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Future home of the Hardacre Community Garden High Tunnel.

A new project over a year in the making is about to come to life at Hardacre Community Garden, and we’re calling on friends and neighbors to help make it happen.

This weekend, Friday, June 20 and Saturday, June 21 we will be building our new High Tunnel at the Hardacre farm. A high tunnel is basically a rudimentary greenhouse that captures the suns heat to warm the soil and plants inside. (Click HERE for more info…) We first began discussing the possibility of adding a high tunnel in the spring of 2013, as we knew it would extend our growing season and our ability to produce even more food to benefit the community. Plans were set into action, funding was generously donated, and earlier this spring dirt was moved to create a pad for the structure. Now it’s time to finish the build.

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The High Tunnel will measure 30′ x 72′ in size and will allow us to extend our growing season, starting earlier in the spring and going later in the fall.

Construction will begin on Friday morning at 9am, and will likely continue all day and into Saturday. Those who wish to volunteer their time are invited to join us for as long as they are able, be it for both days or even for just a couple of hours. You don’t need to be an experienced carpenter or have extensive construction know-how to help out, just a desire to put a little effort into the betterment of our community. However, those who have tools such as wrench and socket sets or power tools for fastening bolts and setting self tapping screws are definitely encouraged to bring them along.

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The High Tunnel will maximize available sunlight with it’s east-west orientation, sitting at this location east of the house.

And if building isn’t necessarily your cup of tea, you can still get involved by helping us tend to some weeding and a number of other garden chores. Garden Director Mike Boyle will be on site both mornings beginning at nine o’clock and will be happy to point you in the right direction; just come on out and ask what you can do to help!

(If you need directions, the garden is located at 1167 West 9th Street, Tipton. Just follow 9th Street a short distance heading west out of town, and you’ll see the Tipton/Hardacre Community Garden sign on your right, north of Country Estates.)

Special thanks goes out to members of the Tipton Lions Club who have helped with site preparation and will be helping with the High Tunnel construction. Also, thank you to Margaret and Keith Stroup who generously donated funding for this project. Without all of these people, their belief in what we do and the impact we are having on the community, none of this would have been possible. Now, with your help we can really turn the page and begin a new chapter in the Hardacre Community Garden story.

Hope to see you there!

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Keith and Margaret Stroup help unpackage materials for the High Tunnel. The Stroup’s provided generous financial assistance for this project.

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Volunteers cut seed potatoes in preparation for our 2014 planting.

 

Well, spring’s late arrival in Iowa this year has us a couple weeks behind the traditional Good Friday target date; so how about a little Cinco de Mayo potato planting fiesta?!!

 

Over the weekend, volunteers cut up 450 pounds (!) of seed potatoes for planting and now we’re asking anyone who is able to come help us get them in the ground. The plan  is to start this evening (Monday, May 5) around 6:00 and see how much we can get done at the Hardacre Community Garden site (1167 W. 9th Street, Tipton.) Later this week, we will finish up our plot at the main garden location, and plant the remaining potatoes at the Cedar County Historical Society Prairie Village site (1094 Hwy. 38, Tipton.) We’re anticipating another bumper crop of spuds this year and anyone who gets involved can take pride knowing their efforts will yield far-reaching impacts; providing nutritious locally grown food to benefit people in need right here in Cedar County.

 

This is also a good time to remind everyone that in addition to the always appreciated efforts that volunteers physically contribute to the garden, monetary donations are also welcome and needed. We do our very best to stretch the most out of a shoe-string budget, but expenses do mount up. For example, even when purchasing the seed potatoes that were cut and prepared for this weeks planting at sale price, the bill still came to nearly $300. Of course it’s worth the investment as we know the return will provide hundreds of meals to individuals throughout our area, but it does put a significant dent in our savings.

 

All donations to the garden are tax deductible, and such documentation can be provided at the donors request. Checks should be made out to our officially recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit title “Old Tipton Union School, Inc.” with Tipton/Hardacre Community Garden written on the memo line.

Donations can be mailed to…

Old Tipton Union School, Inc.

