Archive for the ‘2012 Season’ Category

Happy Fall Everyone!

Obviously with the change of seasons, activities are winding down out at the garden and soon we can start planning and looking ahead to next year. Then again, when you consider our dedication to sustainability we’ve been doing that all along!

Have a look at this new slideshow created to highlight some of our sustainable practices at Hardacre Community Garden…



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We are very pleased to announce that for the second time this summer Hardacre Community Garden is gaining national exposure.

A few weeks back, representatives from the USDA contacted Mike Boyle stating that they were impressed with Tipton’s contributions to their Feds Feed Families program, and asked for more information on our local work. Apparently, they were pleased with what they learned, and responded with this little write up on their blog.



It’s pretty cool to think that our local community garden has not once, but twice this season turned heads in Washington. It seems we must be doing something right (although we don’t need them to tell us that!)

Stay tuned in the coming weeks, because some of our regional media has caught wind as well…

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We received some exciting news regarding a new addition to our garden team today, as Mike Boyle sent an email to fellow volunteers introducing “Johnny Pat Putt-Putt…” Johnny Pat, as it turns out, is an old John Deere tractor that has been in the Boyle family since Mike was a kid. And while Johnny Pat may look a little rough now, he’s had a productive and exciting life; with more bright days to come.

For those of you who don’t know Mike Boyle, he is the life-blood of Hardacre Community Garden. Mike devotes untold hours to the garden (not to mention many other community activities) and though he would insist on highlighting the efforts of others, truth be told our project wouldn’t be what it is without him. Mike often lists continuation of our horticultural legacy as a key benefit of the garden, and enjoys teaching techniques that his own grandparents shared with him. It seems only fitting that this important piece of Mike’s heritage would also find its way to the Hardacre farm.

Here is what Mike had to say…

Good Morning,

 We have a new resident at the Tipton/Hardacre Community Garden named ‘Johnny Pat’ Putt Putt.

 Yes, indeed it is a John Deere tractor, one that I personally have many fond memories of growing up. This was my Dad’s (Pat) tractor, the first tractor I learned to drive.

 Many years ago ‘Johnny Pat’ had a major role down-on-the-farm planting corn & soybeans, pulling in loads of baled hay and wagon loads of grain. As the years rolled by ‘Johnny Pat’ became weak and worn having survived the May 15, 1968 tornado that completed turned the tractor & four row planter a complete 180 degree turn.

My Dad had been planting soybeans that afternoon and with storm clouds looming overhead he left the farm equipment facing east in the field. In those days we thought it best to ‘out run’ tornadoes so as a family we all got into the family car and followed my grandparents who were in their car and headed toward the 7 funnel tornadoes’. My memories of this is forever imprinted on my mind.

 Needless to say by the Grace of God our lives were spared, as we returned to our home the devastation from these tornadoes completely destroyed our neighborhood. The Boyle farms did not receive major damage like the neighbors homesteads although it did uproot trees and completely destroyed all fences on the farms. ‘Johnny Pat’ putt putt and planter changed directions and was now facing west, a 180 degree turn from the east position it had been before the storm.

 We hope ‘Johnny Pat’s ‘ current inoperable condition will soon change and having a new home and a little love & TLC will bring it new life.

I grew up with this tractor and had never tagged a name to it until it came home to the Hardacre acreage.

 Seemed so fitting to name the tractor after my Dad and it being a John Deere tractor Johnny was appropriate too. But with the young grandson (Johnny) of Bob & Sandy Harmel taking a likening to the tractor, Johnny just fit as the first name.

 Johnny Pat’s picture is attached. Wouldn’t it be nice to see it putt putt around the acreage and perhaps pull a hay ride full of people…….

 Imagine being nameless all those years.

 Josh, please post on the garden site.




We can all relate to objects that trigger memories, sacred in our minds. The fortunate among us are able to resurrect these in adult life, maintaining a connection to our past. And greater blessings still; to revive them with true purpose, the intent of helping others and contributing good to the world…


Welcome home, Johnny Pat.

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To begin with this evening, let’s take a look at some photos from not so long ago…


These were some of the first pictures taken of the garden this spring. The time was early April. Our young onions were just beginning to sprout, and with shorter days we worked through the hours of dusk to get all those potatoes in the ground.


A few weeks later, on May 15, this was the scene at the Cedar County Historical Society’s Prairie Village…


In a demonstration of historical technique and an exercise honoring our agricultural heritage, volunteers and historical society members gathered to plant sweet corn the old-fashioned way, with draft horses and an antique planter.


