Start Your Week Off With Our Harvest of Eat Local Links

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Posted: June 30, 2014 at 10:12 am

 

These guys are talking about local, sustainable food.

And link to this entry in the debate by Ruhlman.

Where I found this blog.

FOB, John Lenert (who once filmed us), doing some very nice wine writing over at Chicagoist.

Every time you hear there is only one way to “feed the world” ask them if it includes super weeds?

Eat local national treasure.

What kind of foodie are you?

Yes, you are what you eat.




Tails From The Prairie

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Posted: June 27, 2014 at 11:34 am

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Besides buying their award winning cheeses at the Green City Market, I have had the pleasure of visiting Prairie Fruit Farms and Creamery, LLC, several times over the years and have seen how the farm has grown and evolved. This interest lead me to subscribe to their email list where farmers, Leslie and Wes, send out news of the ongoings at the farm. These missives have included stories of pigs escaping, goats born in the middle of the night, and just the regular duties of running a farm and creamery, in this case goats, cheesemaking and more. As you find you connect with the farmers you buy from, it is a natural extension to subscribe to their newsletters. It is a way to learn more about the food that you are buying. In the case of Prairie Fruit Farm and Creamery, I have grown to really enjoy their letter which involves life on a goat farm and creamery. Having contacted Leslie and Wes, they graciously agreed to let me share their newsletter on the Beet with the caveat of course, that all pictures and words, are reprinted with their permission and cannot be shared elsewhere without their consent. So for those of you who enjoy words well crafted and like to learn more about life on the Prairie, with goats, and more, read on.

(The information below comes directly from the Prairie Fruit Farm and Creamery newsletter, if you would like to receive it directly, you can sign up here)

Farm News

With the best of intentions, we’ve been trying to rebuild our pasture perimeter fence for the past month and a half.  The weather, the urgency of other priorities, waiting for the re-seeded pasture to grow—all these things conspired against us.  Despite the post holes filling with water from recent torrential rains, we pressed on and filled them with many bags of quick-crete (a cementing material) to secure the corner posts. With the woven wire strung and secure and topped off with a strand of hot wire, the goats were let out into their new pasture Wednesday evening.

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The pasture had grown so tall that you could barely see them wading out into the sea of green. They slowly but eagerly pressed their bodies against the weight of the vegetation, fanning out to indulge in their long-awaited ritual of grazing (well, browsing in their case). For a moment, I had visions of my own wading out into the ocean, slowly being engulfed by the water.  Every now and then, I’d see a goat head come up for air, most of them buried in blissful herbivore gluttony.

The other day, one of our neighbors had come by to let us know that the Elderberry were flowering. His family is one that has lived in this area for many generations, and he knows this landscape like the back of his hand. He has foraged, hunted and trapped in these parts since he was a small boy. Last year, we had asked him if he knew where to find Elderberry blossoms for making syrups and jams. He had never heard of such things, but he knew where to find the bushes.  Yesterday, I followed him north on Lincoln Avenue to an area next to the railroad tracks overgrown with brush. I spotted the bright white flowers from the road—a stark contrast to surrounding greenery. He and I cut a few bagsful of flower heads while a freight train rumbled past us.  Their fragrance is so intense; I was surprised not to find any pollinators taking advantage of this nectary. Soon, there’ll be jelly coming out of the Prairie Fruits Farm kitchen.

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Farmers’ Markets

We’re attending two markets this Saturday:  Urbana’s Market at the Square and Chicago’s Green City Market.  We’re flush with cheese:

    • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
    • Fresh goat milk ricotta—if you haven’t tried our creamy, sweet & delicate ricotta, ask us for a taste
    • Angel Food Brie—the new size will make you want to buy a couple since you can now eat them in one sitting
    • Little Bloom on the Prairie: these camembert style rounds are just begin to be ripe—perfect for warming on the grill
    • Black Goat:  don’t let the ash rind throw you off-this little cheese is loaded with flavor
    • INTRODUCING: a trial batch of an ash-ripened cheese with the same white mold as Angel Food and Little Bloom—we’re calling it “LENA” after one of our salt & pepper coated goats (Lena-Candi). Try it alongside the Black Goat and let us know which you like better.
    • Spring Milk Moonglo—it’s creamy, but it still has that sharpness that you’d expect from this raw milk tomme
    • INTRODUCINGSpring milk Huckleberry Blue—we’ve changed the make procedure a bit on this cheese, and we really like the results:  it’s a sweeter, nuttier blue cheese than we’ve made before. The sycamore leaves that adorn the rind were soaked in an apple brandy made in Chicago from Rhine Hall Distillery. They use all Michigan apples to make their brandy.  It’s delicious!

Summer fruits are exploding around us, so we’ve been busy spinning some local fruit sorbettos this week. Of course, we have some of our standard gelato flavors. We don’t have a lot of pints this week, so come early if you want gelato (* indicates flavors we’re taking to Green City Market):

Vanilla
Chocolate
Local Strawberry*
Rhubarb sorbetto*
Southern IL Peach sorbetto*
Farm Happenings

Don’t forget to come visit us at the farm. We’re open Wednesday afternoons from 4:00 to 6:30. It’s a great way to break the weekly routine and cool off with a cup of gelato. Also, there are still quite a few tickets available for some of the farm dinners.

**I am receiving no monetary or in kind payment or have any business association with Prairie Fruit Farm and Creamery, I just like really, really good cheese and gelato and more!

Copyright 2014 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2014. All rights reserved. 4410 N. Lincoln Ave., Champaign, Illinois 61822 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC is responsible for the content of this email. Please contact Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell with any inquiries.

 




The Will to Locavore

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Posted: June 24, 2014 at 10:33 am

First They Came for Your Feta

first cukes 14lots o rhubarb

It’s not that I don’t have everything lined up to be the world’s greatest locavore. My wife works for one of the best area growers, Tomato Mountain Organic Farms. They supply us with a CSA box each week, and I mean each week, well I mean each week except each week that’s every other week during the winter, but it’s pretty much always seemed like each week, which means we always have plenty of local food in the Bungalow. And it’s not just the CSA box. Given that my wife is at markets three times a week, she’s there to pick up the first cukes of the season. Better, she knows all the ins and outs of the markets, and she has all the ins and outs with the sellers. So there’s 800 stalks of rhubarb to be had or pints of over-ripe strawberries to be stolen, she’s there to exploit. Beyond the luxury of an abundant stash, there’s the luxury of the Local Beet. I am the beneficiary of this site, creaky and outdated as it is. There’s Robert inspiring me with his farm tales and locavore news and Jeannie absolutely rocking out a Local Calendar that shames anything I could do. Cannot I. do my part.

stuff fridge jun 14

Last we talked, I blamed it on Fresh Farms, the suburban store with too much good Greek cheese. See, once you’ve given in to dairy from outside the Big Ten Conference, anything could happen. I tried wretching myself back with a good Tamar-day, and a house full o’greens satisfied for a while. Yet, when that batch of cooking ended in our tummies, I did not do much to re-stock the menu.  I entertain grand plans.  Maybe a day by the grill where I would do my best Mallman imitation and seven fire some carrots, potatoes, asparagus, and scallions.  That was the easier stuff.  We have all these greens.   There is no easy way to get greens from crop to table.  They need to be washed and then washed maybe one more time because believe me, you’ll know if you don’t rinse them well.  The chard takes snipping all the ends where the stems hit the ground.  The kale needs its leaves separated.  The bekana and baby bok choy and such need ideas on how to make them different.  It is not throw together food.   As I have said many times in the past, the biggest barrier to being a locavore is the time required, and half of that time, the schlepping to find local food, I don’t even have to do.  There’s always the Condiment Queen.

stuff fridge3 jun 14

There’s always room for pie. In between a week that found her working seven straight days, she said I will step up. Make something. Use something. I will have a stunning dish to accompany us as we visit some friends. If I cannot manage more than salads these days, she can always make room for pie. It tasted as good as it looked, strawberries, rhubarb and her butter crust she learned from watching Paula Haney.

she makes great pie

I need the will to locavore. Or your prodding. I know I’ll enjoy the next Turkish breakfast I serve. I know I’ll be healthier when I have a fridge full of cooked greens. It will satisfy me in many, many ways to be a locavore. Why cannot I find my way.




Governor Quinn Approves Legislation Supporting Farmers Markets

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Posted: June 23, 2014 at 1:03 pm

(Chicago, IL) With summer officially here and Chicago’s 61st Street Farmers Market as the backdrop, on June 21st Governor Pat Quinn signed into law HB5657, an important new piece of legislation that sets in motion a number of reforms that support farmers market and Illinois farmers. HB5657 was unanimously approved by both the Illinois State Senate and House of Representatives this spring.

“This is a really important step when it comes to supporting farmers markets and community development, and a long time coming. Farmers, farmers market managers and those that support the burgeoning local food movement have been asking for and working towards a number of the reforms included in House Bill 5657 for several years,” said Wes King Executive Director of Illinois Stewardship Alliance. “These reforms will help to support and sustain new and current farmers markets, the jobs they create, the business they incubate and the farmers, young and old, that call them home.”

