Friday, December 12, 2014

Great Holiday Shopping. Don't forget HoliDose this Sunday!

Green City Market will be at Dose Market taking place this Sunday at VenueOne, 1034 W. Randolph. Dose Market is a great place to pickup last minute holiday gifts. Green City Market volunteers will be on hand with Green City's new Cookbook, wrapped or unwrapped it's the perfect gift for the foodie in your life!
A Dose to eat, shop, laugh, lounge and gift, it's the biggest Dose yet, showcasing 115 of the finest
makers, bakers artisans, entrepreneurs and, well, us! Cheer alongside our fair city's finest in food, fashion and fun and take home delights for everyone on your list. It's the HoliDose!
December 14th, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
1034 W. Randolph, Chicago, IL 60642
eat, shop, laugh, lounge and gift

Tickets are $8 online, $10 at the door, both include free drink ticket for 21+
Kids under 12 always free.  No pups.
Free coat check.
Street and valet parking available. CTA Morgan Street station nearby.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Seniors Join Local Sustainable Movement by Operating Hydroponic Rooftop Garden for Senior Living Community

While many seniors are supportive of the green and sustainability movements that have become mainstream, few have rolled up their shirtsleeves, literally, to transform Residents and Sam KCI_4594_edited-1their views into practical action that makes a difference. One significant and inspiring exception is the community of seniors who live that the Concord Place Retirement & Assisted Living Community in suburban Northlake, Illinois, just west of Chicago (401 W. Lake Street, Northlake Illinois 60164; telephone 708-365-9251).

There, the residents have designed and maintain what they call their Harvest Rooftop Garden. This hydroponic garden is a collaborative effort between the residents and Concord Place's production manager, Samantha Lewerenz, who was integral in getting the system up and running to its full potential. She trained the residents in how to plant and harvest their bounty, and how to increase production.

The Garden was installed in the spring of 2014. David Friedman, whose company, F&F Realty, owns and operates Concord Place, is very passionate about the sustainability movement and using local food sources. He hired a gardening consulting firm, Topiarius, to transform the existing rooftop greenhouse, which grew flowers the traditional way, into a modern hydroponic growing facility. It was an exciting undertaking.
Hydroponic Graden KCI_4510"The Rooftop Hydroponic Garden has become a place that is easily accessible for the residents and encourages them to learn, grow, share knowledge and enjoy the harvest," said Friedman. "It has given many of our seniors a sense of purpose. They are able to grow their own food which is used in Concord Place's kitchen. They are actually taking part in feeding their own community, while learning about local food sources and sustainability."

The community grows a variety of sustainable fruits, vegetables and herbs in the garden. Among them are parsley, oregano, cilantro, thyme, mint, parsley, dill, fennel, basil and a variety of lettuces, including a gourmet blend. They also are experimenting with Swiss chard, sugar snap peas and microgreens. Approximately 30 pounds of lettuce are harvested at a time, along with a few pounds of herbs. Some of the produce is used in the living facility and some is shared with local restaurants.

"We wanted to make sure that we didn't waste any surplus produce," said Friedman, "so we arranged for Resident and Chef KCI_4623 copythe surplus to be used by our company's restaurants." Currently Concord Place is sharing its bounty with seven restaurants. Among them is Glen Prairie in Glen Ellyn, Illinois which prides itself on its local initiatives. Other restaurants using the produce are Dine Restaurant and Metro Klub in Chicago; Chicago Fire Oven in Rosemont, Illinois; Karma Asian Cuisine & Fine Wine and Karma Pub in Mundelein, Illinois; and Birch River Grill in Arlington Heights, Illinois, all of which are committed to using local ingredients.

An efficient system that requires everyone to learn new ways of gardening
While hydroponic gardening is very efficient-its uses 90 percent less water than a traditional garden because the water is recirculated-it is quite a different process than traditional gardening, and there is a definite learning curve. But after several months of learning and refining the system, the hydroponic garden is becoming stable and surprisingly productive.

Greenhouse Garden KCI_4638Hydroponic garden involves several steps. First, plant seeds are inserted into seed starter trays on the propagation table, where they are carefully watered. After they spend from one to three weeks there, the young plants are moved to a second table, where they spend another two weeks to develop a root system. Then they are moved to the hydroponic medium containing the necessary nutrients to enable them to grow to maturity. The system includes a simple gutter circulation system which allows the water be retained and recirculated throughout the garden. "In some ways, this is easier than traditional gardening," said Lewerenz. "But since it's a new way of doing things, there are many aspects of the process that need to be learned."

For example, the gardeners have learned that they must maintain a good pH balance in the water for the Chef Sam and resident KCI_4629 copyplants to do well. They also try to keep the temperature of the garden, which is inside a greenhouse environment, as controlled as possible. But given that the air temperature outside changes with the seasons, they have learned that the inside temperature does vary. They have discovered that summer vegetables, such as tomatoes and cucumbers, do better in the summer, while cooler weather crops, such as peas, are better grown during the colder months. The herbs tend to do well throughout the year, which is a bonus for the residents and the chefs in the Concord Place kitchen. In keeping with the accessibility needs of the more elderly residents, all tables in the garden are tall so that residents don't have to bend over to do their gardening work.

Harvest KCI_4563"We are still expanding the garden and haven't reached full capacity yet," said Lewerenz. "We are experimenting with other specialty greens and edible flowers such as violas and nasturtium, which has an edible, peppery-tasting flower. We also have a Dutch bucket system in which we are growing tomatoes and cucumbers. We are using as many natural and organic methods as possible to produce the best nutrient-rich products. Hydroponic gardening systems use up to 90 percent less water than traditional irrigation systems; the system recirculates the water. We are hoping to incorporate a compost system and we may be able to install some raised beds on the roof area outside the hydroponic garden."

