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 31, 2016

Honey, Sweet "Medicine"

Pollinators get a lot of attention these days, as well they should.  With stress due to habitat loss, viruses, fungi, parasites and pesticides, in addition to the normal perils of a bugs life, they could use a helping hand. 

Although not a native species to North America the Honeybee is probably the pollinator most talked about in the media.  Contributing to about $15 billion in increased agricultural value, they benefit directly or indirectly to every third bite of food we ingest.  See more in these food videos from Whole Foods.

But we have discussed pollinator health before with the Plant.Grow.Fly program and Monarch Watch posts. 

This week's topic is HONEY! 

Honey is the most recognized miracle product from bees.  A flower's nectar is changed by enzymes in the bee's saliva and concentrated back at the hive.  In our home, we use this delicious natural sweetener in place of table sugar in many recipes.  Grits aren't the same without some of it.  If you are ever at a Cracker Barrel for breakfast, make sure you don't skip the grits and try them with a spoonful of honey. 

Not only delicious and naturally sweet, honey has been used traditionally for a number of health supporting ways.

Skin Care - Honey promotes skin health and is a natural antimicrobial agent.  Massage some into damp skin to improve skin's health and appearance.  You can also mix granulated sugar into raw honey and use as an natural exfoliant.  Include a few drops of olive or grapeseed oil for a moisturizer.
Honey, Lemon and Thieves tea

Cough Relief - a Penn State study found that honey was a better cough suppressant than many over the counter medicines, although there was some controversy over the media's response. 
I know when I have a sore throat, cough or congestion hot tea made with honey and lemon is really soothing.

Allergies - Local honey can prevent or lessen symptoms with just a teaspoon per day.  Try starting a month before your symptoms typically appear for best effect.

Sleeplessness - A spoonful of honey at bedtime can help support a restful night's sleep.

Antimicrobial Ointment - With its antimicrobial properties, a bit under a bandage may protect cuts and minor burns better than an antibiotic cream.

Stomach Issues - Honey can aid in digestion, balancing both diarrhea and constipation.  It also inhibits growth of H. pylori, a bacteria linked to ulcers.

Honey has also been used for arthritis, leg cramps, pink eye and more.  Regularly consuming raw honey can boost white blood cell numbers and may improve immunity.

Special thanks to Nodaway Valley, The Birds and Their Bees, Keane Honey and Bec's Bees for all of the honey we have enjoyed the last few years.

Hives at the Forest Avenue Outreach garden

Maybe you are thinking bees might be a great addition to your yard or homestead.  If you live in Iowa you can find out if you can raise bees in your city at beelaws.org.  They have cataloged the city codes, with guidance and contact information if you have any questions.  If you are already an Iowa beekeeper look to Central Iowa Beekeepers or the Iowa Honey Producers Association.

There are many places to take some classes on beekeeping and you should always have a mentor to help you along as you begin.  Now is the time to order bees for this upcoming season.

Here are a few places you can order supplies and bees-

Here is an interview with my friend Julia McGuire, a local beekeeper and advocate, on the Urban Farm Podcast.

Give it a listen and then watch the TED talk below about why our cities need honeybees.

This was a big information filled post this week.  If you can't get through it all at once, come back for the things you missed.

Stay sweet, stay healthy and have a great week!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Awarded Best Of Houzz 2016 - Press Release

Pretty sure this is Abundant Design's first press release!
I'm happy to have gotten to know my customers this last year.  To provide something enjoyable and productive for them, that is also great for the land, brings a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. 
I look forward to more projects in the year ahead!
Abundant Design, LLC of Waukee
Awarded Best Of Houzz 2016

Over 35 Million Monthly Unique Users Nominated Best Home Building,
Remodeling and Design Professionals in North America and Around the World

Des Moines, Iowa, January 12, 2016Abundant Design of Waukee has won “Best Of Customer Service” on Houzz®, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. The niche landscape design & install firm was chosen by the more than 35 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than one million active home building, remodeling and design industry professionals.

“We can make something beautiful and productive, in a way that will actually improve the quality of our waters, fertility of our soil, and the health of our planet.” said owner and designer Jeff Reiland.

“Anyone building, remodeling or decorating looks to Houzz for the most talented and service-oriented professionals” said Liza Hausman, vice president of Industry Marketing for Houzz. “We’re so pleased to recognize Abundant Design, voted one of our “Best Of Houzz” professionals by our enormous community of homeowners and design enthusiasts actively remodeling and decorating their homes.”

The Best Of Houzz is awarded annually in three categories: Design, Customer Service and Photography. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among the more than 35 million monthly users on Houzz. Customer Service honors are based on several factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2015. Architecture and interior design photographers whose images were most popular are recognized with the Photography award. A “Best Of Houzz 2016” badge will appear on winners’ profiles, as a sign of their commitment to excellence. These badges help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro area on Houzz.

Follow Abundant Design on Houzz

About Abundant Design, LLC
Abundant Design is a new and growing landscape design and install firm providing edible and sustainable solutions to homeowners, businesses and agricultural producers. Abundant Design provides consultations, design packages and full integration resulting in unique produce, wildlife habitat, nutrient conservation and land regeneration. Based in Waukee, Abundant Design serves the Des Moines metro and Central Iowa. For more information visit abundantdesign.com.