 

Gov. Pat Quinn Photo: WLS

Gov. Pat Quinn
Photo: WLS

 

Illinois Stewardship Alliance has been working alongside the Illinois Environmental Council, local health departments, the Illinois Department of Public Health, and the Illinois Public Health Association to develop HB5657.

 

Galesburg Farmers Market  Galesburg Register Mail

Galesburg Farmers Market
Galesburg Register Mail

 

The legislation, sponsored by Representative Mike Tryon (R-Crystal Lake) and State Senator David Koehler (D-Peoria), who first introduced similar legislation in 2009; includes a number of provisions aimed at supporting and sustaining farmers markets and the farmers and vendors that attend them:

 

  • Consistent Statewide Farmers      Market Rules – creates a timeline for      Illinois Department of Public Health’s (IDPH) Farmers’ Market Task Force      to complete recommendations for statewide rules and regulations for farmers      markets and strengthens that task force’s authority and process for      developing and finalizing said rules and regulations. The task force was      originally created in statute by the general assembly in 2011. The bill      gives the task force until December 15, 2014 to create their      recommendations. Currently food safety rules and regulations vary across      the state from county to county and city to city, sometimes dramatically,      creating a patchwork quilt of regulations for farmers and entrepreneurs to      navigate.
  • Statewide Sampling Program – Sampling of products is critical to any food      business including those at farmers markets. HB 5657 authorizes and      instructs IDPH and the farmers market task force to develop a statewide      sampling certificate program that would allow a farmer or entrepreneur to      offer product samples at any farmers market in the state under one      certificate, and just as importantly, under one consistent statewide set      of rules. Currently related rules, regulations and permits are highly      variable from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and few farmers market vendors      offer samples.
  • Product Origin and Transparency      Provisions – Consumers at farmers markets      may assume that products sold at these markets are locally grown, but      there are some vendors that are actually resellers selling the same out of      state product as most grocery stores. HB5657 requires farmers market      vendors that sell unprocessed produce to have a label that states the      address where their products were physically grown. If the vendor can’t      disclose that, the vendor must list where it was purchased from.
  • Cottage Food Operations –      Cottage food – or non-hazardous foods made in home kitchens – is a growing      business in Illinois. Caps the fee that local health departments can      chargecottage      food operations for registering at $25 per year to minimize costs to these      small businesses.

Illinois Stewardship Alliance will be developing some materials on it to educate farmers and market managers about the impacts of it and we plan to host a couple webinars later in the summer with the Illinois Farmers Market Association to educate attendees about what is in the law and what are the potential impacts.

Illinois Stewardship Alliance is a nonprofit organization that promotes environmentally sustainable, economically viable, socially just, local food systems through policy development, advocacy, and education.

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Illinois Stewardship Alliance:

www.ilstewards.org

https://www.facebook.com/ilstewards

Illinois Farmers Market Association:

http://ilfarmersmarkets.org/

 

Some content from an Illinois Stewardship Alliance press release




Getting a Head Start on Your Weekly Harvest of Eat Local Links

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Posted: June 23, 2014 at 7:13 am

 

Think about where your fish comes from (and consider instead, local fish).

A whole bunch of easy ideas of what to do with your local bounty this summer.

More ideas for something that often needs more ideas.

How much do you need to eat well?

Up to date on bees?

Eat local scapes.

Eat local burnt ends?

Any of this ring true to you?

The links that Civil Eats link.




Good Greens Meeting Agenda 6/26, Grants, Jobs, Resources

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Posted: June 20, 2014 at 11:00 am

You may or may not have heard of the Good Greens meeting held once a month at the FNS offices in the Loop. If you are a market manager, a farmer, a good food advocate, a non-profit focused on food, farms, farm to school, urban farms, food producer, an academic, a student or just interested in a better food system, the Good Greens meetings and newsletter is brim full of information. Their monthly email is just full of so much good stuff, we published it below.

The next GoodGreens meeting is on Thursday, June 26th from 10:00 to 12:00 Central Time in FNS’ offices on the 20th floor at 77 West Jackson Boulevard.

Future Agenda/Speakers & Discussions

June

1. USDA’s Value Added Producer Grant Program can help take farmers/food producers to the next level financially. Andrew Jermolowicz, Acting Deputy Administrator, Cooperative Programs, Rural Development, in Washington DC will share information on and answer questions about the program.
2. Vanessa Zajfen, USDA Farm to School Coordinator for the Midwest Region, will provide an update of the Farm to School Census and share information on recent visits she’s made around the region, including Detroit schools and the Eastern Market, Wisconsin schools and others. She’ll also provide an update on what’s happening with Farm to School in general.
3. The Illinois Senate unanimously approved legislation (HB 5657) that will result in smarter, streamlined and statewide rules for food sanitation at farmers markets. HB 5657 was unanimously approved by the Illinois House of Representatives earlier this year. Following the Senate’s approval the legislation will be sent to the Governor. Illinois Stewardship Alliance’s Wes King will share information on this legislation and will also discuss the upcoming reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act and local food opportunities.
4. Food Day Chicago call for volunteers, planners, partners.
5. Chicago Market is a new community food co-op focused on local, sustainable, organic foods. On June 15, Chicago Market launched #1000in100, its first ownership drive. Founder Gregory Berlowitz will speak about the co-op’s ownership campaign and about the co-op start-up scene in the Chicago area.
6. Mike Nowak, Chicago radio host, will discuss his new book, Attack of the Killer Asparagus, and his weekly radio show that covers all things green—gardening, urban agriculture, environment, etc.
7. Discussion: What can GoodGreens/participants do to get Americans to buy and cook food? This idea was suggested during the February meeting which included brainstorming. Please come prepared with your ideas and energy.

July

1. Minneapolis Public Schools is a leader in pursuing Farm to School. Hear about the work this pioneering school district has done from Culinary & Nutrition Services staff Bertrand Weber and Andrea Northup.

Grant Information

1. USDA Announces Availability of Loans and Grants to Support Rural Economic Development – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the Department is accepting applications for loans and grants to support community development projects, business expansion and job creation. Assistance is being provided through two USDA Rural Development programs: the Intermediary Relending Program (IRP) and the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP). The 2014 Farm Bill reauthorized both programs through 2018. For Fiscal Year 2014, $18.9 million in IRP loans are available, and $25.4 million in RMAP loans and grants are available. Application forms may be obtained from any USDA Rural Development State Office.
2. Competitive Grant To Establish a USDA Center for Behavioral Economics and Healthy Food Choice Research – ERS in partnership with USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is inviting proposals to establish the USDA Center for Behavioral Economics and Healthy Food Choice Research. The USDA Center will apply behavioral economics to food choice behaviors, including consumer, food industry, and retailer behaviors that are relevant to USDA policies, with special attention to the SNAP and WIC programs. Deadline for submission is June 30, 2014.
3. USDA Invites Applications for Loans and Grants to Support Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the United States Department of Agriculture is seeking applications from rural small businesses and agricultural producers for funding to make energy efficiency improvements or to install renewable energy systems. It helps agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption. For fiscal year (FY) 2014, USDA plans to award up to $12.3 million in grants and $57.8 million in loan guarantees. Additional REAP funds provided by the Farm Bill will be made available with a subsequent notice. USDA is accepting applications for:
o Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement loan guarantee and grant combinations. July 7, 2014 is the deadline.
o Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement grants. July 7, 2014 is the deadline.
o Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement loan guarantees. July 31, 2014 is the deadline.
4. Food:Land:Opportunity announces an open request for proposals to create viable pathways for urban farm enterprises on land made available in Englewood through the City of Chicago Green Healthy Neighborhoods Plan. Up to two grants will be made under this RFP at a total amount not to exceed $75,000 per grant. Click here to access the full RFP for the Urban Farm Enterprise Pathway Projects and visit the initiative website to download the application. Applications are due by midnight on June 20, 2014.
The Pollination Project is a nonprofit organization that provides $1,000 seed grants to individual change makers. The Project has granted numerous awards to various small agriculture related operations who want to bring change into a community. The Project has received repeated media reports on how the organization is impacting small agricultural practices. New grants are awarded daily and there is no deadline for when to apply. Please click here to navigate through the organizations website for detailed information. We hope to have someone from the Project speak at a future meeting. No deadline.
Check out USDA grants for farmers markets, local foods and SNAP: http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/ebt/fm-scrip-Grant_Resources.htm
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides funding for agriculturalists and others through various programs. Eligible agricultural producers, landowners and Tribes may apply for financial assistance to help implement conservation practices or establish conservation easements, and grants may be available for eligible groups and organizations to promote new conservation technologies.
For info on USDA’s Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative, including potential funding, click Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative. USDA offers financial assistance to qualified producers for construction of a high tunnel through the agency’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program. If you’re in Illinois and would like more information, please contact Randy Edwards (USDA/NRCS) at 815-462-3106, randy.edwards@il.usda.gov
USDA’s micro-loan program can be used by small farmers. The purpose of the RMAP program is to support the development and ongoing success of rural micro entrepreneurs and microenterprises. Direct loans and grants are made to select Microenterprise Development Organizations (MDOs). For more information on the program, please click here or read this USDA blog on it. No deadline.
Open Calls for Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Grants Timelines for NCR-SARE’s grant programs can be found here. Sample calls for proposals and lists of recently funded projects can be found here. Deadlines: Rolling.
The Beginning with Badgerland Grant program is available to any beginning farmer living in Badgerland Financial territory in Wisconsin regardless of age. The farmer needs to have less than ten years of experience operating a farm and should be able to show that farming is a part-time or full-time vocation. To apply for a grant, the farmer simply needs to fill out a brief application. The Beginning with Badgerland Grant application is available at www.badgerlandfinancial.com, in the lower right-hand corner of the front page. No deadline.
For more grants and other resources for beginning farmers, check out this list from Start2Farm.gov.
The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation’s “Fruit Tree 101” program creates outdoor edible orchard classrooms at public schools of all levels, across the country, to provide generations of students with environmental education opportunities and a source of organic fruit for improved school lunch nutrition. Please contact The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation for more information and to apply for this funding: http://www.ftpf.org/resources.htm Deadline: Rolling
Let’s Move! Salad Bars to Schools offer grants for salad bars. To apply for a grant, please click here. No deadline.
NEW!!! USDA announced approximately $66 million in Specialty Crop Block Grants to state departments of agriculture for projects that help support specialty crop growers, including locally grown fruits and vegetables, through research, programs to increase demand, and more. The Program is designed to enhance the markets for specialty crops like fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture. Interested applicants should apply directly to their state department of agriculture. Several states have already published their requests for proposals, and the list of FY 2014 State Requests for Proposals is available on the AMS website. For more information visit the AMS Specialty Crop Block Grant Program webpage or contact Trista Etzig via phone at (202) 690-4942 or by e-mail: trista.etzig@ams.usda.gov.
16. NEW!!! HHS announces the availability of $300 Million in Affordable Care Act funds to expand services at the Nation’s community health centers – Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced the availability of up to $300 million under the Affordable Care Act to help the nation’s community health centers expand service hours, hire more medical providers, and add oral health, behavioral health, pharmacy, and vision services. For more information on this funding opportunity announcement, please visit

