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.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Crazy for Apples!


It's no secret, I love apples.  Big ones, little ones, red ones, green ones, gold ones...

A trip to the orchard this time of year is a favorite family activity with many different farms competing for the most outrageous exhibition of inflatables, rides and attractions.  But for me the stars of the show are the apples!

What's not to love really?  There are so many varieties available from the popular Honeycrisp, tart Granny Smith or even the Sweet Sixteen with its hint of vanilla.

Apples are great in a lunch box - Just the right size, nutritious and pairs well with a sandwich.  They are refreshing on a hot day when you can really use a crisp, tart and juicy snack.  Perfect for a break at the paintball field, on long bike rides or adventure races, or in the middle of a backyard project.

Fruits and vegetables are at the top of almost every recommendation for healthy living.  Plant rich diets are linked to lower incidences of cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  Apples are high in fiber, antioxidants, phytonutrients with almost no fat, sodium or cholesterol.
Many varieties thrive here in the Midwest, with a long enough growing season and ample "chill-hours".  And with commercial apples at or near the top of the "Dirty Dozen" list each year for residual pesticides, growing a tree or two in your own backyard is a wonderful idea!
In celebration of All Things Apple, how about a trip to Living History Farms?  Tomorrow is
Spend Saturday afternoon in "Walnut Hill" the 1875 town, where you can take a turn on the cider press, sample fresh apple fritters and stir the kettle of apple butter.
This Saturday September 24th
     11am-4pm (opens at 9am)
     11121 Hickman Road
     Urbandale, IA 50322

For even more Apple greatness, here are some Apple Extras from PBS's documentary "Botany of Desire" with Michael Pollan.

Have a wonderful Autumn!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Sweet Life, Its Sweet Potato Time

Autumn begins this week! 

The evenings are cooler and even a bit brisk in the mornings.  The cool breezes through open windows carry the sounds of birds waking in the morning.  Its a nice way to wake up but encourages snuggling in for just a few minutes longer.

Sweet Potato in Flower just this morning

Waukee's forecast

With cooler weather becoming inevitable its time for me to harvest our sweet potatoes.  Sweet potatoes require a curing period in warm, humid conditions.  This process heals any nicks or scratches in the skin which will help them store better, as well as helps convert the starches to sugars. 

Ideal conditions are 80-90°F (27-32°C) with 80-90% humidity.  The curing process takes several days under these conditions, but may take up to a couple weeks if not quite warm or humid enough. Too hot and they can start to rot.

Sweet potatoes are nutrient powerhouses.  Rich in beta-carotene and B vitamins, they also have a healthy dose of fiber and a good source of complex carbohydrates.  Also, baking sweet potatoes causes a chemical change that boosts Vitamin C.  Eating a variety of less common starches, like sweet potatoes, is a great way to promote good gut-health.

Slips early this Spring

The simplest way to prepare sweet potatoes is to just pop them in the oven.  After scrubbing them a bit, pierce the skin with a fork multiple times, put them in a preheated 350° oven until soft through, about an hour for large ones.

Another popular way to eat them, and one of my favorites is Sweet Potato Fries!  I even prefer them to regular French Fries. Slice into strips, toss in a bowl with spices and just a little olive oil (just to coat), bake on a cookie sheet at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.

Carrot & Sweet Potato Stew

A hearty Sweet Potato and Carrot Stew is another great way to eat them, perfect for later in the Fall or Winter.  However I cannot find the recipe, so I will just have to leave you with this picture, for now.

Have a great weekend and maybe we'll see you out at the Blank Park Zoo's Monarch Festival!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Urban Ambassadors and Busy September

Yesterday in honor of Patriot Day, as an act of service, we donated a fire ring and log seating to the Forest Avenue Community Orchard.  I look forward to some stories around the fire there :)

Read about last years service project here, and how to support their mission here

Thank you to whoever nominated Abundant Design and me for the Urban Ambassadors' 2016 Ambassador of the Year.

I know I used roll my eyes too when a celebrity would begin an award acceptance speech with “It’s an honor just to be nominated…” but, it truly is an honor and makes a person feel really good!  There are a lot of people doing great things in Des Moines promoting sustainable living, conservation, clean water, wholesome food and caring for people, and I am thankful for being recognized as one of them.

Urban Ambassadors is a non-profit community of volunteers that helps and encourages others to become more sustainable in theory daily lives. Through their, personal pathway and seed projects.

"We're planting the seeds of sustainability for a greener greater Des Moines."

They strive to be the go-to organization to teach and connect people to make sustainable ideas happen.  They host monthly meetups to encourage learning and collaboration.  This month it will be a field trip to The Plant Sync garden in Ankeny.  One of their three main events is also coming up, September 25 th, the annual FriendRaiser potluck.  This is a chance to celebrate local eco*heroes. 

Part of the nomination process includes making a 1-minute video highlighting your work, telling why sustainability is important and what motivates you.  Here’s mine:

Also coming up next weekend is the Blank Park Zoo's Monarch Festival!

And this week is Iowa Prairie Heritage Week, look for many fun events around the state.

Lots of fun coming up this month!

Have a great week!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Labor Day 2016

Happy Labor Day! 

I hope you are enjoying time off today or at least making an easier day with only the necessary chores.  I also have been taking time with my family this weekend so we'll have a short post.

Here are a couple pictures of what's been going on the last week with Abundant Design.

getting the contours right
Finally got some baby Monarchs in our backyard and a very pretty predator!

Here's a link to the Labor Day post a few years back.  I love the quote by Edward Abbey at the end and his reminder to stop and smell the roses!


Have a great week and stay tuned for new posts and videos this Fall!