturday from 10am to 3pm. It’s very cool that the greens can be found at select Walgreens on the south and west sides as well.

It is that time of year to start scheduling your farm dinner!!! Farm dinners(should be called farm meal, some are brunches, lunches or dinners) with some of the most well known farmers get booked really quickly. Mint Creek is offering the first event of the season Easter brunch. Here is Slagel Family Farm’s schedule for the season (5/3-10/4) . Their first dinner is Saturday May 3rd with Chef Paul Virant. Prairie Fruit Farms has announced their schedule(5/25-12/4) but they stagger their offerings, so their first 5 dinners went on sale and they just announced 2 family style brunches on May 3 and May 10. The offerings for the rest of the summer will be available for sale at the end of May. Mint Creek, The best way to stay informed about ticket availability for these dinners is to sign up for the farm newsletters on their websites.

PGP(Peterson Garden Project) is one of the leading organizations in Chicago providing classes, programs and resources to teach you how to grow your own food, including a book “Fearless Food Gardening in Chicagoland” and soon it will be opening the Fearless Food Kitchen(support their KICKSTARTER to make it happen) in Edgewater to teach you how to cook the food that you grow.

Do you live in the Evanston/Skokie area? The Talking Farm has lot of volunteer work days available for students, families and corporate team building time at their Howard Street Farm, located at 3701 Howard St on the Evanston/Skokie boarder. They even have a “Talking Farm Hand Certification Program” for those interested in urban agriculture.

It is that time of year for the Country Financial Farmers market bag contest! They’re giving away scholarship money to three Chicago high school students! If you know a student with a gift for art, encourage them to enter their Chicago Farmers MarketsReusable Bag Design Contest. The student with the winning design will win a $1,000 scholarship and see their art on thousands of farmers market canvas bags. Two runners-up will get $500 scholarships. Get more info on how to enter! We love their bags, we love that they are reusable and we love that Chicago high school students get scholarship money from this!

The 2014 CSA Guide is out! If you are a small to mid-size farmer reading this or know one let them know about the USDA’s resources for them, there is a webpage with all sorts of info here! There are so many organizations in Chicagoland providing resources, classes and advocacy on local food. Some of our favorites are Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Advocates for Urban Agriculture, and WeFarmAmerica.

Lots going on, the local calendar is picking up, now onto the week ahead, take advantage of the incredible craft/artisanal food and beverage scene that Chicago has to offer! We are very lucky!!! Now onto the week ahead:

The Week’s Local Calendar

April 9

Chicago - Soup and Bread at The Hideout - 6pm   “Tastes Like Chicken” –  The Hideout 1354 West Wabansia Only 2 weeks left. Bread is donated as ever by their pals at Publican Quality Meats. Pay what you can donations benefit a local food pantry.

April 10

Chicago - The Art of Simple Food Alice Waters in Conversation With Ruth Reichl The Chicago Humanties Festival 6pm The Art Institute (The lecture is sold out but there still are tickets available for the reception) Reception following benefitting the Edible Schoolyard Project and Green City Market. Tickets

Chicago – Corner Farm Spring Fundraiser at Whirlaway - 7-11pm  3224 West Fullerton Ave. Spring is finally here! Join them to grow some green for CFC at one of their favorite neighborhood watering holes, the Whirlaway Lounge. Money raised goes directly into the farm for seeds, materials, soil and more! Maria is, as always, your kind & generous host.

Chicago – Presale tickets go on sale for the Chicago Gourmet Festival including tickets for the Grand Cru tasting as well!(SOLD OUT immediately)

April 11

Chicago – Cochon 555 Chef’s Course Dinner Series - The evening begins at 6 p.m. with hors d’oeuvres designed by each chef and an impressive offering from Prosciutto di Parma, all paired with a welcome cocktail featuring Breckenridge Distillery bourbon handcrafted by Sepia Head Bartender Griffin Elliott. The cocktail reception is followed by a sit-down, seven-course dinner at 7 p.m., with Goose Island Beer Co. beer and Breckenridge Distillery bourbon pairings that emphasize the high-quality produce and ingredients available from the Midwest’s finest farmers and purveyors. Finally, the evening ends with a Breckenridge nightcap and a sweet treat prepared by Sepia Pastry Chef Cindy Shuman.

