Archive for April, 2010

What’s a CSA?

What is Community Supported Agriculture? How does it work to get fresh, local vegetables into your community each season? Why is that important for farming, your health and the Earth?

Certified organic vegetable growers will give a talk and answer questions about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 1st at the Oak Park Public Library, Main Branch.  The public is welcome to attend at no charge.  RSVPs to Green Home Experts are appreciated, but not necessary.

This method of subscribing for a full season of fresh produce from a local farmer started in Japan and Europe in the 1960s, making its way to the United States in the 1980s. It has grown from just two CSA farms on the East Coast to more than 3,000 listed on the Local Harvest web site.

Scotch Hill Farms is a member of the Madison Area CSA Coalition, in which all growers must be certified organic. The regional coalition also helps make vegetable subscriptions more affordable to low income families through a Partner Shares program, which raises funds annually to go 50-50 on purchase of organic vegetable subscriptions with qualifying households.

In the CSA program, Dela and Tony will explain how growers practice Community Supported Agriculture. Scotch Hill is entering its 16th year as a CSA garden and small-scale livestock farm, delivering to households in Fitchburg, Middleton, Janesville, and Madison, WI as well as Chicago and Oak Park. The farm started with 5 subscribers in Janesville in 1994, growing to 215 subscribers last year.  Scotch Hill delivers to Green Home Experts, 823 S. Oak Park Ave., in Oak Park.

Scotch Hill’s goal this year is to serve at least 300 households and make it possible for son Micah Ends to enter the growing operation as a partner. Micah is working to complete his associate’s degree in agri-business at Blackhawk Technical College in Monroe, WI.

For more information, please contact Maria Onesto Moran, President of Green Home Experts, at (708) 660-1443 or maria@ghexperts.com.

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These tips come from Linette George, friend to GHE and owner of Get Organized by George, Inc., http://www.GetOrganizedByGeorge.com.

In Honor of Earth Day…

15 Simple Ways to ‘Green-up’ Your Office

Kermit had it all wrong. Bein’ green IS easy once you know how. With a little effort you can ‘green-up’ your office from the bathroom to the boardroom. In honor of Earth Day’s 40th Anniversary, here are 15 easy things you can start doing today.

  • Power down computers and other electronic equipment at the end of each day.
  • Utilize the power save mode on computers, printers, and photocopiers.
  • Use double-sided printing and copying.
  • Cut up already-used-on-one-side paper for reuse as scratch pads.
  • Recycle used ink-jet cartridges.
  • Avoid chemical-based air fresheners in the bathroom.
  • Introduce Fair Trade Certified™ and organic coffee and tea into your workplace.
  • Stock the break room cabinets with reusable dishware.
  • Wherever there is a garbage can, place a larger recycling container.
  • Donate excess supplies, computers, office equipment to local nonprofits and schools.
  • Use Blackle.com, powered by Google, to perform your Internet searches. It saves energy by using a black screen, which requires less monitor power than Google’s white screen.
  • Choose to use non-toxic, biodegradable cleaning products.
  • Thoroughly use or creatively repurpose office supplies you already have before purchasing new ones.
  • Buy recycled content paper, envelopes, and stationery. Strive for 100% post consumer content and zero chlorine bleaching whenever possible.
  • Establish a company Green Team to help implement these and future changes.

It doesn’t matter where you begin making changes, only that you begin. Once a program is established, the momentum can drive more areas of improvement. In the end you will have a healthier working environment and the satisfaction of doing your part to improve the sustainability of our planet. You will also realize increased profitability for the company. It’s a win-win-win!

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Local Trend Watch

Local Trend Watch
10 Ways Oak Parkers are Going Green

  1. Zero Waste Lunches. Several area schools have received funding from the DCEO to create zero waste lunch days.  This gets parents in the habit of packing lunches with reusable containers and composting food waste.
  2. Rain Barrels. Last summer’s successful “Roll Out the Rain Barrels” campaign (League of Women Voters) put rain barrels on the map—literally.  Residents are more aware of storm water management and water conservation, and rain barrels have become rather commonplace!
  3. Composting. Outdoor bins and piles, vermiculture indoors, whatever suits your fancy.  30% of what we throw away is food waste—unless you compost.  Make better use of your kitchen and yard waste by composting.  The result is nutrient rich—and free—compost for your yard!
  4. Gardening. Food mileage and eating locally are front line issues today.  Many people are returning to the Victory Garden movement by planting veggie beds at home and participating in community gardens.  This is a great way to save money and to know exactly from where your food is coming.
  5. CSA’s. To go further into the localvore movement, join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program.  Your participation helps fund small farms and ensures you’ll have local, organic produce all summer long.  http://www.localharvest.org.
  6. Energy Incentives. Take advantage of federal tax incentives that expire at the end of 2010.  Insulation, alternative energy, doors, windows and more are covered.  http://www.energystar.gov.
  7. Greener Gatherings. We’re nearing the season for block parties, graduations, and family reunions.  Throw parties with paperless invitations, reusable or compostable plates, cutlery and cups; recycle and compost.  The possibilities are endless!
  8. Shopping Locally. Now, more than ever, local businesses are depending on you to help them thrive.  For every $100 spent in locally owned independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures.  If you spend that in a national chain, only $43 stays here.  Spend it online and nothing comes home. http://www.the350project.net.
  9. Cutting Out Cars. Consider biking/walking one day a week.  Reduce your carbon footprint, save on gas, and get in shape!

10.  Getting Organized. Many groups exist in and around Oak Park to
support your efforts.  Interfaith Power & Light is a group of different congregations who are active in greening their communities.  Power of 10 is involved in greening Oak Park. Area schools and PTO’s have wellness and/or green teams.  Start or join a green team at work and in your faith community.  Start a green block in your neighborhood!  Attend Earth Fest on April 24, learn more about the work of the Environmental & Energy Advisory Commission, and get involved!

Upcoming Events
More information about all of these events can be found in the Events section at http://www.GHExperts.com. All of these events are free, unless otherwise noted.

4/17: Great Paint Exchange

4/19: LEED for Homes 101: An Introduction to USGBC’s Residential Program

4/20: Green Tuesday: OPRF Community Foundation Sustainability Vision

4/21: Home Energy Reduction Workshop

4/22: Earth Day 40th Anniversary

4/24: Oak Park Earth Fest

4/27: Green Tuesday: What’s New in Waste

4/29: Renew. Refresh. Reconnect.  Bring a necklace or bracelet that you’d like to refresh.*

5/6: Create a Cocktail Container Garden*

5/9: Kids’ Activity: Create an Ecosphere*

* Denotes a charge for participation.

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