Letter from Publisher
For home gardeners, March is the time to start our late spring and summer vegetables from seed indoors. We get to try new heirlooms, experiment with varieties we’ve not grown before (fish peppers, anyone?), try new seed-starting methods (I’m using LED lights instead of fluorescent bulbs) and maybe learn a few lessons about what does and doesn’t grow well from seed. And if you’re brand new to starting veggies from seed, congratulations and welcome to the fun. To get us all started, we’re delighted to bring you a fabulous step-by-step article on seed starting basics by Lisa Hilgenberg, horticulturist at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Regenstein Fruit and Vegetable Garden.
Starting a home garden is immensely rewarding and a way to better know where your food comes from. Whether it’s a large garden with a zillion varieties, intensive raised beds, a traditional backyard garden, a community garden plot, shared space in your neighbor’s yard (or their overflow veggies) or a balcony garden, homegrown produce is an important part of leading a healthier, more conscious lifestyle.
I believe it not only brings us closer to our food supply, but it also piques interest in taking a personal stand to improve the quality of the food that manufacturers and grocery stores provide the world. The process enhances our health in many ways, including added nutritional benefits of eating just-picked food, the effort required to maintain the garden and the mental and emotional benefits of connecting with the earth and experiencing the successes and failures of our gardens. I believe connecting via gardening also helps us to understand the importance of access to fresh, nutritious food by everyone in our communities and opens our eyes to food inequalities across the area.
Yet, I realize not everyone has the time, space, ability or inclination to grow veggies at home or in a community garden. One option that’s been growing in popularity is the concept of community supported agriculture (CSA). In a nutshell, joining a CSA helps to support a local, small farmer and grow our regional food security. The concept is relatively simple: we buy a “share” in a local farm. The farmer uses the dollars to plant and harvest, and your “dividend” yields boxes of amazingly fresh veggies on a regular basis during the season. Some CSAs also offer eggs, dairy, meat and other options. To help you get started in the world of CSAs, we’re thrilled to partner with the Illinois nonprofit Band of Farmers, a project of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance (ILStewards.org), to present the 2017 Chicagoland CSA Guide in this issue.
March is always such an exciting (and very busy) month for local events. We love having the opportunity to be a media sponsor with a table at many of these happenings, where we’re blessed with the opportunity to meet readers familiar and new, and connect with local businesses, as well. This month, we’ll see you at the Body Mind Spirit Expo (March 4 and 5), Infinity Family Fest (March 11), Going Green Matters (March 12), the Chicagoland Family Pet Expo (March 17 through 19), Good Food Festival (March 18) and the Chicago Flower and Garden Show (March 25). You’ll find an extensive list of more events in the calendar section of this issue. Please come on out and say hello!
Wishing you happy planting and a joyous start to the spring season!