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Archives for January 25, 2017

Design show features projects meant to lift communities

NEW YORK (AP) — “By the People: Designing a Better America” is not your typical design show. There is no posh furniture, and any glitz comes intertwined with grit. The show is a paean to local ingenuity and “can do” spirit.

These are designs intended to save lives or improve the quality of life for communities in need.

The show, on view at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum here through Feb. 26, features 60 design projects from across the country. Some aim to expand access to education, food, health care and affordable housing. Others are meant to increase social and economic inclusion or improve alternative transportation.

The vast exhibit was organized by Cynthia E. Smith, the museum’s curator of socially responsible design, who logged over 50,000 miles and devoted over two years to exploring shrinking post-industrial cities, sprawling metropolitan areas, struggling rural towns, and places hit by disasters or poverty, in search of inspiring design projects.

“I traveled to places of persistent poverty, to Indian reservations. One big takeaway is that poverty is often hidden, but it is all around us,” Smith says. “I hope people going through the exhibit begin to see that the causes of poverty are old and complex, and so the design solutions to various aspects are also complex.”

For instance, the exhibit features Cleveland’s Evergreen Cooperatives, meant to build wealth for low-income residents while reducing the area’s carbon footprint. The cooperatives, which include a green laundry, an alternative-energy enterprise and a hydroponic greenhouse, provide training and create jobs, while also serving area hospitals and businesses.

Also in Cleveland, the Collinwood Community Center, built on the site of a sprawling former K-mart store, has turned a blighted eyesore into a colorful community hub with pools, gyms and other facilities.

Around the country, Smith says, abandoned strip malls are being redesigned and converted by communities into libraries, schools, museums, day care centers and flea markets.

In Texas, the Rapido Rapid Recovery Housing program rethinks the model for large-scale rebuilding after natural disasters. Instead of bringing in temporary mobile homes for displaced families — and later building homes that might not suit their needs — Rapido quickly deploys a 400-square-foot “core” housing unit containing a living space, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom on a family’s property. While the disaster-relief application process gets underway, architects and contractors work with families to expand and customize the unit. This allows families to live on their own property — and in their own home — during reconstruction, and quickly find themselves with a completed house that they helped design.

The show also includes futuristic, fuel-efficient commuter vehicles made of aluminum and steel, with tiny moped motors. The vehicles were created by a Michigan design team called “The Future People” to get people around cities and suburbs at minimal cost, with room for groceries or other supplies.

In farming communities across the United States and in Canada and Britain, a coalition of makers, engineers and farmers builds “Farm Hack Tools,” including pedal-powered tractors with features like customizable, 3D-printed seeder wheels.

The show begins with a section on design solutions to improve interactions between police officers and the communities they serve. In Chicago, for instance, a basketball court was built on a vacant lot attached to a police station to encourage interaction. As the exhibit continues up a side staircase, charts show housing costs and the salaries required to afford them in various parts of New York City.

In the museum’s Process Lab, visitors of all ages can try coming up with their own design solutions to different community challenges.

Organized into thematic sections — Act, Save, Share, Live, Learn and Make — the show is the third in a series devoted to socially responsible design, but the first of the series to focus on communities in the United States. The exhibit will not travel beyond New York, but is accompanied by a hefty catalog, featuring details about each project and interviews with the designers, as well as a chapter by Smith.

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Five game-changing trends in garden design

Excerpt from “2017 Trends in Garden Design” published in Garden Design Magazine’s Autumn 2016 issue, by Pam Penick. Reprinted and edited with permission from Garden Design. Five of 10 trends are listed here. To read the rest, visit

Gardening can seem trend proof. After all, you can’t hurry an oak’s progress from acorn to shade tree, and making a garden isn’t like buying a new throw rug for your home but rather stitching a few glimmering threads of your own into nature’s rich tapestry. And yet tastes do change in gardening, as your once-obsessed African violet-growing parents or grandparents could tell you. Those who work with the buying public are especially attuned to what’s hot and what’s not. We asked designers and retailers across the country to share the biggest trends they anticipate for 2017. Here are five trends they say we’ll be seeing more of.

Just-harvested flowers are laid out on wet fabric as part of the dyeing process.

1. Natural dye gardens

Backyard homesteading has been going strong for a while, and edible gardens, chicken coops and beehives are ubiquitous, even in urban neighborhoods. The latest addition to the grow-it-yourself movement is natural dye gardens: plants used to make dyes for coloring textiles, yarn and clothing.

