Thursday, May 29, 2008

Impact Tip - Farm Shares

A farm share is when you invest in a local, typically family owned farm and pay in advance for produce and meat/poultry. Basically you have your local AND organic produce and meat delivered to you or a local stop weekly. This is typically less expensive than the grocery stores and supports locally owned farms. This means you have less food miles and you are supporting the local economy. The food is fresher and has made less impact on the environment.

This is SUCH a good idea if it works for you. My friend in Portland has done this for awhile and is very happy. I also have other friends who have tried this and been happy. One suggestion is to share it with a friend because you may end up with more than you need.

Here are a few places to start with in the Chicago area, if you are somewhere else just do a search for Farm Shares in your area or ask at the local farmers market.

Angelic Organics
1547 Rockton | Caledonia, IL 61011 | 815-389-2746 |
Taggart Siegel's 2006 documentary The Real Dirt on Farmer John has made Angelic Organics the most recognizable CSA in the Chicago region. John Peterson's biodynamic farm offers two basic CSA subscriptions and about a dozen drop-off locations for its 1,350 members. A 20-week vegetable share, running from mid-June through the end of October, is $580; a 12-week vegetable share, running from mid-August through the end of October, is $380. Fruit shares and a winter share -- vegetable boxes delivered every two weeks in November and December -- are also available. The Angelic Organics Learning Centers in Caledonia and south-side Woodlawn offer hands-on learning opportunities throughout the year.

Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm
1985 N. 3609th | Ottawa, IL 61350 | 815-431-9544 |
Cedar Valley is a third-generation farm that also raises grass-fed livestock. A 24-week vegetable delivery costs $475. A three-month meat delivery costs $240 and includes enough pork, poultry, and beef for 12 to 15 meals. Drop-offs are at the Logan Square Sunday farmers' market, an Oak Park member's home, and two midweek downtown locations.

Genesis Growers
Vicki Westerhoff | 8373 E. 3000 South | Saint Anne, IL 60964 | 815-953-1512 |
Farmer Vicki Westerhoff was diagnosed with a serious health problem more than 15 years ago and started growing her own food when traditional medicine didn't work. Now in her ninth year of farming and her fifth year with a CSA, she credits organic food with turning her life around and aims to produce a varied, well-rounded delivery designed for healthy eating. Her impressive schedule spans 38 weeks, with drop-offs in Chicago, Oak Park, Forest Park, Wheaton, Mokena, and Highland Park. A nine-week spring share, running from the first week of April through the end of May, is $220. The 22-week summer share is $760 and runs from June through the end of October; a smaller summer share costs $520. A nine-week fall share, starting in early November and running through Christmas, costs $170. She'll give you a discount on a combined three-season plan if you enroll by March 15.

Grass Is Greener Gardens
Rich Horbaczewski | W8473 Smock Valley | Monroe, WI 53566 | 608-966-1128 |
Natural lamb and free-range chickens are what they grow at Grass Is Greener Gardens. Orders generally include two whole chickens and two pounds of lamb chops, plus a beef roast and two pounds of ground beef and steak from neighboring Marr's Valley View Farms. Meat is packed and frozen in USDA-inspected facilities and delivered in coolers (on which a $30 deposit is required) between 6 and 7:30 PM Mondays at 1456 W. Fletcher. Biweekly six-month shares are $1,320; half shares are $660. A biweekly poultry-only share is $660.

Green Earth Institute
10S404 Knoch Knolls | Naperville, IL 60565 | 630-664-5681 |
The Green Earth Institute is a nonprofit demonstration and learning center launched in 2002. The farm expects to be certified organic this year. There's no delivery, but pickup days are Tuesdays and Fridays; subscribers are encouraged to combine their orders. Twenty-week shares, running from mid-June through late October, are $575; biweekly shares are available for $310. Volunteering is encouraged.

Growing Home
1325 S. Wabash, Suite 205 | Chicago, IL 60605 | 312-435-8601 |
Growing Home is a nonprofit that provides job training through organic farming. Vegetable shares are grown on a ten-acre certified-organic farm in downstate Marseilles as well as at two south-side Chicago locations. Pickup sites are near Beth Emet Synagogue, 1224 Dempster in Evanston; Saint Gertrude's Catholic Church, 1420 W. Granville; Wood Street Urban Farm, 5814 S. Wood; and Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ, 615 W. Wellington. Produce will also be available Saturdays at the Green City Market, 1750 N. Clark, and Thursdays at Harper Court, 52nd and Harper in Hyde Park. A 20-week share, running from June 11 through October 22, is $460. Four-week spring and fall season extenders are available for $80. A May 1 benefit at the Garfield Park Conservatory will include music, a raffle, an auction, and food prepared by local chefs.

