We Caught You Doing Something Cool: Heaven and Earth Growers

It is estimated that farming began out of necessity as early as 10,000 B.C.

Heaven and Earth Growers

Today, with a continual rise in food prices, concerns about pesticides and a change in food quality—do grocery store tomatoes have taste to them anymore?—what was once a lost art is now growing in numbers.

An estimated 43 million U.S. households, including the White House, picked up a trowel and planted edibles in 2009.

“Gardening and growing is a lost art,” says Jan Happel, founder and president of Heaven and Earth Growers. “It’s not that difficult.” Read more.

We Caught You Doing Something Cool: Bike to Work Week

According to the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety, it is estimated that 41 percent of all work commutes are shorter than five miles yet less than one percent of adult Americans commute to work by bicycle.

Commuters are encouraged to ditch their cars and set their bicycle wheels in motion June 11-15 for Bike to Work Week.

“If you can’t bike to work from Elmhurst, residents who work in Chicago can bike to the Metra Station,” says Bob Hoel, chairman of the Elmhurst Bike Task Force and advocacy chairman of the Elmhurst Bike Club. “The Metra Station houses bike racks with 150 parking spaces. Then there are an additional 10 spaces in bike lockers. The bike lockers are rented out for $100 a year, which provides a secure lock and privacy (you can’t see into the lockers). There are two to three lockers still available to rent.”

We Caught You Doing Something Cool: Flight 112 Wine House

If you didn’t do your homework beforehand, you could walk into Flight 112 thinking it is a run-of-the-mill wine bar. But this organic wine bar is more than what meets the eye … or palate. Flight 112 Wine House

Seventy percent of the wine served at Flight 112 Wine House falls under the categories of sustainable, organic or biodynamic.

“Taste and quality matter most,” says owner Visal Kheam. “No one wants to drink a ‘green’ wine if it doesn’t taste good.”

Organic wine makes a great story, Kheam says.

“It makes my work more difficult, trying to filter out only organic wine, but that makes it all the more interesting. Over time, I’ve come to realize that organic wines are earthier, with less fruits on the palate. They go better with food.”

Read more about Flight 112.

We Caught You Doing Something Cool: Freecycle – A Gift that Keeps on Giving

What do you do when you need to part with the frozen turkey taking up much needed space in your freezer? What about the free infant formula you received in the mail after the birth of your breastfed baby? Have empty moving boxes you can’t justify throwing away? Post them on Freecycle. freecyclelogo1

The Freecycle Network is a grassroots and nonprofit community gifting movement. Made up of thousands of local groups, Freecycle promotes reuse through local gifting among members. Members have the opportunity to give and get items for free, in an effort to keep unnecessary waste out of landfills.

“Freecycle is a place to give or receive what you have and don’t need, or what you need and don’t have,” says founder Deron Beal. “It’s a free cycle of giving which keeps stuff out of landfills.”

According to Beal, Freecycle’s mission is to build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources & eases the burden on landfills while enabling members to benefit from the strength of a larger community. Read more about Freecycle.

We Caught You Doing Something Cool: Mark Stenftenagel

A solar energy system comprised of 190-watt panels on Mark Stenftenagel’s 1940s home. Credit: Mark Stenftenagel

“My marine biologist daughter gave me a book about eight years ago that made me look at things differently,” says Mark Stenftenagel, a 35-year Elmhurst resident.

That book, “Ishmael,” started Mark on a quest to reduce his environmental impact.

As CEO and principal of Oak Brook-based Whitney, an architecture and design firm, Mark began to look at how his industry plays a significant role in carbon emissions.

“About 40 percent of all carbon emissions come from construction and building use. I have a responsibility to improve that number,” he said. “Sustainability is a part of our business.” Read more about Mark Stenftenagel.