November 18, 2017

In Conversation with Jeanne Nolan – Sur La Table & The Organic Gardener Team Up to Host Interactive Garden Workshops at Westfield Old Orchard

Organic Garden at Westfield Old Orchard (Photo: The Organic Gardener)

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to speak with Jeanne Nolan, Founder & President of Highland Park-based The Organic Gardener regarding her company’s collaboration with Sur La Table, which has partnered with them to host interactive garden workshops at Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center in Skokie, Illinois. Read on to see what she had to say about The Organic Gardener, the gardens at Westfield Old Orchard, the series of workshops being hosted along with Sur La Table this summer and more.

 

Andrew DeCanniere (AD): I know that we’ve spoken previously, but for those who may not be familiar, what is The Organic Gardener?

Jeanne Nolan (JN): The Organic Gardener is a company that is passionate about connecting people of all ages to where their food comes from — making that link from a seed to the food on our table. We’re part of the seed-to-table movement. We have many projects in and around the Chicago area, but our garden at Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center is something that is very interactive and we love that. Our garden educators are there twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and we simultaneously tend the organic gardens while educating and engaging with the public. At our children’s garden, which is near Crate & Barrel and L.L. Bean, we have kids’ activities as well. All of the information is on our website, and those activities are every Saturday at 11:30 AM. There are crafts and nature-oriented activities  that are centered around the vegetable garden.

This year, we are very excited to be collaborating with Sur La Table. We harvested from the garden, talked about what you should be planting and when, as well as what and how to harvest. Then, they also did a chef demo, which was really delicious and really fun.

AD: Sounds like a great time, as well as a wonderful way to learn how to garden and how to cook. As I’ve said before, my own cooking skills are a bit lacking, so it sounds like a fantastic opportunity to learn.

JN: Exactly. I think more people want to cook from scratch and want to eat healthy. So, the opportunity to see the food growing right there, in the organic garden in the mall, and to participate — to see it harvested and made into something you can eat right there — is a lot of fun, and it’s of value to people. A lot of people want to do this, but they might not know how.

AD: And it’s a great way to demonstrate that growing and preparing food for yourself need not be extraordinarily hard. Plus, there really is something to be said for preparing your own food and knowing where it comes from and what goes into it.

JN: Absolutely. I think people realize that in the time it takes to go to a restaurant, order and eat the food, you could have prepared something simple and delicious at home.

AD: Plus, as we discussed before, I really think that there’s this kind of disconnect as to where our food comes from — especially if you live in an urban environment. Most of us either get into a car or get onto a bus and go to the store. We buy what we need, come home and eat whatever it is we just bought. I don’t know how many people actually stop to think about how their food is grown, where it comes from, how their food got to the store, or how many miles it has travelled to get there or anything like that. Even though all of those things have a real impact on us and on the environment, we’re often so removed from the whole process.

JN: And our society is paying the price of that. We have a lot of problems that can be offset by families eating together, eating healthfully, and by cooking from scratch.

AD: I think that by thinking about all of those issues in a more in-depth way, you also begin to really see the value in terms of combating climate change, or by buying local, because there’s just so much pollution that can be associated with the production of food — but, even more so, there’s just so much pollution associated with the transportation of food.

JN: Absolutely. Actually, with the production as well. It’s a very significant way to reduce your carbon footprint as a family or as an individual.

AD: I know that you also mentioned how the garden is helping the mall rethink how it uses its space as well.

JN: Yeah. In this very civilized, technology-oriented society, we can end up very separate from each other. The mall becomes this place where people can gather, and children can play at the play area. So, it’s natural to have these community gardens — interactive food gardens. I think that fits in really well, and Sur La Table is all about getting people cooking, so I think it’s natural that we would work together.

 

Organic Garden at Westfield Old Orchard (Photo: The Organic Gardener)

 

AD: Speaking of which, you say that gardening is up something like 200 percent since 2008.

JN: Exactly. So many parents are concerned because they want their kids to eat a healthier diet. They want them to be outside more and to connect with nature. There are so many reasons gardening is a great thing to do.

