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 20, 2019

Urban Food Forest and Learning Garden

A couple years ago I was introduced to DMACC's beginning food forest and had the opportunity to share a little insight to help plan the next phases of the project.  Then towards the end of last year I heard the unfortunate news that the food forest was going to be removed for other plans, and if I knew of any non-profit groups that could use the fruit trees and other plants...

But earlier this year I got an email announcing that the food forest would be saved, and they could work with me for a completely new design in their great new location!

Time was of the essence as the existing trees needed to be moved, preferably while still dormant.  Several planning meetings took place to explore options, determine resources and make sure the new design fit the planned style of the new student center.

The space is a permaculture food forest, with multiple canopy layers, various crops and lower maintenance companion plantings.  But instead of designing around a home or acreage, it is designed as part of an education center.  The space is also home to an outdoor classroom, learning barn, natural playspace as well as different demonstration and conservation practices that can be replicated by businesses and residents.

Phase One of the installation was completed this Spring.  The existing fruit and nut trees and shrubs from the old food forest were moved and pruned for health.  A few trees had to be replaced, and a few new varieties were added as well.  Many new companion crops and supporting plants were planted in the understory.

 Students and faculty even had a volunteer day to help with the sheet mulching and spreading of wood chips.

Lastly the raised beds were built for the annual gardens, using upcycled garage door panels, reclaimed logs buried inside, and trimmed out with naturally weather-resistant cedar.

Summer growing photos!

Come visit the food forest on a guided tour this Tuesday!

Hosted by DMACC Sustainable Urban
Sep 24 at 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
1100 7th Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50314

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Labor Day Tree Sale

With warm soils and cool Fall days ahead, it is a perfect time to plant.  Most of our installation jobs for the season have trees accounted for and there are still plenty left.  So now is a perfect time for a

Saturday August 31st through September 7th

All our trees have been selected for our growing zone, fruit quality and/or disease resistance!
These potted trees are ready to go in the ground.

Dwarf Apple Trees
  Gala on G-11 (3/8”+ caliper) was $25 now $20
        Honeycrisp/Firestorm™ on Bud 9 (1/2”+ caliper) was $35 now $30

Heritage Apple Espalier in West Des Moines

Popular varieties, great sized for 
smaller backyards or 
get creative with an 
Espalier or Belgian Fence

Many varieties on this Belgian Fence in Urbandale

SemiDwarf Apple Trees
        Enterprise™ on EMLA 7 (5/8”+ caliper) was $35 now $30

Very Disease-Resistant variety, with great fruit quality on a perfect backyard sized tree!

The Japanese beetles attacked with little mercy but the plums and cherries have leafed back out and are looking healthy.

Plum on hardy and adpatable Myrobolan rootstocks, these are good sized trees!
        Shiro (3/4"+ caliper) was $39 now $29
        Santa Rosa  (5/8"+ caliper) was $34 now $29

Cherry SAVE OVER 25%
        Ranier and Lapins available on Mazzard rootstock (1/2"+ caliper) was $39 now $29
        Sam cherries available on Mahaleb rootstock (1/2"+ caliper) was $39 now $29

        HarrowSweet on OHxF97 (3/8”+caliper) was $25 now $20
        Magness on OHxF97 (3/8”+caliper) was $25 now $20

Paw Paw was $15 now $12
Seedling Paw Paw trees need protection from the sun for the first couple years, but are more productive if they are grown in full sun.  What to do?
Our 2 1/2 year old potted seedlings are ready to plant now where ever you'd like them! 

These two have been in the ground for one year!

The tiny one in the foreground was planted earlier this year!

Also available are several other apple, peaches and pear varieties; wild plums and companion plants and shrubs.

Maybe you can even use the long weekend to get them planted.

Send us an email or give us a call to get your deal!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Urban Steward of the Year

I was thrilled to hear that I was the recipient of the Polk Soil and Water Conservation District's 2019 Urban Steward of the Year award!

