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.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Building Soil for Health, Climate & Profit

I often talk about how important healthy soil is for healthy gardens, yards and farms.  Well, what does that actually mean? 

Soil is the foundation for all plant life.  One tablespoon of healthy soil contains millions of bacteria, yeasts, molds, fungi, and other microbes. 

Print this coloring page for your kids or classroom
These organisms are vital to the natural processes of the environment by recycling nutrients, protecting plants from pests and diseases, and allowing plants to receive nutrients from the soil.  Nutrient rich plants are healthy food.

 
Organic matter in the form of compost and mulch feed the soil microbes.  It also increases soil porosity, workability and moisture-holding capacity.  Increasing your soil organic matter by only 1% can hold more than 20,000 gallons per acre of additional water in the ground.  This increased water holding capacity can help your grass, plants or crops survive longer dry spells with less stress.

 
Composting your food and lawn waste is one way to boost organic matter and life in your soils.  Using wood and straw mulch around your trees and shrubs is another way to increase organic matter.  While worm castings and compost teas can boost soil life.
 
Chop & Drop your weeds and mulch plants, that helps too!

See these forward thinking farmers share how taking care of their soil improved animal health, increased profits and resiliency.

Soil Carbon Cowboys from Peter Byck on Vimeo.
Meet Allen Williams, Gabe Brown and Neil Dennis - heroes and innovators! These ranchers now know how to regenerate their soils while making their animals healthier and their operations more profitable. They are turning ON their soils, enabling rainwater to sink into the earth rather than run off. And these turned ON soils retain that water, so the ranches are much more resilient in drought. It's an amazing story that has just begun.


It's not just ranchers either.  Soil health practices such as cover crops and no-till can result in an economic return of over $100 per acre for corn-soybean farmers!

Storing more organic matter/carbon in the soil can possibly even fight climate change, read more from Civil Eats.
  

With benefits such as these it's no wonder Soil Health is the next big trend:
A new idea: If we revive the tiny creatures that make dirt healthy, we can bring back the great American topsoil. But farming culture — and government — aren't making it easy.
Soil Health: The Next Big Trend Turf Magazine
Integrating biologicals into your program is smart, simple and cost-effective.
 
As homeowners a major problem in newer developments is the degraded soils, compacted with little organic matter.

Builders strip topsoil off developments to build roads, driveways and homes, but some fail to return it, said John Swanson, a conservationist at Polk Soil and Water Conservation District. "People are left with a rock-hard, compacted soil that builders roll the sod right on top of. It doesn't absorb water much better than concrete," he said. "Homeowners are left with a yard that's not very healthy." The Des Moines Register


We can do things to fix this such as deep-tine aeration, compost addition and supplemental biologicals.  If you are building a new home ask your builder about amending your soil prior to sod or seeding.  Also avoid working wet soils and consider stepping stones or pathways on high traffic areas to avoid compaction.  More tips can be found on our post about the Good Neighbor Iowa program.  Abundant Design can help with any of these and more.


Have a great Fall week!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Grow! Community

Last week we attended and shared about the Good Neighbor Iowa event.  This is one way to be a good neighbor by not using harsh chemicals on your lawn.

Being responsible with what we put on our lawns is important, but even more important are the personal relationships we develop.  People Care is one of the Three Ethics of Permaculture.

With the tragic news out of Las Vegas and lots of other bad things going on in our country, cultivating a feeling of community is critical.  Communities with strong relationships are stronger, more resilient.  People who feel part of a community are not likely to lash out violently. 

You and I are empowered to help stop these acts. 


Community food forests and healing gardens are also places where people can interact with their community and nature.  They can also be beneficial helping people overcome traumatic injuries and experiences.

"Even if a person is unwilling or unable to be active in a natural setting, studies prove just living near nature and trees can have such effects as better test scores for girls and decreased instances of domestic violence. Access to nature simply makes people exhibit “more pro-social behavior.”  Read more "Heal the Landscape and Ourselves"


Community organizer Nimrod Hochberg, of the Kidron Food Forest, is building relationships through their community food forest in Tel Aviv, Israel.

“Every Friday people come here, get together and plant.
We are creating a community.
And people need it.”

Although I'm not a huge country music fan I do like certain songs from all across the music spectrum.  I remember I liked this one that makes me think about being a good neighbor and building strong communities.  I wonder how things would've played out differently if the people we see as monsters had spent a little more time in nature or with their neighbors on the front porch.


I hope you'll take time to visit with your neighbors, coworkers and maybe those you don't normally interact with.  We may never know the impact we'll have!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Good Neighbor Iowa, Des Moines Kick-off

Yesterday was the Good Neighbor Des Moines Kickoff EventGood Neighbor Iowa is a statewide public education campaign to reduce children’s exposure to commonly-used lawn pesticides. It involves school districts, park managers, childcare centers and other community leaders who are demonstrating that it is possible and practical to manage large areas of turf without the use of pesticides such as herbicides, insecticides or fungicides.
 
 
Their ultimate goal is to transform our culture so that we appreciate diverse lawns as a way to protect child health, water quality, and biodiversity.  These goals align with Abundant Design's work and I was glad to attend and promote their mission.
 
 
 
 
Four main tips for a healthy lawn without pesticides:
  • Mow high (at least 3”) so that grass develops strong roots to compete against weeds.
  • Over-seed and add compost periodically. In Iowa, late Aug-Sept are the best times. If there are bare areas, rough them up and seed them.
  • If you have high foot traffic or athletic fields, aerate and seed.
  • Consider converting certain lawn areas into native Iowa prairie plants.
You can do it yourself or have your maintenance service do it and encourage your school local parks and churches to take part as well.  To learn more, please see their Resources page.

For even more resources on natural lawncare practices visit RichSoil.com

Dogpatch Urban Gardens (DUG) hosted the event, with other organizations attending who support Good Neighbor Iowa's mission. 
Kids Yoga in front of DUG's new Hoop House

Farm Baby Foods had their local, organic baby and toddler food
 

The Cutler Kitchen had energy bites, Brightside Kitchen brought treats and local coffee. Des Moines Children's Museum brought their "Let's Play Outside" exhibit.  The Des Moines Water Works provided refillable water bottles to the first 100 guests.

Urban Ambassadors shared their mission to empower and inspire sustainable living

I talked to a lot of great people interested in healthy yards, and healthy landscapes like Abundant Design provides. Brandon from Browne Atlas joined me and shared information about their worm castings.

Chatting with visitors interested in sustainable & regenerative land use and permaculture
 
 
Good Neighbor Iowa will provide you with a yard sign (in various colors) to show your support and invite conversation with your neighbors.
 
Here's our yard sign in purple and gold for Waukee, even if they said UNI :)