September 26, 2021

Calendar: From garden tomatoes to pasta sauce

NORMAL, Ill. — The program From Garden Tomatoes to Pasta Sauce will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. July 28 at the Unity Community Center, 632 Orlando Ave., Normal.

The taste of fresh garden tomatoes is no comparison to store-bought tomatoes that were likely picked unripe and traveled thousands of miles to their destination. Picked fresh, garden tomatoes make an excellent BLT or an addition to a salad, but when they come ripe all at once, there’s only so many BLTs you can stomach. Don’t let those tomatoes rot; turn them into pasta sauce, which can be enjoyed all year long.

Join University of Illinois Extension Small Foods and Local Farms Educator Nick Frillman for a garden tour through the Unity Community Center gardens. Learn about paste tomatoes and the trellising methods used in the garden, then head inside to learn how to make pasta sauce the easy way. You’ll watch a food demonstration given by Jenna Smith, registered dietitian and nutrition and wellness educator. She’ll show you how to quickly turn those tomatoes into a jar of pasta sauce to put in the freezer for later use. In fact, you’ll leave the program with your very own jar of frozen pasta sauce.

Smith also will walk through the steps of canning pasta sauce in a boiling water bath canner, and will illustrate safe, reliable and scientific methods.

Cost is $5. Register at

Tour the Kane County Master Gardener Idea Garden

ST. CHARLES, Ill. — Get offline and get outside to see inspirational gardens at the Kane County Master Gardener Idea Garden, 3480 Route 38, St. Charles. Join University of Illinois Extension master gardener volunteers to experience creative concepts and ask questions, weather permitting, on Tuesdays from 9 to 11 a.m. during July and August.

This year’s project includes ideas and tips for:

  • Elevated beds.
  • Straw bale plantings.
  • Insect habitats.
  • Gardens with garlic or phytonutrient-rich produce.
  • A sensory patch.
  • Native species.
  • An Olympic-themed bed of grasses, ground covers, and flowers.

You can follow the Idea Garden on Facebook at

Macon County Rock Springs garden tours

DECATUR, Ill. — Tours of Macon County Conservation District’s Rock Springs, 3939 Nearing Lane, Decatur, will be at 5:30 p.m. July 28. Tours will include the Native Garden, Heritage Garden and Herb Garden.

Register by July 26 at For more information, email Julia at or call 217-877-6042.

Time to plant your fall vegetable garden

Join Champaign County master gardeners and University of Illinois Extension for the program Time to Plant Your Fall Vegetable Garden via Zoom or phone call-in at 7 p.m. July 27.

Extension Educator Erin Harper will discuss when, how and what to plant in your fall vegetable garden.

Register at

This program will be recorded and, once edited and closed captioned, placed on the YouTube channel

Geothermal Energy in Illinois

As Illinois advances towards its goal of converting all energy systems to 100% renewable energy by 2050, it recognizes that other energy sources besides solar and wind are necessary to reach the state’s future demands. Geothermal energy could be the key to replacing conventional heating and cooling systems.

The online program Geothermal Energy in Illinois will be at noon July 29. This session informs public stakeholders about the benefits of geothermal energy as a renewable energy source and its applications, technology, and industry. Presenters will discuss heating and cooling efficiencies at multiple scales for public and private infrastructures and how design factors influence the operational performance of geothermal systems.

Presenters include John Freitag, executive director of the Geothermal Alliance of Illinois; and Tugce Baser and Yu-Feng Forrest, assistant and clinical professors in the Department of Civil Engineering at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Freitag has 30 years of experience with geothermal heat pump technology. Baser specializes in geotechnical engineering and Forrest in geological engineering.

Led by Andrew Stumpf at Illinois State Geological Survey, this research-based outreach effort shares practical applications with stakeholders and decision-makers and is made possible by Extension Collaboration Grants, a partnership between Illinois Extension personnel and researchers at University of Illinois. Financial support for the 2020 awards is provided by the Office of the Provost Investment for Growth Program and Illinois Extension.

Register at

Moving a broadband project forward

Get a detailed overview of the steps necessary to implement a broadband project during the Broadband Leadership Series from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 27. Guest communities and providers will share how successful projects begin, form, and launch.

The free, online session will be led by co-hosts University of Illinois Extension, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Office of Broadband, and the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society.

Register at

Growing and cooking with herbs workshop

MURPHYSBORO, Ill. — Things feeling a little bland? Want to spice up your life a bit? Attend the Growing and Cooking with Herbs Workshop from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. July 30 at the Jackson County Extension office, 402 Ava Road., Murphysboro. Local Foods and Small Farms Educator Katie Bell will share information on growing, propogating, and caring for various herbs as well as how to recognize and treat common plant diseases. Nutritional and Wellness Educator Mary Liz Wright will take you on a culinary journey as she shares tips to incorporate herbs into recipes and preserve them for use this winter.

The program is free, but registration is required. Visit or call 618-687-1727.