Awards will be presented Wednesday, July 17th, at approximately 6:30pm in the 4-H building on the Iowa State Fairgrounds during the Polk County Fair.

Friday, June 21, 2019

A Regenerative Future Podcast

Several weeks ago I, along with Dr. Bery Engebretsen, had the pleasure to share some of our work on a popular podcast, A Regenerative Future with Matt Powers
Author and teacher Matt Powers, of The Permaculture Student, shares about Regenerative practices, community building & entrepreneurial topics, interviews and more.

Matt and I had been talking about it for some time and finally found a time we could all get together and discuss the Healing Garden at PHC's Eastside Clinic.

Walks are held on the first and third Saturday of the month at 9 a.m.

Check out more of what Matt is working on, and sign up for one or some of his classes, at The Permaculture Student!

Its been a busy Spring!
I'm looking forward to sharing about what else we've been working on!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Plant Swap Pop-in

Headed to the Walnut Creek Campus last weekend to demonstrate some more 🍎 tree grafting and help out Nine Square Feet. 

It was chilly, but at least the rain stopped 🌦🙂

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Tree Grafting Workshop 2019

It's no secret, I'm CRAZY for apples!  Big ones, little ones, red ones, green ones, gold ones...
...and peaches, plums & pears HA HA HA!

Maybe you have a cherished memory of a treasured tree on Grandma and Grandpa's farm.  It was a favorite to climb and grab a juicy late summer treat; the pies she made with them were incredible.  But maybe that tree is old and in pretty rough shape now, or the entire homestead is going to be auctioned off next year.  Maybe the new owners will cut it down, or the whole place plowed under for a couple extra acres of corn and beans.

Wouldn't you like to share some of those apples with your children or even grandchildren?

You can do it by grafting!

Grafting a healthy piece of that tree onto a new young rootstock will allow you to keep producing those same apples for years to come.  You'll be able to share with your family and friends, not only the memories, but also the flavor of those apples, and maybe even the pies if Grandma shared her secret recipe!  Maybe you'll make several to share as heirloom trees for all the cousins and grandkids.

Fruit Tree Grafting Workshop
WHEN:  Saturday, April 13th 2019
10:00 am - 11:00 am
WHERE:  Cherry Glen Learning Farm
 3989 NW 94th Ave
 Polk City, IA 50226 (map)

If this sounds good, or even if you just want to acquire a new skill, you'll want to make plans to attend this workshop.  During the workshop you will learn how to graft trees and gain valuable hands on experience.

Each attendee will be able to graft three trees to take home.  Materials include three rootstocks, three pieces of scion wood, grafting tape and compound.  Follow the event page for updates, space and materials are limited.

Select from popular or historic apple varieties, or bring scion from your favorite apple tree to preserve a variety that has personal significance to you. Each participant will graft 3 apple trees for $40 (class $10, materials fee of $30). If rootstock is leftover, you'll have the opportunity to graft additional trees for $10 each.
Class size is limited, so reserve your spot by emailing abundantdesign@hotmail.com.

I highly recommend you bring your own knife to the grafting workshop, and to have for future use. Tools to share will be provided, but if you want to use a knife you must use your own.  You can purchase one below, or I will have a couple to purchase..

Maybe you'll eventually try a triple graft for three varieties on one tree!  
Maybe even more!

Grafting tools, knives and supplies-
A utility knife will do in a pinch (even electrical tape and petroleum jelly can substitute for the tape and compound) but these are the real deal and should provide many future trees to be done.

This knife should last you years and years.  The tool probably won't be an heirloom for your grandkids like the knife, but it may speed up your process.

Go to my YouTube Channel for a review of the grafting tool!
While you're there, hit the SUBSCRIBE button!

Water Water Everywhere #1 - Runoff & Flooding

Spring rains are right around the corner, and with them usually comes flooding. We may even experience some before Spring officially arrives with the 'bomb cyclone'!

Rainwater is a great resource when timed right and in the right amounts, or stored for later use in rain barrels or in soil pore space.

