Thursday, August 27, 2009

Local industry goes green

This summer Holcim concrete has taken an active interest in the community garden found at 97th and Marquette. Holcim has long been a part of SETF's 'Good Neighbor Dialogue' where we engage local industry on the southeast side in dialogue over their practices and opportunities we see to make them more eco-friendly and energy efficient. At a recent meeting in Holcim, SETF expressed its interest in finding supplies for our garden and natives work. We had a lot of day-to-day work needs such as requiring nails, paint, wood, and other materials for construction of interpretive displays. Not only did Holcim supply the above goods, but they also furnished safety goggles and gloves for our volunteers in addition to giving a safety lecture!

Many thanks to Tim, Kervin, and John at Holcim for their time and dedication to our cause. We are pleased that Holcim recognizes the value of sustainable agriculture and native gardens for our community and that they are willing to give their time and resources. We look forward to a continuation of the productive and mutually beneficial relationship with Holcim in the coming years.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Putting a new shade of green in your green thumb

What do birds and tomatoes have in common? One unique garden in South Chicago located on 97th Street and Marquette Avenue. Recently, two groups on the Southeast Side of Chicago have teamed up to address two issues: the dearth of grocery stores and markets that offer a selection of healthy produce, and the lack of native gardens with plants that encourage biodiversity.

Healthy Southeast Chicago and the Southeast Environmental Task Force ( are together encouraging residents to plant “biodiversity gardens” using native plants like the purple coneflower (Echinacea) shown here for health and various native wild flowers to attract birds and insects. This is coupled with classic urban agriculture edibles such as peppers, corn, squash and tomatoes.

Native plants restore the health of our ecosystem by providing habitat for birds, butterflies, and other insects, and vegetable gardens provide nutrition for people. SETF is also exploring how natives can also be used to clean polluted soil over the years. With any luck, social justice and environmental conservation will find a healthy balance in communities home and community gardens