http://www.hrsa.gov/grants/apply/assistance/es/esinstructions.pdf.

17. NEW!!! The American Heart Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have joined forces to launch Voices for Healthy Kids. Through this collaboration, and in partnership with a team of experts across the childhood obesity movement, the initiative aims to engage, organize and mobilize people to improve the health of their communities and reverse the childhood obesity epidemic. The goal of the grant opportunities within this initiative is to make effective strategic investments in ongoing state, local and tribal public policy issue campaigns in order to increase public policy impact on healthy weight and living among children. Voices for Healthy Kids is focusing efforts on six priority areas, and applicants should link their applications to these priorities.
Voices for Healthy Kids Grants/American Heart Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Deadline: Rolling)

Opportunities

1. NEW!!! Pembroke Family Farmers Association is conducting new farmer training through the Small Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant (SSDPG). PFF’s aim is to rebuild local food systems and to revitalize rural and urban economies. Their ideal candidates are graduates from the various new and beginning farmer training programs or current producers that want to move from hobby farmer status to full scale market producers. For more information visit http://www.pembrokefarmingfamily.org
2. NEW!!! Attention ALL Farmers: the Westmont Street Fair and Westmont Open Market is looking for a farmer with fresh fruits and vegetables to participate in their market. Thursdays from 5-9pm in Downtown Westmont, western suburb of Chicago from June 5-August 28. The market invites any farmer to test the market for FREE for the 1st month! After that the fee is only $20 per week to participate. Please contact Westmont Special Events at 630-829-9378 or wsec@westmontevents.com to sign up.
3. NEW!!! USDA: Rural Business Investment Program Deadline: July 29, 2014
A USDA press release on April 21st announced the “creation of a new investment fund that will help propel the growth of small businesses across rural America. The new Rural Business Investment Company (RBIC) will now allow USDA to facilitate private equity investments in agriculture-related businesses. For more information about grant eligibility, check out the program’s website.
4. NEW!! USDA’s Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program. On April 23, a NSAC blog post examined USDA’s Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program. The post said, “The difficulty in accessing a loan necessary to take root – or to expand – can be a major barrier to [rural] businesses’ success and broader impact, especially for a newly evolving market like the local and regional food business. “To address this issue, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers the Business and Industry Loan Guarantee (B&I) Program, which guarantees commercial loans for food enterprises based in or benefiting rural communities. Changes in the 2008 Farm Bill and reaffirmed in the 2014 Farm Bill ensure that a minimum of five percent of B&I funding goes to loans for local and regional food businesses.” You can find out more about the USDA’s Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program on the program’s website.
5. Get your farmer’s market listed in the USDA Directory! Here’s an excerpt from a blog about USDA farmer’s market directory: “Located in Virginia’s horse country, just an hour outside of Washington, DC, is the historic town of Middleburg. Deeply embedded in the town’s roots is a vibrant agricultural sector that is the driving force behind this small community’s success. Each Saturday morning from the spring through the fall, you can find a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and baked goods at the Middleburg Community Farmers Market (MCFM). Raising the market’s visibility is vital to its continued success, so the MCFM recently updated its information in the USDA’s 2014 National Farmers Market Directory – connecting customers to fresh, quality items produced by its local farmers. The directory, maintained by the Agricultural Marketing Service, is designed to provide consumers with convenient access to information about your farmers market listing including: market locations, directions, operating times, product offerings, accepted forms of payment, and more. Thousands of farmers market managers around the country are taking a few minutes to update their market listing. – See more at: http://blogs.usda.gov/2014/04/04/farmers-market-managers-update-or-add-your-listing-to-the-national-directory/#sthash.H01q2lWF.dpuf
6. A new AMS-CP procurement cycle will begin soon, with most of USDA’s fruit and vegetable products contracted in the Spring. You can view all the products that AMS is purchasing at AMS Purchase Summary Report. If you are interested in supplying domestic products to USDA, now is the perfect opportunity. Visit the AMS-CP website to view purchase schedule, product specifications, and purchase reports. You can also check out the most recent webinar for more information about USDA purchase programs and opportunities for businesses—especially small businesses—to become USDA Foods vendors.
7. FNS sends a Farm to School e-letter out every two weeks. To receive information and updates about USDA’s Farm to School Program, please sign up for the Farm to School E-letter. Questions? Email us at farmtoschool@fns.usda.gov
8. Detroit Kitchen Connect provides reliable, accessible space for local entrepreneurs, community members and organizations to process high-quality food products in a diverse and collaborative learning environment. They are now accepting applications from entrepreneurs who want to use DKC kitchens and services. For more information, please visit http://detroitkitchenconnect.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/dkc_app0713.pdf
9. FNS Public Affairs launched a collaboration with Midwest farmers market coordinators to discuss challenges, successes, news, and events. This is a great opportunity for people to discuss and share their own personal experiences and potentially learn ways to make markets more numerous and successful during conference calls to be held every 3-4 months and via emails. Please email Alan Shannon at alan.shannon@fns.usda.gov if you would like to be added to this contact list.
10. Through June 2014, the USDA Farm to School Program will host webinars on various aspects of local procurement. To register for the one or several of the sessions, please click here. All webinars will be recorded and available on USDA Farm to School website within 1-2 week of initial viewing. For more information about these webinars and other information from the USDA Farm to School Program, sign up for our e-letter here.
11. Check out USDA’s Alternative Farming Systems Information Center which provides resources and information for urban agriculture.
12. The Farm Commons Legal Issues in Farming webinar series covers issues from land tenure to food safety and more.
13. The University of Illinois Extension Small Farms webinar series addresses topics like composting, orchard management, and herd management.
14. USDA’s newly created Midwest Climate Hub will be able to provide information to support producers and farmers to make a decision regarding climate, weather, and methods of practice.
15. A New Way of Doing Business for a New Generation (USDA blog). Here’s some good news: As a result of a recent collaboration, diversified and smaller fruit and vegetable producers, including CSAs, can use an alternative method designed for them to determine storage needs or seek a waiver from the requirement that they carry crop insurance or Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage when they apply for a Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) loan if no appropriate products are available to them. And now, FSFL can be used to finance the equipment necessary to handle produce before it reaches cold storage, such as sorting bins and wash stations. This is exactly how the USDA of the future does business. The next generation of farmers and ranchers doesn’t need the same things that the last generation did when they walked through the doors of the Farm Service Agency. This new generation needs a USDA that is more responsive and adaptable to the types of agriculture that they are engaging in – from the smallest community farming arrangements to the largest, most technologically innovative farm businesses. For the complete story, see the USDA blog post:
See more at: http://blogs.usda.gov/2014/03/11/a-new-way-of-doing-business-for-a-new-generation/

