Posts Tagged ‘USDA’

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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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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We’re sort of in awe at how far the garden has come along in recent weeks, and how wonderful things are starting to look. Of course this is only the beginning of what we think could turn out to be our best season yet! Here are a few photos from the evening of May 30 to show how things have grown…

Our lettuce cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower has really taken off.

A couple nice rows of carrots.

Garden volunteers working in the potato patch.

Baby broccoli.

Young cauliflower starting to take form.

Get a load of that cabbage!

The kids are back! This year, Hardacre farm will once again host the Tipton High School FFA Market Goat Project. These fine looking little critters are a lot of fun to have around!

For more photos have a look at our Facebook page, and stay tuned to this blog for new posts coming soon!

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This past Tuesday, May 15, marked the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln signing the Department of Agriculture act into law. Lincoln would soon after refer to the USDA as “The People’s Department,” recognizing the importance of providing a solid agricultural foundation for our quickly developing country. Now, a century and a half later as the USDA celebrates this significant milestone year, Lincoln himself is being recognized for his contributions and vision in creating such an agency.

This spring, the USDA gifted special seed packets to all member projects of their People’s Garden Initiative (named for the Lincoln’s description of the Department.) Each packet contained 10 heirloom “Abraham Lincoln” tomato seeds, with the idea of paying homage to the strong history of community gardening in America while offering tribute to this influential leader. Each of the 1,630 registered People’s Gardens across the nation and around the world have been asked to plant these tomatoes, then track and share their progress using social media throughout the growing season. This will not only provide a connection to our agricultural heritage, but foster a sense of unity in the common mission shared throughout the entire People’s Garden network.

Abraham Lincoln tomatoes are a fascinating strain. Developed and first introduced in 1923 by W.H. Buckbee Seed Company of Rockford, Illinois, the fruit was named for that state’s greatest son. Marketed as “The Giant of All Tomatoes,”  Abraham Lincoln’s were touted as “beautiful dark red attractive fruits, heavy, sweet, solid and meaty…” It was boasted that mature tomatoes averaged a pound in weight, though three-pound whoppers were not uncommon. Despite their size, the tomatoes were said to be “remarkably smooth and free from cracks and seams.” Seeds were sold in packets of 100 with a  catalog price listed at twenty cents a pack.

Though Abraham Lincoln tomatoes entered the gardening world with limited acclaim, the variety quietly gained a reputation as a dependable favorite, even surviving the shift to hybrid strains that became prevalent in the 1940’s. Now, nearly 90 years after it was first introduced, Abraham Lincoln tomatoes are a true garden classic with strong roots anchored deep in our horticultural past.

At Hardacre Community Garden, we’re very excited to join in this global celebration and to be growing Abraham Lincoln heirloom tomatoes this summer. Our seeds were started by local students in the Tipton High School grow chamber, and a few plants were put in the ground last week by volunteers Mike Boyle and Josh Meier in celebration of the USDA’s 150th anniversary.

In conjunction with this commemoration, we will have signs posted in the garden marking our special Abraham Lincoln plants. We eagerly invite all of our friends to seek them out when visiting the site, and to check and see how the plants are progressing. We will also be taking part in the USDA based online campaign, sharing photos and updates of our tomato growing efforts with fellow gardeners near and far. Facebook, Twitter, and this blog will be our primary means of purveying this information, and you can find links to our social media accounts in the column to the right.

 The USDA People’s Garden website can be viewed by clicking  HERE,  and contains further details on both the initiative and Abraham Lincoln Tomatoes.

Of course the greatest reward of this special project, like everything we do, is knowing that the work put into growing these tomatoes will eventually pay off in providing healthy, local food for neighbors in our community. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to share in such blessings, and we’re always happy to accept an extra hand from those willing to help. If you live in the Tipton area and would like to get involved, please feel free to stop out at the garden on any weekday evening, when you can generally find someone playing in the dirt. Otherwise, contact Josh by leaving a message in the comment section below, or on our Hardacre Community Garden Facebook page at  www.facebook.com/hardacregarden for further information.

Thanks for your support, and for your ongoing interest in Hardacre Community Garden. We’d love to see you out at the farm- and we’re fairly certain  that Honest Abe would approve as well!


Above: Hardacre Community Garden volunteers Mike Boyle and Josh Meier plant tomatoes in celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the USDA. May 15, 2012.

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