Christmas Gifts for Current and Former Chicago Gardeners

Christmas Gifts for Current and Former Chicago Gardeners
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Co-op Hot Sauce

With Christmas around the corner you'll soon be scrambling to find the perfect gift for the gardener on your list. This holiday season consider giving a gift that not only your gardening friend or family member will enjoy, but one that will make a difference in the lives of your fellow Chicagoans by creating jobs, advocating and building gardens. My gift guide includes products made in Chicago from locally grown ingredients, a book about the history of Chicago's gardening scene, houseplants and organizations you can donate to that promote green spaces and community gardens in Chicago. While you can buy these items locally, they can also be shipped and given to former gardeners in Chicago who moved away as a reminder of home. 

Co-op Hot Sauce. Grown right here in the Humboldt Park neighborhood, this hot sauce comes in original, habanero and jalapeno flavors. Co-op Image's community garden produces these sauces and they're handcrafted from fresh, locally grown ingredients. Half of the proceeds from sales supports Co-op Image's free youth arts education and entrepreneurship programs on Chicago's west side. Can be purchased locally or shipped anywhere in the U.S.

Ideal gift for: Friends or family members who embarrass you by taking the hot sauce from the table at Mexican restaurants. No matter how many times you tell them that they can buy it at stores, they never seen to listen. Amirite? Also a great gift for your community gardening friends who had their veggie crop stolen before they could harvest. 
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Right: Sweet Beginnings LLC. Left: Chicago Honey Co-op 

When people talk about urban farms and urban agriculture projects in Chicago they don't always mention the apiaries (fancy word for bee farms) around the city. The bee farms in Chicago range in size and purpose. Some are informal groups, parts of community gardens and some like Sweet Beginnings, LLC and the Chicago Honey Co-op provide transitional jobs and training in sustainable agriculture. You can buy honey, candles and beauty products from both. In the spring of 2010 the Chicago Honey Co-op started offering CSA shares and purchases made with their CSA share will last longer than a gift you hand them. Products from both of these lines can be purchased locally or can be shipped across the U.S. 
Ideal gift for: Journalist and blogger friends who make bee puns in the titles of articles and blog posts. Those goofy puns are not the bee's knees. Amirite, Sydney? Family members, friends or co-workers who Email you or posts the latest articles to your Facebook wall about why honeybees are disappearing. Monsanto. No, wait! Disease. Yeah, disease. On second thought, forget disease. Colony collapse disorder is caused by chemicals. Let's regulate Dupont. No, wait...Cell phones! Cell phones are killing the bees because they're texting and driving or something. 
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Chicago Gardens is the book about Chicago's horticulture history by Cathy Jean Maloney and details how our city came to adopt the motto, Urbs in Horto in 1837. The book covers native plant pioneers, how Chicago became the produce hub for the country, backyard gardeners and landscape architects like Olmsted and Jensen. Can be purchased online or at a local bookstore. 
Ideal gift for: Interest in Chicago's gardening history saw an increase this year with the Peterson Garden Project. This book would make a good gift for Chicago gardeners who like a bit of history or want to learn more about those that had their hands in this dirt before us. Perfect for your garden blogging friend who wants to read this book but is too cheap and poor to buy it, and who The University of Chicago Press won't reply to when he Emails and inquires about a review copy.
After the garden season is over many of us turn our attention to indoor gardening and houseplants. I recently wrote up my recommendations for houseplants for the holidays but for your friends who are afraid of commitment maybe fresh flowers are the answer. Urban Meadows is Chicago's non-profit florist that assists people with mental disabilities. Along with the usual selection of floral arrangements you can also buy plants and dish gardens. Perhaps the annual farmer calendar, Twelve Months of Local Food, from The Land Connection would be a good gift idea for your friend who is always forgetting imporant dates. Not much of a coffee drinker myself, but Metropolis Coffee comes recommended by gardeners and backyard chicken enthusiasts in Chicago. Metropolis Coffee has supported the Peterson Garden Project by providing coffee grounds and chaff for composting and bedding for chickens If you're against the idea of giving stuff a donation to OpenLands and NeighborSpace in the name of your family or friends would be the way to go. Both organizations work to protect, promote and create green and open spaces that are vital to our physical and emotional health. 
Have a gift idea for a locally made product that would be a good gift this Christmas for a gardener? Leave a comment below. 

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  • Featured in Chicagoland Gardening's Savvy Shopper.
    The Seed Keeper Company of Palatine has great gifts for the gardener! The Seed Keeper and The Seed Keeper Deluxe are seed organizers for the home gardener. Keepers are equipped with A to Z dividers filled with gardening info and tips along with a unique set of tools and supplies all stowed neatly in a ready-to-go clip-lock bin. Just add seeds!
    Check it out.

  • In reply to Kerrie:

    Hi Kerrie, I just noticed my comments to you and Garden Girl, below, didn't save when I first commented. Anyway, hope you had a great Christmas and New Year's. Thanks for commenting.

  • All excellent ideas MBT. I can personally vouch for the deliciousness of the hot sauce.

  • In reply to ssgardengirl:

    And now I can too. Santa brought me one and I love it.

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