WBEZ | garden http://www.wbez.org/tags/garden Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Refugees raise vegetables, put down roots at urban garden http://www.wbez.org/news/refugees-raise-vegetables-put-down-roots-urban-garden-110149 <p><p>On a recent afternoon in Chicago&rsquo;s Albany Park neighborhood, Linda Seyler chirped at a small crew of helpers from Nepal: &ldquo;Stay there,&rdquo; she said to a group ranging from small boys to grown men. Seyler pulled out a measuring tape as she knelt in a tarp-covered ditch. &ldquo;From here to here is two feet&hellip;&rdquo;</p><p>Seyler was helping two more refugee families measure out their new vegetable plots at the Global Garden Refugee Training Farm, located on busy Lawrence Avenue. It was a cool Sunday, but several families were there, eager to start preparing their long, skinny garden beds for spring planting.</p><p>Janet Saidi, a Congolese refugee who came to Chicago more than a year ago stood next to her family&rsquo;s plot, number 95, rattling off what she&rsquo;s grown. &ldquo;Onion, okra, beans,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;The name of this one I don&rsquo;t know. It&rsquo;s like mushroom? Yes.&rdquo;</p><p>Saidi and the other refugees who garden here all farmed in their native countries. Most hail from conflict-ridden places like Bhutan and Burma, and often don&rsquo;t know any English when they arrive. With the language barriers and the sense that their farming skills have no use in a big, American city, many battle feelings of isolation as they try to settle in.</p><p>&ldquo;Being here (in the city) they feel themselves really worthless,&rdquo; said Hasta Bhattarai, a Bhutanese refugee who now volunteers as an an interpreter for some of the gardeners. &ldquo;But once they are here (in the garden) and once they are able to produce something, that really makes them happy from inside,&rdquo; he continued, &ldquo;and they feel themselves (like) they are back home, and that gives them some kind of spiritual happiness.&ldquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Refugee-Garden-2.jpg" title="Janet Saidi, a refugee from the Congo, grows okra, onions and beans on her small plot. She said she never imagined she would grow her family’s food in the U.S., as she did in her native country. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" /></div><p>The garden began with a grant from the Refugee Agricultural Partnership Program, under the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement. Seyler, at the time working for the Coalition of Limited English Speaking Elderly in Chicago, applied for the three-year, nonrenewable grant. In its first year, the garden had 42 families with plots.</p><p>Now in its third growing season, the garden has more than 100 vegetable beds jammed haphazardly against each other, with additional areas reserved for new commercial plots and a quarter-acre reserved for use by the Peterson Garden Project. In all, the refugees use about one acre of the 1.33 acre area. They grow bittermelon, bok choy, okra, mustard greens, and roselles -- a plant related to hibiscus. It&rsquo;s a cheap and convenient way to find the vegetables that they traditionally use for cooking, which may be less common in U.S. supermarkets.</p><p>&ldquo;This garden, it&rsquo;s really changed my life,&rdquo; said Mary Thehtoe, a Burmese refugee whose family had a large farm in her native country. Thehtoe got a plot at the garden when it began, during her first year in the U.S., in 2012.&nbsp; She said at that time she knew no English, and cried every night after she came to the U.S., until she met her refugee case worker. That was the first person she met in Chicago who spoke her language.</p><p>&ldquo;If I don&rsquo;t have garden, I always go to the appointments,&rdquo; Thehtoe said through an interpreter. &ldquo;I have a lot of appointments, like medical appointments, And I stay working at home, and just do house chores, take care of my kids, those kinds of thing. When I got the garden, all the sickness and stress, depression, go away, Because I always think about the garden.&rdquo;</p><p>Thehtoe said she comes to the garden every day.</p><p>Saidi said she never imagined that in the U.S. she would be growing her own food, as she did in the Congo. &ldquo;When I came here, I said, &lsquo;Oh my God, I don&rsquo;t know (if in) America, if they have fresh food,&rsquo;&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Yes, they are also farming, and I said &lsquo;Oh my God,&rsquo; it was exciting.&rdquo;</p><p>The garden&rsquo;s success has earned attention from the Governor&rsquo;s office, which wants to replicate it in places like Rockford, Elgin and Aurora. Meanwhile, the grant that started the garden has run out. Its organizers are planning to make the garden self-sustaining with commercial production and an expansion of the farm&rsquo;s community supported agriculture program, which allows individuals to buy &ldquo;shares&rdquo; in the garden&rsquo;s seasonal produce.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2Foyousef&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHKQ6bayggMubwgs9U53FsOML-b9A">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2FWBEZoutloud&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNGciFiqidUKx7xm655BDbaPU9eB3g">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p><p><em>Correction: This article incorrectly referred to the Peterson Garden Project. It has been corrected.