Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Lena Farmers Market

Features locally-grown fruits and vegetables!

Downtown Lena Parking Lot

Days Open:
May 30 to October 10, 2009
8:00 am - 11:00 am

Contact Info:
Nikki Keltner

Monday, June 1, 2009

DIY: Ease the Burn of a Sunburn

Ever spending several hours out gardening and realize (too late, alas) that you've overdone it? Have you come inside from a pleasant outdoor afternoon only to realize that you're as red as a lobster? And twice as cranky? Well, that happened to me over the weekend.

As I came in from a pleasant afternoon, I noticed the deep dusky red of my shoulders, upper arms and chest. Ouch! But before I completely resigned myself to a week of discomfort and sleepless nights, my eyes alit on my aloe. Now, I have a big pot of aloe and normally it just stands around looking good.

However yesterday I decided to see if aloe works as well on sunburns as it does regular burns.

I quickly sliced off a couple of stalks, butterflied them and coated my upper body with aloe juice. I was able to coat most of the burns, missing only a few spots on the back of my neck.

The verdict? It worked! Although I'm still red, I have very little or no discomfort on the skin that was coated in aloe. In fact, the only area that's tender are those spots on the back of my neck that I missed in the first place.

The moral of the story? Aloe is a wonderful plant. It thrives in benign neglect and it repays the favor of occasional watering with wondrous relief!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Friday, May 29, 2009

Growing Home

Harry Rhodes
1325 S. Wabash #205
Chicago, Cook County, IL 60605

Growing Home's Les Brown Memorial Farm in Marseilles, IL has 10 acres of total land, with about 3.5 acres in cultivation. This land was acquired from the federal government as federal surplus property. The mission of Growing Home is to provide job training for homeless and low-income people and create employment opportunities within the context of an organic agriculture business. Growing Home also operates a 1/2 acre urban farm at the Su Casa Catholic Worker on the south side of Chicago. Growing Home is very active in advocating for urban agriculture in Chicago.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Recipe: Roasted Asparagus Four Ways!

Nothing captures the essence of springtime like tender, fresh asparagus.  Asparagus grows wild in many parts of the United States and can often be found minding its own business by the side of roads and interstates!  It's one of the easiest and tastiest ways to starting 'eating wild'.  The recipe below is a simple and delicous way to serve this marvelous little gem.  The spears taste great with the standard recipe, but pesto or hollandaise sauce provides an intriguing twist.  Let me know what you think!

2 bunches of asparagus, preferably thick trimmed and pelled if needed
2 tbsp dry white wine or dry vermouth
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.  In a large shallow baking pan toss together the asparagus, wine, salt and pepper to taste and olive oil until the asparagus spears are evenly coated.

Roast the asparagus until the spears are browned in spots and are just tender-crisp, about 10 minutes. Do not overcook.

Transfer the asparagus to a platter and drizzle with the lemond juice to taste. Serve at once or try the following variations:

with Shaved Parmesan
Drizzle the hot roasted aparaa=gus with lemon juice as directed, then, using a cheese shaver or paring knife shave -2 oz of Parmesan, Romano or dry Jack cheese over the asparagus.

with Pesto
Omit the lemon juice. Toss the hot roasted asparagus with 1-2 tbsp pesto or to taste.  Serve at once.

with Hollandaise
Drizzle the hot roasted asparagus with lemon juice as directed,then serve it with hollandaise sauce.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Orangeville Farmers Market

Orangeville Farmers Market

Open to all farmers/vendors, no cost, first-come, first serve for space. Seasonal produce, crafts, baked goods.


Saturdays July 4 to October 10, 2009
8:00 am - 12:00 pm

Contact Info:

Cindy Rackow

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Polls: What's Your Favorite Feature?

CC Angus Beef

Natural, grass-fed beef.  The animals are fed good forage in rotating grazing, stockpiling, and presenting bales. They are raised humanely without the use of hormones, growth implants, or antibiotics.

Sold through a variety of outlets and direct on the farm.  Also available at the Geneva IL Green Market.

Don and Marilyn Dralle
18468 Cty. O
Mineral Point, Wisconsin 53565

18468 County Road O
Mineral Point, Wi 53565

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Monday, May 25, 2009

DIY: Homemade Insecticide

Have occasional troubles with bugs but don't trust harsh chemical pesticides that are a hazard to friendly insects, or yourself? Try these recipes!

  • 1 gal. of warm water,
  • 1 cup of instant coffee crystals,
  • a squirt of dish soap(not detergent),
  • several dashes of tobasco sauce.
Spray both sides of leaves, the stems and soil surrounding plants. You can cut this recipe just as you would reduce any recipe. Refresh it the next year with a little tobasco sauce.

If you make kess than a gallon you could just throw it awy and start new in the Spring.

Do Not Use Instant Powder Coffee; it won't disolve well.