Chicago – Alma Graduate School’s MBA Food and Wine Event – 5:30pm – 7:30pm Eataly Want to get an MBA in Food and Wine in Italy, yes this program actually exists!! There is a  €15,000 scholarship available for a US citizen as well. Free event, just rsvp@paramountpr.com

Chicago - 2 Sparrows Home Brew Dinner - 7pm 553 West Diversey The Lincoln Park brunch outpost’s focus on hyper-local expands for this dinner to feature four Chicago home brewers – including 2 Sparrows’ own bartender Ryne Schofstal – pouring five one-of-a-kind beers along with a five-course meal by Chef Gregory Ellis.  Local beer aficionados in the area are invited in for what is sure to be an unforgettable meal, and the opportunity to taste home brews crafted right here in the city. Tom Keith this is right up your alley!

Wheaton - Soup and Bread Fundraiser 6:30pm – 8pm Tom’s Price Home Furnishings 303 Front St. In support of The People’s Resource Center

April 12

Chicago - CoffeeCon Chicago - 1029 W. 35th St. Held at the Zhou B Art Center (Zhou is pronounced: Joe)  from 9 am to 5 pm. In keeping with CoffeeCon’s mission to be the world’s largest coffee house atmosphere, they found a compelling venue: an art gallery. Purchase tickets here

Chicago - 4th Annual Pastoral Artisan Producer Festival - French Market 11am – 3pm Every year this free event gets ever more crowded. So this year I suggest being strategic, get there early to meet the actual producers of many of the cheeses and products that Pastoral sells. Friends don’t let friends eat stale cheese, talk to the producers to learn how cheese should be maintained so you can be a smarter shopper.

ChicagoGrowing Power Iron Street Farm Stand - 10am – 3pm 3333 South Iron St. Pick up your salad greens and they are ,also, selling at select Walgreens on the south and west sides!!

ElginWinter Market Elgin - 9am -1pm 800 North State St.

La Fox Heritage Prairie Saturday Farmer’s Market  9am – 1pm 2N308 Brundige Road

April 13

*****Chicago - It’s Back For Its 6th Year Cochon 555 - Blackstone Hotel – 636 S. Michigan 4-8pm I’m passionate about promoting food sources that support a more natural, sustainable food system,” explains Brady Lowe, founder of Cochon 555. Includes over 30 dishes prepared from the entirety of heritage breed pigs from nose to tail, paired with premium wines, brews and spirits and so MUCH MORE!

Chicago/Roger’s Park – Glenwood Sunday Indoor Winter Market – 9am – 2pm 6962 N. Glenwood Glenwood Bar (Next market May 4)

Chicago - Logan Square Indoor Market  10am–3pm Logan Blvd 2755 North Milwaukee. The NOSH will share space with the Indoor Logan Square market at the old Pierre Bakery Building. Last day of the Logan winter market, spring/summer starts May 19th.

GlencoeChicago Botanic Garden Winter Farmers Market - 9am – 1pm  1000 Lake Cook Rd

Oak Park - Winter Market Faith In Place -8:30am – 1pm St. Giles Catholic Parish 1045 Columbian Ave.

April 15

Chicago - Re-Thinking Soup What A Waste – Food Loss and Recovery - 6-7pm Jane Addams Hull House Museum 800 S. Halsted Free Guest Presenters: Ken Dunn, Resource Center, Rajesh Karmani, Zero Precent, Greater Chicago Food Depository Tossing last week’s leftovers or the wilted lettuce, still wrapped in the store packaging (yikes!) is indeed wasteful. But consumer behavior is only one dimension of the global food loss issue affecting agriculture today. In fact, food waste affects every step of the supply chain between farm and fork – from transport to processor to retail, to yes, your home kitchen. According to USDA estimates, between 30 and 50 percent of all food produced is discarded, much of it edible.

SAVE THE DATE

April 17

Happy April Food Day!

