Taking a day off.

Shhhh.  Don’t tell anybody, but I’ve been playing a little hookie.




I hope you can tell, but this was a nice sized cat fish.  I caught two this size one after the other.  The rest of the day their grandbabies were the only ones willing to sacrafic their lives for our enjoyment.

After I got back from fishing, I checked on the garden and saw the peas are starting to flower.  Here’s a picture I took yesterday.


Granny:  See the X…(playing theme from the Twilight Zone)

Everything’s doing pretty good in the “hoop house.”  I’ll post about it this weekend. 

After watering the garden, a task I felt compelled to do, I was 30 minutes late for the Southeast Gardeners Meeting.  When I walked in they were in the middle of a discussion.  Of course they were.  It’s a meeting.  Anyway, Dina, the moderator/leader, said they were going around the room asking what each person needed for their gardens and what they had to offer.  I had a senior moment.  Duh.  My genius answer was enthusiasm for gardening.  I’m sure they were looking for something more tangible, but it was the best I could come up with.

Greg Bratton and his friend Walter gave a summary of what they learned at their workshop on hoop houses at Growing Power in Milwaukee.  Sounds like one of the most important things they learned is not to put the plastic on on a windy day because they were almost airborne when a strong wind came along. 

They also talked about the circulating system that’s at Growing Power which has a tank that’s used to raise Talapia and Lake Perch.  The water is circulated in a continuous loop fom the fish tank up to plants that are watered with the fish water which is a natural fertilizer.  The video gives you a synopsis of what Growing Power is all about.

Will Allen is the founder of Growing Power.  Mr. Allen won a $500,000 Genius Grant from the MacAuthur Foundation for, among other things, his creative pursuits.  Hey, anybody want to be a creative farmer? 

Gregory was really impressed with the fish tank setup and said they ran into a guy that has developed an in-home version that will allow you to raise fish meat and vegetable plants for a fraction of the cost of a commercial version.

We also had at the meeting Sarah Carlson.  Sarah is a college student filming a documentary.  It’s called The Whole Health Project.


The current system of healthcare in the US is in crisis, and fails to relieve many of the contemporary illnesses plaguing people. This leaves many dependent on food and healthcare systems that fail to meet their needs.  In search of relief and armed with the guidance of peers, online resources, and the historical legacy of America’s relationship to the land, many  seek a healing path that leads us to a more direct relationship between ourselves and the food we consume, the environment we live in, and the communities we are a part of.”

Sarah was also at the Green Summit and got a lot of footage for her film.

Lastly, what meeting is complete without parting gifts?  One of the gardeners (please forgive me, I’m terrible with names) brought some wood ash to share with us and, of course, free seeds.

Happy Gardening!!!






Your garden is the tip of the iceberg in the food world.

Last week, I was invited to sit in on what I understood to be a meeting about gardening. It turned out to be so much more than that. The handout was titled “Food Systems Plan for Northeastern Illinois.” The meeting was the last in a series of meetings that were held to address the logistics of implementing a plan wherein Illinois produces its own food instead of importing. Not only does growing locally address the green issue of cutting out the cost of transportation and the negative impact on the environment, but it addresses the bigger issue of helping our own economy here in Illinois. $48 billion is spent annually by Illinois consumers on food, and the majority of that money is not retained by the state.

The task force was charged with getting feedback from different sectors of the food production community to see how to start instituting that plan. Things like what’s available to you today and what you would like to see in the future.

The food production community includes everyone from the backyard gardener growing a salad garden all the way up to the grocery store that sells you the washed and chopped bagged salad at the store:

  • the farmer
  • the picker
  • the trucker
  • the restaurants that buy from the farmer
  • the person who sells the seeds to the farmer or the gardener
  • the school that buys from the company that prepares the school meals with produce bought from the farmer.

The list goes on and on, and at every level there is the potential for employment.

Sitting in on the meeting was an eye opening experience for me. Healthy Southeast is the organization that is sponsoring my attendance at the BUGs meetings, but I had no idea there were so many gardening and gardening related organizations in Chicago.

I stopped in on a meeting yesterday that was given by Angelic Organics Learning Center. It was held at one of the Chicago Public Libraries and the hours were from 12:00 to 2:00. I didn’t quite understand why they had middle of the day hours where working folks couldn’t attend, but when I got there I totally understood.

The subject was starting seeds indoors and outside. The room was filled to capacity, and the majority of the participants were seniors. They were served a nice healthy buffet style lunch, everybody had something to say, and the presenter was one of the BUGs participants. The presenter did a very good job of conveying the information to the group, and they even had parting gifts of packages of seeds.

As a result of the series of meetings that were held on the Food Systems Plan for Northeastern Illinois, a 48-page report was generated and put before the Illinois Senate General Assembly. Dinah Ramirez of Healthy Southeast is in Washington now to attend meetings on the subject. She’s a registered nurse, and she’ll be speaking on the health benefits surrounding community gardens. And Gregory Bratton, the gardens coordinator for Healthy Southeast, has been invited to Springfield to sit in on Senate hearings on the subject. His philosphy is, “One answer to the food problem is in our own back yards.” Gregory has started a number of community gardens on the city’s southeast side, and the produce is used to feed many residents of the community.

At the end of the day, I think we all can be instrumental in helping our local economy and the global economy, and it can start as small as opening up a package of seeds.

Happy Gardening!!!!


Gregory Bratton was invited to recruit State Representatives to sponsor Bill 3990 which is Local Food, Farms and Jobs Act.