Growing Power's Rainbow Farmers Cooperative
1741 N. Western | Chicago, IL 60647 | 773-347-1374 |
Growing Power, an urban farm-training program, has baskets of conventional sustainable produce available year-round for $15 a week ($8 for half baskets); family-size boxes are also available for $26. There are 12 drop-off sites throughout the city, including the Garfield Park Conservatory on Saturdays (for orders placed by Monday). Subscribers are encouraged to prepay and volunteers are welcome.

Home Grown Wisconsin
Amanda Raster | 313 W. Beltline Hwy., Suite 37 | Madison, WI 53715 | 608-333-1227 |
This cooperative of 21 certified-organic farms guarantees a variety of fruits and vegetables in every basket. Subscriber-only events include strawberry picking and harvest festivals. A 20-week share, running from June 20 to October 31, is $575; a 10-week half share with biweekly delivery is $325. Biweekly dozen-egg shares are available for $39. Drop-off locations are 5061 N. Claremont, 2418 W. Grace, 737 W. Gordon Terrace, 1815 W. Thomas, 5056 N. Ravenswood, 2834 N. Halsted, Luther Memorial Church (2500 W. Wilson), and 1916 Lee in Evanston.

King's Hill Farm
Tom Ulick | 19370 Hwy. G | Mineral Point, WI 53565 | 773-307-3931 |
King's Hill delivers year-round, growing its own vegetables from July to October and purchasing from other growers and distributors the rest of the year. A membership fee of $60 entitles you to buy a full share (a bushel) at $33 a week or a half share at $22. Customers may pay by the week; home delivery is an extra $6.50. Chicago pickup days and locations are Saturdays at True Nature Health Foods, 6034 N. Broadway, and Fridays and Saturdays at Quad's Gym, 3727 N. Broadway, and the Living Room Cafe, 806 E. 64th.

M's Organic Farm
MM Graff | 14101 Washington | Woodstock, IL 60098 | 815-338-8148 |>
M's offers a limited number of shares for Sunday pickup at the Logan Square Farmers Market. A nine-week vegetable share is available for $225, $252 with eggs.

Montalbano Farms
Rob Montalbano | | 630-882-8008
Using land leased from Growing Home in Marseilles, Montalbano offers an 18-week CSA share delivered Sundays to the Logan Square Farmers Market starting in June. Each box feeds one to two people and costs $320. A family-size subscription costs $480. He'll also offer organic seedlings at the market for do-it-yourselfers.

Mother Earth Organic Farm
Gray Wiedhern | Naperville-Plainfield Rd. | Plainfield, IL 60544 | 815-254-0211 |
The CSA service at this ten-acre farm, now in its third season, came about after many requests. Members are asked to volunteer if able and pick up orders at the farm site, just south of Naperville. A limited 15 shares are available at $300 and run from May to October; half shares are available at $175.

New Leaf Natural Grocery
1261 W. Loyola | Chicago, IL 60626 | 773-743-0400 |
New Leaf, a grocery store and wholesaler focused on affordable organics and local producers, offers boxes for pickup 360 days a year; providers include Home Grown Wisconsin. Delivery and drop-off are available within a limited area for an additional fee. Prices range from $15 to $33 per box depending on size and type; you must order three days in advance.

On-the-Fly Farms
Union Pier, MI |
A project of the Chicory Center, a grassroots Chicago organization advocating for a "poor people's food justice movement," On-the-Fly grows vegetables and procures free-range eggs, fruit, and pickles from low-income local farmers. A subscription also funds one donated box a month for a Chicago community organization. Previous deliveries went to the Puerto Rican Cultural Center's stand at the Home Grown market in Humboldt Park; this year's location has yet to be announced. A 15-week delivery starts in June and costs $300.

Prospera Farm
Leo Sances and Michael Zink | W3566 County Rd. E | Berlin, WI 54923 | 920-369-8747 |
Prospera Farm specializes in heirloom and gourmet vegetables, and this year it's offering home deliveries in Chicago. A 15-week share, running from June to October, is $435 and feeds two; a biweekly half share is $205 and a 15-week family share is $460. An additional ten-week egg delivery is $40 a dozen or $20 a half dozen. Nonsubscribers may purchase boxes once a month for $35 through Sprout Home (, 745 N. Damen, 312-226-5950; pickup is the last Tuesday of the month, June through November.