News

1. Final results from the USDA Farm to School Census are now available online at http://www.fns.usda.gov/farmtoschool/census/#/. The total dollars invested in local communities during the 2011-2012 school year increased to more than $385 million and more than 23 million students are participating in farm to school programs as of the 2012-2013 school year. The Census website includes lots of new graphics and features. For example, a new data explorer tool allows users to run customizable searches. Want to know which school districts in New Jersey would like to buy more local beef? Now you can run a search for precisely the information you need. A new media kit page offers downloadable infographics for each state so you can include Census results in your presentations, brochures, or newsletters. We also hope you will help USDA promote the Census re-launch using Facebook and Twitter. Improved social media tools are located at the bottom of the national and state pages.
2. Healthy Vegetables Undermined by the Company They Keep (USDA Amber Waves feature) When ERS researchers examined the types of vegetables and vegetable-containing foods eaten by Americans, they found that instead of eating vegetables in their simple, unadorned state, Americans often eat vegetables prepared in ways that add calories and sodium and remove dietary fiber.
3. Illinois organic farms’ sales jump – May 07, 2014 (AP) — Sales from Illinois organic farms more than tripled during a five-year period, according to federal statistics. Annual organic sales from the state’s farms reached $26.2 million in 2012, the (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports. That’s up from $8.3 million in 2007. The U.S. Department of Agriculture figures show sales growth came despite the fact that the overall number of farms in the state fell during the same period. The tabulated figures include only farms with at least $5,000 in annual sales that sell USDA-certified organic products. The data doesn’t include figures from smaller growers who haven’t gone through the certification process, said Kendra Schilling, who manages the Illinois Products Farmers’ Market at the state fairgrounds. Illinois’ overall crop sales were $14.1 billion in 2012, while livestock sales reached about $3 billion http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20140507/NEWS07/140509841?template=mobile&X-IgnoreUserAgent=1
4. USDA Announces Fall Summit on Bee Nutrition and Forage; Launches “Bee Watch” Website to Broadcast Bee Activity and Increase Public Awareness of the Role of Pollinators in Crop Production. A yearly survey of beekeepers shows fewer colony losses occurred in the United States over the winter of 2013-2014 than in recent years, but beekeepers say losses remain higher than the level that they consider to be sustainable. According to survey results, total losses of managed honey bee colonies from all causes were 23.2 percent nationwide. That number is above the 18.9 percent level of loss that beekeepers say is acceptable for their economic sustainability, but is a marked improvement over the 30.5 percent loss reported for the winter of 2012-2013, and over the eight-year average loss of 29.6 percent. Read the full USDA release here.
5. Cheaper Food May Be Fueling U.S. Obesity Epidemic (HealthDay News) — Cheaper food could be a major cause of the obesity epidemic in the United States, according to a new study. The study also found that it’s an epidemic that is hitting all Americans, not just certain groups. “Not only has food been getting cheaper, but it is easier to acquire and easier to prepare,” Roland Sturm, lead author of the report and a senior economist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization, said in the group’s news release. http://consumer.healthday.com/vitamins-and-nutrition-information-27/food-and-nutrition-news-316/cheap-food-obesity-688080.html
6. Legislative funding to provide more fresh produce to Minnesotans in need
The state legislative appropriation will grant $2 million to Second Harvest Heartland on behalf of the six Feeding America food banks that serve Minnesota. This “Farm to Food Shelf” bill will compensate agricultural producers and processors for their costs incurred to harvest and package surplus agricultural commodities, including fruits, vegetables and other items that would otherwise go unharvested or be discarded.
7. You can soon ‘buy local’ with Peapod, courtesy of Artizone deal (Crains Chicago Business) Skokie-based Peapod LLC, that elder statesman of the grocery delivery game, has partnered with Artizone, a website that delivers local meats, fish, pastries, cheeses and other artisanal products to Chicagoans. Beginning later this month, some 100 Artizone products will be available on Peapod.com, with more items to follow later in the year. It’s the latest move by Peapod to ramp up selection and improve technology in order to defend against emerging competition from the likes of Amazon.com Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20140605/NEWS07/140609876/you-can-soon-buy-local-with-peapod-courtesy-of-artizone-deal?r=7576A6032245B8G
8. Elanor Starmer, USDA Senior Advisor, recently presented at GoodGreens on Farm Bill provisions that provide opportunities for local food. She wrote this recent USDA blog that provides highlights and examples of how USDA programs can support local food enterprises. Here’s an excerpt: “Last month, Secretary Vilsack announced a historic level of funding available for local and regional food: $78 million, including $48 million through USDA’s Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program and $30 million through the newly-expanded Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program. The 2014 Farm Bill gave USDA these and other tools and resources, expanding our ability to connect rural and urban communities, increase access to healthy foods, and support rural economies through local food systems. What does this mean for rural economies? Consider Cellars of Jasper Hill in Greensboro, Vermont. The Kehler brothers took their passion for dairy and founded a cheese making operation 10 years ago. Partnering with Vermont’s Community National Bank, USDA’s Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program helped the company construct a 22,000-square-foot facility and expand its on-farm value-added cheese production. The project helped save 20 existing jobs and created 14 new ones in a town with fewer than 1,000 residents…”
9. Study finds school salad bars increase meal participation – More kids eat school meals when salad bars are added, according to a recent evaluation of a program that provides free salad bars to schools nationwide. The evaluation of the “Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools” campaign found that 57 percent of schools reported an increase in school meal participation and 78 percent reported using the salad bars every day. Read more here.
10. Beginning Farmers and Ranchers and the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Amber Waves feature article) – Support for beginning farmers and ranchers can be found throughout the Agricultural Act of 2014. The Act provides increased funding for beginning farmer development, facilitates the transfer of farmland to the next generation of farmers, and improves outreach and communication to military veterans about farming and ranching opportunities.
11. More Over Bake Sale… Huffington Post (6/13) – This is a strange and inconsistent moment for school food in the U.S. At the same time that we are arguing for healthier meals in the cafeterias, we also have a long-standing tradition of turning our school kids into candy pushers in order to raise funds for their team uniforms or their band trips. We bemoan the national obesity rates, and then set up tables loaded with rice crispy treats, cupcakes, and brownies in the entrances of our schools. Read more here.
12. Food Loss – Questions About the Amount and Causes Still Remain (USDA Economic Research Service) – ERS estimates that 31 percent, or 133 billion pounds, of food available for consumption at the retail and consumer levels in the United States in 2010 went uneaten. Read more here.

Events
NEW!!! Chicago Farmers Markets – Check out the local farmers markets this summer! For a schedule of local markets visit – http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/farmers_market.html

