Trees Forever annual event addresses nature’s role in “placemaking”

Registrations are being accepted for the Trees Forever annual "Our Woodland Legacy" symposium, set for Dec. 4 at the Cedar Rapids Country Club. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Registrations are being accepted for the Trees Forever annual “Our Woodland Legacy” symposium, scheduled for Dec. 4, 2014, at the Cedar Rapids Country Club. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Trees Forever, based in Marion, Iowa, is always on the cutting-edge of trends. I’ve attended several of their annual symposiums and always learn something about nature as it intersects with our daily lives and communities.

The nonprofit has been celebrating its 25th anniversary with numerous activities throughout the year. Their symposium on Dec. 4 will undoubtedly be one of the high points with a focus on “placemaking.”

Registrations are being accepted now for the event, which will be held at the Cedar Rapids Country Club, a beautiful venue for the occasion. Continue reading

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Indian Creek Nature Center hosts chili luncheon/outdoor gear silent auction and Nature’s Noel

Nature's Noel, at the Indian Creek Nature Center, features sales of wreaths, garland and other natural decorations, along with artisan crafts. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Nature’s Noel, at the Indian Creek Nature Center, features sales of wreaths, garland and other natural decorations, along with artisan crafts. This year’s event will be Saturday, Dec. 6. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

I wouldn’t have an excellent set of cross-country skis if not for the Indian Creek Nature Center.

The Nature Center holds an annual outdoor gear silent auction, along with a chili luncheon, which is where I found my great skis and of course, tried some great chili.

I’m equally grateful to the Nature Center for many of my Christmas tree ornaments. Wreaths, garlands and other natural decorations are sold at the annual Nature’s Noel, with area craftspeople also selling their holiday gifts.

Continue reading

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Iowa man who chased and killed bald eagle sentenced to jail

Bald eagle photo/Wikipedia

Bald eagle photo/Wikipedia

Sometimes you just have to wonder what motivates people.

If anyone has an answer behind this Iowan’s motivations in chasing down and killing a bald eagle, please share your thoughts.

Fortunately, this guy will be paying a price for his actions, though some might wonder if the sentence is severe enough.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sent the following today: Continue reading

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Cedar Rapids man forced to remove garden turns to petitions

Ed Thornton pauses as he clears out the last of his garden in November, to comply with an order by the city of Cedar Rapids. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Ed Thornton pauses as he clears out the last of his garden in November, to comply with an order by the city of Cedar Rapids. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

By Cindy Hadish/Homegrown Iowan

CEDAR RAPIDS Even when Iowa’s harsh wintry weather ended the growing season for most gardens, the plot tended by Ed Thornton in southwest Cedar Rapids was thriving.

Tender green lettuce, stocky carrots and deep magenta beets were among the vegetables Thornton was able to grow, even into November, giving away much of the produce to neighbors and anyone who happened by the site. But no longer. Continue reading

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Speaking for the trees in New Bohemia

Developers listened when advocates asked that this oak tree not only be saved, but protected as new housing is built in New Bohemia in Cedar Rapids. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Developers listened when advocates asked that this oak tree not only be saved, but protected as new housing is built in New Bohemia in Cedar Rapids. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

By Cindy Hadish/Homegrown Iowan

As trees are removed at a fast pace to make way for development along Edgewood Road in northeast Cedar Rapids, a different approach is being taken in one of the city’s core neighborhoods.

A majestic pin oak, estimated to be at least a century old, has an added source of protection as new housing is built nearby in the New Bohemia district. Continue reading

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A reward for Iowa’s generous farmers

 Iowa farmers who donate food they produce to food banks and food pantries can now qualify for a credit on state taxes. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Iowa farmers who donate food they produce to food banks and food pantries can now qualify for a credit on state taxes. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

I know several farmers market vendors who donate vegetables left over after markets to food pantries. Now, these charitable farmers can be rewarded for their good deeds through a new program.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey, announced the following this week:

FARMERS DONATING FOOD ELIGIBLE FOR TAX CREDIT Continue reading

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Cool coop; City Council to look at chicken changes and teaching garden in North Liberty

Chickens search for bugs in the garden of Daniela Williams and Wes Hepker in North Liberty. (photo/Daniela Williams)

Chickens search for bugs in the North Liberty garden of Daniela Williams and Wes Hepker. The City Council will consider readopting the urban chicken ordinance at its meeting Nov. 11, 2014.  (photo/Daniela Williams)

NORTH LIBERTY – The North Liberty City Council will consider readopting the town’s urban chicken ordinance at its meeting this Tuesday, Nov. 11.

Just over a year ago, the council approved the ordinance, which allows residents to keep up to four hens in city limits. Roosters are not allowed. At the same time, a clause allows the ordinance to expire after one year, if council members don’t again approve the measure.

Daniela Williams, one of the backers of the ordinance, said she hoped the council would not only readopt the ordinance, but make a few changes, such as allowing residents to keep up to six hens, rather than four. Continue reading

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Digital divide? New options battle traditional farmers markets to sell fresh veggies in Iowa

Tomatoes from Buffalo Ridge, near Central City, Iowa, are ready for distribution at the Iowa Valley Food Co-op in Cedar Rapids. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Tomatoes from Buffalo Ridge, near Central City, Iowa, are ready for distribution at the Iowa Valley Food Co-op in Cedar Rapids. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Just this week, Overstock introduced a nationwide, online means of ordering fresh farmers market produce that can be delivered to your door.

While the Salt Lake City-based business touts its national scope, it hasn’t yet made its way to Iowa. Still, just last night, ProduceRun officially launched in Cedar Rapids and the web-based Iowa Valley Food Co-op continues to grow in Iowa. Continue reading

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Digging deeper into Greene Square in downtown Cedar Rapids

This gallery contains 4 photos.

CEDAR RAPIDS – Park-goers will experience new lighting, a water feature and improved outdoor seating in downtown Cedar Rapids, after the City Council approved the Greene Square revitalization design plan at its meeting today. Work will likely begin next spring … Continue reading

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University of Iowa to host Iowa Organic Conference; event features daughter of activist Wendell Berry

Fresh greens are sold by Grinnell Heritage Farm during the kick-off of the Downtown Farmers Market on Saturday, June 7, 2014. The farm is certified organic. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Fresh greens are sold by Grinnell Heritage Farm during the kick-off of the Downtown Farmers Market on Saturday, June 7, 2014. The farm is certified organic. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

A well-respected fruit grower spoke to me at length during a recent farmers market. One of the points he noted was the challenge in raising food organically in Iowa.

“Too many critters,” he said, in reference to the insects and other pests that tend to attack produce crops.

Many of the growers I know are not certified organic – most cite the added expense that certification involves – but they do follow organic practices, which tends to satisfy their customers.

Farmers and others interested in transitioning to organic production can find plenty of arguments in favor of doing so at an upcoming conference at the University of Iowa. The Iowa Organic Conference, set for Nov. 16-17, 2014, will include a keynote speech from Mary Berry, daughter of author and environmentalist, Wendell Berry. Continue reading

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