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.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Seeds on my Mind

This last week or so I've had seeds on my mind!

We had a great class at Cherry Glen Learning Farm last weekend, and hopefully I planted a few seeds of learning even though several students had a fair amount of exposure to Permaculture before.

Speaking of seeds, we've been getting all sorts of catalogs in the mail.  From the cheap bulk shops, to the beautiful Baker Creek book, and the smaller but quality seed suppliers.  Have you been getting seed catalogs in the mail?

If you are wanting to get them but aren't follow this link to get on their mailing lists.

We are a bit early to start most seeds like tomatoes and peppers yet.  However if you are lookign for a winter project to satisfy your gardening itch, you could build a seed starting rack.  In the video below I'll show you how to build a simple and affordable growing rack for early seed starting using an inexpensive 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 in your home and get a nice decorative growing rack that you want to display.  You'll be able to use the lighting section of the video if you want to boost your "daylight" hours.

I just use the cheap bulbs for starting seeds but they really want more light if you will keep them growing here for longer term.  For more information on grow lights:

If you are looking for cheap ways to start seeds and reuse items around the house.  Egg cartons, convenience store cups even regular old newspaper can be upcycled this way!

Don't forget to use a quality seed starter mix!  Adding worm castings is a great way to add plant available nutrients.

Here's a very thorough FREE download for more information on seed saving:

Watch my video for some easy plants to get started with:

And of course Abundant Design's Seed Exchange is coming up!  Mark your calendars for March 10th and stay tuned for details and information.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Tallgrass Prairie Visit- Neal Smith NWR

A short drive from Des Moines, the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge is a great place to beat some cabin fever and learn about Iowa's prairie heritage.

Situated on over 5000 acres, it's home to several of Iowa's native ecosystems.  The park is home to several trails to explore the tallgrass prairie, oak savanna, and sedge meadow.

If the weather doesn't cooperate with your plans, you can drive the 5-mile auto tour through the bison and elk paddocks.  The Prairie Learning and Visitor Center contains an extensive exhibit area, bookstore and movie theater.  We really enjoyed Baxter Black's telling of the prairie fire poem.

 If you can't wait for a road trip, or the weather to warm up, enjoy this video-
A short animated film about exploring the insect world hidden in an Iowa tallgrass prairie. Created as part of Herbert Hoover National Historic Site’s 2017 Artist-In-Residency program.

Animation: Erin Anfinson
Music: Clara Lorraine


Sunday, January 14, 2018

2018 Winter Classes!

An Introduction to Permaculture Design

Saturday, January 27 at 2 - 4pm
Cherry Glen Learning Farm
3989 NW 94th Ave, Polk City, Iowa 50226

Mr Reiland is a practicing Permaculture Designer, obtaining his Permaculture Design Certificate through PermaEthos, and a Bachelors of Environmental Science/Biology from Simpson College. This program will cover the ethics & design principles as well as energy & site assessment, contours - earth works- water catchment, and mulching & soil building to produce nutrient rich produce.

Cost $20.00
Registration at https://cherryglenlearningfarm.org/classes

Planning the Backyard Orchard
using Ecological Principles & Permaculture Techniques

Saturday, February 17 at 2 - 4pm
Cherry Glen Learning Farm
3989 NW 94th Ave, Polk City, Iowa 50226

This class will give students an overview and understanding of tree sizes, planting location, site preparation, shaping & pruning, naturally discouraging pests and disease.

Cost $50.00  Registration at https://cherryglenlearningfarm.org/classes

Trees and companion plants will be available for preordering

Watch for an upcoming Irrigation class!

and of course this years Seed Exchange!!!

Monday, January 8, 2018


Last Friday was National Bird Day!

Wrens are voracious bug eaters!
Birds can be pests in gardens and fields.  Canadian geese will walk down a row of corn or beans pluking out a smorgasboard of fresh "microgreens."  I've had trouble with robins in my strawberries and cherry trees, and sparrows feeding on newly sprouted pea seedlings.

Strategic netting can prevent much of this, as well as providing quality bird habitat so that they aren't so hungry. Many times the only thing birds have to eat in a manicured neighborhood of lawns is our gardens.

For the most part birds are actually a great help around the garden.  They provide pest control for sure!  Wrens, bluebirds and swallows eat an enormous amount of pests, in the garden and biting insects as well.  Seed eaters also reduce weed seeds, while other birds nibble away at tender weed seedlings.
Want to build this house?

They can also work the soil turning over mulch and depositing "nutrients" in your landscapes.  Chickens are great at this, but unfortunately many cities prohibit urban chickens.  Waukee does, as do many of the suburbs.  However, Des Moines allows a certain number per household.

During this stretch of bitterly cold weather I thought about how we keep them feed so they can stay warm and safe.

Here's a video of how you can help your birds out this winter and year round!

Here's an upcoming event at the Waukee Library


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Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year 2018

The frigid temperatures have kept us inside a lot more this last week.  I made it till midnight last night and am almost done with one of the books I'm reading. This season of celebration and reflection has been just what I needed.

Looking back on 2017, Abundant Design had a great year starting with the Seed Exchange and partnering with the Habitat Restore for the Home and Outdoor Living Show here in Des Moines.

Seed Exchange at Cherry Glen
2017 Home Show

Projects started early with an urban farm drainage project, quickly followed by back-to-back residential projects.  I was glad to have the help of several subcontractors and an intern.  I was sad to see him go before he got to start on the healing garden project.

Here's a video showcasing some of our work this year!

2018 is shaping up to be our best year yet, finishing several projects we prepped last year and designs for new rain gardens, mini-orchards and more.

Look for informative posts on the blog, fun videos on the YouTube channel and project updates through the 2018 season!

Have a Happy New New Year!