Additional Resources

1. NEW!!! The ERS State Fact Sheets provide information on population, income, poverty, food security, education, employment, organic agriculture, farm characteristics, farm financial indicators, top commodities, and exports. Updated items include 2012 Census of Agriculture data and unemployment for 2013. State Fact Sheets
2. NEW!!! Food Hub Financial and Operations Data: 2013 Food Hub Benchmarking Study
The results of the 2013 Benchmarking Study have been compiled and the report is now available on the NGFN website.
3. NEW!!!Farm Alliance Baltimore City Report 2012-2013The Farm Alliance of Baltimore City is a network of producers working to increase the viability of urban farming and improve access to urban-grown foods. In an effort to share some of their experiences working together during their first two seasons, they created a report with support from USDA SARE as a resource for other groups of growers wanting to work cooperatively. Read the report here. (We are hoping to have someone from the City present at a future GoodGreens meeting. Stay tuned.)
4. NEW!!! Farm to Table: Building Local and Regional Food Systems USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) has recently introduced an online resource created to provide information for farmers, ranchers, ag professionals, community organizers and others who are striving to reconfigure the nation’s food system so more value stays in food-producing communities. Check out the new access portal here.
5. For updates on the Farm Bill implementation, please click here: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=farmbill
6. Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs Guide. A new USDA guide on buying local products for the school meal programs is now available! The guide, Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs, covers procurement basics, defining local, where to find local products, and the variety of ways schools can purchase locally in accordance with regulations. Access the guide by clicking here.
7. Fact Sheets – USDA has published two fact sheets, which are now available from the USDA website. Selling Local Food to Schools: A Resource for Producers outlines four ways producers can help districts serve more local foods and get involved with students by introducing them to farming and agriculture. USDA Foods: A Resource for Buying Local is a great resource for districts looking to expand local purchasing efforts. This fact sheet also showcases a map that illustrates the dollar value of food that was purchased from each state for the USDA Foods program. Check out both fact sheets here on the USDA Farm to School website.
8. NEW!!! The Census of Agriculture is conducted every five years and USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) spends that time planning, preparing, and executing the Census. But that’s only a part of the Census process. Once we gather and process the data, we have to make sure the results are easily accessible and understood by the public. Traditionally, we’ve published PDF files to the Internet, but as most of us know, it is not the optimal format for online data dissemination. If you want to analyze and mine data, you don’t want to retype them into a spreadsheet. And if you have hundreds or thousands of data points to analyze, as is the case with the Census, you need a more accessible data tool to ensure accuracy and efficiency in data sharing. That’s where the NASS Quick Stats tool comes to the rescue. We launched this tool with the 2007 Census of Agriculture data release and since then have honed it. Using Quick Stats, you can easily query the database to retrieve customized tables with Census data at the national, state, and county levels. The results are easily exportable for additional analysis. If you have never used this database, check out our new tutorial video, which will give you an easy-to-follow introduction to Quick Stats. And if you’re a developer who would like to work with our data, we have a convenient API available as well. See more at: http://blogs.usda.gov/2014/04/24/ag-census-data-tools-coming-your-way/#sthash.uMAEXmQT.dpuf
9. NEW!!! Let’s Move! created a garden guide/toolkit. Check out our Gardening Guide which has all the information you need to get started. Whether you’re interested in planting a kitchen garden in your own backyard, a school garden at your child’s school, or a community garden for all of your neighbors to enjoy, here are your checklists with everything you need to get planting:
· How to plant a kitchen garden
· How to plant a school garden
· How to plant a community garden
10. NEW!!! New Fact Sheet for Cooperative Extension Professionals!
Are you a Cooperative Extension Professional and curious how you can engage with farm to school programs in your area? Or, perhaps you operate a farm to school program and want to learn how to engage your local Cooperative Extension expert? Check out our new fact sheet, How Cooperative Extension Professionals Can Support Farm to School Programs, to learn more. Access all of our fact sheets here.
11. Where You Live Matters to Your Health. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation County Health Rankings provide a health snapshot for nearly every county in all 50 states. See how well your county is doing on 29 factors that influence health, including smoking, high school graduation, employment, physical inactivity, access to healthy foods, and more. See where your county ranks >
12. Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America View the diversity of challenges and opportunities across America’s counties within different types of rural regions and communities. Get statistics on people, jobs, agriculture, and county indicators. Data have been updated to reflect the latest poverty and American Community Survey statistics. March 21, 2014
13. USDA Organics Resource page
14. New Western Lake Superior Local Food Purchasing Toolkit Report provides local food purchasing strategies for restaurants, hospitals and colleges (Duluth, MN) – The Institute for a Sustainable (ISF) released A 20% by 2020 Local Purchasing Toolkit – a Report to Support Local Food Purchasing (pdf) a new report which includes the first regional directory of producers currently supplying the largest institutions and restaurants in our region. The report includes strategies to help restaurants and institutions market their commitment to local foods, and to motivate food distributors to support regional producers and food businesses. Consumers are interested in making sure their values are accurately reflected in their food choices, driving adoption of transparent metrics and benchmarks by leading businesses. In a recent study by University of Minnesota- Duluth professor David Syring, 88% of respondents look at tables to see where a product is made or grown. In a report by the National Restaurant Association, the top restaurant menus trends for 2014 focus on local sourcing, hyper sourcing (restaurant gardens), and environmental sustainability.
15. Grow It, Try It, Like It! is a USDA garden-themed nutrition education kit that introduces new fruits and vegetables to preschool age children. Grow It, Try It, Like It! is an initiative to support the Child Nutrition Programs through training and technical assistance for foodservice, nutrition education for children and their caregivers, and school and community support for healthy eating and physical activity. The goal of Team Nutrition is to improve children’s lifelong eating and physical activity habits through nutrition education based on the principles of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate. To learn more about Team Nutrition and nutrition in child care go to the Team Nutrition Web site at teamnutrition.usda.gov and the Healthy Meals Resource System Web site at http://fnic.nal.usda.gov. Here’s a link to the kit: http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/growit_book1.pdf
16. Dig In!, a standards-based nutrition education curriculum from USDA’s Team Nutrition, helps kids, teachers, and parents explore a world of possibilities in the garden and on the plate. Ten inquiry-based lessons engage 5th and 6th graders in growing, harvesting, tasting, and learning about fruits and vegetables Dig In! also includes a gardening guide, booklets for parents/caregivers, and six dynamic posters encouraging fruit and vegetable choices using themes that appeal to older elementary school children. Schools participating in the National School Lunch Program or other Child Nutrition program may request a free print copy of the curriculum. http://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/dig-standards-based-nutrition-education-ground
17. Check out USDA’s The Great Garden Detective Adventure: A Standards-Based Gardening Nutrition Curriculum for Grades 3 and 4. Discover what fruits and vegetables are sweetest, crunchiest, and juiciest through a series of investigations and fun experiences connecting the school garden to the classroom, school cafeteria, and home. This eleven-lesson curriculum for 3rd and 4th grades includes bulletin board materials, veggie dice, fruit and vegetable flash cards, and ten issues of Garden Detective News for parents/caregivers. Here’s a link to the curriculum: http://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/great-garden-detective-adventure-standards-based-gardening-nutrition-curriculum-grades-3-and-4-1

Employment Opportunities

1. NEW!!! Good Food Jobs – http://www.goodfoodjobs.com/
2. NEW!!! Illinois Organic Growers Association (IOGA) has an opening for a part-time, 20 hours per month association coordinator position. The IOGA Coordinator is the lead staff person of the Illinois Organic Growers Association and will report to the IOGA Governing Board, Administrative Committee and the association’s fiscal sponsor Illinois Stewardship Alliance. The Coordinator oversees the activities of the organization, leveraging the help of the Governing Board, composed of IOGA members, and the Administrative Committee, composed of representatives from universities and University of Illinois Extension who are in the position to collaborate with IOGA in their work. http://www.ilstewards.org/illinois-organic-growers-association-is-hiring/
3. Writer & Content Coordinator at Healthy Schools Campaign Writer and Content Coordinator.
4. The Illinois Stewardship Alliance is seeking a new part time Outreach intern to fulfill the position. The role of the intern will require direct contact with the Program Director and Conservation Associate to carry out duties with ISA’s local food and sustainable agriculture programs. Please click here for a detailed job description.
5. EverThrive Illinois, formerly the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition, is seeking a School Breakfast Coordinator. The position will be responsible for building awareness of childhood hunger and its effects on academic achievement. Please click here for additional details about the position.
6. Chicago Botanic Garden is seeking candidates for a number of year-round, seasonal, and intern positions. Details available on their website.
7. The Alliance for the Great Lakes organization currently has three job opportunities available. Job opportunities include: development associate, 2014 Chicago Adopt-a-Beach Assistant, 2014 Michigan Adopt-a-Beach Assistant, and 2014 Minnesota September Adopt-a-Beach Assistant. Interested applicants should click here for more description about the job requirements and qualifications.

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Getting to This Week’s Harvest of Eat Local Links – Wood, Cheese and Plenty to Drink

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Posted: June 19, 2014 at 7:09 am

 

Eat local shrubs.

Eat local mushrooms.

Drink local amaro.

Drink local cider.

Some interesting, and potentially worthwhile, ways to spend y0ur money (especially if you win the lottery).

Local food movement really a force?

But will you be able to eat local meat?

Remember the cheese crisis?  More from the Cheese Underground.

Build with local lumber.

Speaking of cheese, would you ever think to freeze it?

 




Forward Local Calendar: Green City Market BBQ, Taste of the Nation, Farm Dinners, Fermented Foods, Permaculture Workshops and More

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Posted: June 18, 2014 at 9:41 am

To help with summer planning, here is our forward calendar. The GCM has announced their chef lineup for the BBQ, purchase tickets here,  support No Child Hungry at the Taste of the Nation, and so many well planned workshops ahead, check it all out below.

July 7

•••••• Oak Park - FERMENTED FOODS FOR HEALTH 7:00pm – 8:30pm The Sugar Beet Co-op 812 W Madison St Edible Alchemist, Andrea Mattson joins Dr. Paul Schattauer of The Green Medical Practice to present a workshop about fermented foods and the magic of probiotics in our diet. Guests will receive a jar of organic and local kimchi! $10 members $15 general admission preregistration required 

July 10

New!!! Chicago(Lakeview) – Grand Opening Celebration Greenstar Brewery and Uncommon Ground 23rd Anniversary Party – 6pm 3800 North Clark St.

July 11-13

New!!! ChicagoSqaure Roots Festival - The Old Town School of Folk Music and theLincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce’s craft beer and music experience in Chicago’s Lincoln Square is right around the corner.

Chicago2nd Annual Windy City Smokeout -  Bub City is proud to announce the second annual “Windy City Smokeout,” taking place July 11th-13th. This summer festival will bring together the best of live country music, beer and BBQ to downtown Chicago.To purchase tickets CLICK HERE.

July 12

Chicago(Garfield Park) - The Garfield Park Community Council “Neighborhood Market” (2nd Saturday of each month through October) 10am – 1pm Southeast intersection of Kedzie and Lake Streets In addition to fresh locally grown produce from the GPCC Garden Network, vendors will be selling: kale chips, sauces, local honey and maple syrup, pickled items, handmade paper jewelry from Uganda, body oils, jewelry, local authors and their books and much more. There is live entertainment too!

FairburySlagel Farm Dinner with  with Nana Organic and Owen & Engine 2:30pm Bus option available from Chicago.