The soap is a surfacant which helps insecticide stick to the leaves. I think the key may be the tobasco sauce. Good Luck.


  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/3 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1/4 tsp liquid dish soap
Add all to a 16 oz spray bottle, fill the rest with water and shake well before each use.
You will be amazed at how fast this knocks out unwanted pests.....before your eyes!
I would suggest you do this very early in the morning as to not burn your plants in the heat of the day.
You have to repeat this as you see the return of the unwanted pest, but it is safe, easy and works great ... I have not found any insect that it will not kill, with direct contact. I also see that it keeps them away for a period, depending on water and rain fall.This is safe and can be applied same day as harvest, just rinse well.


  • Garlic Concentrate (this can be bought at gardening supply stores)
  • Water
Boil a pot of water on the stove and mix in garlic.

Another option is to use certain kinds of plants strategically to drive unwanted bugs from your more delicate varieties. Called 'companion planting', this approach aims to leverage plants' natural properties for use in your garden. Popular companion plants are marigolds, 4 o'clocks, nasturtiums, garlic, borage and tansies.

Monday, May 18, 2009

DIY: Build Your Own Spice Rack

Like the clean minimalist look of the spice rack above? Check out the original post at Apartment Therapy.

Here are the instructions:

How To Build a Spice Rack Out of Vinyl Molding

• The molding came from Home Depot. It's plastic - almost like a Styrofoam - and square. It's easy to cut in a miter box. (I'm always on the lookout for stuff like that.)

• Molding specs: "Blind Stop White Vinyl Never Rot" cellular vinyl moulding. 5/8" by 5/8". $5.15 per 8'. SKU 246871.

• I made ten 2-foot pieces and three 22-inch pieces.

• With little white brads, I nailed 5 of the cross pieces at equal intervals on the uprights (just far enough apart for the jars). I then nailed 5 more cross pieces onto the existing cross pieces to make the shelf wide enough for the spice jars. I'd originally intended just one piece but the resulting shelf was too narrow for the jars. Then I nailed it to the wall, again with brads (it's very light).

• The jars are from Cost Plus originally but I've also found them at Bed Bath and Beyond. I alphabetize them roughly (they're out of order all the time) and also label the tops with Avery removable round stickers. Mainly I just pick 'em by sight when I'm cooking.

Friday, May 15, 2009



Bonnie Ogle & Paul St John
42W352 Prairie PO Box 484
Sugar Grove, IL 60554
Kane County

One of the proud vendors at the Geneva Green Market. Grandma's Farm Fresh Eggs is also a part of the Erehwon Farm CSA.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Recipe: Strawberry Onion Salad


Strawberry Onion Salad

SUBMITTED BY: Chuck Iannuzzi

"Strawberries on a bed of red leaf lettuce, garnished with red onions for a stunning color combination. An unusual sounding recipe that turns people off until they taste it, then they love it."

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
1 head red leaf lettuce, rinsed and torn
1 red onion, thinly sliced

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream, red wine vinegar, sugar, milk and poppy seeds. Set aside.
  2. Divide the lettuce into 6 individual salad bowls. Sprinkle strawberries over the lettuce, and garnish with onion slices. Pour dressing over salads just before serving.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Freeport Farmers Market

Locally grown only, handmade bakery items,fresh eggs,plants,herbs,artisan breads

May 16 to October 17, 2009
Saturdays 8:00 am - 11:00 am

721 W. South St
Freeport, IL 61032
CVS and Old Eagles parking lot

Contact Information:
Beth Nagel

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Genesis Growers

Genesis Growers provides a very wide variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables for sale, as well as fresh free-range eggs.  If it's green and grows in this climate, Genesis probably has it for sale!

Genesis also sells in Chicago Green City and Oak Park Farmers Markets.  Wholesale (bulk) purchase options are available.

Vicki Westerhoff
8373 E 3000 S Rd.
St. Anne, IL 60964

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Monday, May 11, 2009

DIY: Wild Greens

Nature Bulletin No. 269-A May 13, 1967
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
Richard B. Ogilvie, President
Roland F. Eisenbeis, Supt. of Conservation


In springtime the human body seems to crave green food. Although, with our modern systems of transportation, it is available all year round, many of us have enough of the spirit of adventure to seek and use some of the wild plants eaten by the Indians and frontiersmen. Perhaps there is the gratification of "getting something for nothing". More likely, some primitive instinct is satisfied by experimenting with such foods, and the feeling that we would manage to survive if cut off from ordinary sources of supply. Wild greens are used much more in Europe than in America but they can furnish an interesting and important part of ourdiet, once we learn to know them. Half the pleasure is in the gathering. Further, that time spent in the out-of-doors makes any food taste better. 