April Food Day is an event to promote awareness of food pantries by bringing your local community together to participate in a local food drive. We are excited to honor food pantry employees and celebrate the volunteers that support them. Through social media we are infusing fun into the food received from our local pantries by posting recipes and videos cooking our favorite meals.We are growing into the single largest day of food drives across communities. This event is sponsored by the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago.

April 19

Chicago – Edible Gardens Workshop Green City Market – 9a;30am – 10:15am Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum  Planting the Garden of your Dreams Jeanne Nolan, founder of the edible-garden business The Organic Gardenerand author of the new book From the Ground Up, explains how to shatter the winter blues with a spring garden.

Chicago - Green City Market Indoor Market at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum  8am -1pm Opening Day for Outdoor is May 3!  Preorders for the new Green City Market Cookbook can be placed here.

April 20

Stelle(90 min from Chicago) - Mint Creek Easter Brunch – 11am Ticket price ($75) includes a fabulous brunch prepared by Chef Guia Hoffman at the beautiful and inviting Greenhouse Bed and Breakfast, of which she is part-owner. According to Harry, no one does brunch better than Guia — and all who know her are inclined to agree. Mint Creek meats will be featured, as will local produce (from the Greenhouse Bed and Breakfastand Three Plaid Farmers) when seasonally available. You’ll also enjoy a first-hand, interactive tour of the farm, where you’ll get out amongst the animals and learn all the ins and outs of the place from head farmer/owner Harry Carr.

April 21- 25

Chicago – Checkout all the Whisky Week events!

April 22

Champaign – Ramp Fest The Land Connection Dinner and Silent Auction - 6:00 p.m. $150.00 Prairie Fruits Farm 4410 North Lincoln Avenue Please help them celebrate the coming of spring with a farm-to-table meal prepared by Chef Alisa DeMarco of Prairie Fruits Farm featuring ramps, the first wild green of the season

April 25

Chicago – 15th Annual Whiskyfest Chicago – This has SOLDOUT already but keep checking the calendar for all the other ancillary events that happen during this week!

Chicago - A Charitable Confection - A dessert cocktail party. Presented by Grandbaby Cakes. To support Project Orange Tree an active Chicago-based youth movement to stop the violence by both educating teens about its systemic causes and empowering youth to change the cycle. Project Oasis allows for the purchase land in Chicago’s most urban areas to transform them into much needed community gardens in food deserts and safe, peaceful areas for the surrounding youth.

April 27

Crystal Lake – Eco-Friendly Food and Beer FestDuke’s Alehouse & Kitchen 2-6pm 110 Main St.

Lincoln Square - Salute to Women in Wine & Cheese - 7-8:30pm Provenance Lincoln Square  2312 W. Leland Avenue With Mother’s Day on the horizon, they are  inspired to create a different take on their wine & cheese pairing class. Taste a lineup of offerings made by great women cheese & wine makers. Join senior staff members Richard & Nicole for a fabulously tasty lineup! Cost is $35 per person. Participants receive 15% off any purchases made that night.

May 2 – 3

Ottawa - Midwest Morel Fest

May 3

Champaign – Family Style Brunch at Prairie Fruit 9:30am and 11:30am seatings

ChicagoOpening Day of the Green City Market Outdoor Location!

Chicago – Graze Issue 5 Release Party 8-11pm The Charnel House 3421 W. Fullerton

*FD Fairbury, Il/Chicago - Slagel Family Farm Dinner – Farm tour and dinner 2:30pm Chef Paul Virant Vie/Perennial Virant $125 Bus option Noon 1800 N. Lincoln BYOB

May 10

Champaign - Family Style Brunch at Prairie Fruit 9:30am and 11:30am seatings

May 11

Stelle(90 min from Chicago) - Mint Creek Mother’s Day Brunch – 11am

May 15

Chicago - Second Annual Chefs Playground - A benefit for The Academy of Global Citizenship Terzo Piano at the Modern Wing of the Art Institute

May 25

*FD Champaign – Prairie Fruit Farms Dinner Honey Butter Fried Chicken Memorial Day Celebration Chicago sensation chefs Christine Cikowski and Josh Kulp of Honey Butter Fried Chicken and Sunday Dinner Club fame will return to the farm for our first dinner of the season. This event will be held from 1-5pm. It is a simpler menu and is priced at $85 per seat. (Sold out, availability will be determined by any cancellations)

May 31

*FD Champaign – Prairie Fruit Farms Dinner -1-5pm “Bring on the spring!”  Sit down with guest farmers John and Connie Caveny to savor some of their spring, grass-fed lamb.  Rhubarb, asparagus, greens, and other early season delicacies will complement the featured meat. (Sold out, availability will be determined by any cancellations) $125 text/tip BYOB liquor will be for sale at the event as well.

