Sunday, December 11, 2016

Do you like free plants?

Anyone out there like free things? Anyone? Anyone? 
Ya that's what I thought, everyone enjoys anything that has the word FREE in front of it. 

Well now I have just the thing for you! Its free plants straight from your very own garden. The key to this is to propagate plants that already exist. 

Kathy Woodard explains exactly how one can propagate plants, from your own plants or even friendly neighbors or family. Here is the link: Free Plants!! | The Garden Glove


Friday, September 9, 2016

Air plants are in!!

Say hello to the newest, dare I say coolest, succulent. If you're looking for a fun plant buddy who doesn't require soil, you have met your match. Air plants gather their nutrients from the air around them. This means they do not need soil to grow. They do however, still need to be watered. It is recommended that you give your air plants a bath every one to two weeks for an hour or so and then try them face down so that they can dry fully to prevent molding. You can mist them intermittently throughout the week to keep them happy and healthy. They like filtered sunlight, so keep them by your window! You can purchase an air plant at your local florist shop, farmers markets, or large home stores like Home Depot also carry air plants.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Rooted in Soil

Urban and farming don't tend to be used in the same sentence. Hearing urban, the mind wanders towards city skylines, CTA trains bustling through the wind and people hurrying, stressed to get to their next destination. Farming on the other hand, is all corn fields and quiet sunlight. But the two have crossed paths, as have I.

Last fall, I began my first year at DePaul, in a city in which I had only visited once prior. I was scared and nervous and confused and overwhelmed. Chicago was and is so full of opportunities and I seemed so small. Everything was loud! beautiful, exciting, but it was also confusing and scary and hectic. My days ranged between loving and living in  the current moment and longing for the security of the past. I struggled to find familiarity in the land of the new . 

In high school, I found comfort in the community garden. It was my safe space, the setting years worth of growing .The 25 by 10 foot patch that sat outside my high school helped me cultivate tomato, cucumbers, knowledge of the environment, of others and of myself. So long ago, when I was a lost high school Freshmen, I found my calm there. I released my frustrations raking out the soil. My hands transferred my emotions to the plants.  As I watered the plants, I began to explore what nourishment I needed to grow. The garden served as a space where I could think, I could feel and I could find what I was looking for. Soil is, and always has been, good for my soul.

And coming to Chicago has not changed that. When I found the tucked away garden on Belden and Bissell, I knew I felt the air of another transformative space. I spotted the big compost pile, the thrown away pieces of things that yet to be renewed. I saw the colorful wooden table and the radiant  people who surrounded it. I met individuals who shared the same love for life and for the Earth. They welcomed me with kind smiles and open hearts. A community of people who on my first nervous day, offered me seeds, soil and a container, so that I could cultivate my own life here. They gave me familiarity and again, the opportunity to learn from the Earth and my environment. They helped me to plant and sow my seeds here.

Like plants in this world, we grow and change. We are dropped into situations and soils with unknown mixtures. We are given the light and the nourishment to become something beautiful. While we sprout up fast one day, we may be thirsty for help the next. We change with the seasons and the environments we live in. It is not always a fast process, but we get there with the help of others along the way. Thank you Urban Farming Organization for being my sunlight, my water and my soil.

-Allison Carvalho

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Growing Power's Iron Street Farm

On Saturday, February 22, members of DePaul UFO traveled to Growing Power Chicago's Iron Street Farm. Started in 1993, Growing Power has evolved from an "organization with teens who needed a place to work" to a "national and global commitment to sustainable food systems." (Read a NYTimes Magazine article on founder, Will Allen HERE)  

Growing Power's Chicago Projects Office opened in 2002 and Iron Street Farm is one of six Urban Farms sites in the city.

Some fun guys and gals (group of DePaul UFO members)
And some fungi (mushrooms growing at Iron Street Farm)

Want to learn more about Growing Power Chicago? Next weekend (March 13-15), they will be participating in Good Food Festival and Conference at UIC Forum! If you are interested in volunteering at the festival, CLICK HERE.

Last week, Will's daughter, Erika Allen was interviewed as a part of Inspiring Grateful's Food Growing Summit, an online tele-summit hosted by Gary Heine and Valerie Kausen. Check out just a few of her many inspiring words below.

So for me it's not like feel good spiritually or whatever but it's really about economic development; that is food justice to me. And I think it's a change, like a series of interns, young people that come through “What's this food justice?” and I put my hands up and say, “It's about growing food, employing people well above minimum wage from communities that are most impacted by food insecurity, poverty and crime. So that’s food justice.”