Of these wild greens, the dandelion is most commonly known, gathered and eaten. It has been used since ancient times and, in recent years, it is cultivated for the markets in New York and other cities. The "crowns" or rosettes should be gathered when the leaves are very young and tender. The plants growing up through matted grass or fallen leaves are best. Like many wild greens, they have a slightly bitter tang but are equally good in a salad or when cooked -- alone or with other kinds. Being rich in vitamins A and C, the water in which they are cooked can be saved and sipped as a spring tonic. Winter salads of dandelions can be had if strong thrifty crowns, with two or three inches of root, are stored in a cellar, in autumn, and covered with litter or coal ashes.

Some of us plant vegetable gardens and raise spinach, beet tops, mustard and Swiss chard for greens. As often as not, there is a weedwhich we keep hoed out, and which also grows in shady places around outbuildings -- Lamb's Quarters, or Pigweed, or Goosefoot. It is a fast-growing plant with pale bluish-green leaves shaped like a goose's foot; a relative of spinach and the beet, and equally edible.

Wild mustard is another famous potherb, preferred by many people for cooking with fat salt pork. Sour dock or curly dock, purslane, sorrel, wild chicory and even the plantain which plagues our lawns, are others.

Once you know them, the trick lies in picking only young tender plants and in cooking them properly. However, even older plants become fairly tender and lose much of their bitter taste if boiled in two or three waters and drained after each boiling. The common burdock, although a pest, can furnish good eating if its young sprouts are peeled, scraped and boiled. Wild onions and leek can be as good as domestic onions in salads, soups and stews if used in moderation. The young succulent shoots of milkweed and pokeweed, cut off just above the ground, can be cooked and eaten like asparagus tips; and asparagus, in many localities where its seeds have been spread by birds, has also become a wild plant.

The delicious Creole gumbo, a celebrated American dish, originated from an Indian soup to which dried powdered leaves of the sassafras tree -- native relative of the cinnamon -- were added to give it that spicy "slippery" taste. Later, okra was used as a substitute. Our native water cress and the domesticated water cress, which thrive best in cool clear spring water, have become the favorites of gourmets for salads and as a garnish for meats.

Relatively few wild plants are very poisonous. In some, only certain parts are poisonous -- for instance, the roots of pokeweed, and the raw shoots and roots of the milkweed. One of the best publications telling which to pick and how to use them is the book: Edible Wild Plants of Eastern North America, by Fernald and Kinsey, published by Idlewild Press.  [ed. another book is The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants]

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Calendar update 5/10 - 5/16

Rockford IL

Building a Basic Water Garden

Where: University of Illinois Extension-Boone County

When: May 12th, May 14th

What: Starting with site selection and ending with the serenity of a water garden, this program offers step-by-step instructions on how to build a backyard water garden. Preregistration required by calling 815-544-3710.

How Much: paid

Boone County Gardeners Cocoa Mulch Sale

Where: Boone County Fairgrounds

What: Every Saturday in May.

How Much: paid


Open House on Knoch Park Improvements

Where: 421 West Martin Ave. Barn Recreation Center, Rooms A and B

When: Tuesday 5/12 5:30 to 7 p.m.

What: Open house: The Naperville Park District invites residents to attend a community open house to discuss future improvements to the southern portion of Knoch Park. Visit

How much: free

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Video: Building Your Trellis

For specific project plans, check out this post on building your very own backyard trellis!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Valley Orchard

Open first of May for asparagus, end of June for red raspberries, first of July for blueberries and thornless blackberries first of August. Call for hours and availability. Apple season usually starts the day after Labor Day with hours of Mon. thru Sat. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Available: Apple season-25 varieties of u-pick apples that you can mix or match for the same price (except Honeycrisp), red and champagne, raspberries, scrumptious cider donuts, apple pie, apple cinammon bread, and 100-percent pure cider. Also honey, jams, jellies, dressings and lots more goodies. We have squash, u-pick pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn, straw, corn stalks and mums.

811 East State St.
Cherry Valley, IL 61016

Contact Info:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cauliflower Leek Soup

This is an excellent recipe for a creamy and rich soup that has the added benefit of being low-cal and low-carb!  Leeks have a wonderfully complex flavor and I recommend them in many recipes where you could use onions.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 leeks, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 large head cauliflower, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream (optional)

  1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat, and saute the leeks, cauliflower, and garlic for about 10 minutes. Stir in the vegetable broth, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 45 minutes.
  2. Remove the soup from heat. Blend the soup with an immersion blender or hand mixer. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in the heavy cream, and continue blending until smooth.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Elburn Farmers Market

The Elburn Farmers Market is located at the Lions Club at:

500 Filmore St, Elburn, IL‎
(630) 365-6315‎

Featured Local Farmer:
Farm Direct Black Angus

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Good Harvest Market

The Good Harvest Market is Waukesha County's largest natural food store.  90% of grocery products are organically grown and has a strong 'buy local' policy for all fresh produce. Stop by either of two locations for healthy, organic produce.  Good Harvest also features holistic health and beauty aids, bulk merchandise (great for families) and the Harvest Cafe!