June 11

Chicago/Andersonville – “Piggy Benefit for Southern Foodways AllianceBig Jones (southern heirloom cooking) – 6pm 5347 North Clark To quote Chef Paul Fehribach, “this will be a good one!” They are pleased to offer some deeply rooted Kentucky cooking for their second Piggy Bank Dinner, a benefit for the Southern Foodways Alliance. Julian Van Winkle will be there to discuss his storied bourbon (12, 15, and 23 year will be served) plus a couple of selections from Buffalo Trace Distillery, and they are cooking up a 5-course menu with receipts and inspiration from Lettice Bryan’s The Kentucky Housewife (Louisville, 1839) and The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery. SFA documentary films will be shown, The Poker Night String Band will play some righteous tunes, and good times will be had by all.

June 14

*FD Champaign - Prairie Fruit Farms Dinner -1-5pm Wild Game Dinner  Prairie Fruits Farm on the Range: Longhorn cattle, bison, and elk; they conjure up an image of open range on the western plains, don’t they? Yet, here we are in east-central Illinois, 20 minutes from K & D Ranch. They raise all three of these large and graceful herbivores on their farm near Kickapoo State Park, and they’ll be our guest farmers for this meat centric meal.  Expect late spring and early summer vegetables and fruits to adorn the menu as well. $125 text/tip BYOB liquor will be for sale at the event as well.

June 21

*FD Fairbury, Il/Chicago - Slagel Family Farm Dinner - Farm tour and dinner 2:30pm Chefs Cosmo Goss and Chris Kuziemko The Publican/Publican Quality Meats $125 Bus option Noon 1800 N. Lincoln BYOB

June 28

*FD Champaign - Prairie Fruit Farms Dinner -1-5pm The Urbana Butcher comes to the Farm Chef Josh Boyd earned his culinary stripes cooking at Bacaro and Carmon’s Restaurant in downtown Champaign. He’s recently opened “The Urbana Butcher” shop in downtown Urbana, to rave reviews.  He specializes in house-made sausages, pickles and country pates.  This dinner will transport you to the French countryside, where pork is king and fresh, impromptu menus are the norm (Sold out, availability will be determined by any cancellations) $125 text/tip BYOB liquor will be for sale at the event as well.




Know Your Farmer, Know Your Cheesemonger, Know Your Cheese! 4th Annual Pastoral Artisan Producer Festival

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Posted: April 7, 2014 at 1:00 pm

PraireFruitgoat1Pastoralartisan

Try this test, buy some cheese sitting in that large freezer case, full of chunks of cheese wrapped tightly with saran wrap, that looks pricewise as a good deal and then buy the same cheese from a reliable cheesemonger like Pastoral Artisan or Provenance Food and Wine. Go home and taste both, you will taste a difference, really you will!!! Whether it be soft or hard cheese, cheese is a living product that ages much like wine aging in a bottle and how that cheese is maintained while it is on the shelf makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN TASTE!!!

You don’t believe me? Well, this weekend is your chance to meet farmstead producers in person at the Pastoral Artisan Producer Festival at the downtown French Market this Saturday from 11am to 3pm and it is FREE!! You can taste cheese, ask questions, find out how cheese is made, what the taste difference is between sheep, goat and cow’s milk cheese and there will be lots of other producers to go along with that cheese, beer, wine, charcuterie and more.

I have referenced the book, Goat Song by Brad Kessler previously on The Local Beet. For anyone wanting to learn more about the farmstead cheese process, what the difference between chèvre, tommes, croutons and brebis are? What does transhumance mean? This book is well written, captivating and chock full of information about the process of making cheese.

