Last Chance to Join Us at Spring Thaw at Peckish Pig! 4/23 4-7 pm

Join The Talking Farm at our annual Spring event celebrating the start of the growing season and bringing The Talking Farm community together. This year, we will gather at a new location, The Peckish Pig, the locally-focused restaurant and brewery that sells Howard Street Farm produce. We will enjoy great food prepared by the Peckish Pig, taste the year’s first Howard Street Farm arugula, take a special tour of their brewery, taste their beer, and be the first to learn about the farm’s new membership program (which includes receiving a farm box of Howard Street Farm vegetables!). We are also partnering with Few Spirits, so that you will have the opportunity to try their “Breakfast Gin” in a welcome cocktail.

See old friends and meet new ones! Come celebrate with us!! We will be updating our Facebook page with additional highlights to this popular, must-go event!

Proceeds from Spring Thaw support The Talking Farm, a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization, which provides urban agricultural educational opportunities as well as operates the Howard Street Farm, a 2.75 acre urban farm that services the surrounding communities of Skokie, Evanston, northern Chicago and the north shore of Chicagoland.


Eventbrite - Talking Farm Spring Thaw
Day: April 23, 2017
Time: 4-7 p.m.
Place: Peckish Pig
             623 Howard Street
             Evanston, IL 60202

Tickets are $50 and $75. Click the link to buy tickets. Space is limited!



Eventbrite - Talking Farm Spring Thaw

Meet our new Hoop House!

The Howard Street Farm has a new addition — at the end of the growing season, Farmer Matt, Farmer Susanna and a group of great, dedicated volunteers erected a new 30′ x 72′ hoop house. The hoop house, besides looking great, will have the effect of extending our growing season. We will be able to grow more food for longer in 2017. It’s not in production yet, but it has the seal of approval from a local hawk, which stopped by during construction.

Take a look –


Hoop house – readied for planting but not “skinned” yet


Newly skinned hoop house


Another view


A hawk comes to watch


Our two large hoop houses at the Howard Street Farm

Hullabaloo 2016! Saturday, October 22nd, 12-5, Howard Street Farm


This 6th Annual Hullabaloo will be held at the Howard Street Farm on Saturday, October 22, 2016 from 12 to 5 pm. This year, we’re selling pumpkins for the first time as part of the festivities! Pumpkin sales will kick off at 12 noon, and the Hullabaloo festivities will begin at 1 pm and continue through 5 pm. Pick up a pumpkin or two, and stay to decorate it!

For those who don’t know, the Hullabaloo is our annual open house and we invite everyone to come out to the Howard Street Farm to celebrate our harvest and our community. This year, we’ve expanded the farm by adding another grow field, so the farm is bigger than ever — as will be the Hullabaloo! We will have:

Music Schedule:

1 pm – Strictly Jug Nuts

1:45 – The Old Town School Community Chorus

2:15 – Strictly Jug Nuts

3:00 – Tell ’em Henry

Pumpkin sales start at 12 noon
Hullabaloo festivities 1 – 5 pm
Howard Street Farm
3669 Howard Street (behind the Tot Learning Center), Skokie
All ages welcome. Suggested donation. $5/person; $20/family. Pumpkins $6-8/each.

All proceeds from the Hullabaloo support The Talking Farm, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation.

Appreciation and thanks go to our 2016 Hullabaloo sponsors, Marcum LLP & First Bank & Trust:



Fresh, locally-grown apples for the event provided by Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks


The Talking Farm’s First Farm Dinner [Photo Gallery]

We had a blast at our first harvest farm dinner ever held at the Howard Street Farm on September 18th. Our guests enjoyed food prepared by J and L Catering made from vegetables harvested just hours before the event. (Check out those gorgeous salads!) The evening started with Etienne Doué champagne and passed hors d’oeuvres in the demonstration garden, included farm tours and a sit down dinner, and ended with s’mores and cordials near the campfires.

Thanks to everyone who attended and made the event a success. Special thanks to Matt Ryan, Susanna Lohmar and Elaine Madansky for making the farm look so great, growing fantastic produce, and giving farm tours! (Extra thanks to Susanna for putting together our centerpieces.)

Check out the pics — and look out for details on next year’s Harvest Farm Dinner! [Click on a picture to launch the gallery.]


Season Extension Class with Farmer Matt — 9/24


Do you want to make your garden produce even as the weather gets colder? Farmer Matt’s Season Extension class will cover the basics of season extension (what, why and how). You will learn about:

-different extension methods (cold frames, plastic row covers, hoops house, agro bond row covers) and the materials used for these methods

-applications for backyard gardens

-which crops are best for season extension and the dates for planting

-building row cover hoops

**Attendees will have the option to buy row cover and hoops from TTF for fall garden to get started right away.**

$30 Fee includes handouts

Need-based scholarships are available. Contact for more information.


