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Archives for April 2, 2013

HFCC Students Collaborate with City to Restore Historic Ford Home in Dearborn

Students enrolled in the architecture and interior design programs at Henry Ford Community College are getting their hands dirty as part of a service learning project with the city of Dearborn.

The students are restoring a home built by Henry Ford in 1919, located at 22668 Nona St., in the Ford Historic Homes District.

“This is the first time we’ve taken on a project like this,” Chad Richert, HFCC architecture instructor said. “It’s been a fantastic opportunity for the students. It’s also been beneficial for us to have them out from behind a textbook and actively work on a design project, especially one with such historic significance.

“It exposes students to real world projects, deadlines, and all the fun things that go with it.”

Richert said roughly 25 students from the architecture and interior design programs are working on the home. Currently the students are in the process of drafting design blueprints to present to city officials on May 2.

“Once we turn over our plans, the city will hopefully be able to work with a general contractor to begin the home’s restoration,” Richert said.

Some of the design challenges facing the students participating in the project include no bathroom on the first floor of the house, no garage, neglected landscaping, and a small kitchen.

“The home has been neglected for years. The challenge to our students is, ‘how do you renovate the home to make it more contemporary and marketable while retaining its historic characteristics?'” Richert said. “When we’re finished we would like the home to be move-in ready for a modern family so its no longer a blight to the neighborhood.”

To accomplish their task, students reached out to the Ford Historic Homes District for guidance on the home’s historic look.

“The Ford Historic Homes District has been great to work with. They have certain guidelines we have to follow in order to maintain the building’s exterior façade. The interior renovations have more room for creativity,” he said.

Kelley Erickson, an HFCC interior design student from Dearborn Heights, said that the greatest benefit for her is the experience and understanding of what it is like to work with a real client.

“Collaborating with the architecture program has been a great experience because it allows us to bounce ideas off each other and really create something that is not only beautiful and inspired, but also fully functional,” Erickson told the online journal DBusiness.

Richert said if all goes well, he plans to continue offering service learning projects for students in the architecture and interior design programs.

“The learning opportunity is just fantastic,” he said. “Our students learn new skills while helping out the community at the same time.”

For more information about the project, email

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WESTERN RIVERSIDE COUNTY: Have fun learning to conserve water – Press

Water districts throughout western Riverside County will play host to the 11th annual Community Water Conservation Festival on Saturday, April 6.

The free event will be held at the Big League Dreams Sports Park, 2155 Trumble Road in Perris.

The festival will run from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. A landscaping workshop begins at 11:30 a.m. and the first 100 people in attendance will receive free water-saving items.

During the event, residents can learn about retrofitting outdoor irrigation equipment to become more water efficient and about water-wise landscaping ideas, among other topics. A number of master gardeners will be on hand.

Presentations also will be given on smart controllers, high-efficiency toilets and drip irrigation systems.

Each participating district will have information about rebate programs available to customers and a raffle will be held.

There will be many activities for children throughout the event. A puppet show will be presented at 11 a.m., and there will be face-painting and caricature booths. “Dewie the Dragon,” “Zoie” and “Admiral Splash” will be in attendance to help entertain and educate children.

“This is a fun, community-based event for the whole family,” said Stacy Rodriguez, EMWD’s conservation program supervisor and committee chairperson for the event. “Our hope is that families come out, learn how to be more efficient with their water usage and take those ideas home to help them save water, time and money.”

The festival is presented by Eastern Municipal Water District, Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District, Rancho California Water District, Western Municipal Water District, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Bureau of Reclamation, the State of California Department of Water Resources and the County of Riverside’s “Only Rain Down the Drain” pollution prevention program.

For more information on the program, go online to

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In-Depth Biz Profile: Josh Lawn Care & Landscaping

04/01/2013 08:10 AM

By: Mary McCombs

With Spring upon us and the days getting longer, it is time to think about landscaping ideas. This week’s in-depth business profile, Josh Lawn Care Landscaping, is a company that is growing and working to meet the needs of its customers in the Rochester and Finger Lakes area.

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Right out of high school, Josh Schmieder knew what he wanted in life.

“It was a dream of mine to own a company that would be a leader in Rochester in the landscaping industry,” Schmieder said.

