Tues., Jan. 1 – First Day Hikes: Begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike on Jan. 1, at a state park close to home. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is hosting free, guided hikes in four state parks and recreation areas on New Year’s Day as part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes initiative in all 50 states. Hikes will be offered at Big Creek State Park (Polk County) at 10 a.m.; Walnut Woods State Park (Polk County) at 9 a.m.; Mines of Spain State Recreation Area (Dubuque County) at 1 p.m. and Brushy Creek State Recreation Area (Webster County) at 1 p.m. Visit www.iowadnr.gov/StateParkEvents for detailed information regarding the hikes. First Day Hikes began more than 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Mass. The program was launched to promote healthy lifestyles throughout the year and year round recreation at state parks. Last year marked the first time all 50 state park systems joined together to sponsor First Day Hikes, offering 400 hikes nationwide. Park staff and volunteers will lead the hikes, which average one to two miles or longer, depending on the state park. Details about hike locations, difficulty and length, terrain and tips regarding proper clothing are listed on the America’s State Parks website, www.americasstateparks.org. America’s State Parks is committed to promoting outdoor recreation in state parks as a way to address obesity, especially among children. Getting kids outside and unplugged from video games and other electronic media creates a unique connection with nature that promotes physical and mental well-being and encourages creativity and stewardship of our shared resources.
Thurs., Jan. 3, Water: Join Sara and Sam Stikx, Eco Family Super Heroes for the 2013 Eco Family Virtual Conference! YOUR family is invited to: explore sustainable living resources; conduct citizen science activities; watch & create your own avatar video; have fun together! Eco Family Virtual Conference Sessions will be held the first Thursday of each month from 6:30-8:00pm. REGISTER NOW and pay using PayPal. The entire 6 session virtual course is only $70 per family. Cancellations made one week before course/event will be refunded 50% of registration fee. Cancellations made after one week will not be refunded. Register before the holidays so your family has time to explore the Water resources before the first online gathering on Jan. 3, 2013.
Tues., Jan 8, 7-8:30 p.m., Online Farminar; “Yeomans Plow and Keyline Design” Practical Farmers of Iowa has developed a free winter online seminar series in an effort to help farmers learn from each other without having to travel. The interactive webinars – called farminars – are presented live on Tuesdays from 7-8:30 p.m. CST, from Jan. 8 through Feb. 26. There is also a special lunchtime farminar 12-1:30 p.m. CST, Thursday Jan. 24. Enterprises span livestock, vegetable and row crop production. The series is open to anyone, and any computer with an Internet connection may be used to participate. To participate, go to www.practicalfarmers.org/farminar. All archived farminars and audio podcasts of past farminars are also available at this link. Farminars are led by farmers from around the world, including Vermont, Wisconsin and Victoria, Australia. Many of the presentations are in a “fish-bowl” format, where attendees listen as an experienced farmer answers a beginning farmer’s questions. Topics featured in the winter series: The Yeomans plow and Keyline design; selecting corn hybrids and soybean varieties; cover crop basics for corn and soybeans; fruit and vegetable farm crop insurance options; profit potential in high tunnels; full-time year-round employment considerations; alternatives to corn and soybeans in swine feed rations; selecting beef animals for a grass-based system; and vegetable irrigation basics. Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers, advancing profitable, ecologically sound and community-enhancing approaches to agriculture through farmer-to-farmer networking, farmer-led investigation and information sharing. Farmers in our network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. For additional information, call 515.232.5661 or visit www.practicalfarmers.org. Get to know the Yeomans Plow and Keyline Design and learn how subsoil plowing can improve your farm productivity, water holding capacity, and reduce compaction.Jeremy and Jodi Peake, of Waukon, IA, manage a grass-based herd of 35 dairy cows. While they have farmed for more than 11 years, they have only recently begun experimenting with the Yeomans plow. Darren Doherty is a 5th generation farmer from Bendigo, Victoria, Australia. Darren also works as a farm planner, developer and educator, specializing in drought-proofing, soil management and practical farm layout design. He has experience using Yeomans Plow and Keyline Design concepts on his farm and as a consultant to farmers in more than 40 countries.Find others in the rest of the calendar, below.
