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Archive for the ‘Going green’ Category

Citizens for Conservation is celebrating its 50th Anniversary and CFC’s 25th Annual Native Plant, Tree, and Shrub Sale.

Order online March 1 – April 18

Order pickup appointments May 6 – 8 – Covid-19 safety protocols will be in place  

Full details and links HERE.

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The pandemic has led to 20 million new gardeners and an increased demand for seeds and plants produced by the Ball Horticultural Co. in West Chicago. Grown from a tiny seed, this SteakHouse tomato is ready to eat. – Courtesy of Ball Horticultural Co.

Still in the throes of the deadly coronavirus and the pain of pandemic restrictions, we gaze across the bleak, snow-covered tundra of suburbia and imagine what spring might feel like if it mustered the courage to arrive.

That hope of spring has been in the air for months at Ball Horticultural Co in West Chicago.

“The seed we harvested around the world gets processed here and then packaged, and shipped to commercial greenhouses in early December,” says Katie Rotella, spokeswoman for Ball’s collection of breeders, research and development teams, seed and vegetative producers, and distribution companies in 20 countries across six continents.

“An estimated 20 million new gardeners were cultivated in the climate of pandemic restrictions,” Rotella says. “We had a scary time in March when many garden centers shut down. Once they were deemed essential businesses and reopened, sales took off. It was a very good year.”

A desire to eat fresh, healthy foods, avoid trips to the grocery store, save money, reconnect with nature, add some color to your surroundings, and develop a hobby you can do while stuck at home all played into the growth in gardening.

For many folks adhering to the pandemic warnings, there were no trips to restaurants and bars, no vacations, no nights at the theater, no ballgames to attend, no amateur sports teams, no music concerts, and not even trips to the office.

Read more here.

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The Environmental Committee meets this afternoon after nearly a year of inactivity.  This will only be the fourth meeting Trustee Paula Jacobsen has scheduled since she took office in 2017, and the first three were called to discuss a single topic of  “Bee City USA.” 

Since Jacobsen is running for reelection, she must think she needs to have another meeting about bees to put on her “qualifications” for running. She has, however, added the topic of the “Blue Star Memorial” to the agenda, but that is for obvious reasons.  

You see, her property is adjacent to the Christ The Rock Church, which was granted a special use permit last night to operate a religious institution at 195 South Sutton Road, where the memorial is located. Not very subtle timing, is it?

And while we’re at it, aren’t there other topics that could be addressed by her committee?  Apparently Jacobsen doesn’t see the need or is not inclined to put forth the effort.   

A copy of her agenda can be viewed here. To listen in on the meeting remotely, dial 508-924-1464.

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Picture yourself on the Metra train heading south from Barrington into the city. There’s a lady reading the new James Patterson novel. A guy flipping through the Chicago Tribune. Another guy reading, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan.

The train pulls into Ogilvie and the three people grab their bags, head to the station. They make their way to three different office buildings downtown.

For all three of them, this morning is about to be jam-packed with emails and meetings. Conference calls and deadlines. A month from now, the James Patterson lady has a two-week vacation. The newspaper guy is about to become a granddad.

The guy reading Michael Pollan’s book? He’s about to purchase four Angus beef calves, 25 laying hens, and 25 broiler chickens to raise in his backyard. 

“The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” was a Christmas present Cliff received from his left-wing sister out in California. Cliff devoured the book in a week and especially connected with the middle section of the book where Pollan spends a week at Joel Salatin’s grass-based livestock farm in Virginia.

“I started doing some research on Salatin and discovered that he had written a number of books on livestock farming, including a book titled You Can Farm,'” Cliff writes in his origin story blog. “At that time we were doing pretty well and had purchased a large house on almost 9 acres of open land in suburban Barrington Hills. However, in spring 2011, I started a new insurance job from my home office, which saved me 3 hours per day of time commuting. With a head full of ideas picked up from the You Can Farm book, I decided to use that time to start raising food for my family and friends on our acreage.”

You know when a neighbor comes by asks for a cup of sugar? Cliff’s version: Neighbors were placing orders for beef, eggs, and chicken – all from his backyard.

Read more in Chicago Now here.

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Autumn will be here soon, and that means it’s a good time to think about adding trees or shrubs to your yard.

“Planting them in early fall gives their roots several weeks to get established before the first frost,” said Julie Janoski, Plant Clinic manager at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle. In September and early October, the air will cool off, but the soil will still be warm enough for roots to grow. “Growing roots is the most important task for a new plant,” Janoski said.

You can plant any species of tree or shrub in early fall as long as it was grown in a container. Most plants sold in garden centers are container-grown. Fall planting may be more risky for trees or shrubs that are sold with their roots wrapped in burlap, as they were grown in a field and dug up for sale.

“Those plants lost the majority of their root system when they were dug out of the ground,” Janoski said. “They will have a better chance to recover if they’re planted in spring and have the entire season to grow.”

This is especially important for some kinds of trees, such as many oaks, maples, hawthorns and magnolias. Consult the Plant Clinic for advice before planting a balled-and-burlapped tree in autumn.

Read more from the Chicago Tribune here.

Pre-ordering of Citizens for Conservation native tree and shrub plants runs through September 1. Plant pick up will be by appointment September 19 – 20.

Visit CFC’s website here for more information.