P.O. Box 271

Tipton, Iowa 52772

 

Finally, the third way you can contribute to our efforts at Tipton’s Hardacre Community Garden is to help spread the word. Share our blog posts and Facebook updates on your own social media accounts. Call your friends and invite them to come along and volunteer. Tell those around town about the great work that’s being done, and remind people that financial donations are in fact tax deductible. It takes a community effort, but with your help we can make 2014 our best year yet!

 

See you at the garden!

Greetings everyone, and to our loyal blog followers (along with the blue skies, warm breeze, and green grass…) a hearty welcome back. As we get set to kickoff another growing season at Tipton’s Hardacre Community Garden we’ve decided to revitalize this blog, along with our Facebook page, in hopes of sharing news of our work at Hardacre farm with friends from near and far. As in the past you can look to these online resources for lots of photos and updates on garden activities, and stories of how we are incorporating sustainable agricultural practices for the benefit of Tipton and surrounding communities.

A new feature that we will be unveiling this year (right now, actually) will involve blog posts that list tasks and chores in current need of attention. We’ve always maintained a pretty loose and easy going volunteer system out at the garden; anybody is welcome to come out at anytime and just pitch in however they see fit, but we realize that some folks might prefer a bit more guidance and structure. Through this site we can offer regular updates on things that need done, and when appropriate provide further instruction. Volunteers can then head out to the garden and help with these tasks at their convenience.

With that said, let’s get started…

You'll see these red buildings at the end of the lane, and notice the mulch piles and bushes in the field to the east.

You’ll see these red buildings at the end of the lane, and notice the mulch piles and bushes in the field to the east.

Although things are about to shift into overdrive with the weather shaping up, right now the one big chore we would like to focus on is mulching. Out at the site in the plot east of the house and red sheds are a couple of big piles of mulch, and along the north border of that field is a row of shrubs (burning bush.) We simply want to spread that mulch around the plants, in one continuous line approximately two feet wide with the shrubs going right down the middle. The mulch should be spread about 6-8 inches deep. You’ll want to bring a shovel and something to carry the mulch (such as a bucket or bushel basket.) A wheel barrow would also be handy, but for the most part the bushes are a very short distance from the mulch pile.

Piles of mulch with line of burning bush close by.

Row of burning bush along the north edge of the field.

You’ll notice some existing mulch around the base of the shrubs. This is from last year, but it’s time for a fresh batch. Spread the mulch roughly two feet wide and 6-8″ deep, all the way down the line.

Mulching here will serve a number of purposes. For the sake of the bushes, it will suppress weeds and help to retain moisture. It will also help with maintenance, as it will eliminate the need to mow between the shrubs (and any little bit of mowing we can do away with not only saves time, but also decreases fuel consumption and emissions that are destructive to the environment.)

We will soon have more mulch delivered to be spread around the lilac bushes that run north-south along the western edge of the field in front of the house, so once that arrives it can be spread there just as instructed above.

A little later this spring we will be installing a High Tunnel on the property (click here to learn more about these structures) and of course as the season progresses there will be plenty of opportunity to help with planting, weeding, harvesting and distribution. Please keep a close eye on our Facebook page for updates, and be sure to sign-up to receive notice of new blog entries via email by providing your information in the column at the right. Also, feel free to utilize these channels to leave comments to let others know when work has been done or to ask questions. We’d like for this to be as interactive and as social as possible, so don’t be shy!

Thank you for your ongoing support and interest in being a part of the team at Tipton’s Hardacre Community Garden. Here’s to making 2014 the best season yet!

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Here are the rest of the photos from planting corn at the Cedar County Historical Society Museum on the evening of May 23. (In case you missed it, you can read about this and see the first batch of photos from that night by clicking HERE.)

We are looking into using a horse team to conduct some other garden activities this summer, and when possible I will post updates on planned activities and photos here on this blog and on the Hardacre Community Garden Facebook page.

Enjoy!