Tues., Jan. 8, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Wed., Jan. 9, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., 2013 Ag Show and WMT Tractorcade; Hawkeye Downs Event Center, Cedar Rapids. Schedule of events: Tuesday – Jan 8th
9:00A Doors open
10:00A Elwynn Taylor sponsored by Concept by Iowa Hearing Aid Centers
11:30A THE BIG SHOW 2013 Tractorcade Route Announcement sponsored by South Slope
2:30P Pesticide Application Certification by Jim Fawcett
Wednesday – Jan 9th
9:00A Doors open
10:00A Jerry Gulke sponsored by Titan Machinery Blairstown/Center Point
11:30A THE BIG SHOW
4:00PM Vendor and Display Booths close
Wed., Jan. 9, 7-8 p.m., ‘Starting Garden Transplants at Home’, Marion Library, 1095 6th Avenue. Free class taught by Linn County Master Gardener, Zora Ronan.
Thursday, Jan. 10, 6:30 PM; Green and Simple: Choices for Sustainable Living; Indian Creek Nature Center; 6665 Otis Rd. SE. The term “sustainability” has become so popularized, it is hard to know what it means anymore. Sustainability is a complex and contested concept; but at its best, it represents hope for a healthy, just and bright future for all. Explore the meaning and vision of sustainability from individual, societal and global perspectives in seven sessions covering ecological principles, food, community, consumption, the economy and transportation. For a complete description call 319-362-0664 or go to www.indiancreeknaturecenter.org. A discussion course book ($25) is required and included in the fee. Join us for stimulating discussions! Call ICNC by 4 PM on Jan 7 to register. Fee: $50; $60 if sharing a book with a friend. Discussion dates: 1/10, 1/17, 1/24, 1/31, 2/7, 2/14 and 2/21.
Thurs. Jan. 10-Sat., Jan. 12; Practical Farmers of Iowa annual conference “Soil and Soul,” Iowa State Center Scheman Building, on the Iowa State University campus in Ames. The conference is open to the public, and registrations are being accepted now. Those who pre-register by Jan. 2 will save $10 per day. Register online at http://practicalfarmers.org/events/annual-conference.html or by contacting Patrick Burke at email@example.com or (515) 232-5661. Special rates are available for students and PFI members. Several sessions at this year’s event – which celebrates the vital role soil plays in sustaining life – focus on field crops and management strategies for both conventional and organic systems that can save time, boost profits and build soil health while protecting water quality. The “Cover Crops 101” session, offered in partnership with Iowa Learning Farms (ILF), will benefit farmers thinking about planting cover crops for the first time and veteran cover crop growers. Rob Stout, who farms near Washington, Iowa, will teach practical ways to add cover crops to corn and soybean systems as well as integrate them into no-till systems. Plant physiologist Tom Kaspar, with the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, will share the latest research on how adding a small grain cover crop can improve soil quality while reducing soil erosion and nitrate leaching. The conference will also feature keynote speaker Elaine Ingham, chief scientist at the Rodale Institute and a world-renowned microbiologist; 18 other in-depth workshops covering topics in horticulture, livestock, local foods and beginning farmers; nine additional Saturday morning breakfast sessions; up to six in-depth “U-Pick” sessions organized around topics suggested by guests during conference registration; and three short courses on composting, farm finances and tractor handling and operation, taking place on Thursday, Jan. 10 and the morning of Jan. 11. To access the full conference program, registration details or to register online, visit http://practicalfarmers.org/events/annual-conference.html.