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Poison ivy leaves are easy to miss among those of other plants. This poison ivy vine, with groups of three leaflets, is climbing a tree trunk along with Virginia creeper. (Morton Arboretum)

In the sanctuary of your yard, danger may lurk in the form of poison ivy.

This woody vine, which can cause a nasty rash on contact with bare skin, is often found in home landscapes, said Julie Janoski, manager of the Plant Clinic at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle.

“It’s easy to miss among the other green leaves,” she said. Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) can grow as a bush, a low seedling that is ankle- or knee-high, or a vine climbing a tree or a fence. Yards often are a good poison ivy habitat because, in nature, this native plant tends to flourish among the undergrowth at the edge of the woods in the eastern U.S. — an environment very similar to a typical suburban landscape.

The rash is an allergic reaction to an oil called urushiol that is present in every part of the plant. “That’s what causes the blisters and the itch,” Janoski said. Some people don’t get the allergic reaction, but for the majority who do, it’s a miserable experience that can linger for weeks.

Only contact with the oil — not contact with the rash — will cause a reaction, but it doesn’t take much.

You might want to read more here before venturing out in your property in shorts.

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Board Members of the Cook County Forest Preserves Conservation & Policy Council
Front row: Terry Guen, Laurel Ross, Peter Ellis. Back row: Commissioner Larry Suffredin, Wendy Paulson, Michael DeSantiago, Sylvia Jenkins, Mark Templeton, Emily Harris, Arnold Randal, Commissioner Stanely Moore. Not pictured: Rob Castaneda.

Nature has never been more important than it is right now. People are looking to it to reduce stress, stay healthy and find solace. Many in the Chicago region are flocking to our greatest natural asset, the Forest Preserves of Cook County. We applaud President Preckwinkle, General Superintendent Arnold Randall and his team for their commitment to keep the preserves open just when they are needed most and when many other public spaces are closed. At the same time, we are troubled by reports of illegal and unacceptable behavior by a very few — crowding, going off trail, picking wildflowers, trampling sensitive vegetation, letting dogs run rampant.

We are so glad people are discovering — or rediscovering — these extraordinary landscapes and the more than 350 miles of trails they include. The ability to be active and outside with family members is a blessing. But the privilege of free access to the Forest Preserves carries a responsibility, too, especially in this time of extreme and necessary social guidelines.

That means respecting the space of other visitors, obeying preserve rules and honoring the habitats of animals and plants for whom the preserves are home. It’s an opportune time to visit a less well known preserve — maybe a place you’ve never been before — or to visit at a less crowded time. Check FPDCC.com before you go.

We invite you not only to visit, but to join us in protecting and restoring the natural habitats of the preserves. (See, for example: https://fpdcc.com/volunteer/ or https://northbranchrestoration.org). Once we emerge from this challenging time and restrictions are lifted, consider joining thousands of volunteers who give their time, energy and expertise to help make nature in our preserves even more healthy, diverse and welcoming.

Board Members of the Cook County Forest Preserves Conservation & Policy Council

Wendy Paulson, Chairman

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Restoration efforts known as the Barrington Greenway Initiative in a 14,000-acre area covering portions of Cook, Lake and McHenry counties could get a boost through a pending agreement between seven agencies, including the Cook and Lake county forest preserve districts. The Cuba Marsh is among the preserves that would be expected to benefit from a new agreement meant to speed restoration and preservation efforts in areas covered by the Barrington Greenway Initiative. (Daily Herald File Photo, 2018)

You may have visited forest preserves in southwestern Lake County, northwestern Cook County or a conservation area in southeast McHenry County for a calming respite from the din of daily life.

Cuba Marsh, Spring Lake and Silver Creek in those respective geographic areas, for example, provide different experiences and getaway opportunities.

What you may not know is those and other protected areas in the region all are pieces of a much larger whole known as the Barrington Greenway Initiative.

Now seven agencies, including the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Lake County Forest Preserve District and McHenry County Conservation District, are working on an agreement to speed up restoration of more than 14,000 acres of prairies, oak savannas, wetlands and woodlands that comprise the Greenway.

Read more here.

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With Palatine farmers market set to open Saturday, organizers ‘feel the pressure of doing this right’

Dan Pilguy, a Palatine Farmers Market organizer and owner of Arlington Crest Farms in the village, will be present for Saturday’s opening with a selection of organic vegetables, herbs and fruit. He expressed confidence the Palatine market has the necessary regulations in place to operate safely.

Organizers say Palatine’s long-running summer farmers market will serve as a test of sorts when it opens for the season Saturday under restrictions aimed at operating safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Facial coverings or masks, social distancing and a prohibition of food sampling will be among the measures taken at the outdoor market, which will run from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. in downtown Palatine’s Metra station parking lot.

Only vendors will be allowed to handle products before a sale, and anyone feeling ill should stay away, organizers say.

Palatine’s summer farmers market will run in Metra commuter parking lot B every Saturday through Oct. 31.

Read more here.

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Maybe it’s because you’re bored while stuck at home. Or worried about not having enough money to buy food. Or now shiver at the thought of buying produce other people have touched.

For whatever reason, seed companies are reporting record orders this spring: People want to grow their own vegetables.

To keep seeds of hope from becoming weeds of despair, here are tips for first-timers, from University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Ken Johnson.

Read more here.

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