Now let’s fast forward a few months (or several decades, depending on how you look at it) for some of our more recent images.


These shots were taken last Saturday morning, July 21, as a group of local volunteers delivered potatoes and onions harvested from Hardacre Community Garden, and sweet corn picked from CCHS Prairie Village to the Bread of Life Food Pantry in Tipton. The produce will be donated to needy families throughout our area, providing them with nutritious locally grown food while alleviating some financial strain and allowing them to further stretch their budgets.

This is only the tip of the iceberg, just a portion of the total offerings that will be made available to our neighbors this year. It’s sometimes hard to believe what a garden can produce in the span of just a few short months. Rest assured, a lot of hard work has gone into reaching this point; much commitment and dedication was needed to get us from then to now. However, the point of this reflection is to consider how those efforts started- with the care and compassion of volunteers who had the vision to put a few seeds in the ground.

Now the actions of those few will have a significant impact on the lives of many.

And that, my friends, is what it’s all about.


July 21 Volunteers Pictured, bottom photo (from left): Mike Boyle, Mike Bixler, Trent Pelzer, Cindy Pelzer, Ken Reichert, Matt Pelzer, Scott Pelzer, Sandy Harmel.


Draft Horse Photos compliments of Mike Boyle… July 21 Bread of Life Photos compliments of Kris Clark.

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Well, that old rooster is crowing pretty early these days so I don’t have a lot of time for commentary tonight, but I do want to share a few photos taken around the garden last week. Despite the drought (and once again, this evenings storms hung to the north- though there seems to be something now brewing south of us) things are still looking pretty good thanks to tireless watering efforts by our volunteers. It’s getting to be harvest time for several of our vegetables, and the big project this week has been the digging of potatoes for distribution by the Bread of Life food pantry this weekend. These folks do wonderful work for our community, and this is the time when all of our toils pay off and we get to experience the joy of sharing in this worthy effort. Mike and the crew will be back out at the garden site tomorrow night (July 19) around 7:00 pm harvesting more potatoes and onions for this donation, and if anyone is interested extra hands are always appreciated.

You will notice in these photos a few examples of our continued effort toward sustainable practice at the garden; in this case through the reuse and reclamation of scrap materials. See if you can pick out and determine the purpose of these items. There’s a little further explanation in the July 2012 album on our facebook page, and watch for a blog entry with a comprehensive look at these efforts coming soon.

Speaking of which, thanks to the generosity of garden friends we’ve managed to gather some steel posts with more to be picked up soon. However, if you have any that you would like to donate we are still definitely interested. Also, we’re still looking for old hay or straw bales that people may wish to get rid of, which we will use for mulch. Leave a message here in the comments or on our facebook page if you can help or have any questions.

Enjoy the photos, try to stay cool, and keep praying for rain!

The south garden, home of sweet potatoes, mini pumpkins, cucumbers and other vining plants.

Also in the south garden… sweet corn!

Green beans.

The flower garden is just exploding with color right now.

Overview of the east garden.

(Soon-to-be) Red Bell Pepper.

The area Mike has dubbed “Cannery Row.”

Almost time!

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Well it’s been awhile since I’ve offered an update to either the blog or our facebook page, and I apologize for that. I’ve been pretty tied up with work and school, and as we all know time has a way of slipping by. So it goes. However, as we also know, nature works on it’s own schedule, and life in the garden goes on rather we’re paying attention or not. Fortunately Mike and other volunteers have kept dilegently on task out at the Hardacre farm, and things are coming along nicely. 

Without further ado, here is a look at the garden heading into the final days of June…


One concern we’ve had in Eastern Iowa this season is precipitation, or lack thereof. It’s been a really dry summer so far, and heat and high winds have further threatened crops with borderline drought conditions. Even when there has been rain in the area, it seems the last couple of storms have found a way to skip past Tipton without offering more than a few drops. That wasn’t the case last Sunday morning, though.  About six a.m. a strong cell seemed to settle overtop of us and we got upwards of two and a half inches of rain in just a couple of hours. While we needed the moisture, we certainly didn’t need it like that. The diluge brought some flash flooding to the garden, as can be seen in these photos taken by volunteer Ken Reichert.



The flooding further justified the decision made this spring to change the property layout, adding a new plot to the east of Crooked Creek while shortening the field (behind the welcome sign) to the west. Still, this was a rather extreme storm and we again sustained a little bit of damage and crop loss, so there’s certainly some question to how beneficial this rainfall actually was. In the end, it did provide some much needed moisture, and compared to our neighbors in Northern Minnesota last week, the current conditions in Florida, or to the other extreme the dry conditions and fires in Colorado we can’t complain. Our hearts and prayers go out to all of those dealing with weather extremes and natural disasters. In comparison to what they are facing, we will humbly be grateful for what we get, and make do with what we’ve got.