It's not about sitting around the fire and talking about the creation of the universe, that's not food justice. That's awesome, but that's not what the work is for me. The work is really about changing the dynamic of how people survive and people having control over what goes into their bodies. They have control over where they live, they have control over their environment and when you have poverty and all these pieces coming together, you don't have those things.

So the food becomes a tool for justice. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

3, 2, 1, ACTION

Last Tuesday, DePaul UFO hosted a screening of American Meat, a Leave It Better documentary about the current conditions, people, problems, and solutions of the U.S. Meat Industry. Consider these THREE REASONS American Meat is different/refreshing, read these TWO TESTIMONIALS from UFOers, and then go to the DePaul Richardson Library and check out this ONE AWESOME FILM!

Not only did American Meat expose the flaws in the current meat industry through an ethical, social, economic, and environmental lens, but it offered a sustainableeconomic-safe solution for meat production in the United States. I concluded the screening feeling positive thoughts about the future of our meat industry. A must see!
-Megan Lee

I love American Meat because it is pro-farmer in every way. The film doesn't villainize farmers who are part of the industrial agriculture system, but instead demonstrates how these people are stuck in a system that is not only unsustainable, but that is also inherently unfair to our nation's farmers. It also highlights not only the problems with our meat industry, but the shortage of farmers that the current system is creating. 

At the same time, the film highlights the incredible people who are pursuing a different way of doing things. And mostly, I love that American Meat shows a different side of meat production that can really challenge the ideas you have about raising animals for food, and what that practice looks like. American Meat is a movie that is truly full of hope, and it has played a huge role in my passion for sustainable agriculture - seeing it for the first time two years ago is part of what made me want to farm.
- Abby Lundrigan

Good Golly, They're Citrus Fruits!

UFO Word of the Day:

2. grapefruit oranges lemons limes yuzus
""Golly! These fruits are full of flavor, Vitamin C, Potassium, and happiness.""

We'll keep this short and sweet! For more information and fun factoids, check out CUESA's Guide to Citrus Fruits and Winter Citrus: Fruits with A Peel 

                                     photo from

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Mushrooms and Bok Choy and Squash, Oh My

Nature supplies some super foods to build your immune system, boost your energy, and bring comfort to your cold winter days. Here are a few fruits and vegetables that exemplify nature's amazing seasonal solutions


What room can be eaten? A mushroom. Aw man, somebody stepped on that mushroom..too bad, he must have been a fungi. Not enjoying these fungus jokes? They might grow on in you with time..

Not only do mushrooms possess impressive pun potential, but they are also packed with some serious immune-system support. According to World', mushrooms contain certain phytonutrients that guide white blood cell activity, have been observed to block the production of pro-inflammatory molecules, and offer a significant source of antioxidant nutrients of selenium, zinc, and manganese. 


Delicata, to Blue Hokkaido, to Kabocha, the varieties of winter squash offer more than just some fun names.One variety, Butternut Squash, is deemed a power food by Butternut Squash boasts an arsenal of carotenoids (pigments responsible for that beautiful tangerine hue). Most notable is its abundance of beta-carotene, a pre-cursor to vitamin A (keeping your sight sharp during short winter days). Further, Butternut Squash's supply of vitamin B6 offers essential support to your immune and nervous systems. 
                                                                               the rain is gone..


                                         (photo by

Winter Wellness Bowl from MindBodyGreen
 (click link for recipe)

                                                                  (photo by Olivia Johnson)

"Bok, Broc, and Squash" Pizza

Steam or sauté bok choy, broccoli, butternut squash. Slice fresh mozzarella and grate fresh grana padano. Prepare HomemadeGarlicFlatbread dough, divide in half, and roll out each section pizza-style. Place section in skillet, top with olive oil, cook until bottom just begins to brown, flip pancake-style, and add pesto, cheeses, vegetables, cannelloni beans, and rosemary. When cheese begins to melt, transfer really-hope-this-doesn't-fall-on-the-floor-style to cookie sheet. Repeat with second section, and bake at 350 degrees for 8-17.5 minutes (give or take). Remove from oven, slice, and enjoy every bite of color and freshness of this home-made goodness.

If you're not sold on Shrooms or Squash, Part 2 of this post will feature some Winter Citrus (fruits with a peel), so stay tuned.

In the meantime, feel free to leave some questions/details/funfacts/praise/recipes of your favorite winter vegetable or fruit in the comments below!