July 17

•••••• Lincoln ParkGreen City Market Annual BBQ - This is hyper local food and beverage fest, not to be missed, rain, wind or shine.

July 26

Chicago(Caledonia)7th Annual Angelic Organics Peak Harvest Dinner - 5pm – 9pm Presented by premier Chicago chefs, including Chef Paul Virant. You’ll enjoy a five-course gourmet meal made with seasonal produce fresh from the farm and other sustainable, local ingredients. All proceeds from the Farm Dinner support their educational programs that build the local food system. -

August 2-15

•••••• Chicago14 Day Intensive Urban Permaculture Design Workshop - Hosted by the Chicago Permaculture Guild and taught by Albert Bates Albert Bates was a civil sector representative at the Copenhagen climate conference, trying to point the world back towards a stable atmosphere using soils and trees – Garden Earth. His books include Climate in Crisis (1990), The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook (2006) and The Biochar Solution (2010). He has taught appropriate technology, natural building and ecovillage design to students from more than sixty nations. A co-founder and past president of the Global Ecovillage Network, he is presently retired and living in an ecovillage in rural Tennessee.

August 9

Fairbury - Slagel Farm Dinner with Found Kitchen & Rootstock 2:30pm Bus option available from Chicago.

August 13

•••••• ChicagoTaste of the Nation Chicago - No child should go hungry and 1 out of 5 in Illinois are. Attend this incredible event to provide fight hunger in Illinois.

August 16

Oak Park - 7th Annual Oak Park Micro Brew Review - Get to downtown Oak Park  for the largest zero-waste, craft beer event in the Midwest! Enjoy all Oak Park has to offer while sampling unique brews and delicious food on a beautiful mid-summer’s afternoon. Featuring over 150 inventive brews from the Midwest’s finest craft breweries, live music and small plates from popular local restaurants, this is one of Chicagoland’s top craft beer festivals of the summer. And, with nothing from the event going to land-fill, by coming to this event you’re doing a good thing for the planet too! Co-produced with the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild. The Micro Brew Review is a fundraiser benefiting Seven Generations Ahead and the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild. Tickets are non-refundable.

September 13

Fairbury - Slagel Farm Dinner with Three Aces, Bedford & Carriage House 2:30pm Bus option available from Chicago.




The Local Calendar 6/18/14 Meet The Market Kinmont, Support Spence Farm at BrownTrout, Moody Tongue debut

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Posted: June 18, 2014 at 8:35 am

Snap Peas Leaning ShedStrawberriesGreensGrowingPower

With the summer solstice this week, it gives you that extra bit of sunlight to take a late stroll on the beach, cocktails on the patio, time to work in the garden, take the dog for a walk, a picnic outside. The summer harvest is not even close to peaking though. I continue to write about the luxury of getting to the Green City Market on a Wednesday. It is a completely different experience than a Saturday, you have a chance to talk to the farmers, market hands and chefs who are at the market that day and just the general “summertime vibe”, pick up cooking tips, shop at a leisurely pace!! Market continue to open, the expanded Glenview Farmers  Market opens Saturday.

Farm dinners- Slagel Family Farm’s schedule  (next available dinner 7/12),  Prairie Fruit Farms  schedule(-12/4), this weekend’s summer solstice dinner to be held nearby at Frillman Farms on 6/21 by our friends at White Oak Gourmet.

Need info – Organizations in Chicagoland providing resources, classes and advocacy on local food: Illinois Stewardship AllianceAdvocates for Urban Agriculture, The Plant Chicago, Angelics Organics Learning CenterWeFarmAmerica and The Peterson Garden Project.

Want to volunteer- Growing Home has tons of volunteer opportunities every week. Do you live in the Evanston/Skokie area? The Talking Farm has volunteer work days available for students, families and corporate team building 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. EverThrive Illinois has a food and cooking education program that has a need for volunteer as well.

Here is a list of the city of Chicago markets, for those near Sugar Grove, their farmers market opens this Saturday! Now onto the busy week ahead includin: have a seasonal cocktail at Meet The Market tonight with the Green City Market Junior Board at Kinmont, tomorrow support Wine to Water at Wine Enthusiast’s Red and White Bash at Architectural Artifacts in Ravenswood, The Moody Tongue Brewing Company debuts their culinary Saturday and Monday dine with the Spence Farm Dinner at Browntrout. Check out the rest of the week ahead and more on the local calendar.

The Week’s Local Calendar

June 18

Champaign - Prairie Fruit Farms & Creamery Open House 3-6:30pm

Chicago (Lincoln Park) - Green City Market – 7am – 1pm Chef demonstration Chef Heather Terhune, Sable For anyone who has the time, visiting the market on a Wednesday is a luxury!!!!!!

Chicago - Meet The Market At Kinmont - Green City Market Junior Board – One thing is guaranteed about these gatherings of the GCMJB, the cocktails are always seasonal and superb!!!!!!!! 6:30pm – 9:30pm 419 W. Superior

Chicago( Fulton River District Near West Side)Join We Compost and the Compost Collection Network at the Rhine Hall Distillery (2010 W Fulton) 5:30-7:30 pm, for an evening of sustainable food and mingling with restauranteurs and businesses that compost. RSVP here for free! Click here to view the official flyer.

Chicago(Edgewater)Community Meeting at The Fearless Food Kitchen - They’ll be holding two community meetings at the Fearless Food Kitchen, co-hosted by 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman. All are welcome, please RSVP via the link above. Broadway Armory Kitchen, 2nd floor 5917 N. Broadway Ave.

June 19

Chicago (Ravenswood) –  Wine Enthusiast’s Red and White Bash - 7-10pm Architectural Artifacts 4325 N. Ravenswood Buy tickets now! This is an opportunity to taste and try a variety of wines from around the world and at the same time 100% of net ticketing proceeds will go to benefit Wine to Water, bringing clean water sources to impoverished nations around the globe.

ChicagoGranja Urbana Urban Farm Dinner at City Farm - 7-9pm 1204 N Clybourn Ave $100

Chicago(Downtown) - Chefs On The Grill - Welcome summer with hot grills, cool drinks, live music, and prizes at the ultimate Chicago grilling competition benefiting Common Threads and the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (IRAEF)

Chicago - Daley Plaza Farmers Market (Through Oct. 30) 7am – 3pm Katherine Ann Confections, Nichols Farms, River Valley Kitchens and more.

Chicago (Uptown) - Uptown Farmers Market at Weiss Memorial Hospital – 7am – 1pm (Through Oct) 4646 N. Marine Drive

June 20

ChampaignPrairie Fruit Farms & Creamery “Pop Up” Dinner of the season.  This month’s theme is Italian Sausage.  Come on out to the farm from 5:30 to 7:30 pm for some artisan sausages prepared by Piemonte Sausage, a new charcuterie maker in Champaign-Urbana.  NO RESERVATIONS REQUIRED. We’ll also have live music by “The Hathaways,” an acoustic, Peruvian duo.  For the full menu and all the details about our Pop Ups, visit our website.

ChicagoBike to Work Rally Daley Plaza 7am – 9am

Lake Zurich - Lake Zurich Farmers Market (Through  9/26)- 3pm – 7pm Paulus Park, 200 S Rand Road Over 25 vendors, food concessions, along with live music and family programing each week.

June 21-22

Chicago(Wicker Park) - Green Music Fest – Damen Ave Btwn North and Schiller

June 21

Chicago(Lincoln Park) – Edible Gardens Free Workshop - “Necessary Nourishment: Feeding Your Plants for Healthy Growth and Production” 9:30am – 10:15am Edible gardens at the zoo

Chicago (Lincoln Park) -  Green City Market 7am – 1pm Right across from the Hotel Lincoln Chef demonstration Martial Noguier Bistronomic 

Chicago(Hyde Park/Woodlawn)61st Farmers Market ( Through 12/13, goes indoors as of Nov.) 9am – 2pm

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

Chicago (Pilsen)Moody Tongue Brewerys First Annual Pair Up - 3-6pm Thalia Hall 1807 S. Allport Ave. Produced in collaboration with Good Beer Hunting. An afternoon featuring food pairings to preview Moody Tongue Brewery’s first line-up of beers. CTA - 5 blocks east from the 18th street Pink Line stop. The 18th street bus #18 stops at the corner of 18th and Racine, a half block east of Thalia Hall.

New!!! Chicago(Logan Square)Dirt Shop An In-Depth Composting Workshop with Nancy Klehm – 4-7pm Earnest Earth 2917 W. Armitage Register here  Join them and learn how to build your backyard compost pile!

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

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

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 SOLD OUT check with Slagel for cancellations

New!!! GlenviewOpening Day Glenview Farmers Market(Through 10/11) – Wagner Farm 1510 Wagner Road 8am – Noon Expanded with more vendors!