Waukesha Location:
1 1/2 blocks south of I-94 off Exit #293 at Highway T/Grandview.
1850 Meadow Lane, Pewaukee, WI 53072
  • Monday thru Friday 9am - 8pm 
  • Saturday 9am - 6pm 
  • Sunday 10 am - 6 pm

Milwaukee, Third Ward Location:
The corner of St. Paul and Broadway, just south of I-794.
346 N. Broadway, Milwaukee, WI 53202
  • Monday thru Friday 10am - 8pm 
  • Saturday 9am - 6pm 
  • Sunday 10 am - 6 pm

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Monday, May 4, 2009

DIY: Build a Backyard Trellis

This week's DIY project is to build a trellis. A trellis can function as a unique sunscreen or can be the framework for an outdoor hanging garden. It's a great surface for upside-down tomato plants. You can also create your own grape arbor, or you can plant annuals like morning glories for a sweetly scented getaway!

Here is a link to free project plans from the Southern Pine Council.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Video: Making Your Own Pot Au Feu

For a slightly different (and Frenchier take on the pot of fire).

Part 1:

Part 2:

Friday, May 1, 2009

Sosinski's Produce

Offering onions, garlic braids, gourmet shallots, sugar peas, lettuce, beets, beans, summer squash, winter squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, sweet corn, fresh & dried herbs, leeks, tomatoes, peppers, celery, cucumbers, melons, radishes, fresh flowers, raspberries, black berries, pink gooseberries, currants, jams & jellies, flavored vinegars and more!

Contact Sosinki's for information on their CSA. Also a vendor at the Woodstock Farmers Market.

Len and Jan Sosinski

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Recipe: Pot au feu

Pot au feu sounds so much better than "stew", doesn't it? It should, because pot au feu resembles ordinary stew like a fine French wine looks like Boone's Farm. They both have the same basic shape and belong to the same family, but the resemblance ends there. In any case, the pot of fire is a wonderful choice in bitter weather and tough times. It's 'stick to your ribs' food combined with a velvety texture that is hard to beat.

2 pounds bone-in pork shoulder
1 onion
1 bouquet garni (thyme, parsley and bay leaf tied together with a string) [I just added the thyme and parsley]
1 pound pork spareribs
3 fresh sausages
6 Brussels sprouts, halved
6 carrots, peeled and cut into thirds
6 small potatoes
1 celery root, peeled and chopped
3 leeks, sliced into thick rings [you could substitute additional onions]
Horseradish or sharp mustard

1. Simmer: settle pork shoulder in a medium pot. Pour in cold water to cover. Boil and skim off foam. Add onion and bouquet garni. Reduce heat; simmer tender 2 1/2 hours.
2. Stew: Add ribs and sausage and continue to cook, 20 minutes. Add remaining vegetables and cook until tender, 25 minutes.
3. Sizzle: Pull out ribs and transfer to a broiler pan. Slide under hot broiler until tops turn crisp, 2 minutes.
4. Serve: Discard bouquet. Pull out shoulder and sausage and carve into big chunks; arrange on a platter. Arrange ribs and vegetables alongside. Service with horseradish and pickles.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Crystal Lake Farmers Market

A bounty of fresh fruits, vegetables, annuals, perennials, farm-fresh eggs, baked goods and more! The Crystal Lake Farmers Market is back at its original location in Depot Park and will be will be enhanced and expanded due to the addition of a beautiful new Gazebo. Ample, free parking available in the Metra commuter lots.

2009 Farmer's Market starts Saturday, June 6th
Every Saturday (June through October) 8:00AM - 1:00PM

Location & Contact Information:
86 N Williams St, Crystal Lake, IL
Diana Kenney
email at:

Featured Local Growers:

Farmer Nick's Pasture Raised Meat and Eggs
Harms Garden Center

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ohana Farms Inc

Family-owned (ohana means family in Hawaiian) 40-acre nursery located in rural Marengo, northwest McHenry County. This tree farm has been certified by the State of Illinois Department of Agriculture. Offering Evergreens, Native Plants, Shade & Ornamental Trees, and a variefy of Shrubs.

Ohana Farms Inc is a vendor at the Woodstock Farmers Market.

3511 Millstream Road
Marengo, Illinois 60152

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Monday, April 27, 2009

DIY: Set Up A Conservation Easement!

Setting up a conservation easement isn't a typical DIY project but if you own property that you would like to protect in perpetuity, such as a woodlot, farm or marshland, it may be a worthwhile endeavor.

First - what is a conservation easement?  Well, according to the Fox Valley Land Foundation, an easement is
"a way you can protect the environmental value of your land while continuing to own it. It is a legal agreement between a landowner and a nonprofit conservation group or public agency that limits use of the land to ensure that the owner’s conservation goals for the property are upheld."
In other words, an easement is a contract that allows you to retain ownership of your land while restricting certain types of development for as long as the US government and legal system remains intact.