His dream came true. Josh Lawn Care Landscaping business has grown from one employee ten years ago to a team of close to 30 today.

“Our people are our most important assets,” Schmieder commented. “And our people is what makes that experience.”

Josh outgrew office space in Livonia, recently moving to a new facility on West Main Street in Honeoye Falls. Since opening 11 years ago, the business has been growing at a rate of about 15 to 20 percent per year.

“One thing that we did, even from day one, is look at the industry’s weaknesses and try to make those our strengths,” Schmieder said. “So we looked at professionalism, we looked quality, we looked at customer service and basically the uniqueness that our company will bring to the table.”

Some of Josh’s award winning work has been featured at Gardenscape as well as other garden shows throughout the area. From patio installations, to natural and man-made waterfalls, the goal is to walk people through the design phase to the finished product.

“We handle installations from the wood structures to the patios to the masonry, outdoor fireplaces, outdoor kitchens,” Schmieder added. “The landscaping industry has changed since Josh first opened his business more than a decade ago. The focus now is on custom outdoor living space. I think people just really want to enjoy, even though it’s a short season from May until October, but they want to be able to enjoy the outdoors, the outside of their property, their home, their landscaping for as long as possible.”

Josh Lawn Care and Landscaping is excited about what the next five years has to offer as it continues to grow and offer new products.

“Our goal is to be leaders in outdoor living as well as leaders in the industry in the Rochester region,” Schmieder said.

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How and when we decide to eradicate hunger

In the interview the directors, Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush, described the systematic de-funding of government programs beginning in the Reagan era, and the consequent explosion in the numbers of nonprofit and faith organizations attempting to feed impoverished people.

They explained the “bass-ackwardness” of using our taxes to subsidize industrial agriculture which contributes to both poverty and obesity by fostering low-wage jobs while making the cheapest calories the ones that are the worst for our health. The directors of the movie said they were starting a national campaign to change all of this.

Educating ourselves about national issues like hunger and poverty is crucial, but the enormity of the challenges can feel paralyzing. And there are so many simple (and innovative) ways to create the world as it should be, going on right here at home already.

For example, Food Gatherers, which “exists to alleviate hunger and eliminate its causes in our community,” is in the midst of a capital campaign to expand their warehouse and fresh food storage capacity this year.

Vegetable growers and home gardeners of all stripes can participate in their Plant-a-Row program, which changes “random acts of gardening” into supplies of fresh food that Food Gatherers can count on. Anyone and any group can register to participate in growing extra food from the garden to donate (they suggest things like collards, cauliflower, cantaloup, carrots, potatoes, peppers and squash).

People with green and black thumbs alike can have a good time, eat fabulous food and support a great cause at Grillin’, Food Gatherers’ biggest annual fundraiser coming up June 9 at the Washtenaw County Fairgrounds.

The First Unitarian Universalist Church of Ann Arbor invites participation in the conversation catalyzed by Saru Jayaraman’s book “Behind the Kitchen Door,” on the “Treatment of Food Workers in the U.S.” Taking place April 7, the church is hosting Michaela Goralski of Restaurant Opportunities Center of Michigan (ROC-MI) to lead the discussion. They say, “Information about the book ‘Behind the Kitchen Door’ by Saru Jayaraman and upcoming book discussions will also be available.”

Consider Washtenaw County Public Health Department’s “Prescription for Health” Program, which won the Future of Public Health Award in 2012. Concentrate magazine calls it “an innovative ‘prescription’ program (that) introduces medicinal benefits of fresh produce to lower income Washtenaw County residents. Health professionals have found a way to get people to say ‘yes’ to fruits and vegetables when they otherwise might resort to something deep fried or otherwise full of empty calories.”

Another phenomenally successful program is Double Up Food Bucks, which offers the health incentives of fresh produce to participants, and results in financial benefits for farmers. It works like this: “When a person eligible for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) uses his or her SNAP Bridge Card to shop for food at a farmers’ market, the amount of money that he or she spends is matched with Double Up Food Bucks bonus tokens.” This year the program will be offered in more than 100 farmers markets across Michigan.