Saturday, September 24, 2016

10:30 AM – 12:00 PM


Howard Street Farm

3669 Howard St

Skokie, IL

The Talking Farm’s First-Ever Farm Dinner —9/18, Howard Street Farm, Skokie


Join us for an intimate Harvest Dinner at the Howard Street Farm! We will begin the evening with a champagne reception and passed hors d’oeuvres, then sit down for a family-style dinner with wine and beverages at a table situated right among the crop rows at the Howard Street Farm. Kevin Kelly, Board Member and co-owner of J & L Catering, and his staff will get out their grills and prepare a multi-course dinner right on the farm using produce grown steps away while guests can mingle and tour the farm. After dinner, we’ll gather near a campfire for dessert. **UPDATE: Only a few seats left!!**

Sample Menu (items subject to change based on seasonality)

Passed Hors d’Oeuvres and Champagne

  • Smoked salmon blini with sour cream, tarragon and lemon zest
  • Fresh vegetarian spring rolls with plum sauce
  • Poached Shrimp with peach and balsamic dipping sauce

Family Style Dinner

  • Talking Farm Caprese Salad – THE MOST LOCAL TOMATOES POSSIBLE! with burrata, basil, mixed greens, drizzled with olive oil, peppercorns & pink sea salt
  • Grilled Summer Squash Platter – Kalamata Olives, Roasted Grapes, Rosemary Oil
  • The Grains- Red & White Quinoa, Farro, Sweet Onions, Edamame, Cranberries, Mint, Parsley, Avocado, Citrus Zest
  • From the Grill – Grilled Chicken and Scottish Salmon with Roasted Garlic Wilted Talking Farm Greens(or beet tops, turnip greens, etc)
  • Baskets of Breads and Rolls


Platters of Petite Sweets & Fruit-Berry Salad


Click here for tickets.

Proceeds from the dinner benefit The Talking Farm’s educational programs and farm development projects. The Talking Farm is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation. Ticket prices are tax-deductible to the extent allowed under the law.

To donate in lieu of attendance click here. 

Howard Street Farm – 3669 Howard Street, Skokie, IL

What’s In Your Soil? Soil Ecology & Analysis Class – Sat. 9/17

With the state of the world today, it is ever more important to know what’s in your soil. In this class you will have an actual chance to analyze what’s in your soil with one of the leading soil scientists in the area, Dr. Bala Chaudhary of DePaul University. The composition of your soil can affect your plants, your vegetables and your health.

Come learn about the complex physical, chemical, and biological interactions that take place underground and all around us. Bring a cup of soil from your garden and together we will test its chemical properties. You will analyze several physical and chemical properties of your soil in class and will walk away with results and Dr. Chaudhary’s interpretation of your results. You will also, come away with experience on how to do future tests on your own. $50 (includes $25 value for cost of testing kit and specific analysis).

Instructor: Dr. Bala Chaudhary, Assistant Professor at DePaul University and Soil Ecology expert.

Need-based scholarships are available. Contact for more information.

WHEN: Saturday, September 17, 2016 from 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM (CDT)

WHERE: Howard Street Farm – 3669 Howard St, Skokie, IL 60076

COST: $50 (includes $25 value for cost of testing kit and specific analysis)


Join Us for the Last Two Potluck BBQs at the Howard Street Farm in 2016

The Talking Farm Potluck BBQs
at The Howard Street Farm

Upcoming BBQs for 2016:

Sept 30 – 6:30 pm – 9 pm

October 28 – 6:30 pm – 9 pm

We will be keeping The Howard Street Farm open late on select Fridays this season. Join us starting at 6:30 pm for a chance to hang out, get to know one another, and enjoy the cool of the evening at the farm. It’s potluck style – BYOFB (bring your own food and beverage) and we will provide the grill and the coals. The event is FREE, we just ask that you reserve your place as space is limited. (Follow links below to reserve.)

Come share a meal with members of the community!

Click HERE to reserve for September 30th

Click HERE to reserve for October 28th




The Edible Acre at ETHS

20160707_150738The Edible Acre is a vibrant community garden adjacent to Evanston Township High School (ETHS). The 5,000-square-foot plot, often tangled with tomato vines, piled with spinach leaves, or blanketed by carrot tops, sends all of its produce directly to ETHS students. When it comes to nutrition services, ETHS has differentiated itself from similar gargantuan educational institutions by becoming the pilot school for the FarmLogix Local Sourcing Program, an online tool that facilitates local food sourcing. The term ‘local,’ however, takes on a whole new meaning when plants are visible from the school’s main entrance.

Built in 2009, the Edible Acre is a joint initiative by The Talking Farm and ETHS. It was originally constructed and maintained by groups of students from the horticulture class, Senior Studies, Community Service Club, and Green Team. Upon reevaluating the project in 2012, Kim Minestra, now director of nutrition services, decided it was time to push it further. So she enlisted Matt Ryan, the Farm Manager at The Talking Farm.