Why set up an easement?  Well, there are two main reasons.  A conservation easement allows you the owner to permanently protect your property from certain types of unwanted development.  It can also confer some significant income tax and estate tax reductions as well because the easement affects the value of the property.

To summarize, an easement:
  • Allows you to protect your land permanently, yet retain ownership for you and your descendants,
  • Maintains flexibility - you can set up easements that protect your right to farm, cut wood, etc,
  • Can signficantly reduce your taxes.
Interested?  Here are a couple of resources to get you started:

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Video: More Uses for Strawberry Pots!

Including strawberries!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Curds & Whey Cheese Company

Curds & Whey specializes in unique regional artisan cheeses, fine imported international cheeses, dairy products including butter, farmstead milk, farm fresh local eggs and related local foodstuffs. 

C&W is also one of the only sources for hard to find artisan cheeses in Northern Illinois. Their cheeses can be found at local farmers markets, cheese specialty shops as well fine restaurants. See here for the full list of outlets.

Contact Info:
Debb and Rob Murphy
Curds & Whey Cheese
at Inglenook Pantry
11 N 5th Street
Geneva IL 60134
(630) 377-0373

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Recipe: Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

This is one of my favorite recipes. It's fast, not too complicated, tasty and fun! Because you can reuse the spaghetti squash shells as part of the presentation, it's also very visually appealing. 

NB: this recipe calls for ground veal, but you can easily substitute ground round, ground chuck or any other type of ground meat.

1 small spaghetti squash, about 1-1/2 lbs
2 tsp. olive oil
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/4 cut red pepper, diced
1 garlic clove
8 oz. ground veal
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp oregano
dash salt & pepper (to taste)
2 oz. Mozzarella cheese, grated
1 tbsp. parsley, chopped

1. Cut squash, removing flesh and separating into strands. Set aside.
2. In skillet, heat oil, add onion, red pepper, garlic and ground meat. Saute until mixture is golden and meat isn't pink. Add tomatoes, seasonings and reserved squash pulp; cook until liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Spoon half of mixture into a shell.
3. Place halves in baking dish and bake 20 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on each one, then broil until melted and browned. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

River District Farmers Market (Rockford IL)

River District Farmers Market

Featuring a variety of seasonal, locally grown plants, produce, and baked goods for sale. Local honey producer is at Saturday's market. Locally grown organic produce, plants, flowers, arts, crafts, baked goods, honey, processed meats/sausages and cookbooks.

Saturdays are family-friendly with a children's play area and face painting!

Time: May 27-Oct 25, Tue & Sat

Two Locations!
  • Tuesdays 8am-2pm at YMCA South lot, 200 Y Blvd (next to tennis courts)
  • Saturdays 8am-4pm at Trinity Learning Center lot, 210 N First St (across from Trinity Lutheran Church)
For More Information:

Kim Wheeler, Rockford IL 61110, (815) 964-6221,

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Choices Natural Market

Choices Natural Market is an independent, family owned natural food store. Choices strives to provide customers with the finest quality fresh, natural, organic and whole foods, nutritional products, body care products and health information.

They work closely with small family farmers and local producers. Local farmers provide many of their products: including beef, poultry, produce, milk and even yogurt!

6551 E Riverside Blvd # 114
Rockford, IL 61114
(815) 282-1861

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Monday, April 20, 2009

DIY: An Easy Herb Garden In a Strawberry Pot!

This week's tip is a fun and creative way of organizing your herbs so they're in one convenient and gloriously fragrant place.  A 'strawberry pot' is one of those big pots that are studded with ledges around the side of the surface.

Before you get started, however, sit down and put together a list of what you'll need.  Start with the strawberry pot, of course, (and the bigger the better).  You'll also need a high-quality potting soil (not dirt - potting soil has better drainage, which is important in container gardening).  You'll also need enough gravel to place at the bottom of the container, also for drainage.  You may want to pick up a piece of lawn fabric as well, to place over the gravel so it doesn't mix into the soil.

Next, you'll have to decide what herbs to use.  You can plant whatever combination you want, although be careful of mint:  it's invasive and could take over the entire container.  

Popular choices include: 
  • thyme, 
  • chives, 
  • dill, 
  • basil, 
  • oregano, 
  • parsley, 
  • cilantro. 
There are many different varieties of the plants listed above - have fun experimenting!  Plant your favorite herb in the top hole where it has more room to grow.

