A Bountiful Season

This summer has been a season of growth and learning. Plants blossomed, knowledge budded, and communities came together to get their hands dirty as they worked to build. Below is a short review of each of the Central Iowa Gardens: The Giving Garden located at Rock Run Elementary School in Iowa Falls, successfully implemented each of their goals for the year which includes, four raised beds, a cinder block bed filled with the 3-Sister's garden, beautiful infrastructures, and excellent engagement with the champion teacher and her counterparts. The school recently had a harvest party to celebrate the official opening of the garden. The celebration included vegetable tastings and garden tours led by 4th grade students.    Where the Garden Grows... this amazing garden located at Story County Medical in Nevada, had a remarkably, fruitful summer. They utilized farming equipment to create a unique garden scene that is an expression of Iowa's agricultural values. The fruits and vegetables were distributed between the two campuses that compromise Story County Medical....
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Gardens, gardens everywhere!

This spring considerable effort has been put forth to collaborate with partners and install gardens all across Story, Boone, and Hardin counties. To date, we have 4 gardens in: Story County Medical, Nevada Elementary, Rock Run Elementary, and Eastwood Apartment. The CDS Global employees are working hard to get their garden in yet this summer. Some great conceptual drawing have been made for City of Madrid and Story County Administration's employee garden. As a new employee for Prairie Rivers, it has been a joy to see so many people join hands to get fresh, nutrient-rich vegetables into the hands of our residents!     Seems like a good place to give you a little background on myself... My name is Kellie Engelman. I was born and raised in Story County. I grew up in Huxley, and graduated from Ames High School. I graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University with a Social Work degree in 2011. The next three years were spent pioneering a community...
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2nd Annual Local Food Cycle – Aug. 30

We are excited to announce that the second Annual Local Food Cycle will be taking place August 30th this year. It is a time to celebrate healthy sustainable food systems in Central Iowa, where you live. Riders visit farms and savor local foods prepared by area chefs.   Our planning team is looking at mapping a new route going east of Ames in the Nevada/Colo area.  Our next phase is to start looking into possible farms and conservation stops, as well as chefs willing to participate to prepare your taste buds for a ride.   2014 was our maiden year for the event. The route was approximately 40 miles (3-5 miles of gravel) and participants visited six farms located in Story and Boone Counties. Over 125 riders enjoyed local food dishes prepared by Arcadia, Sweet Magnolias, the Bistro, ISU Dining, and the Cafe.   We will be updating this event on our website under Local Foods and Events.   Proceeds from this event support future local food events...
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Ride. Eat. Repeat. 1st Annual Local Food Cycle

September 7th was an exceptionally perfect day for a bicycle ride.  70 degrees with a slight wind out of the south made for the finest circumstances to enjoy the 1st Annual Local Food Cycle, a bicycle ride celebrating healthy sustainable food systems in Central Iowa.   Over 120 riders participated in the first year of the event.  Riders explored farms while savoring local foods prepared by area chefs.  The riders varied in skill level and age but all enjoyed the opportunity to experience local food in a new way.   The 40 mile route started at Moore Memorial Park in Ames and did a loop north through Story and Boone Counties.  Participants had the opportunity to visit six farms and a private wetland.  The farms were all small to mid-sized and did mostly fruit and vegetable production.   Mustard Seed Community Farm was the fourth stop on the route.  The small farm is dedicated to sustainable, simple living and creating a community in which everyone...
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Celebrating Local this Harvest Season