AD: All the more so when we’re hearing about things like ‘Nature Deficit Disorder.’ As you alluded to, so much time is spent inside, staring at your smartphone or spending time on the computer or watching TV or playing video games. It feels as though, for far too many people, the outdoors has become this place you have to go from time to time to get from point A to point B. I think that also contributes to the unhealthy relationship some people have to the environment. If you have this unhealthy, disconnected relationship to the environment, then you feel much more free to abuse it, which is obviously problematic. It’s that unhealthy relationship that leads to people treating the planet as though it’s basically one big trash can, rather than treating it with the respect that it deserves. So, it’s wonderful to hear that there is all of this interest in these programs that you and Sur La Table are hosting at Old Orchard.

JN: And I think that it’s wonderful Westfield Old Orchard realizes that and provides an opportunity for this.

 

 

Jeanne Nolan is the Founder & President of The Organic Gardener, Ltd., as well as a well-known educator, consultant and author. For more information regarding The Organic Gardener, please visit their website or find them on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram .

Westfield Old Orchard is located at the intersection of Skokie Boulevard & Old Orchard Road in Skokie, Illinois, just east of the Edens Expressway (I-94). For additional information regarding Westfield Old Orchard, please visit their website or call 847-673-6800. The children’s garden is located on the northeast end of the shopping center, adjacent to the PlaySpace, just outside of Anthropologie and near Crate & Barrel and L.L. Bean. The other garden, which is geared more toward adults, is also located within the mall, just south of The Cube.

Sur La Table is located at Westfield Old Orchard in Skokie, Illinois, on the northeast side of the shopping center, near Starbucks and adjacent to SEE Eyewear.

 

Organic Garden at Westfield Old Orchard (Photo: The Organic Gardener)

 

Children’s Garden Programming:

Saturday, July 8 2017 | 11:30am to 12:30pm

North Shore Festival of Arts – “Nature Art”
Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center

Northeast Side near Anthropologie

Skokie, IL 60077

Visit our garden educators at the organic garden growing right in your local shopping mall! Each week we engage children and families in a seasonal edible education activity. Free and open to the public. This week, draw a picture of a plant or flower and use the natural dye in the leaves to color your drawing!

 

Saturday, July 15 2017 | 11:30am to 12:30pm

Weekly Children’s Garden Activity – “Flower Bookmarks”
Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center

Northeast Side near Anthropologie

Skokie, IL 60077

Visit our garden educators at the organic garden growing right in your local shopping mall! Each week we engage children and families in a seasonal edible education activity. Free and open to the public. This week, pick your favorite flowers and leaves from the garden and learn how to transform them into a bookmark!

 

Saturday, July 22 2017 | 11:30am to 12:30pm

Weekly Children’s Garden Activity – “Garden Crown”
Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center

Northeast Side near Anthropologie

Skokie, IL 60077

Visit our garden educators at the organic garden growing right in your local shopping mall! Each week we engage children and families in a seasonal edible education activity. Free and open to the public. This week, use multicolored dried leaves to decorate your crown!

 

Saturday, July 29 2017 | 11:30am to 12:30pm

Weekly Children’s Garden Activity – “Seed Packets”
Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center

Northeast Side near Anthropologie

Skokie, IL 60077

Visit our garden educators at the organic garden growing right in your local shopping mall! Each week we engage children and families in a seasonal edible education activity. Free and open to the public. This week, create and design seed packets and then fill them with seeds to plant at home!

 

Saturday, August 5 2017 | 11:30am to 12:30pm

Weekly Children’s Garden Activity – “Leaf & Flower Press”
Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center

Northeast Side near Anthropologie

Skokie, IL 60077

Visit our garden educators at the organic garden growing right in your local shopping mall! Each week we engage children and families in a seasonal edible education activity. Free and open to the public. This week, create a leaf/flower press using recycled materials. Collect flowers and leaves from the garden to press at home!

 

Saturday, August 12 2017 | 11:30am to 12:30pm

Weekly Children’s Garden Activity – “Root Views”
Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center

Northeast Side near Anthropologie

Skokie, IL 60077

Visit our garden educators at the organic garden growing right in your local shopping mall! Each week we engage children and families in a seasonal edible education activity. Free and open to the public. This week, plant a variety of seeds in a clear container to understand how roots grow and what they look like!

 

Saturday, August 19 2017 | 11:30am to 12:30pm

Weekly Children’s Garden Activity – “Garden Journals”
Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center

Northeast Side near Anthropologie

Skokie, IL 60077

Visit our garden educators at the organic garden growing right in your local shopping mall! Each week we engage children and families in a seasonal edible education activity. Free and open to the public. This week, become a garden investigator! Your journal is full of activities to do in the garden and at home.