</em></p></p> Wed, 07 May 2014 15:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/refugees-raise-vegetables-put-down-roots-urban-garden-110149 Clever Apes: Flavor tripping http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2012-03-29/clever-apes-flavor-tripping-97704 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-28/WEB Moto_Vertical_Garden_4.png" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Vertical aeroponic garden at Moto restaurant (Courtesy of Mike Silberman, A Sust" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-28/WEB Moto_Vertical_Garden_4.png" style="width: 600px; height: 338px;" title="Vertical aeroponic garden at Moto restaurant (Courtesy of Mike Silberman, A Sustainable Reality Productions)"></p><p>We’ve seen and heard some pretty sweet stuff while producing Clever Apes, but in our latest excursion, we got to <em>taste</em> something very sweet. We recently visited the kitchen-laboratories of Chef Homaro Cantu.&nbsp; You may know him from his many appearances on <a href="http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/future-food/">television</a>, on the <a href="http://www.ted.com/talks/homaro_cantu_ben_roche_cooking_as_alchemy.html">web</a>, or eaten at his restaurants <a href="http://www.motorestaurant.com/">Moto</a> and <a href="http://www.ingrestaurant.com/">iNG</a>.</p><p><img alt="Chef Homaru Cantu in his restaurant iNG (WBEZ/Michael De Bonis)" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-28/rsz_homaru_cantu.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 200px; height: 184px; " title="Chef Homaru Cantu in his restaurant iNG (WBEZ/Michael De Bonis)">Our tour began in a recently converted former office in the basement of Moto. Cantu has transformed the space into an indoor aeroponic garden. The system works by spraying plant roots with nutrient enriched water. In this case, kitchen scraps are put in a worm composting bin. The nutritious byproduct is then mixed with water and sprayed on the plant roots from the inside of the spinning cylindrical garden.</p><p>Cantu’s restaurants are filled with hi-tech gadgets and other innovations, and he has big ideas about how some of this technology might mean revolutionary changes for the world beyond high end fine dining. The point of the aeroponic garden is not only to provide fresher veggies in the kitchen but to also cut down on the <a href="http://www.pbs.org/e2/teachers/teacher_309.html">“food miles”</a> associated with the food he serves.&nbsp; According to Cantu, his garden is a testing ground that will hopefully prove that this idea is cost-effective and scalable in a way that will get fresher, more eco-friendly food to anyone who wants it.</p><p><img alt="Miracle berry (Flickr/Ola Waagen)" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-28/6920711891_6238ce481f_z.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 200px; height: 133px; " title="Miracle berry (Flickr/Ola Waagen)">Another idea Cantu is excited about and is perhaps best known for is the use of <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/11/us/11cncberry.html?_r=1">miracle berries</a>.&nbsp; These small red berries have the “flavor tripping” property of turning sour tasting foods sweet. &nbsp;A glycoprotein called <a href="http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2011/09/26/how-the-miracle-fruit-changes-sour-into-sweet/">Miraculin</a> is the source of the berries’ superpowers and researchers have recently learned a bit more about how it <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2011/09/16/1016644108">binds to receptors on the tongue</a> to create that sweetness.</p><p>Cantu uses the berry in his iNG restaurant to create sweet treats without sugar or artificial sweeteners.&nbsp; As you’ll hear in our taste test, lemons taste like lemonade.&nbsp; What does a spoon full of fat free sour cream with lemon zest taste like?&nbsp; Listen to the full podcast to find out.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="This edible paper contains flavor tripping miracle berry (WBEZ/Michael De bonis)" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-28/WEB%20%5Dplat%20with%20sugar.jpg" title="This edible paper contains flavor tripping miracle berry (WBEZ/Michael De bonis)" height="400" width="600"></p></p> Thu, 29 Mar 2012 11:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2012-03-29/clever-apes-flavor-tripping-97704 Aspiring urban gardener? Head to Toronto http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/aspiring-urban-gardener-head-toronto <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2010-November/2010-11-08/evergreen[2].jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="299" width="400" alt="Evergreen Toronto (photo by Steve Dolinsky)" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-November/2010-11-07/evergreen.jpg" /></p><p style="text-align: left;">Some Chicago chefs and restaurateurs have been making steady progress in the effort to run more sustainable businesses.<span>&nbsp; </span>The term &ldquo;urban gardening&rdquo; has been creeping into the lexicon, as chefs like <a href="http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/chicago-garden/2009/06/rick-bayless-urban-edible-garden.html">Rick Bayless</a> go so far as to grow their own produce or herbs, either in their backyards, or on the roofs of their businesses.<span>&nbsp; </span>Edgewater&rsquo;s Uncommon Ground has been <a href="http://www.uncommonground.com/pages/organic_roof_top_farm_page/124.php">nurturing a rooftop garden</a>, complete with solar panels for extra eco-efficiency within its building.