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

Prairie ViewWhite Oak Summer Solstice Dinner on Frillman Farms

Sugar GroveSugar Grove Farmers Market – (through 9/27) 8:00 a.m. to noon Village of Sugar Grove Municipal Building Parking Lot, 10 Municipal Drive

June 22

Chicago(Edgewater)CHICAGO MARKET #1000in100 LAUNCH PARTY - 2- 6pm Metropolis Roastery 5545 N Clark Calling all lovers of local food: the grocery store of your dreams is becoming a reality. Chicago Market, a community co-op, is hosting a family-friendly event with food, drinks, activities for kids and adults alike, and more.

Chicago (Lincoln Park) - Sunday Supper at Floriole - 6-8pm Join them one Sunday each month(7/13, 8/17) for a relaxing and tasty dinner served family-style. A children’s menu will also be provided, kids under ten pay their age!

Chicago (Pilsen) - The Pilsen Community Market  9-3pm 18th and Halsted

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

Logan SquareLogan Square Outdoor  Market  (Through 10/26) 10am–3pm

New BerlinIllinois Stewardship Alliance Summer Shindig - 3-6pm Danenberger Family Vineyards 12341 Irish Rd Join them for an evening of local food and libations, live music, and good company. Free for all members and $10 for non-members.

June 23

Chicago – (North Center)Bounty of the Midwest Dinner to Support Spence Farm - 7:30pm  10:30pm Browntrout 4111 N. Lincoln  Chef Sean Sanders of Browntrout and Chef Thomas Leavitt of White Oak Gourmet team up to create a four course dinner celebrating the bounty of Midwest corn. You’ll be joined by Chicago’s own Koval distillery with whiskey based cocktail pairings for each course. They’ll be using organic and Non GMO corn in each course. $65 Public Transportation, CTA buses # 50 & 80 or Brown Line stop at Irving Park. Metered Street Parking available on Lincoln Avenue.

Chicago - First Annual Paella CookoffMercat A La Planxa 638 South Michigan 7pm – 10pm Its starting, Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet has local chefs and culinary crusaders flexing their competitive muscle with a first annual Paella Cook-off. A portion of proceeds benefits the Illinois Restaurant Educational Foundation (IRAEF),  a non-profit organization (501 c3) dedicated to building the future of Illinois’ hospitality workforce.

LyonsLyons Community Market – 2-7pm Veteran’s Park Ogden Ave & Lawndale Ave. (every Monday through Sept. 29)

June 24

Chicago(Avondale) - The Meat Hook Meat Book Book Release BBQ w/Brooklyn butcher Tom Mylan & Rob Levitt (Butcher & Larder) Tickets for the event, which is being held on Honey Butter Fried Chicken‘s patio, are available now by calling 773-687-8280 and include food along with a copy of Mylan’s book

Chicago - MCA Farmers Market – 7am – 3pm Downtown at the MCA (Every Tuesday through Oct. 28)

New!!! Chicago -Publican Quality Meats Guest Chef Burger NightHalf Acre squares off against Revolution Brewing 6-9pm

SAVE THE DATE

June 26

Chicago(Lincoln Park)Monthly Dish at Sono Wood Fired to support Meals On Wheels Chicago

Chicago(Avondale)Eli’s Cheesecake Agriculture Speaker Series – Jim Slama Founder of Family Farmed

June 27, 28, 29

Chicago(Bucktown)Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival

June 27

Chicago - AUA Rooftop Movie & Mingle Night -7:30pm-11:30pm Weiss Memorial Hospital Rooftop Farm (On top of parking garage, SW corner of Leland & Clarendon) and find opportunities to get involved, make new connections, and enjoy local eats, drinks, entertainment and people amidst towering sunflowers, clucking chickens and veggie beds as the sun goes down and the stars come out! More info here: http://auachicago.org/2014/06/19/friday-june-27-aua-rooftop-movie-mingle-n…

June 28

*FD ChampaignPrairie Fruit Farms Dinner -1-5pm The Urbana Butcher comes to the Farm Chef Josh Boyd. He’s recently opened “The Urbana Butcher” shop in downtown Urbana. He specializes in house-made sausages, pickles and country pates.  (Sold out, availability will be determined by any cancellations)

Chicago(Bucktown) –  Potluck: Chicago @Altgeld Sawyer Corner Farm - 12pm – 8pm 2501 N. Sawyer You are welcome to bring a taste of your favorite comfort food dish and its recipe to share. The recipes will be added to the Chicago Recipe Box, a project that archives shared meals and promote further city-wide community binding. If you cannot commit to a dish, please still join us to enjoy the meal and other daylong activities. Potluck: Chicago @ ASCF is curated by artist Caitlin Ryan.

ChicagoGarden to Gourmet – Join Executive Chef Cardel Reid for a one-of-a-kind cooking experience at The Signature Room at the 95th®. Chef Reid will lead a tour of Chicago’s famous Green City Market followed by a cooking demonstration and plated lunch at The Signature Room®. 9:00am – 2:00pm $75 per person, all inclusive Call 312.280.0472 for reservations.

Chicago(Logan Square) - Fork and the Road Relaunch Party – 3pm Illinois Centennial Monument - Hit the road with Graze on a leisurely literary and snack-filled bike ride!

June 29

ChicagoFood Swap at Sur La Table 900 North Michigan 3pm

Chicago (Portage Park) - Portage Park Farmers Market ( 6/ 29, 7/20, 8/3, 17, 9/7, 21, 10/5) 10am – 2pm near the corner of Berteau and Central

June 30

New!!! Chicago(North Center) - The Stew Supper Club Hits the Road – They join forces once again with Half Acre Beer The Half Acre taproom 4257 N Lincoln They are pairing their three courses with three beers of your choosing for $30.  They asked themselves what the best food to go with beer is and two words blurted out Nacho Champs.  Two seatings get your tickets here

Check out the Forward calendar for all there is to for the summer!

 




Green City Market Announces Chef Lineup for Their Annual BBQ July 17

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Posted: June 17, 2014 at 5:48 pm

One, of the many reasons to go the Green City Market BBQ, is that it draws so many of the top chefs from around Chicago, that it is an easy way to check out the food of a restaurant that you haven’t been to yet but were curious about. The market just announced their chef lineup today, so you can read their press release below. Here is a link to tickets

GREEN CITY MARKET ANNOUNCES CHEF LINEUP FOR ANNUAL CHEF BBQ BENEFIT JULY 17

Bruce Sherman , Carrie Nahabedian, Rick Bayless and Sarah Stegner Join Nearly 100 of the City’s Finest Chefs and Farmers  to Create Best Culinary Event of The Summer

 

CHICAGO, IL, June 17, 2014–Green City Market will be hosting its 14th annual Chef BBQ Benefit  5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 17 in Lincoln Park, featuring the who’s who of Chicago’s culinary scene.  All dishes served at the BBQ feature items offered from the bounty of the market with nearly 100 chefs and restaurants creating culinary magic. In addition to food, locally made craft beer, wine, hand-crafted cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages will be available. Advance tickets are available at Green City Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays and on its website at http://www.greencitymarket.org. General admission tickets are $125; VIP tables are available for $2,500 for 10 people. Guests are encouraged to purchase tickets early as this event has sold out in past years.

“The Chef BBQ is one of the most anticipated events of the summer and a great time to celebrate all of the amazing food and talent this city has to offer,” said Sarah Stegner, co-president of the Green City Market board and chef/partner of Prairie Grass Cafe in Northbrook. “The Chef BBQ is very important to the operations of the market. It raises much needed money to support our operations. The market is funded by such donations and grants. We are thankful that it has grown to be one of Chicago’s most popular summer events. Our guests get to experience what truly ‘local farm to table’ is while helping to make it all possible.”

Exciting highlights for the BBQ include:

  • Ina Pinkney; Barry Sorkin, Smoque; and Rob Levitt, Butcher and Larder are teaming up for the first time.
  • New additions to the chef lineup this year include: Tremaine Atkinson Co-founder/Distiller and JP Doiron, CH Distillery; Giuseppe Scurato, Ceres’ Table;  Michael Sheerin, Cicchetti; Ken Carter, Gather; Nathan Sears, The Radler.
  • “The Green City Market BBQ is the not to be missed event of the year for almost every single person I know,” said Jason Hammel, chef and co-owner of Lula Café and Nightwood. “Sous chefs, pastry chefs, executive chefs, cooks, managers, artisans, farmers—so many who contribute to our great Chicago restaurant scene will be there.  Look around that night and you’ll see a community paying homage to the mission and vision of Abby Mandel, who saw so much potential in our city and the bounty of our local farms.”

