Happy Tonics on the move

posted by Mary Ellen Ryall

March 2, I did a radio interview with Jim Dick, Managing Director, Discover Wisconsin. The topic was Earth Day and why it is important.  The broadcast is scheduled to air on radio stations across the state on March 10. As many of you may realize, Happy Tonics sponsors the Washburn County Earth Day Event in Shell Lake. This year’s event is on April 23. See event details at www.happytonics.org

 March 11, Happy Tonics and invited guests will attend the Discover Wisconsin Premiere & Gala in Spooner, WI, 6 p.m. at the Palace Theatre ; 7 p.m. Gala at Northwest Sports Complex Ballroom. The syndicated television network broadcast will air on Saturday, March 12. The Washburn County TV program includes the Monarch Butterfly Habitat, Shell Lake, Woodcarving Museum, Shell Lake and others. Michelle Voight, Executive Director of Washburn County Tourism Association (WCTA), was instrumental in getting Washburn County promoted as a Tourist and Vacation Destination. Washburn County WCTA members that include businesses and nonprofit organizations are featured in this TV program.

Stations and Times: Local access channels: WDEE TV 4, Deerfield; WSCS TV 8, Sheboygan; Channel 12, Cottage Grove; New London, Cable 6; City Channel 25, West Allis; JATV 12, Janesville; PEG Station Channel 6, Mauston; W43BR Baraboo; FSN North and FSN Wisconsin, All stations air on Saturday, 10 am; WQOW, Eau Claire, Sun. 5 p.m.; WKOW, Madison, Sat. 6:30 p.m.; WFRV Green Bay, Sat. 5 p.m.; WJMN, Marquette, Sat. 6:30 p.m., WAOW, Wausau, Sat. 6 p.m.; WXOW, La Crosse, Sun. 5 p.m.; WYOW, Eagle River, Sat., 6:30 p.m., WIFR, Rockford, IL, Sat., 6:30 p.m., KFXA, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, IA; WDIO, Superior/Duluth, Sun. 5:30 p.m., WIRT, Hibbing, MN, Sun. 5:30 p.m.; WITI, Milwauke3, Sunday, 9 a.m.;   

 March 16 – Environmental Film Feast at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College (LCOOCC) will feature speaker Kevin Schoessow, Agricultural Agent, Spooner Agriculture Research Station. Subject: Composting. One can’t have a soil enriched garden without composting.  A rare film, “Life in the Soil” will be shown. Food prices may continue to rise to offset rising fuel cost at the pump. One way to be sustainable is to plant a vegetable garden. Soil is just as important as seed. Many seed companies are charging more for garden seed this year.  Join us at LCOOCC on March 16, 12 Noon to 2:30 p.m. 13644 Trepania Road, Hayward, WI.

 We are pleased to announce that Pat Shields, Happy Tonics Board Member and Faculty at LCOOCC, recently received an International Faculty Award to attend the seminar on sustainability in Costa Rica and Nicaragua this summer. The National Science Foundation is a co-grantor.  Shields will be submitting the college’s 3 year grant with the Center for Traditional Medicine in Esteli, Nicaragua, on March 16th and leaves for Nicaragua on March 17th. 

 March 19 – Happy Tonics will be exhibiting at the 11th Annual New Ventures Garden Seminar, Northwest School, Hwy. 53, Minong, WI. We will promote Earth Day Event and Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake. Cassie Thompson, young environmental advocate will assist us. She lives in Minong and is an inspiration for youth across the Nation to get involved in Volunteerism.

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September the Long Goodbye

A prairie of Tall Bluestem Native Grass

A prairie of Tall Bluestem Native Grass.

Sunday, September 26, I stopped at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat to pick tall bluestem seed for a seed saving project. We want to offer online prairie friends the opportunity to buy a little of our native grass seed. We don’t sell seed by the pound or even by the ounce for that matter. When we ship common milkweed seed, the package contains 20-30 seeds. Tomorrow I will mail milkweed seed to Florida and Virginia. People are not greedy. They just want to help the butterfly by planting the host plant for the monarch.

As I strolled leisurely through the habitat, I saw at least a dozen yellow sulphur butterflies flitting about gathering nectar from periwinkle showy asters and yellow blooming birds foot trefoil. Among the stiff and showy goldenrod, I saw many species of native bees sipping nectar.

Summer may be over but the habitat is still alive with the activity of smaller species such as the insects which I saw in the warm sun enjoying the last days of blooming wildflowers. Soon a colder freeze will come and all life will go dormant to wait out the long cold winter.

Native bumblebees

Native bumblebees

I am enjoying these last few days of documenting and photographing the littlest of species that make our natural world complete.