Unfortunately too much at once can have devastating effects.  More people die in flooding than tornadoes, lightning or any other severe weather related causes.  Floods cause billions of dollars in damages annually.

What's worse is that rain intensity and duration are increasing, especially in the Midwest region.

Certain precipitation conditions on the basins also showed systematic temporal increases since the 1920s, including annual precipitation, number of seven-day heavy rain events, and the number of days with precipitation. This climatic shift to more multi-day periods of heavy rain appears to be the major reason that hydrologic flooding in the three states has increased since the 1920s. Analysis of the individual major hydrologic floods revealed five different types of precipitation conditions, including snow-melt situations that produced major floods. The primary cause of major floods was prolonged periods of four- to 13-day durations with intermittent moderate to heavy rains, and these events often included heavy, 15-centimeter rainstorms capable of producing flash floods. Causes for Record High Flood Losses in the Central United States

Our recent land management and development practices are also contributing to flooding issues.

Reduction of soil organic matter, loss of wetlands and bare fields in Spring all slow infiltration and increase runoff.  Urban sprawl and the increase of impermeable surfaces i.e. rooftops and parking lots; even compacted lawns, also contribute to flood intensity.
A sensitivity analysis was performed to evaluate the effects of urbanization and climate variability on increasing flood peaks. Results indicated that, on average, urbanization caused a 34% greater increase in peak flows than climate variability. In addition, this study indicated that present discharges are, on average, at least 19% larger than regulatory discharges. Ongoing urbanization may cause flood peaks to become even higher. Impacts of Urbanization and Climate Variability on Floods in Northeastern Illinois

Watch for the next post in the series as we look at what this means for water quality.



Saturday, February 23, 2019

Seed Exchange 2019

With the howling wind and snow, it's hard to believe Spring is less than a month away! But I'm ready, and that also means it's time for...

Abundant Design's 5th Annual Seed Exchange
WHEN:   March 9th, 2019   9:00am - 11:00am
WHERE: Cherry Glen Learning Farm
 3989 NW 94th Ave
 Polk City, IA 50226 (map)

What is a Seed Exchange?
Exactly what it sounds like—an event for trading seeds & plants with fellow gardeners and plant enthusiasts.  They allow gardeners to come together and share seeds, cuttings, and transplants from their own gardens to swap with others.  They are a great way to share some of your extra seeds and get something new to grow — all for free!

Click Here  > >  RSVP  < <  Click Here
and then Invite your Friends!

Everyone is welcome
This event is for anyone! If you have seeds or wants seeds.  Expert gardeners.  Beginner gardeners. Aspiring gardeners.  Seed-savers. You. If you don’t have any seeds to swap, still come!  There should be plenty of seed to share with everyone as well as extra seeds available!

There's all sorts of FUN!
  • Chat with other gardeners
  • Share growing tips
  • Great music
  • Build community

How it works
    Share Tables - These tables will be where you can place seeds for others to browse and take as needed, and for you to take items to try. Everyone brings seeds to the swap and puts the seeds out on the large tables. These areas will be free-sharing for all.
    Barter Tables - There might even be some Barter Tables which will be for your rarer items that you would trade if you got another more desired item. If someone has rare or expensive seeds, they may be more specific in what they will accept in trades, and you see if the person who brought them is interested in anything you brought.  
Most likely, people will just want to share their extra seeds, and they’ll let you take some even if they don't happen to need anything you brought.  There could even be extra tools, scion wood for grafting, who knows!  Leave a comment below or in the Facebook event for what you are bringing or looking for.