As an aside, Pastoral is particpating in the “Adopt An Alpprogram, “We adopted an Alp and in return we are delivered these beautiful alpage cheeses made according to the ancient practice of transhumance.” The cheese is called alpkaese, “This cheese is made from milk gathered as the cows graze the pastures of Alp Kohlschlag up to an altitude of 6400 feet above sea level. Transhumance is the ancient practice of grazing animals in high pastures in summer and moving them to lower pastures in winter. The cheese reflects the true terroir(taste of the land), the grasses and flora of the mountain.

Since it isn’t the easiest to fly off to Switzerland to taste cheese in the alps, the Producer Festival gives you a chance to taste cheese, many of the cheeses from the farms here in the midwest, across the US and Europe. In most cases you can meet the farmers themselves. Most of all, you can find out for yourself how cheese that is maintained well by a knowledgable cheese monger tastes so MUCH BETTER!!! Remember, know your farmer, know your cheesemonger and eat great cheese!!

(The author does not work for Pastoral or was paid by Pastoral to write this, she just really loves good cheese!)




Each Week, We Harvest Some Eat Local Links for Your Extra Reading

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Posted: April 7, 2014 at 9:19 am

This week we found ways to eat local greens, local and in Brooklyn and many places focused on challenging themselves to eat more local overall.

Greens & Gills aquaponic farm.

They’re getting local greens in Brooklyn too.

Eat local Geneva (that’s Geneva, New York–”Lake Trout Capital of the World!”)

Eat local Mt. Pleasant, Texas.

Eat local at the ballgame.

Eat local British Columbia.

Hoping to eat more local herring.

We’re waiting, Wendy.

They take eat local Charleston very seriously.

And Vermont.

Finally, they were eating local in New Orleans before they knew about eating local, but they’re also gearing up for a special month of eating local.

 

 

 


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Local Purveyors on the Top of the List for The Sugar Beet Co-op Products

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Posted: April 7, 2014 at 8:37 am

Editor’s Note: When you put Beet in your name, you get on our radar soon. We’ve been happily following the emergence and growth of Sugar Beet Co-op since they came on the Eat Local scene a few years ago. As you may know, the reality of their operation quickened recently, with the annoucement that they have a space and a lease. Their store should be around soon, and they plan on ensuring they’ll be carrying the good stuff.  More, the Sugar Beet is just one of several food co-ops launching (or launched!) in the Chicago area helping us eat better.  We’ve asked Judy Klem, who’s a friend of Beets, Sugar and Local, to provide a little update on things.

The Sugar Beet Co-op  is over two years into its planning—mere adolescence in the life of a community-owned food cooperative—but recently put its plans on the fast track with the signing of a lease for space in Oak Park. The space, located at 812 W Madison St, is the sole retail space on the ground level of a renovated, LEED-certified building that has 52 affordable housing units on the upper four floors. Also on fast track are the Co-op’s membership campaign and a capital campaign to fund the build-out of the store, with an anticipated opening in early 2015.

AboutGrid - sugar beet

With a projected opening less than 12 months away, the Co-op will soon undertake a search for a General Manager who will be tasked with staffing, sourcing products, and stocking the shelves when the store opens. The goal is to have a GM in place up to six months before opening. It’s likely that the GM will come from the broader cooperative movement and could be unfamiliar with the Midwest farmers and producers the Co-op hopes to support.
The Sugar Beet enlisted Robin Schirmer, an early Co-op supporter—and no stranger to The Local Beet—to use her knowledge of the local food scene in Chicago and the Midwest to compile a list of local farms, meat and dairy producers, artisan food crafters, and small-scale distributors to provide a jumpstart to our GM when s/he comes on board.

Robin’s entrée into the local foods arena began in 2007 with the coordination for three seasons of the Winter Farmers Markets that popped up from November through March on a one-time basis in area churches. (That function is now served by Faith In Place.) She more recently worked for five seasons with Tomato Mountain Farm, coordinating the farm’s Chicago area farmers market presence and its large, home-delivery CSA. She’s feeding her passion for local foods since leaving that position by volunteering in various capacities with the Sugar Beet Co-op and by working with 80+ CSA farmers that serve the Chicago area to help to form a CSA coalition. Stay tuned for more about that at a later date.