“Last year, I put in my first natural dye garden here in Berkeley,” says Leslie C. Bennett, owner of Pine House Edible Gardens in Oakland, Calif. “It’s really beautiful and includes a lot of vegetables, fruit trees, and pollinator-attracting flowers, but we’ve selected varieties and quantities so that the harvests can be used for natural plant dyes as well.” Multiple recent books including Sasha Duerr’s “Natural Color,” Kristine Vejar’s “The Modern Natural Dyer,” and Chris McLaughlin’s “A Garden to Dye For” also attest to the growing interest in dye gardening.

Bennett favors coreopsis, cosmos, Japanese indigo, marigold, ‘Moonshine’ yarrow, blue cornflower and purple basil for making dyes. “Many of these are kitchen and cutting garden favorites too,” she points out. “So it’s pretty easy to integrate a natural dye garden into an edible garden.”

Homeowners increasingly prefer more rustic, lived-in furniture and décor.

2. Natural materials

After years of minimalist dominance in hardscaping materials, furniture and décor, designers are noticing renewed interest in natural materials and a less geometric style. Designer Julie Blakeslee at Big Red Sun in Austin, Texas, says, “Rather than clean and modern, clients are asking for a more old-fashioned, more DIY look in their gardens. We’ve been using railway ties, free-form decks, smaller outdoor furniture and swing seating. I think clients are looking for something more authentic and real. The Dwell look has been replicated so many times. People may be yearning for something more organic in their gardens.” Richard Hartlage of Seattle-based Land Morphology also sees a heightened interest in natural, tactile materials like wood and stone for the built elements of a garden. “People are moving away from concrete unless it’s an ultra-modern, minimalist garden,” he says.

3. Lawn reimagined

A short-grass meadow of native wildflowers and grasses reduces watering outside a serpentine limestone wall.

Long a symbol of the American dream, the expansive and neatly manicured lawn continues to take a hit, due in part to drought, water shortages and concerns about the environmental impact of fertilizing, pest-control treatments, and other traditional maintenance. Lawn-like alternatives, however, are hot. “We’re installing a lot more grass mixes that don’t need to be mowed, like Habiturf [a native turfgrass blend for the Southwest], and also taller, prairie-type mixes,” says Tait Moring, a landscape architect in central Texas. While he doesn’t anticipate the end of traditional lawns anytime soon, his clients are opting for smaller ones than in the past. “These are lawns that will be used as opposed to being just for show,” he says.

Despite controversy over its environmental impact, faux grass continues to grow in popularity, thanks to improvements in how natural it looks. “We are still installing a lot of artificial turf,” says Blakeslee in Austin. Designer Sue Goetz of Creative Gardener in Tacoma, Wash., is too, especially in small spaces that clients don’t want the bother of mowing and for pet play areas. “I have had more requests for artificial turf in the last year than ever,” Goetz says. “It looks and feels real. It also speaks to a desire for low maintenance.”

4. Active play spaces for all ages

Bocce balls

Playing out in the yard isn’t just for kids anymore, and even for kids it’s different. “I’ve had an uptick in requests for play and entertaining spaces,” Goetz says. “Bocce courts, dog and pet spaces, dining areas, fireplaces, hammocks. People don’t want places they have to weed. They want places where they can relax and play.” Susan Morrison, author and designer at Creative Exteriors Landscape Design in East Bay, Calif., agrees that game courts for adults and families are popular. “Most of my clients don’t have room for a regulation bocce court,” she says, “but I have done pétanque courts and recently got a request for a cornhole court. Yes, there is a regulation size for cornhole!”

And after decades of plunking wooden climbing structures into their yards, parents today want designed spaces for their children that encourage imaginative play. “Families with young children are asking for active play spaces rather than traditional play structures,” Morrison says. “I’ve had four clients in the last year ask for spaces where their kids can create and build, rather than just climb on a play structure or dig in a sandbox. The idea is a free-form digging area intermixed with plants, rocks, and landscape ties. The organic shape means it can be better integrated with the rest of the garden than a stand-alone play structure can be.”

Technology allows homeowners to monitor and adjust irrigation systems from their smart phones.

5. Sustainability tech

“It’s amazing what you can do from your smart phone these days,” Morrison says. Ongoing droughts in California and throughout the West have galvanized an embrace of low-water landscaping, and technology advancements in irrigation systems make it easier than ever to control how much water is delivered to plants. “Smart controllers that use weather data to automatically determine correct irrigation amounts have been around for a while now,” Morrison says. “But the newest can be programmed and monitored from your phone. You can literally check on your irrigation system from your beach chair while you vacation! Some even include flow sensors that send a text alert if they detect a leak in the system and a portal so that your contractor can manage your irrigation remotely if you run into scheduling problems.”