Ypsilanti’s Growing Hope has 20 days to meet its $2,0000 Kickstarter goal so that it can do things like install free gardens for 20 low-income families and convert a pickup truck to run on used cooking oil.

These are just a few of the incredibly creative ideas out there, most being carried forward by increasingly over-committed nonprofit organizations and volunteers. While these programs all offer opportunities to contribute our time and our funds, the systemic reasons for poverty and hunger will not be solved by nonprofit organizations and faith communities.

We know the need and the ideas are there — now we need widespread and systemic policy changes that result in healthy individuals and healthy communities. Patty Cantrell makes an argument for “food innovation districts” and the benefits of “economic gardening” offered by healthy food systems, writing that “Food=jobs, food=health, and food=place.”

One food innovation district is already happening in Detroit’s Eastern Market, a model for the country, calling itself a “Healthy Metropolitan Food Hub.” Detroit leads the country in developing strategies for food security in many ways. For example, Detroit’s City Council recently approved the Detroit Food Ordinance – although it was overshadowed in the news by ongoing political shenanigans. This ordinance recognizes urban agriculture as a permitted activity in the city and defines activities like gardening, urban farming, aquaponics, and farm stands, and specifies standards for their uses.

Shortly after that, Ypsilanti’s City Council also approved the Ypsilanti Food Ordinance. Sociologist Stefanie Stauffer, an Ypsilanti “local food crusader,” says that the ordinance “legalizes edible landscaping, front-yard gardens, and gardening on vacant lots while making value-added processing easier in the city limits.” And she notes “keep in mind as well that Urban Chickens Urban Honeybees have been legal in Ypsi since 2009, so Ypsi has some allowances for urban livestock where Detroit does not.”

Supposedly progressive Ann Arbor still has no food ordinance of its own on the docket. Perhaps it’s something that the Washtenaw Food Policy Council, adopted last year as an official committee supervised by the County’s Board of Commissioners, could work on.

Along with the spring planting, it’s time to do a little “economic gardening” here. The County’s Office of Community and Economic Development (OCED) is carrying out a study led by an “economic anthropologist” that expressly includes a survey of food businesses and saying the OCED “recognizes a need to focus more on local small business, cottage industry and non-venture capital funded entrepreneurship.”

I can imagine the day when we all have a place at the table, when we’ve decided (because it is something we can decide) to eradicate hunger and its causes based in poverty. No one needs to go hungry in this country – there’s already enough food. But it’s going to take a lot more of us refusing to be complicit in the current system and holding our policy makers and political representatives accountable – because we get the kind of government and policies that we decide we want and we work toward. Food can equal jobs, and health and place – if we decide to make it so.

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Annual reunion to be Saturday at Harmony School – Omaha World

See one-room school in Otoe County

The fourth annual Otoe County School Reunion at Harmony School No. 53 will be Saturday at 6265 County Road Q in Nebraska City. The public is welcome.

The 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. event will include a spelling bee, a light lunch and a chance to explore the restored one-room school.

Bring tree questions to Gretna talk

The eighth annual Gretna Tree Talk will run from 7:45 a.m. to noon Saturday at Thomas Elementary School, 11221 Northridge Drive in Gretna. The Gretna Arbor Society will host the free, educational event, sponsored by the Nebraska Arborists Association.

Presentation topics include “Let’s Give Our Tree a Break — Selecting, Planting and Establishing,” “Grasses Withstanding the Nebraska Drought” and “Drought and Survival of Our Trees.”

Also expect tree, landscape and nursery representatives to answer your tree and landscaping questions. Seed and tree pamphlets will be given to attendees.

Will birthday cake be edible Legos?

Lauritzen Gardens, at First and Bancroft Streets, on Saturday and Sunday will celebrate Ole’s Birthday Bash.

From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., visitors will help mark the birthday of Ole Kirk Christiansen, the creator of Lego bricks, with free cake and the showing of a video on the history of Legos.

The gardens’ current Nature Connects exhibit features 27 oversize Lego sculptures of flora and fauna.

Herb Society to taste teas, hear speaker

Herb tea will be sampled at Sunday’s meeting of the Omaha Herb Society. Everyone is welcome.