Response to Letter to the Editor – Happy Tonics Board and Officers

The Editorial article by Lauralei Anderson in the paper September 8, 2010 was submitted to Happy Tonics, Inc. officers and board in OH, MA, VA and WI. We agreed to the following response to Lauralei Anderson’s Editorial.

Letter to the editor, Washburn County Register

In regards to the letter sent by Lauralei Anderson from Cumberland, we at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat would like to respond to her criticism calling the habitat “an overgrown railroad bed.”

A native habitat is completely different from a typical garden, park or planting. There are no tulips and marigolds in nice neat rows because all the plants in the habitat are native to Wisconsin. This is a prime example of a restored tall grass prairie whose plants are the same ones that covered Wisconsin when the Conestoga wagons passed through carrying the pioneers west.

It was the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that not only helped pick out the native seeds, but donated over $500 worth of seeds to the habitat and the Land and Water Conservation Department had a huge hand in the project also.

Native plantings always start out with common plants like the little and big blue stems which you call weeds. If the garden is healthy, the first native flowers begin to appear the third year. You mentioned in your letter that you saw some ‘scant black-eyed Susan’s, they are right on time. Within the next 5 years, more native flower species, the seeds of which were planted by professionals, will appear. Some native plants take years for their seeds to germinate and grow into plants.

Even though the habitat idea is new to many here in Shell Lake and the surrounding residents, it’s familiar to those who are familiar with Saulk County’s favorite son, Also Leopold and sites like Brighter Planet. The habitat has received grants from both organizations as well as numerous others that believe that if we don’t save the native plants for the two most important pollinators, the bees and butterflies, commercial crops and public and personal gardens will fail due to a lack of pollination. We will be starting to be official Wisconsin native seed savers this year, sending them throughout the United States.

Shell Lake is also on the direct floral corroder that runs from Canada to Mexico that offers food and rest to the millions of butterflies heading to their winter home in Mexico and yes, the butterflies often follow the highways, another reason for this perfect habitat site.

It’s often easy to criticize what we don’t understand, and this habitat was never meant to look like a ‘cute little garden,’ it’s a teaching tool that has already tied into Eco Tourism and we have given many tours this summer to a local audience as well as visitors from across our nation. The Monarch Habitat also sponsors Earth Day activities each year which encourage locals to buy locally.

Articles about the habitat have not only been published nationally, the habitat is also part of the international world with blog responders from 72 different countries who understand why it exists.

If you watch television, you will see the habitat featured on Discover Wisconsin three times during the next two years, starting March 2011. The habitat is all over their website and print material and calendars as well as the official Wisconsin Tourism Site.

All the beautiful little gardens you mentioned in your letter require constant up-keep from weeding to watering to fertilizing, to the applying of pesticides and for some, mowing.

The habitat is ‘green’ in more ways than one because native plants live with or without our help. The habitat leaves absolutely no carbon footprint.

We would encourage you to take a tour of this amazing place; to step back in history for a bit and enjoy the many kinds of butterflies that already visit the habitat daily.

Mary Ellen Ryall, Executive Director

Winona LaDuke Speaks About Food Sovereignty

Nick Vander Puy, News from Indan Country, interviewed Winona LaDuke recently.  Here is her video on Youtube. 

Soup Stock III Sustainable Agriculture

Basket of abundance

Basket of abundance

Happy Tonics exhibited at Soup Stock III at Little Footprint Farm, in Turtle Lake, Wisconsin, on 19 September 2009.  The annual event was hosted by Mike Brenna at his sustainabile farm.  I loved the beautiful biodiversity of crops in the gardens.  Mike is growing Oneida corn, a traditional tribal corn, that is grown by the Oneida Indian Nation near Green Bay.  The Oneida originally came from New York State and corn seed came to Wisconin in 1992.  I originated in New York State also and so like the Ojibwe,  Oneida and the white flint corn, I migrated to Wisconsin in December 2006.

I was thrilled that Mike shared three ears of Oneida white flint corn with Happy Tonics.  We distributed a small amount of seed at a seed saving session at the Lac Courte Oreilles Sustainable Living and Wellness Fair, on 25 September 2009, at the Lac Courte Oreilles Convention Center.  You can view my video of event and a migration story of the monarch and food safety issues at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ7vl9qJIAA

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We will use seed as a teaching tool at events and when we are presenting at conferences.  Seed will be planted in 2010 with the grow out intention of seed saving for our native seed distribution program.  

Learn from http://nativeharvest.com/node/3 the benefits of a traditional diet of native foods in restoring health and reconnecting to native cultural heritage.  White Earth Reservation is honored by Slow Food Movement at http://www.indiancountrytoday.com/living/health/48620117.html  Learn about the story that the three sisters (Corn, beans, squash) gave the tribe at http://www.cias.wisc.edu/curriculum/modII/secb/Tsyunhehkwa2.pdf

 Happy day

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