About Houzz
Houzz is the leading platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish – online or from a mobile device. From decorating a small room to building a custom home and everything in between, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community empowered by technology, Houzz is the easiest way for people to find inspiration, get advice, buy products and hire the professionals they need to help turn their ideas into reality. Headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, Houzz also has international offices in London, Berlin, Sydney, Moscow and Tokyo. Houzz and the Houzz logo are registered trademarks of Houzz Inc. worldwide. For more information, visit houzz.com.

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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Had a BLAST! Great Family Fun & Seed Bombs!

This weekend I had the opportunity to have a booth at the Waukee FamilyFest.

Each participating local business provided a game with prizes or crafts.  I drew some new coloring sheets featuring pollinators and the soil food web (you've probably seen the tree guild before).
The other activity we did was make "seed bombs" filled with flowers, wildflowers and butterfly larvae host plants.  This activity started out pretty slow, as pans of clay and dirt with a little box of seeds was not that eye-catching.  However, given a little time, the fading appeal of the bean bag toss and a growing muddy spot on our table the kids started to take notice!  The more dirty hands and smiles appeared, the more kids wanted to come over and give it a try.

Some kids preferred to put it all together in a plastic bag so they could keep their hands clean.  There were cookies and candy there after all :)

Other kids dove in with abandon, savoring the chance to get their hands covered with soil in the middle of Iowa's winter!  Maybe they longed for the sense of well-being that comes from soil contact.

There were also premade seed balls for the very little, or the very shy, so that everyone could get a chance to plant a place for butterflies and other pollinators this Spring.

In January in Iowa we have to be a little creative to get our gardening in!

If you missed out and want to try this at home, or if you think making seed bombs would be good for your classroom or kids club, watch the how-to video below!

Have a great week, stay warm and give these fun seed bombs a try!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Waukee FamilyFest this Saturday!

Bring the kids out to Waukee's FamilyFest this Saturday morning from 9-12 for FREE fun, games and inflatables!

While you're there stop by Abundant Design's booth and make a wildflower 'seed bomb'!

Visit their webpage for more information:

RSVP on the Facebook event page: 

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Healing and Delicious Elderberry

Elderberry shrubs are one of my favorite plants.

Common Elderberry (Sambuccus nigra & S. Canadensis) grows well on marginal land and is useful for stabilizing soils in highly erodible areas.  Their dense foliage works well as a privacy screen. 

Large flower clusters bloom throughout Spring and Summer.  These flowers are a favorite of pollinators, and edible.  The clusters can be battered and deep fried into a flower fritter or the petals themselves used to flavor pancakes or teas.

The berries are delicious and are used in jams, pies, syrups and wine.  Elderberry syrup is also an effective remedy for colds and flu.  These excellent berries are also a favorite food of many birds and other wildlife, so to get a good harvest you'll want to be ready when they ripen in July and August. 

Never eat red berries from toxic varieties, only the blue or purple berries!

The stems and wood of elderberry can be used for many crafts.  Native Americans used them from arrows to baskets and flutes to blowguns!  When we were kids we used the straight canes for arrows in our homemade bows.

Now is the perfect time to start your own!  The plants are dormant now and do well from hardwood cuttings.  Learn how in the new video below!

In the video I use wild plants.  I've collected cuttings in the past from my parents or along streams while hiking or hunting.  These generally grow from five to ten feet tall, with white flowers and dark purple fruit.  You can often find this water loving plant growing along the edges of woods and along stream banks.

There are also named cultivars, such as Johns, York and Adams.  These can have special characteristics such as more ornamental flowers or more or larger fruit.  Usually for the best fruit set you will need two or more named varieties.  You may decide to purchase one of these to fit your needs.

Take advantage of the dormant season and collect some hardwood cuttings.  Try your hand at this technique.  I wish you success with healthy roots this Spring, and abundance in the years to come.

Stay warm and have a great week!

Monday, January 4, 2016


It is that time of year again for New Year's resolutions.  

As you think about the lifestyle changes you'd like to make this year, be sure to make them attainable. Consider starting with a step that is so small, you know you can do it, then slowly increase your efforts. It is better to set several smaller goals that you are able to achieve. Reaching each of these will be encouraging and a good marker for progress. Avoid single overly challenging goals that might discourage you if not reached.

For many people improving one’s health is top on the list for 2016.

Great popular health goals include- maintain a healthy weight throughout life, adopt a physically active lifestyle, and eat a healthy diet with an emphasis on plant sources. 

Approximately one-third of the cancer deaths that occur in the U.S. are attributed to poor nutrition, physical inactivity, being overweight and obesity, according to the American Cancer Society.
If losing weight and getting in shape are at the top of your list, aim for realistic weight loss goals. Make small adjustments to your eating and activity habits each week and focus on changes you can sustain for the long term. Try replacing a salty or sugary packaged snack with a piece of fresh fruit or vegetable between meals.

For more, read my article Small Changes now...

Remember, success with smaller goals can greatly improve your ability to take charge of the larger ones.

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little." - Edmund Burke

Take a small step today!