The residents are interacting and learning about new flavors and tastes
The residents of Concord Place have been very involved with the Hydroponic Garden. There has been a
Residents with Dave KCI_4601 copy core group of residents who have spearheaded the daily gardening activity-seeding, maintaining and harvesting. They also help make decisions as to what to grow.

The residents can come and go as they please to care for the garden, and when families come to visit they can join in. Reactions have been very positive. One resident said, "So much work goes into getting those little seeds into those pots. But then you see what comes," said resident Louise "Wheezy" Dellert.  A growing number of residents are becoming involved with the garden and, of course, they like to share a nibble or two while they're working. Some residents even help move the process along by growing plants in their apartments. The facility's chefs stop by to pick what they need for the day's menus.

Resident Louise Dellert KCI_4619 copy"It has been great to bring the residents together through a food based program," said Lewerenz. "This is a very good way to interact, and the residents are learning to try new things and enjoy new flavors. We plan to work closer with the residents to get them more involved, providing them with educational opportunities and helping to facilitate more community relationships within the residential community. There are many hydroponic gardens being set up in the area, but none in a retirement community that involves and benefits the community like this one. We're really proud of what we've been able to accomplish so far. We hope to provide many of the greens used at Concord's kitchen. It doesn't get any more local than that!"

About Concord Place Retirement & Assisted Living Community

Conveniently located at 401 W. Lake Street in Northlake, Illinois 60164. Concord Place Retirement & Assisted Living Community offers an exceptional and affordable retirement living, supportive living and assisted living community in and around the Chicago area.
At Concord Place Retirement & Assisted Living Community residents take part in a wide variety of social, educational, and recreational activities. Life is always exciting! There is always something to do, someone new to meet, or someplace to go. Take part in daily events, trips and a variety of special activities. The fine, restaurant-style dining offers a very wide variety of menu options prepared daily by a gourmet chef. The restaurant is open all day so that residents are served based on their own schedule. At Concord Place, they not only feed the soul of their residents, but their body as well.
For more information about Concord Place Retirement & Assisted Living Community, please contact them at (708) 365-9251 or visit their website at

Photo credit: Cindy Kurman, Kurman Communications, Inc.

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Chef Paul Choi KCI_4626_captionedChef KCI_4654
Dine team KCI_4606_edited-1Samantha Lewerenz KCI_4537 v1

Monday, December 1, 2014

Tomorrow Marks #GivingTuesday. Contribute to Green City Market

#GivingTuesday kicks off tomorrow and it’s a perfect time to bring awareness to donations needed to sustain Green City Market. Why is Green City Market unique in its needs to raise funds?
 “It’s expensive to run Green City Market,” says Sarah Stegner, co-president of the board. "We understand that a lot of customers think that shopping at Green City Market supports the market’s operations. It doesn't."
Green City Market’s greatest challenge is balancing the growing expenses of running an outdoor
market while keeping its farm fees as low as possible. Green City Market's booth fees are among the lowest in Chicago by $10-$20 per market. However these fees cover just 14% of its expenses to run an outdoor market, with its top expenditures being mulch to keep our shoppers and vendors dry in inclement weather, park district fees, and the required outdoor restrooms.Because of the difference in Green City Market’s costs to operate Chicago’s first year-round farmers market and keeping its farmers' fees intentionally low, Green City Market must rely on the support of generous individuals to help cover this difference.

Green City Market asks you to please consider making a tax deductible donation to our 501 (c) 3 charitable organization to help cover the gap between its costs to run the market and its intentionally low farmers' fees. By giving to Green City Market, you are impacting the Chicago community by supporting the belief that good food is a right, not a privilege.

All donations greater than $50 receive a free tote bag!
This year’s new effort to raise money through the sale of the Green City Market Cookbook provides an added income stream to help supplement the cost of running the market. The cookbook makes a perfect holiday gift and those who purchase the book can feel a personal reward as they are helping support the market’s bottom line. This year’s #GivingTuesday dollars can go even further as Green City Market has a $20k matching gift for our Edible Gardens program. Green City Market will create donation cards if anyone wants to give a gift to a Market fan. Additionally, Green City Market offers sponsorship opportunities to support programs such as Chef Demonstrations, the Green City Market Chefs Barbecue, Eat Local campaign and Club Sprout activities.

Green City Market is honored to be among the thousands of businesses to join the national #GivingTuesday movement to encourage spending with a purpose.  #GivingTuesday is the first of its kind effort to harness the collective power of a unique blend of partners - charities, families, businesses and individuals – to transform how people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season. Coinciding with the holiday shopping season, #GivingTuesday inspires people to take collaborative action which will improve their local communities, give back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes they support and help create a better world.

Contributions may be made by visiting:

Donate today!
"Good food is a right, not a privilege." ~Alice Waters

Here is how your donation helps Green City Market. If you give…
$30 you have provided our daily match for 2 Illinois Link card holders.
$50 you have bought 2 weeks of produce for the Club Sprouts program.
$100 you have supported the cost of our compost program for a single market.
$250 you have purchased chef demo supplies for a month.
$500 you have paid for mulch expenses for one market.
$1000 you have provided scholarships for 2 of our farmers.
$2000 you have covered our per market difference between operating costs

Thursday, November 13, 2014

ThinKArt Event: The Art of Intervention Diplomacy and Deployment after Iraq This Friday

ThinKArt invites you to 
The Art of Intervention: Diplomacy
and Deployment after Iraq
Dominique de Villepin
Former Prime Minister and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of France

Friday, November 14
5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. 
Doors open: 4:30 p.m.
Mandel Hall, 1131 E 57th St
Free and open to the public