 

Saturday, August 26 2017 | 11:30am to 12:30pm

Weekly Children’s Garden Activity – “Tissue Paper Flower”
Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center

Northeast Side near Anthropologie

Skokie, IL 60077

Visit our garden educators at the organic garden growing right in your local shopping mall! Each week we engage children and families in a seasonal edible education activity. Free and open to the public. This week, use tissue paper to create vibrant, colorful flowers. No need to water them!

 

Saturday, September 2 2017 | 11:30am to 12:30pm

Weekly Children’s Garden Activity – “Chlorophyll Art Rubbings”
Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center

Northeast Side near Anthropologie

Skokie, IL 60077

Visit our garden educators at the organic garden growing right in your local shopping mall! Each week we engage children and families in a seasonal edible education activity. Free and open to the public. This week, draw a picture of a plant or flower and use the natural dye in leaves to color your drawing!

 

Saturday, September 9 2017 | 11:30am to 12:30pm

Weekly Children’s Garden Activity – “Garden Finger Puppets”
Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center

Northeast Side near Anthropologie

Skokie, IL 60077

Visit our garden educators at the organic garden growing right in your local shopping mall! Each week we engage children and families in a seasonal edible education activity. Free and open to the public. This week, make garden themed finger puppets like ladybugs, grasshoppers, flowers, trees, and owls!

 

Saturday, September 16 2017 | 11:30am to 12:30pm

Weekly Children’s Garden Activity – “Paper Plate Sunflowers”
Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center

Northeast Side near Anthropologie

Skokie, IL 60077

Visit our garden educators at the organic garden growing right in your local shopping mall! Each week we engage children and families in a seasonal edible education activity. Free and open to the public. This week, get creative and design your own sunflower from a paper plate!

 

Saturday, September 23 2017 | 11:30am to 12:30pm

Weekly Children’s Garden Activity – “Sun Prints”
Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center

Northeast Side near Anthropologie

Skokie, IL 60077

Visit our garden educators at the organic garden growing right in your local shopping mall! Each week we engage children and families in a seasonal edible education activity. Free and open to the public. This week, use special light-activated paper to create works of art from the reflections of plants!

 

Saturday, September 30 2017 | 11:30am to 12:30pm

Weekly Children’s Garden Activity – “Acorn Jewelry”
Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center

Northeast Side near Anthropologie

Skokie, IL 60077

Visit our garden educators at the organic garden growing right in your local shopping mall! Each week we engage children and families in a seasonal edible education activity. Free and open to the public. This week, use acorn caps and a combination of flowers to make your own jewelry!

 

Saturday, October 7 2017 | 11:30am to 12:30pm

Weekly Children’s Garden Activity – “Microgreens Garden”
Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center

Northeast Side near Anthropologie

Skokie, IL 60077

Visit our garden educators at the organic garden growing right in your local shopping mall! Each week we engage children and families in a seasonal edible education activity. Free and open to the public. This week, create your own microgreens garden and enjoy delicious sprouts at home!

 

Saturday, October 15 2017 | 11:30am to 12:30pm

Weekly Children’s Garden Activity – “Herbal Sachets”
Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center

Northeast Side near Anthropologie

Skokie, IL 60077

Visit our garden educators at the organic garden growing right in your local shopping mall! Each week we engage children and families in a seasonal edible education activity. Free and open to the public. This week, make potpourri by mixing dried herbs and flowers in sachet bags!

 

Saturday, October 21 2017 | 11:30am to 12:30pm

Weekly Children’s Garden Activity – “Marigold Jewelry”
Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center

Northeast Side near Anthropologie

Skokie, IL 60077

Visit our garden educators at the organic garden growing right in your local shopping mall! Each week we engage children and families in a seasonal edible education activity. Free and open to the public. This week, string fresh marigolds together to wear as jewelry or to hang at home as decorations!

 

Saturday, November 4 2017 | 11:30am to 12:30pm

Weekly Children’s Garden Activity – “Garden Crown”
Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center

Northeast Side near Anthropologie

Skokie, IL 60077

Visit our garden educators at the organic garden growing right in your local shopping mall! Each week we engage children and families in a seasonal edible education activity. Free and open to the public. This week, use multicolored dried leaves to decorate your crown!

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