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November is here! My birthday month arrives with a crisp chill in the air and my favorite holiday in the distance. November also marks the ‘official’ or maybe unofficial beginning of the holiday season. So to give you a head start on things happening in Chi Town this month, we’ve compiled some of our favorite suggestions for what to do with your schedule before it goes totally mad!

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By Lydia Krupinski

Sprout Chicago loves to be active, fruitful, and at the forefront of bringing you news and views about eco-living in Chicago. I am at once joyous and sad to share that my close friend and co-conspirator Irena has just uprooted to Morocco. Though we hope she will find the time to continue to contribute to the blog, her new adventure will be leaving her breathless with increidble experiences while immersed in a vibrant new culture.

September also becomes an incredibly busy season for me as the holidays creep up and the fall show circuit begins for my eco biz Pierogi Picnic. As I prepare for Chicago’s Renegade Craft Fair, I am documenting my journey on my new blog “Throwing a Pierogi Picnic.” Between this and other escapades I must forewarn readers that I will be sporadically updating Sprout Chicago as time allows. Hopefully by mid-October things will clear enough for both Irena and myself to get back into the green swing of things.

With that in mind – if you’re interested in becoming a contributor to our blog please contact us! We are always eager to have guest reviewers, photographers, and musers. So if you have a green slant to a story, or would like to chronicle your upcoming Midwest road trip – please send us a note!

And as always – stay green!

Photo by Barbara Wiebel

Summer is the season for fest hopping in the city. With about 10 different street fairs taking place each weekend, it’s the perfect way to plan a day: ride your bike, grab a snack, purchase local goodies, people watch and listen to live music. The only drawback (besides scorching heat and sweaty fest goers) is that for veg heads like myself, it’s difficult finding ethical nosh.

Veggie Fest to the rescue!

This annual vegetarian fair combines the outdoor vending spirit with yummy animal-free feasting. Taking place next weekend, this is the one fair not to be missed by those who opt-out of meat and their loving supporters. We recommend gathering friends and car pooling to this event, unless you’re up for a loooong bike ride.

Photo by Barbara Weibel

What: Veggie Fest

When: Saturday, August 7th 11am-8pm

Sunday, August 8th 11am-7pm

Where: 4S175 Naperville Road, Naperville

Cost: Free!

Image from Chicago Free Info

It’s no secret that the Taste of Chicago is one of the most attended festivals that takes place in the city. In Sprout Chicago fashion, we filtered through all of the booths to bring you the following list – but were unexpectadly dismayed. Some of last year’s staples, like Soul Veg East and Arya Bhavan, are not participating!

Our advice – skip the event all together, and take that money directly to some of Chicago’s finest vegetarian restaurants. You can find a great list of our recommendations on our ‘Links’ page, or check out Veg Guide for an international list of veg-friendly dining.

And if you can’t possibly forfeit your Taste trip – we have one recommendation:

(# 17) Summer Noodle & Rice

I’m a little biased when it comes to this place because it is just one block away from my abode – but that means that I’ve tediously pre-screened their fare and can safely give it an enthusiastic thumbs up. This is one of the few booths that is offering a vegetarian platter on its Taste menu. So if you’re looking for one plate with a variety of goods – hit up their booth for fresh Thai.

Interview and photos by Lydia Krupinski

As our food becomes frequently outsourced to other regions and countries, groups are taking a stand and resurrecting a time-honored tradition: the victory garden. While some movements set to re-invent the wheel, others look back to previous generations for inspiration and to empower their communities. One such group literally broke ground on the far North side of Chicago a few weeks ago. The Peterson Garden Project sets to connect Chicago residents with the earth, their food, and each other. Located just west of Western on Peterson Avenue, this incredible space is changing the way residents are looking at food, community, and empty lots.

By renting a plot, experienced and novice gardeners can share in the satisfaction of growing their own food, which in turn cuts down on both their ecological and economic footprints. For only $45 a season, growers receive a 24 square foot plot, access to the gardening forums, and unlimited advice from their fellow gardeners. For those unable to tend their own land, the Project’s volunteers can nurture a crop for a reasonable donation. The only requirements: Visit your plot 2-3 times a week, commit to using organic gardening methods, and pay your dues. It’s that simple!

Sprout Chicago had the honor and privilege to visit the newly tilled space and speak with the garden’s founder, LaManda Joy, about the Project and more. Read the rest of this entry »

Photo from the Green Festival website

We’ve been waiting for this – the moment when the Green Festival rolls into town!

This weekend we will be attending the eco-extravaganza that is hailed as one of the top green events to hit Chicago. Last year we learned about conscious non-profits, scoped out some fun vegan tees and jewelry, loaded up on holistic body care samples, and tasted some incredible local cuisine.

The event is also sprinkled with children’s activities, green-living workshops, presentations, and more! Check out A Fresh Squeeze’s Insiders Guide” before heading out and print out a free pass!

What: Green Festival

Where: Navy Pier

When: Saturday, May 22nd 10-7 and Sunday, May 23rd 11-6

Cost: $10 or free if you ride your bike!

When we saw this response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, we had to share! Carl Safina of the Blue Ocean Institute said it best:

KPA/Zuma/Rex Features

“Don’t believe the globe is warming? Here’s one thing everyone agrees on: the fact that oil spills. Even without global warming—even if global warming is a hoax—we must, finally, eventually, kick the carbon-energy addiction. The fact that oil spills is among those reasons…” [Read the rest of his post here]

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