What to bring
You can bring any kind* of seeds/plants to trade: flowers, vegetables, herbs, annuals, perennials, bulbs — it doesn't matter. You can bring seeds you've collected yourself or leftover seeds from packets you have purchased.
It’s really pretty easy…
  • Bring seeds that are no more than 2-3 years old.
  • Store-bought, mail-ordered or home-saved; all seeds* are welcome.
  • If you are bringing seeds you saved yourself, please be sure they are from non-hybrid or knowledgeably hybridized plants, and were saved properly.
  • You can bring the seeds in whatever packaging is easiest for you. If you can, please make individual seed packets for people to take.  10-30 seeds are plenty. If you just want to bring your opened seed packet with leftover seeds in it, that's fine, too.
  • If you bring seedlings make sure the plants are healthy and well cared for.
  • Please clearly label all seed packets and plants with the variety name, year and source plus any special instructions or notes (for example, "These seeds need to be soaked before planting" or "My great-great-grandmother brought these seeds over on the Mayflower").
  • Little envelopes and a writing utensil so that you can collect and label your “loot”
*please no seed saved or propagated from patented plants 

You do not need to be a seed starting expert — people will gladly share growing tips! 

Friday, February 8, 2019

Awards Ceremony - 1000 Friends of Iowa

Here are some pictures from the 1000 Friends of Iowa Best Development Awards ceremony at the Iowa State Capitol last month.  

The weather didn't cooperate very well, but it was great to see and hear about the other great projects around the state.
Dr. Engebretsen, PHC and Jeff Reiland, Abundant Design

Here Dr. Engebretsen, along with the new Wellness Center team, and I accept the awards and share a few comments about the project's beginning, progress and intended outcomes, along with future uses and programming.

Read more about the Healing Garden at Primary Healthcare's Wellness Center at the links below:
Ground Breaking November 2017
Learn even more and donate here http://www.phciowa.org/garden/

Abundant Design would love to help your organization with the design and installation of sustainable and regenerative landscapes!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Frigid week, but a bonus!

Dangerous cold and winds are expected to continue and worsen, so be careful out there this week.  Temperatures and windchill can freeze exposed skin in minutes.  
 Arctic Air Brings Dangerous Wind Chill Temperatures

I did get a chance to build a fun igloo with the kids!  It really helps just to get out of the wind.

Even outside pets should be brought in.  Growing up we trained our dog to stay on her rug by the back door.  We did find him on the couch once, and he would skooch inch by inch off, if me or my brother were lying on the floor nearby watching TV.  

Livestock is also vulnerable, make sure their shelters are holding, their waterers aren't frozen and they have plenty of feed.
Doves enjoying a drink at the heated birdbath

Back up heat, and emergency supplies are always a good idea, especially in cold like this.

Some good news to come out of this is that it can help reduce the number of overwintering insects-hopefully more harmful ones than good ones!  The invasive marmorated stink bug and spotted winged fruit fly can't handle the cold, but often are good at finding shelter inside or under the snow, which is a decent insulator as I found in my igloo above.  
The great hope, especially for Northern and Eastern Iowa, as well as Minnesota is the cold mortality of the Emerald Ash Borer.  A study from the Forest Service in Minnesota showed mortality (die off) rates of 5% of the insects at 0F, 34% at -10F, 79% at -20F and 98% at -30F.

You can also read more at Minnesota Public Radio's blog- 

So finish your outside chores if you have them, grab your favorite hot drink and snuggle in.  Then browse those Seed Catalogs, read a Good Book or listen to some Podcasts!

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Podcasts - Regenerative Ag & More

Usually mid winter is a time for reading, reflection and enjoying the time to recharge, almost like hibernation.

I've done a couple posts on books but as I was driving recently listening to some of my favorite podcasts I thought I would share what I listen to.

Interested in books?  Here are those stories-

I do more podcast listening during the summer when physical labor allows, than in the winter when designing demands more of my mental attention.  But I do try to stay caught up by listening at a faster speed, skipping parts or even certain episodes.

Here are the podcasts I'm subscribed to-

Rewild Yourself
Daniel Vitalis, former vegan turned hunter, gatherer and forager, is exploring ways to become more sustainable with regionally sourced foods.  Subscribe here  http://rewildyourself.libsyn.com

I listened to this episode last week and enjoyed his look at Regenerative Agriculture, specifically pasture raised beef, and then how the guest's ranch was misrepresented in the documentary Cowspiracy.