As a final DIY hack:  You can install your own inexpensive drip irrigation system in a strawberry pot with a simple 20oz. plastic bottle.  Poke some small holes in the bottom of the bottle so that water just drips out when filled.  Situate the bottle so that merely the cap is above the surface of the soil - remove the cap and fill in the morning to add water throughout the day!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

Salute! Farm

An organic farm selling lettuces, gourmet greens, carrots, radishes, arugula, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, summer squash, zucchini, chard, kale, melons, beets, broccoli, peas, beans, corn, eggplant, potatoes, onions, garlic, winter squash, pumpkins, gourds, leeks, brussel sprouts, basil along with access to a new herb cutting garden.

Salute! also sells at the historic Woodstock Farmers Market.

Haje Black
2615 E. Menlo Blvd.
Milwaukee, WI 53211

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Recipe: 30 Minute Minestrone

Minestrone is, along with pasta, one of the cornerstones of Italian cooking. There is no single recipe for minestrone (in Italian, "the big soup") because it is made with whatever vegetables you happen to have lying around. This makes it a wonderfully versatile and fast dish if you, like me, love to entertain on short notice!

This recipe is taken from, but you'll be able to play around and customize this delightful dish to your particular taste and circumstance.

2 medium carrots, chopped
1 cup chopped cabbage
1 celery rib, thinly sliced
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 cups water
1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian stewed or diced tomatoes, undrained
3 cubes beef bouillon
1 cup torn fresh spinach
2/3 cup cooked elbow macaroni
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a 3-qt. saucepan, saute carrots, cabbage, celery, onion and garlic in oil for 5 minutes. Add water, tomatoes and bouillon; bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Stir in spinach, macaroni and pepper; heat through.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Grayslake Farmers Market

The Grayslake Farmers Market is located in historic Centennial Park and features homegrown & gourmet products like:
• Vegetables
• Fruits
• Flowers
• Perennials
• Sweets
• Breads
• Cheese
• Meat
• Fine Art
• Wine
• Cooking Demos
• Entertainment

2009 Dates - Spring Season
April 4 - May 30
Every Saturday
10 am to 2:00 pm

2009 Dates - Summer Season
June 10-Oct. 7
Every Wednesday
3:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Featured Local Grower:
Farmer Nick's Pasture-Raised Meat and Eggs

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Top O' The Hill Farm

Top O' the Hill Farm

Free-range, organic heritage turkeys (Narragansett, Slate, Black Spanish, and White Holland, Bourbon Red and Royal Palm). The farm also has pasture-raised pork (new last year), also fed certified organic feed and a small number of chickens (some heritage breeds), ducks, geese, and guinea fowl. They are all also free-range and organic.

Anthony and Mary Keisling
4320 Doty Rd.
Woodstock, Il 60098
(815) 260-1520

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Monday, April 13, 2009

DIY: Build a Custom Planter!

A custom planter is an excellent way to spruce up the side of your home, add some character or provide an excellent window showcase for some lovely plants!

You can select different options as well - planters can be painted or stained and the height and width is easily customizable for any configuration. Often made from cedar or pressure-treated wood (because it resists rotting), planters can be built to hold dirt directly, or they can be a decorative housing for a more utilitarian pot.

Free plans for planters abound on the internet, (try typing 'free garden planter plans' into your favorite search engine) but here is one of my favorites.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

Le Petit Marche

Le Petit Marche (The Little Market)

Provides artisan breads, gourmet cheeses and fine wines. Located in historic downtown Crystal Lake across from the Raue Center.

Closed Sunday
Monday 11a - 5p
Tues and Weds 8:30a - 7:00p
Thurs thru Sat 8:30a - 8:00p

Directions and Contact Information:
19 N Williams St. Crystal Lake, Il 815-477-3296

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Cabbage and Hamburger Bake

This recipe is a great way to take advantage of that leftover head of cabbage (or the one on sale for $.19/lb in the grocery store). It's quick, easy and doesn't scream 'I'm cabbage'. In fact, with the Swiss cheese and caraway seed this recipe chimes with the faint taste of a Reuben. Thousand Island dressing would certainly work as an optional topper.

2 cups of chopped cabbage, steamed
1 lb hamburger, browned
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/4 tsp salt
2 oz Swiss cheese
1 tbsp onion
1/4 tsp caraway seed

1. Pre-heat oven at 350 degrees.
2. Heat the milk and add swiss cheese and spices.
3. Stir until smooth.
4. Layer browned hamburger and steamed cabbage in casserole dish. Pour sauce over top.
5. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Woodstock Farmers Market

The Woodstock Farmers Market is a producers’ market, allowing only product that was grown or produced by local farmers. Market vendors sell spinach, asparagus, tomatoes, sweet corn, apples, and much more. You’ll also find baked goods, honey, natural beef, pork, poultry, and eggs; fine wines, plants and flowers and delicious cheeses as well as jewelry and craft items.

