Our Mission:

Our Mission: To enable individuals and communities to take an active part in the cultivation of systems that provide the highest quality fruits, vegetables, herbs and other yields, in a way that benefits themselves, cares for the land and environment, and provides a surplus to use, share and reinvest into the system.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Small changes now...

...result in a big changes over time.

This is the Vector Principle, or Vector Changes, as my friend Jerry Foster puts it in his book LifeFocus.  When we make a small change in our lives, it may seem insignificant at first but as more time passes the change becomes abundantly clear how we are improving the different areas of our lives.

Benjamin Franklin was also known for hard work to improve himself.  Born into poverty with only a couple years of formal education, Franklin rose to become a man of considerable wealth and influence.  He was a respected scientist and statesman, a Founding Father of the United States of America.  As a young man, Franklin came up with a list of four areas of his life, broken into a set of thirteen virtues of which he would focus on improving one each week.  At the end of the thirteen weeks he would start again and build on the changes he had made.

A lot of us want to eat local/humane/organic/paleo food, exercise the primal way, rely on solar or wind energy and give up the car for a bike.  It doesn't have to be all or nothing.  Don't give up because you can't or won't sell the house in the city to get a small farm and try the homesteading lifestyle.  Don't stop trying if you can't leave the 'burbs behind to forage for berries and live off the land in the wilderness like Grizzly Adams.  We can make incremental improvements, the vector changes, to get closer to where we want to be; and the benefits will multiply over time.  Plus, the healthy example we show our children, our neighbors, our friends, will be contagious and expand our impact beyond ourselves.

I used to be a big fan of Lucky Charms cereal, much to my wife's dismay.  They were mainly oats (right after sugar), so healthy like Cheerios right?  And the marshmallows (or styrofoamy knock-offs) were delicious... over time my breakfast choices have changed for the better.  This weekend she surprised me with a box of Mom's Best cereals Mallow Oats.  Oh great, generic or greenwashed Lucky Charms other men might have thought ;) but these are the real deal.  Delicious marshmallows that don't stick to your teeth, ingredients you can pronounce and count on your fingers, no high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or colors (colored with blueberry and carrot concentrates).  So if you are just beginning a healthier, more sustainable (made with wind energy) stage of life, your kids might appreciate this baby step.

For more chemical free food consider the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen foods list.  Apples top the list at #1 for residual pesticides, followed by Strawberries in the number two spot.
  1. Apples
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Sweet Bell Peppers
  8. Nectarines (Imported)
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Cherry Tomatoes
  11. Snap Peas (Imported)
  12. Potatoes
    and the list continues...

A lot of these fruits and vegetables can be grown right here in central Iowa.  You can look for these locally and I encourage you to get to know your producer, too.  By getting to know them you build community as well and gain insight in their growing practices.  Many small local growers look for more natural pesticide-free ways to grow, even if they aren't certified USDA Organic.  Their growing practices may even exceed these standards.

An even better vector change is growing your own, going hyper-local.  Many, like apples, strawberries and peaches, are perennial so that they will produce for you year after year without replanting.  Others such as spinach, cucumbers and peppers, are easily grown from seed in a small garden or raised bed.  Position this near your kitchen or back door and all you have to do is step out for fresh greens or vegetables.  While your at it, why not put in a few hardy, flavorful and healthy herbs, as well.

I would welcome the opportunity to help you make this happen.  Contact me and we can talk about a basic garden installation or more including fruit trees, berry patches and edible oases.

Thanks for checking in!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Low-Cost Seed Starting

This week I continue helping you get ready to start plants early this year.  This will give your vegetables and other plants a head start to the growing season, without breaking the bank.

In the video I'll show you how to upcycle or make very low cost seed trays and larger temporary pots for transplanting.  After watching the video you'll know how to use all sorts of items around the house to fill up that new growing rack and help boost this years garden yields.

Egg cartons to convenience store cups to regular old newspaper can all be upcycled in this way!

To save even more money you can learn to save seeds or trade seeds with a friend or at a local seed exchange!  Watch for Des Moines and Central Iowa events announced here or on Facebook as I learn of them; or watch for announcements in your local newspapers and garden centers.

If you want to start a garden or more this year contact me now to get a plan in place so that your new plants you'll soon start will have a beautiful new place to go when they get bigger.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

How-to Build a Growing Rack for Seed Starting

Welcome back for the first major post to the blog this year!  I hope you've had a great start to 2015.

If you've been getting seed catalogs in the mail you might be excited to get some things started but we are a bit early yet for most things.  This project might help you satisfy the need to "do some gardening" this winter.  In this video I'll show you how to build a simple and affordable growing rack for early seed starting using a resin shelving unit and fluorescent lights. 

You can also build a rack with wood, or use a wire shelving unit if that's what you have available.  My project is also set up out of the way, but you may have a South facing window and get a nice decorative growing rack that you want to display.  You'll be able to use the lighting section if you want to boost your "daylight" hours. 

For more information on grow lights:

If you would like to request seed catalogs follow these links to Seed Savers Exchange, Raintree Nursery, Baker Creek or High Mowing Organic Seeds.  Contact me if you would like links to even more.

Also, if you want a plan for your growing adventures, and the plants you'll start on your new growing rack, this year call or email for an appointment and we can discuss your options and opportunities!

I hope you enjoyed the video and put these ideas to use.  We'll build on this topic in the weeks to come so stay tuned!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year 2015

Happy New Year! 

2014 was a great year with the way things came together with the business, completed several interesting projects and took advantage of many learning opportunities.

I look forward to a 2015 with more edible and sustainable design and installation projects, new service offerings and more events. 

Stay tuned, be inspired and let's do great things!