Abundant Future with Matt Powers
Author and teacher Matt Powers, of The Permaculture Student, shares about Regenerative practices, community building & entrepreneurial topics, interviews and more.

The Urban Farm Podcast
This prolific podcaster, Greg Petersen, puts out several episodes per week on various topics related to farming, gardening and homesteading. They have hosted several people from central Iowa on the show.

TopSoil Podcast
Iowa based, more conventional annual row crop focused, but with a goal is to bring awareness to #SoilHealth and the #RegenerativeAg movement.

In this episode they discuss the rise of biologicals Season 2, Episode 7

Sustainable World Radio
This was one I used to listen to often, but just resubscribed.  I had missed it after reinstalling my podcast app awhile back.  Jill Cloutier interviews a variety of guests on topics from organic food, herbalism and essential oils, permaculture and more.

A couple others I listen to - just for fun, productivity and family.
     Mike Rowe's "The Way I Heard It"
          The Art of Manliness Podcast
               Focus on the Family - Daily Broadcast

Of course the first podcast I ever listened to was The Survival Podcast (TSP).

TSP is a daily podcast with an enormous amount of content!  It delves into topics that can help us prepare not necessarily for the Zombie Apocalypse but the many, much more common, little disasters of life - job loss, severe storms, infrastructure hiccups - and how to setup your lifestyle to become less fragile.  Our grandparents wouldn't call it Survivalism, just Common Sense.  Business building, Permaculture, Cooking, Off Grid Living are favorite topics of the show and can help lead to a more resilient existence.  There are also weekly Call-In Shows, Ask the Experts and Interviews.

Jack Spirko didn't introduce me to Permaculture, but he really helped me realize how it connected all of my life experiences and passions.  Along with Diego Footer of Permaculture Voices (sadly no longer producing episodes), Jack encouraged my growth as a Permaculture Designer.

You can listen to Episode 2158 where Jack and I talk about Permaculture in the Suburbs.

Have a great week, stay warm, drive safe and
     Happy Listening!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Grandma knew...


This could about be my grandma in one of her gardens.  I wish I had a picture of her in the garden, and grandpa too for that matter, to share.  I think we do in some of the photo albums at mom and dad's place.  Grandma had the coolest potato slicer, and generally a good bet that she had some homemade cookies in her kitchen, too!

My brother found out the (not-so) hard way in Grandma's kitchen, to look before you leap one day we visited for lunch.  When he thought I had gotten more chocolate chip cookies then he had, and was only given one, he quickly grabbed a second and said, "Jeff got two!" but before I could warn him, Dad nudged me under the table with a sly but subtle grin...

They were oatmeal raisin, which we liked but he didn't!

My brother and I were lucky to grow up nearby, and see them as often as we did.  Grandma always had the hugest rhubarb plants under the purple martin houses they had.  She let wild ground cherries grow wherever they came up in her vegetable garden.  Ground cherry pie was one of my dad's favorites.  Mulberry pie was another she made, with mulberries collected from the tree behind their garage (which grandpa built).  And strawberry rhubarb pie, and crisp, and... you get the idea 😀

She could mend and sew, and enjoyed making quilts.  Most of all she enjoyed her family.  Summer visits were thoroughly enjoyed, but I would imagine Christmas was her favorite time.  Her sons and their families would all visit.  The house was pretty small but everyone fit and so many stories were shared over an astounding array of cookies and treats that she had made the weeks before in preparation.

I drove past their old place Saturday after her funeral.  She had not lived there for several years but the martin house was still up, although they have gone South for the season.  Her clematis vines, now dormant, were still clinging to the trellis on the martin house pole.  Their giant old walnut tree was severely pruned, and not so giant anymore.  Grandpa had trained a squirrel to sit on his lap where he would share a walnut, or maybe some peanuts.  I wonder if the flowers will still be there in the summer - hollyhocks, hens and chicks, impatiens and many more.  Grandma was 100, a few days shy of 101.