Sandhill Organics
Peg and Matt Sheaffer | 32140 N. Harris | Grayslake, IL 60030 |
In addition to selling shares, Sandhill Organics hawks its goods Saturdays at the Oak Park Farmers' Market. Farm events will be planned for this summer and volunteer opportunities are available. Drop-offs are Thursday afternoons at 220 S. Laflin in Chicago and at Buzz Cafe, 905 S. Lombard, in Oak Park. A summer vegetable share runs from June 14 to October 11 and costs $490; spring, fall/winter, fruit and flower shares are also available.

Scotch Hill Farm
Tony and Dela Ends | 910 Scotch Hill | Brodhead, WI 53520 | 608-897-4288 |
Scotch Hill Farm, in its 13th season, is moving toward organic certification. In addition to produce it also sells goat-milk soaps, and a limited quantity of eggs is available. Subscriptions run 20 weeks, from mid-June through mid-October, for $510. A ten-week flower share is available for $80. Deliveries are Saturdays at the Oak Park Farmers' Market; Provenance Food and Wine, 2528 N. California; and Berry Memorial United Methodist Church, 4754 N. Leavitt. Reuse and recycling of grocery bags is encouraged. One farm visit a year is requested.

Sweet Earth Organic Farm
Renee Randall | P.O. Box 323 | Wauzeka, WI 53826 | 608-875-6026 | |
Randall, an organic farmer since 1974, has been running a CSA off her 120-acre farm for six years. Full shares, running about 20 weeks, cost $485 and start in late June; a partial share is $375. Pickup times and dates have yet to be announced, but six Friday Chicago sites are targeted: Addison at Austin, Belmont at Ashland, Montrose at Pulaski, Chicago at Damen, Lincoln Park at North and Clark, and 19th at Halsted.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Meredith and Rhett

Meredith and Rhett are two actors from LA who did an amazing job scripting their own ceremony and with the amount of explosive energy and love they shared, it is no surprise that they will be very successful.

The ceremony and reception were at the Elgin Country Club. The DJ was Sounds Abound.

I don't think they could have been more excited to see each other, now I feel bad I made her walk so far down the path :) Molly's capture of one of the adorable ring bearers... Molly's shot of the kiss from a different perspective. One of the advantages of two photographers! Sneaking into the pool for one last shot :)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Danielle and Bola

Danielle and Bola showed up with a soccer ball and heels, needless to say I was impressed :) We had fun around the arboretum and those giant insects are worth checking out!

Impact Tip - Cat curfews

Nobody loves cats more than me so I post this as a cat lover and a wildlife lover in general! Cats are responsible for millions of bird deaths and this is even more true now during the migration times than other times of the year. There are two things you can do to cut down on this without keeping them inside all day.

1. Keep your cats indoors for the couple of hours surrounding sunrise and sunset, this is when birds are most active and killed. Migrating songbirds are on the decline and when they stop and rest in our yards, they are very susceptible to cat predation so keeping them indoors during this time is a big help!

2. Put a fitted collar with a bell or sonic device with a quick release to give the birds the notice and a chance to escape.

These two measures can reduce bird and small mammal deaths by 40%!

Bird diversity is important for many ecological reasons like pollination, ecosystem health, and insect control.

The earth thanks you! :)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Michelle and Glen

Michelle and Glen are completely wonderful together and I am so happy they chose us to share in their special day!

I was also so excited to get to see many of my favorite people in the wedding business including the fabulous Drew Fortson, who played the first dance and the cocktail hour, and who many of my previous couples are now familiar with :) As well as LeVern from LAD4 Creations for video and Vince from A Touch of Music for DJ. The reception was at the Marriott in Hoffman Estates.

And two Molly picked out, I like the way she used the elements in that group shot :)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Impact Tip - Chicago Green Festival

This weekend is Chicago's Green Festival at Navy Pier. Featured are 300 eco-friendly exhibits, 150 speakers, a film festival, a farmers market, yoga classes, live music, and good eats.

Chicago Green Festival; May 17-18; Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave. at the lakefront. Tickets, $15/adult; $10/bike- and CTA-riders. David Bach, talk and book signing, Sat. 3 p.m., Grand Ballroom.

I found this information from Ideal Bite, if you print off this tip from their site you can save $5 on admission.

This is a great way to get a lot of information on how to make an impact in all the areas of your life!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Pamela and Dave

Pamela and Dave had an amazingly fun filled day with all the essence of a Vrai wedding, true moments, real emotion, and natural beauty. I couldn't be happier for them and their new life together!

This pastor was hilarious, he came out to have the marriage certificate signed and said, "We need a hard surface to write on, how about that crane" Sounded good to me! :) A somewhat sticky version of lady and the tramp! And two of Molly's favs