 

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This past Thursday evening I had the pleasure of watching members of the Cedar County Historical Society plant sweet corn and field corn the “old fashioned way,” with a horse team and an antique two-row planter. It was a fascinating demonstration, and a reminder that in the overall evolution of agriculture these methods of our grandparents aren’t so far removed. Yet in a world of 600 horse power tractors and 48 row planters, this is clearly a scene from a bygone era; and a piece of our heritage that we should be grateful the CCHS is working to preserve.

I’ll let the photos do the talking, and this is only the first batch with more to come. You can watch for the others to be posted here on this blog in coming days, as well as on the Hardacre Community Garden Facebook page.

I would like to give a big thanks to Keith, Bob, and Alice Whitlatch, Denny Dykstra, Teresa Reed, Mike Boyle and others who helped on this evening or are involved with the Cedar County Historical Society for their hard work in maintaining our cultural legacy, and for inviting me out to document this story in photos. I look forward to following up on this and other projects, and to sharing them with our Hardacre Community Garden family over the course of this summer and into the future.

 

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Blame it on the lethargy of our on again-off again spring, but things have been kind of quiet here from Hardacre Community Garden on the blog post and social media front. That’s not to say, however, that there hasn’t been a lot going on.

Perhaps the biggest news of the 2013 season thus far is that Mike Boyle was recently awarded the United Way of East Central Iowa Volunteer of the Year honor. Mike has been an integral component and driving force behind Hardacre Community Garden from the projects inception, and is actively involved in many other local causes. With this award, Mike will receive a $500 prize to donate to the charity of his choice, and he has graciously decided to put that money toward continued efforts with the garden and collaborating with local high school classes to combat food insecurity in our community.

We couldn’t be prouder of Mike for earning this prestigious honor (and must agree it’s very much deserved) and wish to thank all of you who participated in the voting.

Of course as this all came to pass our 2013 season, though a bit delayed by the weather, slowly but surely got underway. This will be the gardens fifth summer in existence, and this year we will work to maintain plots at both the historic Hardacre property on the west edge of Tipton, and at the Cedar County Historical Society museum just northeast of town. Our goal will again be to better the impressive marks we’ve established in years before. It will be quite a challenge to match the record 14,000 pounds of produce that we helped to distribute in Tipton and neighboring communities last year, but we’re eager to prove that we are once again up to the task.

Here are a few photos of our early season progress in the garden. Once again this year we will post images on this blog and on our Facebook page to share with our friends near and far.

If you would like to get involved this year, feel free to leave a message in the comments section below, or email us at hardacregarden@gmail.com

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Vote for Mike!!!

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Mike Boyle visits with friends at Hardacre Community Garden.

Have you heard the news?!!

Hardacre Community Garden’s very own Mike Boyle has been nominated for the United Way of East Central Iowa Volunteer of the Year Award! As all of us involved with the garden know, Mike is the heart and soul of this project and has tirelessly dedicated himself over the years. Mike has literally volunteered thousands of hours of his time,  overseen the local production and distribution of several thousand pounds of food; and done it all for the satisfaction of educating the public and helping neighbors in need.

In addition to his efforts with the garden, Mike further combats food security issues through the Feds Feed Families campaign in his work with the USDA at the Tipton Sevice Center. Mike is also extremely active in the Lions Club and can often be found involved in various service projects. (And really, this is  just the tip of the iceberg…)

If given this award, Mike will receive five hundred dollars to donate to the charity of his choice, and has graciously decided that he would put this money to use at Hardacre Community Garden and to serve food pantries in Cedar County.

Please take a moment to show your support for Mike and our Community Garden by voting for him at the link below. You can vote as many times as you would like, so let’s go crazy and help push him over the top. Honestly, this honor could not be bestowed upon a more worthy individual, and we are very proud of Mike for this wonderful recognition.

Click here to vote for Mike Boyle:  http://unitedwayofeastcentraliowa.org/annual-volunteer-awards/

 

While you’re at it, scroll down to the group nominees and cast a vote for the Herring family, who do great work volunteering with Habitat for Humanity builds here in Tipton. And don’t forget to help spread the word by sharing this on Facebook and encouraging your friends to vote as well. Thanks!

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