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From Carmel Green Initiative, a great upcoming local event…hope to see you there!

Sustainable Living Seminar: Forks Over Knives

Learn how to improve your health and the health of our planet by changing your eating habits.

Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013
6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Carmel Clay Public Library

The film “Forks Over Knives” examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods. You can also taper your greenhouse-gas footprint by eating more plant based foods. Global meat production produces more ozone depleting gases than every plane, train and car combined. After the movie, Sarah Smith of Whole Foods Market will have a whole food plant based sample for you to try and answer questions on how you can transition to eating lower on the food chain. Free door prizes will be raffled. This event is sponsored by Carmel Green Initiative, the Carmel Clay Public Library and Whole Foods Market.


Thanks for all of you that were able to make it to last week’s informational meeting with the folks from Victory Acres. I thought I would post some information for those of you who weren’t able to make it. We need TEN full shares signed up in order to make it worthwhile for Victory Acres to add a drop-off at Grace + for Victory Acres to donate a full share to the Grace Choice Food Pantry. Check out their website for all of the information about the farm:

Here are the specifics for the Grace drop-off:

  • $600 for a full share of 20-22 weeks (end of May through the end of October) of organic, local produce (averages out to about $1.50-$2 a pound)
  • Pickup on Tuesday evenings at Grace
  • A full share feeds approximately 4-5 adults

*You can split a share with another family. If you have another family that might be interested, you can sign up together and split the shares each week (a half share feeds about 2-3 adults). Or you could take alternating weeks with the other family. If you don’t have another family in mind, email the farm (, and they will match you with another family interested in splitting a share.

CSA members also have access to other farm benefits, such as:

  • farm visits
  • farm special events
  • you-pick berries
  • you-pick herbs
  • you-pick flowers
  • first-choice on pastured beef, pork, and eggs at the farm

Some questions I’ve heard lately below…add any additional questions in the comments. We’ve been in CSAs for the past 5+ years, so we might be able to answer some questions.

What is community-supported agriculture? Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a mutually beneficial relationship between a farmer and her community. CSA members purchase farm shares. These shares ensure that the farmer will have a stable income and also allow her to develop an appropriate crop plan. In return, the farmer provides the CSA members with fresh, nutritious produce each week throughout the growing season–usually the end of May through October. Together, the farmer and CSA members share the risk and the reward of the harvest. When the crops are bountiful, members receive extra produce. When uncontrollable circumstances, such as drought or plant disease, deplete the harvest, then everyone shares the loss. Fortunately, with over 35 varieties of organically-grown fruits and vegetables, the harvest is usually plentiful.

What does a share include? Members receive 20-22 weeks of fresh, seasonal produce, including lettuce, spinach, turnips, radishes, scallions, onions, cabbage, broccoli, peas, swiss chard, kale, collards, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, okra, green beans, carrots, cucumbers, summer and winter squash, eggplant, pumpkins, beets, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, celery, garlic, and raspberries. In addition, the farm provides seasonal pick-your-own opportunities with our most abundant crops, such as green beans and tomatoes. Members also have access to the farm’s herb and flower gardens, special events, workshops, and regular farm updates and recipes through email, Facebook, and Twitter.

Who is in charge? Leslie Gottschalk is the farm’s CSA manager. She brings with her multiple years of hands-on CSA experience and an extensive knowledge of the field, including a B.S. in biology/education and a pending master’s degree in environmental science.

What do I do with the food? Check back here! I do a weekly post on what we do with our CSA, as well as post tons of recipes. Victory Acres also sends along recipes every week with your share. We are participating, so there will be plenty more recipes here throughout the summer. We grow our own in our garden and participate in the CSA. That way, we have plenty of garden-fresh, local produce all summer and winter long. I’ll share my preserving methods/tricks as we go too.

What if we don’t get ten shares for the Grace drop-off? All you have to do now is sign and email the membership agreement form to the farm. Write GRACE at the top, as well as who (if applicable) you’re splitting your share with. If you want to split a share but don’t have anyone in mind, just write on the top of your application that you’re looking for someone to split with. If we don’t get to ten full shares, there won’t be a Grace drop-off, and you won’t be committed to anything. You won’t need to pay until June, and you can also pay in two installments if necessary. (the drop-off sites offered on the membership application are less expensive due to the decreased transportation costs)

SOOO what next?

If you’re interested in participating, send in your membership application right this minute, so that the farm can plan accordingly, and we can find out as soon as possible if we hit our ten shares.

nativesI’ve been reading more about native plants and the dangers of invasive species lately. I’m realizing how little I know about my home’s (central Indiana, where I’ve lived for all but three years of my entire life) biodiversity. I’m trying to do better, both just to know this place better and in hopes of teaching our children to value the uniqueness of our home. So I thought I would share a little bit of what I’m learning here. I’m hoping you’ll do the same, so we can learn together.

The Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society is the BEST source for information on native plants in general, but it is an especially great resource for those of us who live in Indiana. Seriously, just go poke around that site for awhile, and you’ll be overwhelmed with the amount of great information available to us gardeners. What I found particularly helpful was their list of what NOT to plant in your yard:


crown vetch  Coronilla varia
dame’s rocket  Hesperis matronalis
Korean lespedeza  Kummerowia stipulacea
striate lespedeza  Kummerowia striata
white sweet clover  Melilotus alba
yellow sweet clover  Melilotus officinalis
Japanese knotweed  Polygonum cuspidatum


miscanthus hybrid  Micscanthus x gigantea
Chinese maiden grass  Miscanthus sinensis
reed canarygrass, ribbon grass  Phalaris arundinacea
common reed  Phragmites australis
tall fescue  Schedonorus arundinaceus


Japanese barberry Berberis thunbergii
Russian olive  Elaeagnus angustifolia
autumn olive  Elaeagnus umbellata
burning bush  Euonymus alatus
glossy buckthorn  Frangula alnus
bicolor lespedeza  Lespedeza bicolor
sericea lespedeza  Lespedeza cuneata
Amur privet  Ligustrum amurense
blunt leaved privet  Ligustrum obtusifolium
California privet  Ligustrum ovalifolium
Chinese privet  Ligustrum sinense
common privet  Ligustrum vulgare
Amur honeysuckle  Lonicera maackii
Morrow’s honeysuckle  Lonicera morrowii
Tatarian honeysuckle  Lonicera tatarica
Bell’s honeysuckle  Lonicera x bella
common buckthorn  Rhamnus cathartica


Norway maple  Acer platanoides
sawtooth oak  Quercus acutissima
Siberian elm  Ulmus pumila


Asian bittersweet  Celastrus orbiculatus
wintercreeper  Euonymus fortunei
English ivy  Hedera helix
Japanese hops  Humulus japonicus
Japanese honeysuckle  Lonicera japonica
periwinkle  Vinca minor

I’m sure you, like me, recognize many of those varieties in your own yard. We’re working to replace those where they exist in our yard (when practical) with native species. The natives that we have used have thrived in our yard. It is especially noticeable after the past several growing seasons with very wet springs and dry summers because the natives are doing well, even thriving, while the non-native species have either died or require much more water and maintenance throughout the dry summers particularly.

Mark your calendars now for the INPAWS Native Plant Sale on Saturday, May 11 at Park Tudor School. The Hamilton County Master Gardener Association has a great sale with lots of natives (including trees) as well on Saturday, May 18 at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds.

springWe are especially sick of winter this year – we have all been sick at one point or another throughout February, and we’re ready for spring to hurry up already. Grant and I have been planning and scheming up plans for our home garden, of course. We ordered some seeds (as usual) from Nature’s Crossroads, a local seed company just down the road in Bloomington. They’re offering two free packets of Siberian kale seeds with every spring order through March 15. We’re still working on our big plan, but I’ll share it here when we get things figured out.

In the meantime, we would love to have you help out with Plant a Row for the Hungry – at home and at our community gardens. We are hoping to have a small demonstration garden at Grace this year, too, that we’ll certainly need your help maintaining. In addition, Shepherd Community Center has a wonderful garden/food program, and they’re always looking for volunteers. Of course, Grace’s Choice Food Pantry could always use your help. Our Creation Care team is really ramping up, but we need your time and help.

If you want any additional information on the above, please leave a comment below!


Indianapolis Green Congregations and Epworth United Methodist Church are hosting an exciting workshop called Awakening the Dreamer: Creating an Environmentally Sustainable, Socially Just and Spiritually Fulfilling World on January 26, 2013 at Epworth UMC. It sounds like a great event and opportunity to meet like-minded people. The cost is $10 + an item to share for a potluck lunch. Childcare is also available. For more information, check here.

Be sure and report back if you’re able to go!

Indianapolis Green Congregations is sponsoring a great event this Wednesday on climate change and its effects on health. Be sure to check it out!

What: More details and register for free here

When: Wednesday, November 14, 2012
7:00 PM – 8:30 PM

Where: First Congregational United Church of Christ
7171 N. Pennsylvania St.
Indianapolis, 46240

Join us!

This weekend at Grace, we’ll be discussing the sixth broken place: creation!

So please join us to hear what Dave Rod has to say, and then come over afterwards to the Care For Creation booth at the Frontline Expo and sign-up to help Grace tackle this huge broken place. We need you.

Service times: Saturday at 4:30, 6:15 & Sunday at 9 and 11

We found out last week that our CSA of several years, LIFE Farm, is shutting its doors. Read the details here. This year’s drought was just too much. We received our last CSA boxes last week, and they were beautiful and packed full of local goodness, as usual. LIFE’s news has reinvigorated me to not only support our local farmers, but it has challenged me to fight for local food – in our local restaurants, at our grocery stores, and at our table.

How can we better support our local farmers?

Check out the Find Your Favorite initiative from (Indy’s very own!) The Produce Mom. Her Facebook page has all sorts of pics of local celebrities sharing their favorite fruit or vegetable.

What’s your favorite?

Westfield in Bloom and the Hamilton County Master Gardeners have a great (and free!) workshop series on gardening scheduled throughout 2012. Topics include vegetable gardening, backyard composting, children’s gardening, bugs, trees, and much more! Check their website for more information. I hope to attend several of these, so I’ll report back on what I learn.


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