Fall is such a wonderful time, especially in Iowa. Leaves changing colors, cool nights, savory soups and pumpkin pie. What's in Season? pumpkins winter squash apples potatoes beets turnips cabbage broccoli brussels sprouts garlic onions   Seasonal Produce Guide: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/page/whats-season Check out a Central Iowa farm: Center Grove Orchard (Cambridge, Ia) Pick your own pumpkins and apples Hayrides Corn/hay maze Farm animals and so much more Hours: Monday-Saturday (9 am-7 pm) and Sunday (11 am-6 pm) Admission: $8.95 (Monday-Friday), $10.95 (Weekends) More info: http://www.centergroveorchard.com Berry Patch (Nevada, IA) Pick your own pumpkins, apples, and red raspberries Hours: Monday-Saturday (9 am-5 pm) and Sunday (10 am-4 pm) More info: http://www.berrypatchfarm.com Black's Heritage Farms (Ames, Ia) Pick your own pumpkins Trolley rides Farm animals Sweet Corn Feed (free w/admission) and more Hours: Saturday/Sunday (10 am-6 pm) Admission: $3.00 More info: https://www.facebook.com/BHFPP or 515-292-1936      ...
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Outdoor Classrooms: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

“Time in nature is not leisure time; it's an essential investment in our children's health (and also, by the way, in our own).” -Richard Louv, author of "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder"          The growing number of children with diabetes, obesity, and ADD/ADHD over the past 5 years is alarming. "According to the Center for Education Policy (CEP), 44 percent of school districts have increased time for English/Language Arts (ELA) and math in their elementary schools and decreased time in other subjects since the 2001 enactment of No Child Left Behind (NCLB)." Of those 44 percent, twenty percent of all districts reported decreasing time for recess to allow for more time in the classroom. Teachers, school administrators, and parents can help bridge the gap between time outside and improved education by investing in outdoor classrooms. Benefits of the Outdoor Classroom Physical: An increase in physical development, capability and activity Setting up patterns for an active, healthy lifestyle Fewer children suffering from diseases...
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Food Waste is #1

Every year Americans throw away roughly $165 billion worth of food.  That is 40% of all U.S. food products.  These products then accumulate in a landfill emitting methane, a greenhouse gas.  Food waste is the #1 most prevalent item in landfills.  In Iowa, food waste makes up 14% of all municipal landfills.  And yet roughly 50 million Americans do not have adequate access to food. Over the past couple of weeks both the Kate-Mitchell Elementary and Sawyer Elementary Schools in Ames, IA have been participating in composting projects.  The students sort and weigh their leftovers from lunch.  Data is collected and then analyzed so students can see exactly how much food they are throwing away.  They also see how much waste can be eliminated by composting. What can you do to help reduce waste? Compost, create highly nutritious soil Share or take-home food when going out Purchase only what you can feasibly use Donate what you cannot use Resources: Iowa Food Waste Reduction Project: http://iwrc.org/services/food-waste/ Environmental Protection Agency: http://www.epa.gov/foodrecovery/ www.wastefood.com ...
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Healthier Soil, Healthier Produce

It may still surprise some folks that the nutritional value of our fruits and vegetables is dependent upon the nutrients in our soil. Donald Davis, a biochemist at the University of Texas discovered "that six out of 13 nutrients showed apparently reliable declines between 1950 and 1999.”  Those nutrients included protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin and ascorbic acid. These declines were believed to be partially related to certain conventional farming techniques.  There has been a rebirth of natural weed and pesticide techniques as well as a push for farmers of all types to use cover crops to improve the nutrient levels in their soil. Reminder to folks that a healthy, sustainable food system is only as strong as the elements (soil, water, seeds, etc.) necessary to produce the food. ...
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Celebrating National Public Health Week

This week is National Public Health Week.  Last week I attended the Iowa Governor's Conference on Public Health.  Many elements of the conference continue to plague my thoughts. The Top 3 The current direction of healthcare costs are not sustainable.  -Diane Rydrych, Director, Division of Health Policy, Minnesota Department of Health 70% of factors affecting an individuals health are within their control.  -Governor Branstand, Iowa Governor  "Today, seven in 10 deaths in the U.S. are related to preventable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. Another striking fact is that 75 percent of our health care dollars are spent treating such diseases. However, only 3 percent of our health care dollars go toward prevention."  -Iowa Public Health Association After connecting with several entities in the Public and Environmental Health arena.  I discovered a consistent trend.  Unhealthy lifestyle choices are so well ingrained into our culture that even public health agencies struggle to make the change. The average American consumes 14% more...
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