Friday, December 21, 2007

I'm dreaming of a greener new year

Inpiration can come from someone you know, right in the neighborhood... we met Holly at the Grand Blanc Farmer's Market last summer and she was curious as to if I knew of any local, organic soaper ... someone who could sell her something special for a very special baby shower she was giving for a relative. The special theme to this party was all about giving the hope for a cleaner better world to her grandchild, and she carried out this ambitious theme by making every part of it greener, more sustainable, more local, more kind to our Mother Earth, who, after all, represents the grandmother to us all.
After she began relating all of the cool things she was planning, I promised myself to write about it on this blog but the Flint Journal beat me to the punch and did a much better job.
The party reportedly turned out terrific, and The Flint Journal details (at this link) below many of the tips and tricks that Holly used to teach us all how we can make change for the better happen too.

Forget pink and blue; this Flint baby shower is all "green"
Posted by Elizabeth Shaw
The Flint Journal
October 28, 2007

FLINT -- Every new grandma wants a bright future for her first grandchild.

Holly Lubowicki may be working harder than many on that future: The longtime environmental activist is hosting a "green" baby shower today -- complete with how-to guides for guests -- as a surprise for son Christopher and his wife, Audrey.

When you're talking about bringing a child into the world, you're talking about the future. I want to show people there are better ways to do things, in order to sustain life for future generations," said the Flint resident. "I'm hoping this is a good start to my grandchild's life."

A program assistant for Keep Genesee County Beautiful, Lubowicki is well known in local environmental circles for "walking the talk."

But the green shower idea just grew on its own, she said.

"Originally, I just thought 'I'm not doing any stupid crepe paper and paper plates -- I'm doing all compostible sugar cane and corn fibers.' But I'm like a crazed woman once I get an idea in my head," she said, laughing.

First she tossed out the disposable servingware in favor of her grandmother's china and silver. Then she dumped the entire concept of throwaway decorations.

"Since it's going to be at a church instead of my home, I have to create that warm, cozy environment elsewhere. But I'm trying to be as nonconsumer as possible."

She scavenged from a Dumpster at Goodwill an old crib where guests will place gifts, then hauled in wicker baskets, potted perennials and furniture from her Flint home.

Party favors include handmade natural soaps tagged with green Web addresses, and homemade paper embedded with wildflower seeds that can be planted to bloom in the spring.

"I wanted to ask people to carpool and not use wrapping paper and cards, but I figured that might cross the line," she said. Her own gifts are wrapped in receiving blankets and tied with baby shoelaces.

The menu is all locally grown and produced organic foods, from a salad of mixed greens grown at Whetham Organic Farm in Flushing Township to preserves made from wild autumn olive.

"The traffic at farmers' markets really drops off in September because people think once the tomatoes are gone, everything's gone," said Pat Whetham. "But people still have lots to sell -- greens, carrots and potatoes, just about any kind of root vegetables. Some, like parsnips and Brussels sprouts, are only this time of the year."

Buying organic AND local isn't always easy: Much of the organic produce sold at large chain stores is shipped in from out of state, and not all locally produced food is organically grown. Always check the labels or ask the grower, said Whetham.

"It's not enough to just use a local bakery -- you have to know where the flour comes from," Lubowicki said.

When she couldn't find a local organic cream cheese, she simply learned how to make it herself.

All the effort won't be lost on the guests: The decorations include a huge map and chart highlighting the origins of all the foods and products, with tips on how to apply green strategies to everyday life.

"The way we eat has a huge impact on environmental issues," she said, including energy, fossil fuels, pesticides and farmland preservation.

"You can show people it can be done, it can be positive and you can have absolutely wonderful tasting food. I don't care how much time it takes. I'm having a ball."

Organic offerings
Holly Lubowicki's baby shower menu includes salad with edible flowers and homemade dressings, maple-glazed Brussels sprouts, country French three-seed bread, pesto, garlic spread, jalapeno jelly, fruit preserves (strawberry basil, blueberry lavender, autumn olive, raspberry-cherry and black raspberry), fruit cheesecake, brownies, ice creams (ginger, pumpkin, vanilla and peach) and more. Where did it all came from?
• Vegetables: Whetham Organic Farm in Flushing, Lawrence Farm in Millington, White Pines Farm in North Branch, Law Family Farm in North Branch.
• Fruits: Almar Orchards in Clayton Township, Coyners Organic Farm in Flushing Township, Ware Farm in Manistee County.
• Breads and grains: Hampshire Farms in Kingston, Westwind Milling Company in Argentine Township, Pleasanton Bakery in Traverse City, John Simmons Farm in North Branch.
• Eggs: J.B. & Sons in Montrose.
• Dairy products: Thomas Organic Creamery in Henderson, Calder Dairy in Monroe County.
• Garlic: Full Moon Flowers in Lapeer County.
• Preserves: Food for Thought in Honor.
• Herbs: Byrne Family Farm in Attica.

To learn more about organic and local foods:

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