Week #49 – Winter Bazaar Benefiting Red Door Animal Shelter

My friend and co-worker Erica (who took our adorable photos with George) told me about the Winter Bazaar that she was exhibiting at, and I knew I wanted to go. I love craft shows! Better yet? Proceeds from the Bazaar went to Red Door Animal Shelter in West Rodgers Park.

I drove over to Warren Park, located in the same area, and was surprised by how big the green space was. When I looked on the Park District’s website, I noticed there is ice skating here when it gets cold, along with many other activities year-round.

I walked into the gymnasium, and it was such a sight to see. Vendors selling their work–everything from knitted items to beauty products to stationary to art and so much more. Dogs dressed up for the holidays. Photos with Santa! A cookie walk, in which you pay by the pound for fresh, homemade cookies. You definitely couldn’t be bored here, that’s for sure.

Erica and her friends Kristen (http://www.etsy.com/shop/tinyseabeast), Emily, and Emma (http://www.etsy.com/shop/ClawedMeownet) were the first booth when you walked in (prime real estate!). Erica and I walked around to see the vendor offerings, and I did a little shopping.

First, I purchased some cards from a woman who sold cards with French Bulldogs on them! Then, I met Gretta of Gretta’s Goats and fell in love with her story and her products. She has dozens of goats up in Grayslake, Illinois, (but she was moving just after the show) and makes these delicious smelling soaps that are handmade from goat’s milk that are raised in organic pastures. On her website, you can meet all of her goats, see the different soap scents, and purchase her soap. She also visits a lot of local farmer’s markets (check her Facebook page to learn more). Family: don’t be surprised if you receive this wonderful soap as a Christmas present!

I ended my visit at Erica and her friends’ booth, where I picked out some of Erica’s beautiful and fun cards, and purchased one of Kristen’s pretty cowls (magenta!).

Keep an eye out for the Winter Bazaar next year, and be sure to take a look at the vendors’ sites. It’s so nice to shop events like this because you’re not only supporting the animals (which is important!), but also local small business owners, too.

Red Door Animal Shelter
2410 West Lunt Ave.
West Rodgers Park

Warren Park
6601 North Western Ave.
West Rodgers Park

20131208-084955.jpg

20131208-085017.jpg

20131208-085029.jpg

20131208-110608.jpg

Week #16 – Growing Power’s Iron Street Farm

How much do you give back to your local community? If you’re like me, not enough. Nate and I are big supporters of local farming (Nate’s family owns farmland in west central Illinois)—we even went on a local tour of O’O Farms on our honeymoon in Maui. So when I saw a Groupon for this tour, I really wanted to check out how farmers are growing food in an urban area not far from my apartment!

Growing Power is a great example of a local organization that brings all walks of life together in efforts to provide safe, affordable, and healthy food to communities in Chicago, Madison, and its headquarters in Milwaukee. Nate and I enjoyed touring Growing Power’s facility in Bridgeport over the weekend, to see how their growing local and sustainable food.

The farm facility lives on a seven-acre property that was transformed from an abandoned trucking depot space in 2002. Since then, the building has received a facelift with murals painted by local area kids. Growing Power’s Chicago Iron Street Farm has been using alternative ways to grow food and raise animals and fish year-round, which they sell to local restaurants, at farmers markets around the city, and at their Iron Street location. They also have a food CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) you can participate in over the summer. And they couldn’t do it without the many volunteers the farm has throughout the week. (We saw lots of young people helping out and others preparing food for composting.) When we went on our tour, we saw the following operations:

  • Hoop-houses that grow fresh produce (we saw lots of lettuces, spinach, swiss chard, and mushroom chandeliers)
  • Aquaponics systems, which each produce hundreds of Yellow Perch (they were also growing watercress in these systems when we visited)
  • Vermicomposting (composting using worms to create rich soil that they sell too)
  • Young goats being raised as pets
  • We also learned about the bee hives that Growing Power has in the summer to make products like honey, candles, and lip balm.

It’s important to note all of the awesome compost partnerships that Growing Power has with Chicago-area restaurants. They include:

The most exciting part about this visit was to see how people are making a difference not far from where we live. Sometimes you get caught up in the daily woes of your life and don’t really see the big picture. Nate and I are considering the CSA for the summer, and Nate even mentioned wanting to get more involved.  As I get older (and hopefully wiser), it’s important for me to be aware of what’s going on in my community and my city. I’m proud of where I’m from, and I want to be a part of what makes it great. This year is also a quest to find ways that I can make a difference, and to be more aware of where I live and what’s going on around me. I’ve always thought that if you can change one life, your life is worth living.

3333 S. Iron Street
Bridgeport
photo-180 photo-182 photo-191 photo-181 photo-183 photo-184 photo-185 photo-186 photo-187 photo-188 photo-189 photo-190