Life goes quickly, and the older we get the faster time passes.  As I get older I realize it more and more.  So I'll leave you with this thought this week - when all is said and done we'll have on our memorials the year we were born and the year that we die with a little dash between.

How are you going to live your dash?

Saturday, January 5, 2019

New Year's 2019 Resolutions

We are a few days in to the new year, have you already ditched your New Years Resolution?  I didn't make a resolution, but I did set a couple goals.

Here are a few earth friendly suggestions from Hello Nature Blog if you want to try something new and to get back on track!

Of course if you would like help with a nice looking compost bin or trees of all kinds especially fruit and nut trees, Abundant Design has you covered.  We can even provide a complete site plan to enhance the functionality of your landscaping elements.

If you didn't commit to major life changing resolutions this year, don't fret.  Small changes can have big results when multiplied over time.
Read more about that by clicking  HERE!

Here's to a GREAT 2019!

Thursday, January 3, 2019




Celebrating Iowa’s ‘development heroes’ and recognizing smart growth principles across the state

Dec. 11, 2018 (Des Moines, Iowa) – 1000 Friends of Iowa proudly announces eight recipients of its Best Development Award for 2018. These recipients were chosen because they implement the efficient use of resources to develop sustainable communities and provide a high quality of life.

"These are our state's 'development heroes,'" according to Julia McGuire, Program Coordinator. The 2018 Best Development Award winners are listed below (category, recipient, project, city):

In the Innovative Leadership category, the City of Storm Lake for building a sustainable community through food, youth service and education, flood control, and stormwater management in Storm Lake
In the Placemaking/Greenspace category, Primary Health Care’s East Side Clinic for its Healing Garden in Des Moines
In the Renewable Energy category, Stuff Etc. for its unique “solar plus storage” technology in Coralville
In the Renovated Civic - Small Community category, the Bricker-Price Block for the restoration of the Bricker-Price Block in Earlham
In the Renovated Civic - Large Community, the Davenport Community School District for its J.B. Young Opportunity Center in Davenport
In the Renovated Residential category, Professional Property Management for Sun Prairie Apartments in West Des Moines
In the Stormwater Management category, the City of Algona for its Downtown Green Parking Lot Infrastructure Renewal in Algona
In the Transportation/Complete Streets category, the City of Manning for its Trails Network in Manning

“The nominations for 2018 were very diverse. The jurors really appreciated the number of renovations that were nominated. There are so many great developments occurring in our state,” stated Kari Carney, Executive Director of 1000 Friends of Iowa. “Iowa should celebrate the communities where thoughtful planning is happening. Hopefully other communities can replicate the successes of our 2018 category winners.”

The Best Development Award winners are selected from a pool of nominations each year by an independent group of jurors. This year’s jurors were Pat Boddy, Sustainability Director at RDG Planning & Design; Jeff Geerts, Special Projects Manager with the Community Development Division of the Iowa Economic Development Authority; Jeff Hanson, Community Development Operations Manager of the City of Sioux City; Ulrike Passe, Associate Professor of Architecture at Iowa State University and Director of the Center for Building Energy Research, and Ryan Peterson, President of Impact7G.

The Best Development Awards Program recognizes projects in up to 12 different categories as a way for 1000 Friends of Iowa to express the fact that smart land use and sustainable communities are more than constructed buildings. All of the award recipients help advance sustainability across our state by considering site design, outdoor and indoor environmental impact, public use, and long-term benefits.

Founded in 1998, 1000 Friends of Iowa is the only organization in the state focused solely on promoting responsible land use in community, state, and federal development decisions. Its mission is to unite Iowans in efforts to protect farmland and natural areas, revitalize neighborhoods, towns and cities, and improve quality of life for future generations.


For more information about the Best Development Awards Program, please contact Julia McGuire at 515-988-1828 or email awards@1000friendsofiowa.org.