Sat., Jan. 12, 9:00 AM-3:00 PM; Not a Lot of Plot Workshop; Indian Creek Nature Center, Cedar Rapids. Reconnect with nature through a more sustainable lifestyle! Enjoy growing food in your backyard, no matter how small. Topics will include ideas for small spaces, nurturing healthy soil, growing and using herbs, backyard rabbits, native shrubs and recycled garden art. See details in the brochure at www.indiancreeknaturecenter.org Fee: M: $15; NM: $18
Sat., Jan. 12, 10 a.m.–noon; Soap Making Workshop at Prairiewoods. Are you spending a fortune at bath and body stores or worried about some of the ingredients in the soaps you’re using? This class at Prairiewoods (120 East Boyson Road in Hiawatha) will be led by Sandy Rosenberger. You’ll learn how simple and inexpensive it is to make your own glycerin-based soaps with simple, nourishing ingredients. All materials will be provided. (The snow date is January 26.) The cost is $20 and registration and payment are required by January 9. For more information or to register, contact Prairiewoods at 319-395-6700 or www.Prairiewoods.org.
Tues., Jan. 15, noon–1 p.m.; Tuesday Take-Away at Prairiewoods: Working through the Winter Blues. Tuesday Take Aways is a new monthly program at Prairiewoods (120 East Boyson Road in Hiawatha), held on the third Tuesday of each month. This series will pair delicious Prairiewoods lunches with topical presentations by local experts. To honor your schedule, hot lunches will be served promptly at noon and presentations will conclude at 1 p.m. If you wish to linger longer, the presenters will stay for additional conversation. All are welcome, but registration is strongly encouraged. Please join us and invite your friends and colleagues for fellowship. All will be sure to find something to “take-away” from this monthly offering! On January 15, Tony Wobeter, MS, will present thoughts about how to counteract depression and the winter “blahs.” He will discuss helpful strategies to creatively meet life challenges in the new year. Tony was an ordained Catholic priest and served for 21 years in the Dubuque Archdiocese. While serving as a hospital chaplain, he received his master’s degree, became a licensed psychologist and left the priesthood. For the past 24 years, Tony has provided psychological and hypnotherapy services in the corridor. The cost is $13 per session and includes presentations and lunch. For more information or to register, contact Prairiewoods at 319-395-6700 or www.Prairiewoods.org.
Tues., Jan. 15; 7-8:30 p.m., – Winter Farminar, “Selecting Corn Hybrids and Soybean Varieties” – Eric Franzenburg, Laura Krouse, and Maury Johnson. Gain a diverse view of the nuts and bolts of genetic selection and decision-making for corn and soybean seeds. Farmers and a seed production expert will cover genetically-modified, non-GMO, open-pollinated and organic seeds. Eric Franzenburg of Van Horne, Iowa farms several hundred acres of conventional corn and soybeans. Eric will discuss his process of selecting GMO corn hybrids and soybean varieties. Laura Krouse, of Mount Vernon, Iowa manages about 40 cropland acres in a four-year rotation (corn, oats/hay, hay, and vegetable garden). She plants an open-pollinated corn variety grown on her Abbe Hills Farm since 1903.Maury Johnson currently works for Blue River Hybrids in Kelly, IA which specializes in non-GMO and organic seed choices. He will add almost 30 years experience in the seed business focused on seed production to the discussion.
Thursday, Jan. 17, 7:00-9:00 p.m., Beginning Beekeeping Series: Session I; Indian Creek Nature Center. This is the first of an eight-session series designed for individuals serious about starting a beekeeping hobby. The series takes participants through the annual cycle of beekeeping, from establishing a hive to harvesting and marketing the honey produced. Class members will work with the hives at ICNC. All classes are held at the Nature Center and last approximately two hours; attendance is critical. Call or visit ICNC’s website for full class descriptions. Pre-registration is required by Wednesday, Jan.16. Call 319-362-0664 or visit indiancreeknaturecenter.org. Series: M: $55, NM: $85;
$10/companion (one only).
Fri., Jan. 18, noon–1 p.m.; Circle Cinema at Prairiewoods: Mother Nature’s Child. You are invited to join a monthly lunchtime screening of films from the Spiritual Cinema Circle and Earth Cinema Circle series at Prairiewoods (120 East Boyson Road in Hiawatha). This casual gathering, facilitated by Andrea Jilovec and Emy Sautter, allows Prairiewoods staff and guests to view a film over the lunch hour. As time permits, there may be short discussions following the films. Bring your brown-bag lunch and join us for this free viewing party! January 18 will feature Mother Nature’s Child, a one-hour film exploring nature’s role in children’s health and development. A free-will offering will be accepted. For more information or to register, contact Prairiewoods at 319-395-6700 or www.Prairiewoods.org.