“I realized that there was just more potential so I worked with Matt to create a crop plan so we could get as much harvest out of it as possible,” says Minestra.


Since then, the Edible Acre has expanded considerably. 5,500 pounds of fresh, organic produce was harvested and served in ETHS cafeterias between 2012 and 2014, and a whopping 2,800 pounds were produced in 2015 alone. The collaboration has also grown to include the use of the ETHS greenhouse where seedlings are planted in the spring and summer, and herbs and greens grow during colder months. Last fall, an orchard of 55 fruit trees was planted on the north side of the school. Plans to add another 20-30 trees to the orchard this year are in the works.

Kim hopes a second garden will eventually be built to further increase the size and diversity of the harvests, but that process is still in early planning stages.

“I know a lot of schools are like, ‘How do you do this? We don’t have the labor, we don’t have the time, we don’t have the money,’ and its really because we are lucky to have The Talking Farm local and wanting to do it,” says Minestra.

Providing fresh, healthy food to as many people as we can, and utilizing community-based agriculture as a means of education are two of our primary ambitions at The Talking Farm. The Edible Acre project embodies both of these goals.

Meet Our People!

The Talking Farm could not be what it is today without the help of our amazing interns, farmhands, and volunteers. Get to know some of them, and check out ways you can get involved under the Volunteer tab!

FullSizeRenderIntern: Maureen Maitland joined The Talking Farm team in April 2016. Before coming to the farm, she earned a masters degree in education and spent time working in food retail. She decided she wanted to experience the production side of food, and after spending a year working on a hydroponic farm, she applied for one of our intern positions.

Though she gets her hands into all types of jobs on the farm, she says the most rewarding moment for her is harvesting the crops and seeing them off to their final destination.

“I’m trying to learn as much as I can. This is a way for me to be introduced to urban farming, having an actual hands on experience instead of just a school experience.”

 Maureen also works as an organic gardener in the northern suburbs. When she’s not working with plants, she’s spending time with her dogs or exploring the Chicago culinary scene.


20160608_081734 (2)Intern: Elaine Madansky describes urban agriculture as her “second career.” She recently left a long and fulfilling career in marketing research to pursue her other passion…. plants.  She returned to school full-time in January to work on a degree in horticulture at the College of Lake County with a focus on sustainable agriculture and greenhouse horticulture. She found The Talking Farm while looking for a way to gain hands-on experience in food production, and made the move from the corporate world to the farm.

“There’s possibility, and that’s really fun for me. And I feel like I’m learning a ton.”

The Talking Farm is still a growing and changing place. Elaine views this as an opportunity to use her talents in innovative ways. Her marketing experience has come in handy as she’s responsible for the new labels that we’re using to brand the farm’s produce.  Our produce boxes used to be labeled with marker and tape, but thanks to her background in marketing, Elaine took it upon herself to design labels with our logo. Now when the harvest goes out, a reminder of our mission goes out with it.


imageFarmHand: Liza Fischel has worked in environmental education at a nature center for fifteen years. She was looking for a way to learn about gardening when she found The Talking Farm right in her neighborhood.

Because of the flexibility of the program, working as a farmhand at The Talking Farm was an ideal way for Liza to gain experience in food production. Though she did not have a background in horticulture, she was interested in growing food, and wanted to learn how to grow things on her own.

“I just thought it was one of the most amazing and simple things that you could do.”

Liza came to The Talking Farm to learn about growing food, but says she came away with more than she could have imagined; experiences like putting up a hoop house, and harvesting greens that would be enjoyed by students at Evanston Township High School were especially rewarding. Her background in education also proved beneficial when she worked to create lesson plans about food and gardening for the Tot Learning Center, our neighbors at the Howard Street Farm.

For Liza, the way in which the Talking Farm is continuously evolving to accommodate the needs of the community and expand as an organization has made her proud to be a part of it. “They just keep growing, literally growing, in so many ways. I’m always impressed.”


FB_IMG_1467161749537FarmHand: Zach Cascarano is an Evanston Firefighter and a nature lover. He grew up on the grounds of the Morton Arboretum, so when he moved to the city he found himself yearning for more green. But this wasn’t the only thing that led Zach to the farm; as he learned more about food production, he decided he could no longer ignore the magnitude of its influence, and the potential for agriculture to affect positive change.

“If you teach people how to grow food it addresses poverty, it addresses employment, and it gives young people skills to actually make themselves healthy. I wanted to learn more about doing that so I could actually pass that knowledge on to other people at some point.”

Zach says he enjoys every step of the process of growing food. The intimacy and investment involved in seeing something grow from start to finish is different than the experience of buying food from the supermarket.

You might not expect to find a firefighter working on a farm, but Zach says that the diversity of The Talking Farm community is part of what makes it a great place to work. “Not everybody who works there is the same, so you have lots of different viewpoints but everybody’s still sharing the same desire to learn, and grow food, and make the world a better place.”