The 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. meeting will be at the Douglas/Sarpy County Extension Office, 8015 West Center Road.

Guest speaker Mona Christensen will discuss preparing herbal teas.

Compiled by Sue Story Truax

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  • 7th Annual Buffalo Enviro-Fair

    7th Annual Buffalo Enviro-Fair

    The first Arbor Day was held on April 10, 1872. On that day, one million trees were planted in…

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    Gardener, 104, tweets his horticultural tips

    A centenarian said to be Britain’s oldest gardener is taking to Twitter to share his horticultural tips. Ralph Hoare, 104, of Gloucestershire, said he allowed for his weak knees by using a hoe for weeding and a grabbing tool for picking up items from the ground. He also gets help from his great-grandchildren, aged 6 and 4.

    Born in Plymouth in 1908, Mr Hoare grew up in Devon, and took up gardening when he was 6.

    The RAF veteran will answer questions posted with the hashtag #askralph from

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    Gardener, 104, takes to Twitter to share horticultural tips

    A green-fingered centenarian said to be Britain’s oldest gardener is taking to Twitter to share his horticultural tips. Ralph Hoare from Gloucestershire still enjoys his passion for growing vegetables and cultivating flowers at the age of 104.

    The keeper of around 200 rose bushes said he compensates for his weak knees by using a hoe for weeding and a grabbing tool for picking up items from the ground. He also has the help of his great-grandchildren, aged six and four, who he says are already proficient in deadheading his roses.

    Hoare took up gardening in 1914 when he himself was six and has now decided to share almost a century of experience with the Twitter generation. The former bank worker and RAF veteran, who cites gardening as the key to his long life, will answer questions posted with the hashtag #askralph over the coming months, in between tending to his garden and planning for his 105th birthday party in July.

    Hoare said: “I have just sent off my order for my annuals.

    “The seed potatoes are sprouting in the spare bedroom and I am waiting for some dry weather for the onion sets.

    “The thought of my garden in bloom gives me the willpower to continue through the winter.

    “Gardening keeps me on the move and my mind active.”

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    Gardening tips

    Bastrop Gardens Organic Garden Center, 316 Old 71, Cedar Creek, will host a free seven-week series of professional speakers from the gardening industry for the community every Saturday at 11 a.m. beginning April 6.

    Bastrop Gardens has a mission of education, gathering fellow professionals to provide information on the most current subjects of interest to gardeners.

    The scheduled Saturday events are:

    • April 6 – “Fire Wise Landscape Maintenance” – Perimeter, fire zones and combustible plants. Buddy Burrow, retired chief, Bluebonnet VFD.

    • April 13 – “Rain Water Harvesting” – Advantages of harvesting rain and how to create your own collection system. Doc Jones, Central Texas Rainwater Collection Co.

    • April 20 – “Want Hummingbirds? Think Lasagna.” – Planting to attract hummingbirds by Mark Klym, co-author “Hummingbirds of Texas.”

    • April 27 – “Building Healthy Soils” — Jay Mertz, founder of Rabbit Hill Farm.

    • May 4 – “Rain Barrel Workshop,” Hands-on construction of rain barrels. Instructor, Jeff Long, Texas licensed irrigator (LI 7348).

    • May 11– “Soils from the Ground Up” – George Altgelt, owner of Geo Growers of Austin, premier custom soil blenders.

    • May 18 – “Home Brew for the Garden – Aerobic Compost Tea,” complete recipes and how to by Jeff Long, licensed irrigator (LI 7348).

    For more information, contact Deena Spellman at 512-303-5672, or visit their website at

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    Workshop to Provide Gardening, Canning Tips

    UGA Cobb Cooperative Extension is hosting “From Your Garden to Your Table” from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. today at Cobb Extension Office located at 678 South Cobb Drive, Suite 200, Marietta.

    Gardening tips, such as site selection, garden planning, soil testing, soil preparation, mulching and maintenance, vegetable culture and common diseases and insects will be provided.

    Canning tips, such as an overview of canning equipment, food safety, pressure canning, water bath canning and freezing will be covered. Light refreshments will be provided. There will be a $10 fee at the door.

    Pre-registration is required by calling 770-528-4070.

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