Sat., Jan. 19, 2 p.m., Naturalist’s Cure for Cabin Fever: Discover Winter Wildflowers; Indian Creek Nature Center. Reconnect to the outdoors on a casual walk to identify the seed heads and stalks of last summer’s blooms. These remnants of warmer days are amazingly beautiful and often quite fragrant. Dress for the outdoors! M: $4; NM: $5; Youth: $1
Sunday, Jan. 20, 2:00 p.m., Mammoth Dig Update; Indian Creek Nature Center. David Brenzel will share the amazing story and mystery of the Oskaloosa mammoths. Learn what has been discovered so far, speculate on what this might mean and learn about plans for the upcoming dig season. Examine mammoth bones. M: $4; NM: $5
Tues., Jan. 22, 7-8:30 p.m., Winter Farminar, “Cover Crop Basics for Corn and Soybeans” – Steve McGrew and Earl Hafner. Learn from farmers with experience using cover crops in conventional and organic systems. Steve McGrew farms corn and soybeans with his brothers near Emerson, IA. Using cover crops for many years on no-till conventional farmland in gently rolling hills, he has seen vast improvements in soil conservation effects. Earl Hafner organically farms about 2,000 acres near Panora with his son Jeff. They use cover crops extensively in their operation. The Hafners use tillage to kill the cover crops in the spring and also grow small grains in organic rotation.
Thurs., Jan. 24, noon to 1:30 p.m., Winter Farminar; “Specialty Crop Insurance: One Farmer’s Experience and Vision” – Richard deWilde – Noon 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM Central time. Have you considered insuring for your fresh produce farm this summer? Hear a farmer’s take on what is available as well as his vision for a more suitable insurance program for fruit and vegetable farms. Richard deWilde, of Harmony Valley Farm, Viroqua, Wisconsin, has been growing organic vegetables since 1973. He will explain his experience with Farm Service Agency’s Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) and will provide an overview of NAP requirements and potential returns if there is a crop loss.
Thurs. Jan. 24 and Fri., Jan. 25, Iowa Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association Conference; Des Moines Area Community College,
Iowa FFA Enrichment Center, 1055 SW Prairie Trail Parkway, Ankeny. Program Information: www.ifvga.org
Saturday, Jan. 26, 12:30-5:00 p.m., Sixth Annual Paddle Day; Indian Creek Nature Center. Paddle Day offers something for every paddler whether a beginner or seasoned veteran. Connect with a paddling buddy, share experiences, learn about new gear or a new place to paddle. Displays, door prizes and engaging presentations. Paul Sleeper will introduce Iowa’s mussels and discover exciting paddling opportunities at Charles City Whitewater at Riverfront Park. For a complete agenda of the day’s speakers and activities, go to www.indiancreeknaturecenter.org. M: $8; $NM: $12
Sunday, Jan. 27, 2:00 PM; Planning Your Alaskan Adventure; Indian Creek Nature Center. About 60% of the people who visit Alaska take package tours, often including a cruise up the Inside Passage, a visit to Anchorage and Denali National Park, and a flight home. Join veteran Alaska travelers Steve Street and Bob Anderson and former Alaska resident Rich Patterson to plan a customized trip to the Last Frontier. Learn to locate interesting lodges and bed and breakfasts in spectacular terrain off the main tourist routes. Gain insights into the topography, weather, and people of our largest state. M: $5; NM: $8
Tues., Jan. 29, 7-8:30 p.m., Winter Farminar; “Explore the Profit Potential of High Tunnels” – Adam Montri: Learn how to harvest not just great winter greens, but profits as well from your season-extending structure. Adam Montri of Ten Hens Farm, near Bath, Michigan, raises crops year-round in his high tunnel. Adam also serves as the hoophouse outreach specialist for Michigan State University, serving high tunnel growers across Michigan.
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