May - October, 8:00 am to 1:00 pm
On Woodstock Square, Woodstock Illinois

Contact: Keith at 815-338-5164 or by e.mail at

Featured Local Vendors:
More Than Delicious Orchard
Von Bergen's Country Market
Willow Lea Stock Farm

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

More Than Delicious Orchard

Mike & Velma Downes
9905 Thompson Rd.
Woodstock, IL 60098

Offers over 80 varieties of apples and pears, including many antique heirloom apples. Also offers a selection on local honey.

U-pick hours September thru October. Price per bushel is $50.00, which is approximately $1.19 per pound. Cash or checks accepted.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

DIY: Making An Upside Down Tomato Planter

Why plant tomatoes (or anything else for that matter) upside down? Because it makes sense that's why!

For example, an upside down tomato plant eliminates:
  • Ground fungus
  • Harmful bacteria
  • Cutworm damage
  • Use of pesticides
  • Digging and weeding
  • Backbreaking work
Now, you could buy a hanging tomato planter, but what fun would that be? It's just as easy to do it yourself. See this step-by-step guide for building your own upside down tomato planter.

I did this last year for my tomatoes and it worked very well. As in the picture below, you can even engage in a little companion planting, with basil on top and your tomato plant underneath.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Eat More Illinois Food

A recent Illinois state task force recently concluded something that we here at Local Food in Northern Illinois have known all along: buying local isn't just good for the planet, or your health; it's good for our state economy too.

According to a recently published report by the Illinois Local and Organic Food and Farm Task Force, if Illinoisans purchased just 10% of their groceries from local farmers and producers, it could generate $20 - $30 billion in economic activity by 2030.

I love it when Main Street and Wall Street come together.

The task force also recommended:
  • That government set up infrastructure that makes it easier for farmers to get produce to the right people in the right condition.

  • That government help facilitate deals between Illinois farmers and potential customers including those who make chow for Illinois schools, hospitals,prisons, nursing homes, universities and more.

  • Improving health in the state by bringing fresh local produce to areas thatare overserved by fast food chains and underserved by greengrocers.

Support these bills as they move through the state legislature!

Friday, April 3, 2009

2009 Northern Illinois Planting Calendar

Plant Time Planting Dates
May 15-Jun 21
Beans(E)May 7-Jun 21

(L)Jun 15-Jul 15
Beets(E)May 1-15

(L)Jul 15-Aug 15
Broccoli plants(E)May 15-31

(L)Jun 15-Jul 7
Brussel sprouts
May 15-31
Cabbage plants
May 15-31
Carrots(E)May 15-31

(L)Jun 15-Jul 21
Cauliflower plants(E)May 15-31

(L)Jun 15-Jul 21
Celery plants(E)May 15-Jun 30

(L)Jul 15-Aug 15
Collards(E)May 15-31

(L)Jul 1-Aug 7
Corn, sweet(E)May 10-Jun 15

(L)Jun 15-30
May 7-Jun 20
Eggplant plants
Jun 1-30
Endive(E)May 15-31

(L)Jun 7-30
Kale(E)May 15-31

(L)Jul 1-Aug 7
May 15-31
May 15-Jun 30
May 15-Jun 30
Jun 15-Jul 10
Onion sets
May 15-Jun 7
May 15-31
Apr 1-30
Peas(E)Apr 15-May 7

(L)Jul 15-31
Pepper plants
May 15-Jun 30
May 1-31
May 15-31
Radishes(E)Apr 15-30

(L)Aug 15-31
Spinach(E)May 15-31

(L)Jul 17-Sep 7
May 15-Jun 15
Sweet potatoes
May 15-Jun 15
Swiss chard
May 1-31
Tomato plants
May 15-31
Turnips(E)Apr 7-30

(L)Jul 1-Aug 15
May 15-Jun 30
Wheat, spring
Apr 7-30
Wheat, winter
Aug 11-Sep 15

PS - If you're not based in north central illinois, try this website!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009

Erehwon Farm

Erehwon Farm

Tim Fuller & Beth Propst, 630-365-3741

Erehwon Farm is a community supported agriculture, or CSA, providing flowers, herbs, fruit, vegetables, perennials and more.

39w962 State Route 38
Elburn, Illinois 60119

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cabbage Soup


6 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth (for really local flavor, make your own)
4 stalks celery, chopped
6 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium head cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup barley
2 cups diced ham
1 tablespoon dried parsley


1. Place the chicken broth, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, cabbage, barley, ham and parsley in a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rochelle Farmers Market

Rochelle Farmers Market

Located behind the Flagg Township Museum, 518 Fourth Ave, Rochelle, IL.

Debby Van Dyke

Through September, Thursdays, 2-6pm.

Featuring vegetables, herbs, baked goods, and plants.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Caveny Farm Heritage Poultry

John & Connie Caveny, 217-762-7767

Caveny Farm raises poultry and lamb. Heritage breeds of turkeys, ducks and geese are the mainstay. Birds are raised in pastures that grow grasses, clovers and amaranth. All of our poultry are fed custom formulated feed to compliment the nutrients found in our pastures. Corn, soybeans and soybean meal along with vitamins and minerals are the only ingredients in the feed.