The Co-op’s Product Sourcing Guidelines indicate a preference for foods that are locally produced, organic and/or sustainably produced, GMO-free, as whole as possible, etc., but the guidelines—prepared by the initial organizers of the Co-op—are flexible and subject to the needs and desires of the membership.

For now, Robin is compiling a list of the many food items that can be purchased from local purveyors in a wide variety of categories from Alcoholic Beverages to Fruits to Refrigerated Grocery items—and everything in between. Not all of the sources she’s uncovered will be willing or able to sell to a retail establishment, but it’s hoped that relationships with key sources will make for a steady supply of goods when the store opens. And with the critical mass of new cooperative stores in formation* added to the Dill Pickle Food Co-op in Logan Square and the South Suburban Food Co-op in Park Forest, there may be opportunities for collaboration among cooperatives in coming years.

If you are a farmer, producer, or other food purveyor or distributor who sells to retail stores and you want to make sure you are listed on this ongoing sourcing list, please email Robin at robininwinter@aol.com, or use the comments below.
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*Prairie Food Co-op, Lombard; Chicago Cooperative, North Side of Chicago; Rogers Park Co-op, North Side of Chicago; Shared Harvest, Elgin; and Green Tomato, Batavia.




The Talking Farm Holds Fundraiser To Support Expansion of Urban Farm

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Posted: April 4, 2014 at 7:42 am

talking farm

 

The Local Beet has long been fans, friends and supporters of Evanston’s Talking Farm.  Long time Beet contributor Wendy Aeschlimann currently sits on the Board of Talking Farm.  You may have heard that they have a fundraiser coming up in a few days.  Well, there’s a just a few tickets left, and we want you to get them.

Since 2006, The Talking Farm, a non-profit organization based in Evanston and Skokie, has been dedicated to cultivating healthy, sustainable communities by promoting the production and appreciation of locally grown food through educational initiatives and hands-on learning programs. For years, they have operated the successful Edible Acre school garden program with Evanston Township High School. They provided technical assistance to groups looking to start community or school gardens. But their dreams were loftier — they wanted enough land that would produce a significant amount of food, as well as ease the expansion of their intensive educational initiatives. They wanted a farm. A place where people could learn, from top to bottom, how to organically grow vegetables through hands-on learning, and where the fruits of their labor — beautiful, locally-grown produce — would be distributed back to the community that grew it. A place where people could intern and learn about urban farming. Or to host community or corporate groups and teach them about the odd sense of satisfaction from a day of pulling weeds out of the ground.
In 2011, the Skokie Park District answered their call, and generously offered them 2.75 pristine acres of undeveloped parkland to use as an urban farm on Howard Street in Skokie. They called it the Howard Street Farm, and through thousands of volunteer hours, began the process of transforming wild land into neat, organized crop rows. They built a 10,000 square foot demonstration garden with raised beds that was used by community groups to grow ethnic heritage crops. The catch? It wasn’t zoned for them to sell or distribute produce grown on the farm. So, they began the long process of seeking a special zoning adjustment. And, after more than a year, in February 2014, the Village of Skokie gave them final approval to operate as a full-fledged farm.
The bad news is that fundraising was stifled by the zoning process. As a result of the zoning approvals, they now need costly infrastructure to operate as a “real” farm, such as irrigation and a processing shed to wash produce grown on the farm. So, this Sunday, they are partnering with locavore powerhouse-restaurant Farmhouse in Evanston, and are holding a fundraiser, “Celebrate the Growing Season,” which not only pays homage to the excitement of the upcoming growing season — their first — but raises badly-needed funds. $50 from each ticket will directly support The Talking Farm, and includes passed hors d’oeuvres, a generous, full buffet, dessert, and two drinks. Music will be provided by The Greenleaf Band. In other words, eat local food to support the growth of local food. A small price to pay to help this organization achieve its goals.
For more information on and to see the menu, go to Celebrate the Growing Season.
Get your tickets here.



Asparagus – a Springtime Delight and a Great Addition to Any Garden! Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014
Irv and Shelly Welcome You to Fresh Picks + Farmers, Pig Roast & More – Sunday April 6 Tuesday, April 1st, 2014