It didn’t take too long to dry out after this weekends storm, and the vegetables seem to have done well with what moisture the ground could soak up from the passing flood. Exploring the garden last night, I found a new contender pushing for attention as one of our most photogenic plants. Five Color Silverbeet Swiss Chard is a fascinating specimen, and one of the heirloom varieties that was donated to us by Seed Savers Exchange out of Decorah. Also known as Rainbow Chard, this plant looks kind of like rhubarb with multi-colored stems. Currently, red, yellow and orange stemmed plants can be found in our garden, but apparently pink and white are common as well. The plant is a native of Australia and was marketed in the U.S. through the 1970’s and ’80’s but diminished in popularity and disappeared from the American market when colors began to decrease. A true five colored variety was later again found in Australia, and has recently been reintroduced in the States. The leafs can be cooked just like spinach, or the stalks can be eaten raw like celery. I’ve yet to try either, but with vibrant colors it sure is a cool plant to photograph.


Five Color Silverbeet Swiss Chard

Yellow and Red Stemmed Plants.

Such beautiful color.


Along with the Swiss Chard, many other vegetables are coming on strong. Beets are always a crowd pleaser, and we’ve had a lot of people claiming their share for pickling. Our tomato plants are looking good, though we still need stakes for cages if anyone can offer them. It won’t be long until they’ll be producing their bounty, along with several other garden favorites.


Bulls Blood Beets.

Amish Snap Peas.

Lots and lots of tomatoes.


Thanks to a generous donation from our local Theisens store, we’ve also been able to add a fresh dose of color to reinvigorate the flower bed our THS landscaping students started in the spring. Something tells me there will be a lot more flower pictures showing up here in the weeks to come…


Purple Coneflower.

Day Lily.

Moonbeam Coreopsis.


And finally, here’s a look at our plot south of the Hardacre house, which is beginning to burst to life. This was planted a little later than the rest, but we’re in good shape still with plenty of growing season left.


South garden.

Young sweetcorn. It might be a little later than a lot of that you’ll see, but hey… we’re Iowans… we know what we’re doing!


That wraps up our look at June, but keep checking back here for future updates and our facebook page to view additional photos.

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We hosted our open house this past Saturday, June 9, at Hardacre Community Garden and were absolutely thrilled to have so many friends and neighbors stop by the farm for a visit. It was a lot of fun to be able to show our guests around the grounds and then sit in the shade enjoying conversation, fresh garden snacks, and that nice country breeze on a warm summer day. In the spirit of sharing all the garden has to offer, many of those who came by were also sent home with radishes, cauliflower, onions, broccoli, and cabbage; picked right before their eyes. It’s probably safe to say that these folks also left with a smile.

Of course the true gift of the day was in being able to introduce new people to our community garden and letting them know what our efforts are all about. The reactions received were more or less universal, as guests echoed each others sentiment with a resounding “Wow…” Most hadn’t realized the scale of our project and all seemed impressed by the beautiful condition of this years crops. It was also encouraging to hear so many ask, in that straight forward Iowa manner, what they could do to help.

As we suddenly find ourselves right in the thick of June, we’re definitely coming upon some busy times in the garden. There is still some planting to be done, and there are always weeds that need pulled. Some of the early vegetables are already due for harvest. The tomatoes are getting big enough that they’re ready for their cages and we’re still asking for stakes to help hold those in place. And though we got a nice little shower early this morning it’s shaping up to be a very dry summer here. Watering might soon be a duty of critical importance, especially when we’re looking at hot, windy conditions, new transplants trying to get established, and full weeks between forecasted rain. We’d be very grateful to have assistance with any of these tasks, and even if it means stopping by for an hour some evening, an extra set of hands can make all the difference in the world.

Thanks again to all who attended our open house. We hope you enjoyed the visit and that you’ll spread word of our work with others in the community. To those of you who were unable to make it this weekend, we’d still love to see you and invite you to stop by the garden anytime it’s convenient. Or if you’d prefer, just leave a message in the comments below, on Facebook or by email at hardacregarden@gmail.com and we can arrange to meet sometime for a little tour.

Hopefully many of you will be able to make your way out to the garden soon, but until you can please enjoy a few photos from this weekends event, and visit our facebook page to see more…


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