1999 N 935 East Road
Monticello, Illinois 61856

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Monday, March 23, 2009

DIY: Portable Gravity Irrigator

Collecting rainwater runoff is great for your area's water quality, but what do you do with the water after 'barrelling' it?  Here is a simple set of instructions for building a simple irrigator to get the water from your barrel to your garden.  

Better yet, this idea can be generalized for any situation where so-called 'gray water' is being collected, meaning that you can use the same concepts to minimize water waste in, say, your shower while the water is heating up!

Portable Gravity Irrigator - More DIY How To Projects

Friday, March 20, 2009

Prairie Pure Cheese

Prairie Pure Cheese

Brian Gerloff, 1-866-9CHEEZE

Prairie Pure Cheese was formed in July 2004 as a partnership between three families in Belvidere, Illinois. The parnernership works with a small cheese plant in southern Wisconsin-Edelweiss Town Hall Dairy, Monticello, Wisconsin. To date, approximately 15,000 pounds of cheese has been sold.

P.O. Box 805
Belviedere, IL 61008

List of Local Retailers

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Home Made Chicken Broth

Yields about 6 cups.

1 Whole chicken (small) or 1 bone-in chicken breast (large)
3 Cloves of Garlic, or to taste
2 Carrots, chopped into 3" pieces
1 Onion, coarsely chopped
2 Stalks of Celery chopped into 3" pieces
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cut off excess fat and skin from chicken, being sure to leave some skin for flavor. Place the chicken in a pot and add 2 quarts water.
2. Bring pot to boil, skim of foam (it's clarified chicken fat)
3. Reduce heat, add remaining ingredients and
gently simmer 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Strain.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Perryville Farmers Market

Perryville Farmers Market

Ben Bernsten, Rebekah Anderson, 6801 Spring Creek Rd, Rockford IL 61114, (815) 229-3000.

June 7-Sept, Sat, 9am-1pm.

Come sample the season's freshest produce, bakery goods, plants, flowers, herbs and other specialties. Mingle with neighbors and friends at the Eastside market.

Market located in the Perryville Commons Shopping Center (enter at Perryville & Fincham intersection - just south of East State St.

663 Highgrove Place
Rockford, IL 61108

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Famous Fossil Vineyard and Winery

Ken and Pam Rosmann, 95 West Cedarville Road Freeport, Illinois 61032

As well as distinctive Illinois wines, Ken and Pam Rosmann, who moved from Iowa, offer award winning cheeses, jams, syrups, farm fresh eggs, and other local products.

Thursday 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Friday 11:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
Saturday 11:00 a.m-5:00 p.m.
Sunday 12:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.
and by appointment

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sugar Prairie Wildlife Corridor

Sugar Prairie Wildlife Corridor

Nina Langousis, 815-629-2779

Fresh eggs from happy, free-range hens. Raised with fresh air and pasture, hay, and organic or locally -grown grains only - NEVER a prepared commercial "crumbles" diet.

Pet sitting/boarding is also offered. Horse boarding also available.

16360 Cannell Rd
Rockton, IL 61072

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Recipe: Roasted Acorn Squash

Hello dear readers. Local Food has a new feature! Starting today I will be posting a season-appropriate recipe each Thursday. This is a tough time of year for local eaters, but you might have a few winter squash left from harvest or your local market. In that spirit, here is a simple but delicious recipe for roasted squash!


2 medium acorn squash
3 tablespoons butter
2 small onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Cut the squashes in half length-wise and remove the seeds and membranes. Roast them, cut side up, on a baking sheet for 50 minutes or until flesh is tender. Reserve warm.

3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Saute the onions until they begin to caramelize at the edges, about 10 minutes. Add in the garlic, coriander, and nutmeg and cook until the garlic is tender. Season with salt and pepper and fill the squash halves with the mixture. Serve warm

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wauconda Farmers Market

Debra Ogorzaly, 847-526-5580

Sponsored by the Wauconda Chamber of Commerce, this market features a wonderful mix of vendors from Lake and McHenry counties. Plenty of fresh produce, eggs, cheeses, natural products, and products for pets also. Also offers music and special theme market days.

Featured Local Farmer:
Harms Farm & Garden Center

Thursdays from 3 pm to 7 pm starting June 26 running until October 9th

Downtown Main Street in Wauconda, Illinois, between Mill Street and Bangs Road.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

John D Rowley

John D Rowley

415 W Cunningham, Winnebago IL 61088, (815) 335-2821.

Aug-Oct, Mon & Tue, various hours.

Berries including raspberries and blackberries. Vegetables in season including potatoes. Cut flowers. Attend Winnebago Farmers Market on Fri.

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