    Here is the full list of some of Chicago’s top restaurants and breweries that will have a presence at the BBQ:

    676 restaurant GT Fish & Oyster Sable Kitchen & Bar
    Atwood Café Half Acre Beer Company Seasons Soda
    August Hill Winery/Illinois Sparkling Co. Haymarket Pub & Brewery Seedling
    Bar Toma Henri Sepia
    Bar&Kitchen Hickory Creek Winery Shaw’s Chicago
    Bell’s Brewery Honey Butter Fried Chicken & Sunday Dinner Club SmallBar Division
    Benny’s Chop House Intelligentsia Coffee & Kilogram Tea Smoque and Ina’s
    Big Jones KOVAL sola
    Big Star Lakeshore Beverage Sparrow Coffee Roastery
    Bistronomic/LM Restaurant Group Laughing Bird Spiaggia/Cafe Spiaggia
    Butcher & Larder Limelight Catering Table, Donkey and Stick
    Cafe des Architectes Lula Cafe Tekla, Inc
    Capriole, Inc. & Tekla, Inc. Metropolitan Brewing Terzo Piano
    Ceres’ Table Midwest Wine Selections The Bristol
    CH Distillery mk The Restaurant The Chopping Block
    Chilam Balam, Shaman by New Holland Brewing Co. The Dawson
    Cicchetti Nico Osteria The Gage
    Convito Cafe & Market Nightwood The Goddess & Grocer
    Cookies and Carnitas NoMI Kitchen The Publican
    Crop To Cup / Asi Tea North Pond Restaurant The Publican
    Roastery North Shore Distillery The Radler
    deca restaurant One Off Hospitality Group The Signature Room at the 95th
    Eli’s Cheesecake Park Grill at Millennium Park Three Floyds Brewpub
    Farmhouse Tavern Pecking Order Trenchermen
    Forbidden Root Brewery Perennial Virant Two Brothers Brewing Company
    Fox Valley Winery, Inc Piece Brewery Uncommon Ground
    Fresh Coast Distributors, Lehman’s cider, Quincy St. Distillery Prairie Grass Cafe Vera
    Frontera Grill prasino Virtue Cider
    Gather Quince at the homestead Wood
    Goose Island Beer Company Red door

     

     

    About Green City Market

    Green City Market is a 501 (c) (3) not for profit organization celebrating its 16th anniversary. The mission of Green City Market is to provide a marketplace for purchasing sustainably grown food and to educate, promote and connect farmers and local producers directly to chefs, restaurateurs and the greater Chicago community. Green City Market values education about quality food and its source. Green City Market is funded by individual donations, corporation sponsorships, grants and fund raising events

     




If It’s Thursday There Must Be an Interesting Speaker at Eli’s

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Posted: June 11, 2014 at 4:43 pm

My wife and I, being key members of a Local Family, love farmer’s markets. Before my wife took to working farmer’s markets with Tomato Mountain, we’d hit all sorts of markets. Monday, how about that market in Hinsdale. Tuesday, downtown there’s one at Federal Plaza, and if we were looking for something on a Thursday, how about that one at Eli’s Cheesecake. After all, we could shop for asparagus and eat free samples. A funny thing happened to us one time when visiting this market. There was a speaker. Honestly, I cannot tell you who was the speaker, but it was a speaker that interested my wife and I. So, we stuck around and heard him (or her). We liked it so much, we came back to hear next week’s speaker, and the speaker after that. For the whole summer, when Eli’s, and their partners at Wright College and the Chicago Agricultural High, School, put up a speaker talking about local food and such, we were there, with the students who had to be.  One week it may have been a farmer.  Another week, an advocate.  The speakers covered a range of food topics.  We all learned. I even got to speak once. Flash forward a few years. With my wife’s work routine, we no longer hit as many markets, and we rarely get a chance to see the speakers at Eli’s. Still, we love what they do, and love that they still hold the series. The poster for this year’s events is below. You may not stumble into it like me, but you’ll already know it’s there because of me.

The farmer’s market at Eli’s starts on June 14, but the speaker series does not get rolling until June 26.  Eli’s is located at 6701 W. Forest Preserve Drive, Chicago.  There’s plenty of parking.

speaker series




Time Again for Our Weekly Harvest of Eat Local Links

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Posted: June 9, 2014 at 5:18 pm

 

This is a very serious problem for local cheese.

Not all farmer’s markets have to be the same.

We’ve kinda known this for a while.

Maps are the new lists–not really local but still pretty interesting.

Learn something these upcoming Thursdays.

Eat healthy blogs.

Not many food miles here.

Eat local challenge in the place where they were eating local before they knew they were eating local.

Eat local space coast.

Finally, shameless stealing of links from Civil Eats.




Wine To Water™, Support the Right to Clean Water and Taste Top Wine Picks At The Same Time

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Posted: June 9, 2014 at 1:47 pm

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There is nothing that beats tasting different wines to learn more about wine and expand your palate. But of course, do you really need an excuse? Here is one anyways, Wine Enthusiast is coming to town with a wine tasting of their favorite top wines at the Red and White Bash at Architectural Artifacts in Ravenswood on Thursday June 19th.

100% of net proceeds is going to Wine To Water™ a non-profit focused on providing clean water & sanitation to people in need around the world. Nearly 800 million people in the world today lack access to adequate water and 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation. They are devoted to fighting this epidemic. Wine symbolizes fortune in our society. Their goal is to give the fortunate population an opportunity to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.

There is quite a cross selection of wines to taste, unfortunately, no Michigan wines, but maybe next year! First off, all the wines are top rated by the Wine Enthusiast. There are wines from Italy(Piedmont, Tuscany, Umbria, Franciacorta, Sicily, Trento Aldige), Spain(Rioja, Valencia, Rueda)Portugal, Argentina(Uco Valley,Mendoza), Chile(Rapel and Maipo Valley), France( Provence and Southern Rhone-Tavel Rose) and the U.S(Napa, Paso Robles), South Africa. Then there are some areas that you don’t always see at wine events, Israeli producers including Barkan, Carmel, Recanati and Yatir, wines from the Monticello wine trail in Virginia including Barboursville Vineyards, Octagon and Lovingston with a pinotage. So although all the wines are not necessarily local, this is a local event raising money for a terrific cause. Maybe next year Wine Enthusiast will look at some of the Leelanau and southern Michigan wineries as potential candidates for what sounds to be a really fun event if the pictures from last year are any indication!!

 

 




We Need You To Sign This Petition Today!!! Armchair Advocacy for Good Cheese!

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Posted: June 5, 2014 at 3:23 pm

Breaking news: After I wrote this piece on armchair advocacy, the news broke that the FDA has banned the use of wooden boards to age cheese. This is a technique that has been used for centuries in Europe and kind of puts the “artisanal” in cheese. The American Cheese Society issued this position statement on the matter. Here is a petition circulating about it. If you sign anything, sign this one and sign it today!!!!

summertime

It’s summertime, time for beach/porch chairs, BBQ’s, farm dinners, gardens and more. In just 2 minutes you can take action to change the food system, I call it “armchair advocacy”, you can call it “porch chair” if you’d like or “beach chair”. I happen to like the alliteration but that is my word nerdiness.

Some of you may already be on these lists but if you aren’t, sites like Food and Water Watch always have electronic petitions under their “Take Action ” header that  you can sign on major food and environmental issues. This week the headline petition is:
Congress: End the Overuse of Antibiotics on Factory Farms Antibiotics are for sick people, not for healthy livestock. But factory farms are giving drugs to healthy animals — and breeding dangerous superbugs in the process. Sign the petition to ban the unnecessary use of antibiotics on livestock.

Here is another one, care about bees? Save Bees From a Highly Toxic Pesticide on MoveOn.org. - As a citizen concerned about our nation’s health and food security, I urge you to deny Dow AgroScience’s application to expand the registration of the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor so that it can be sprayed on corn, alfalfa, oats, and several significant and widely grown crops.

Signing an Epetition is quicker than reading this post and you have taken action. How effective is this kind of action? That you can debate over a cocktail but what is true is that it is very easy to do and it does make a statement to your legislators and it is better to do something than nothing.




Be a Local Food Star Today!

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Posted: June 4, 2014 at 10:58 am

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You can be a local food star today by becoming a member of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance. This year marks the 40th Anniverary of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance. They have been working to support family farmers, promote conservation and land stewardship, and revitalize communities and economies through local food and sustainable agriculture.

Particularly in Chicago, we are so fortunate to have many effective, vibrant organizations working on improving the local food system, so choosing where to channel your donation dollars can be hard. The Illinois Stewardship Alliance is on the ground, actively working, especially on the painstaking process of legislative issues in Springfield that can affect all of us for many years to come. So if you find yourself frustrated with the status quo, distressed at the direction the food world is going, you can do something about it by donating to the Illinois Stewardship Alliance who works tirelessly on all these local food issues. Becoming a member takes 2 minutes so do it today!

It is always best to be actively involved but if you want to do something, today, be a change maker!The Illinois Stewardship Alliance is one of the absolutely best places that you can feel good about putting your dollars to make a difference in the local food system. Be a star today!!!!

(The Illinois Stewardship Alliance is currently running a membership drive through June 30th. New members and current members that recruit friends, family and colleagues to join will be entered into a drawing for a number of great prizes, including a one month meat CSA from Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm ($90 value) and Patagonia luggage. We are not participating in this contest at the Local Beet, but you can!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

 

 




The Local Calendar 6/4/14 What Is Your Favorite Market? Piggy Benefit at Big Jones Wednesday, June 4th, 2014
Only One Day Off from a Weekly Harvest of Eat Local Links Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014
Local Flavors – Downstate Farm-to-Table Series of Lunch and Dinner Events Kicks off Today Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014