<span>&nbsp; </span>A closer look at Kevin Hickey&rsquo;s menu at the Four Seasons reveals the fact he uses the occasional &ldquo;rooftop&rdquo; herb.<span>&nbsp;</span></p><!--StartFragment--><p class="MsoNormal">Then there are the beekeepers.<span>&nbsp; </span>The Marriot on Michigan Avenue is <a href="http://www.examiner.com/beer-in-national/marriott-hotel-rooftop-bee-hives-provide-chicago-honey-for-wheat-beer">getting into the honey business</a>, monitoring its own apiary; they&rsquo;ve also got a Rooftop Honey Wheat beer being made for them by local brewery Half Acre.<span>&nbsp; </span>Certainly, chefs there have seen that it is, indeed, possible to produce and sell delicious bee nectar, thanks to the fact the Chicago Honey Co-Op has shown success with urban honey production from an abandoned, weed-choked lot on the city&rsquo;s West Side the last few years.</p><p class="MsoNormal">In Toronto recently, I was shown some of the urban gardening operations that seem to be working, but the ones that really caught my attention were more a result of public-private cooperation, than just a single chef&rsquo;s vision for providing a less expensive way to keep mint and basil easily accessible.</p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: center;"><img height="299" width="400" alt="Evergreen Toronto (photo by Steve Dolinsky)" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-November/2010-11-07/evergreen2.jpg" /></p><p class="MsoNormal"><a href="http://www.evergreen.ca/en/about/who-we-are.sn">Evergreen</a> is a multi-faceted urban gardening, food service and education facility, with an emphasis on the arts.<span>&nbsp; </span>It&rsquo;s housed in a former brick manufacturing facility, located about 15 minutes from the center of the city.<span>&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>They&rsquo;re in the midst of final construction, so we got to see the space fairly raw.<span>&nbsp; </span>Yet their ambition is impressive.<span>&nbsp; </span>The site houses one of the largest weekly farmer&rsquo;s markets in Toronto, and the classrooms, greening projects and other urban gardening endeavors make it a must-stop for anyone with an interest in reclaiming industrial space and turning it into a gem that is accessible to the masses.</p><p class="MsoNormal"><a href="http://www.thestop.org/">The Stop </a>is another community center of sorts, except they focus more on food than greening.<span>&nbsp; </span>However, they do maintain an impressive greenhouse, which is used for after-school classes and other volunteer efforts.<span>&nbsp; </span>But the fact you can use their wood-burning oven on-site, or even attend a dinner that contains local products sourced from within 50 miles, makes it a unique destination; not exactly a place tourists would come, but still, the local food community seems to have really embraced it, and the fact they are growing, composting and cooking everything on-site is impressive.</p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: center;"><img height="536" width="400" alt="Fairmont Royal York (photo by Steve Dolinsky)" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-November/2010-11-07/fAIRMONT.jpg" /></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: left;">I also got to see the roof of the <a href="http://www.fairmont.com/royalyork/GuestServices/Restaurants">Fairmont Royal York</a> downtown.<span>&nbsp; </span>Like the Marriot in Chicago, they&rsquo;re raising bees and producing their own honey (excellent on some scones with clotted cream, by the way).<span>&nbsp; </span>But they&rsquo;ve also built quite a few raised beds on roof, and while we were there, they were harvesting away, before the first frost.<span>&nbsp; </span>I shot some video, which you can see here:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><object height="338" width="600"><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><param name="movie" value="http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=16601185&amp;server=vimeo.com&amp;show_title=0&amp;show_byline=0&amp;show_portrait=1&amp;color=c40215&amp;fullscreen=1&amp;autoplay=0&amp;loop=0" /><embed height="338" width="600" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" src="http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=16601185&amp;server=vimeo.com&amp;show_title=0&amp;show_byline=0&amp;show_portrait=1&amp;color=c40215&amp;fullscreen=1&amp;autoplay=0&amp;loop=0" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always"></embed></object><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: center;"><img height="299" width="400" alt="Drake BBQ (photo by Steve Dolinsky)" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-November/2010-11-07/Drake BBQ.jpg" /></p><p class="MsoNormal">Incidentally, while I was in town, I went to <a href="http://www.thedrakehotel.ca/BBQ">Drake BBQ</a>, connected to the super-cool, hip, Drake Hotel (kind of the antithesis of what we Chicagoans think of when we hear &quot;Drake Hotel&quot;). &nbsp;Think Melrose Avenue meets Lousiville's 21c Museum/Hotel. &nbsp;The food was spectacular, and they only focus on two things: smoked pork shoulder and smoked brisket. Honestly, never thought I'd say this, but BBQ in Toronto really rocks.</p><!--EndFragment--><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 08 Nov 2010 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/aspiring-urban-gardener-head-toronto