Moring agrees. “We are seeing more advanced and efficient irrigation systems that can give a specific amount of water where it’s needed. It’s more expensive up front, but you can also create more zones so that specific plants can be watered more or less, depending on their needs.”

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Take two: ideas for planning a second wedding

Planning a second marriage ceremony CAN be just like the first time around; most of the same rules of etiquette apply. But it also is an opportunity to try something totally new.

  ”You don’t have to follow Emily Post etiquette,” says event planner Susan Zackin of Z Event Company, who sees an overall shift toward less traditional weddings of all types — not just second weddings. “You can do whatever you want.”

  According to Zackin, second weddings run the gamut — instances where both bride and groom have been married previously, cases in which only one member of the couple has been married, younger couples, older couples and so on. But there are some generalities to the celebrations: “They are usually smaller and less traditional,” Zackin says.

  Having hosted a wedding before and attended others, couples entering a second marriage often have a good idea of what they like. In addition, the couples themselves (instead of parents) often put on a second wedding, so the bride and groom are able to create their own vision, not the one their parents expect.

  ”First weddings are more for the parents,” says event planner Kelley Troia of Clandestine, an events planning company. “With second weddings, the bride and groom are usually paying and it’s much more specific to what means the most to them.” With the freedom to call the shots, many couples want to do something highly personalized.   

  Local party planners offer the following suggestions for putting an alternative spin on a second wedding.

Destination wedding

  If you’ve already done the traditional church wedding and large reception, a destination wedding could be a good alternative, particularly if the guest list is small. Couples can narrow the numerous location possibilities by considering what makes their hearts sing. A few examples from Zackin, whose company has locations in New Orleans and Palm Beach, Florida, include a chartered yacht for those who love the water or a Napa Valley vineyard for foodies or wine lovers.

Home reception

  Depending on the residence, a home wedding can be large and lavish, casual and family friendly, or small and cozy. The caveat is that holding a wedding at your home can be even more expensive than renting a venue.

  ”Home weddings, many times, cost even more,” says Zackin, noting that everything from tents and bartenders to china and flatware has to be brought in for the special day, and that most homeowners spend additional money on things such as touch-up painting and landscaping to make their home look its best.

Daytime ceremony

  If your first wedding was in the evening, consider planning a daytime ceremony — a brunch, luncheon, afternoon tea or garden party — to make the second wedding a totally different experience. There are advantages to an earlier event: It may be easier to have small children and the elderly take part during daytime hours, and may enable the bridal couple to travel to an out-of-town honeymoon destination the same day. One of Troia’s recent daytime weddings began with an at-home ceremony and turned into a backyard pool party reception, which is especially suited to second weddings that include children.

Private ceremony

  There’s no reason couples have to share both their wedding ceremony and the reception with guests. If you were extravagant the first time and invited lots of guests, a small gathering of a few family members and friends — or just the bride and groom — may suffice.

  ”At the end of day, it’s two people and an officiant,” says event planner Kim Sayatovic, owner of Belladeux Event Design. “Everything else is lagniappe.” The ceremony can even be held a different day than your wedding party or reception, which may allow greater flexibility when scheduling venues.

Just the two of you

  There are many obligations when planning a wedding, even a second wedding: trying not to forget anyone on the guest list, making it possible for family from out of town to attend and so on. A destination wedding involving only the bridal couple eliminates the hassle that can accompany traditional etiquette, but you don’t have to skimp on the details. Both Sayatovic and Brittani Adams-Perret of Unique Weddings in New Orleans have organized destination weddings, including everything from booking a venue, hotel accommodations and dinner reservations to arranging for witnesses for the wedding and hiring a photographer and a horse and carriage.

Restaurant reception

  There are many good restaurants in New Orleans, and many allow couples to rent the entire venue for a wedding reception or select a single room or section. A restaurant reception is a great way to include a favorite restaurant if you are foregoing the usual pre-nuptial parties typical of first weddings.

Intimate venue

  New Orleans also is filled with cozy venues for small weddings and receptions. Sayatovic suggests French Quarter courtyard venues, the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, Bourbon Vieux, Napoleon’s House’s private room and Bevolo’s Conti Street headquarters.

Wedding and reception at
one location

  Many hotels offer multiple venues in one place. The refurbished Pontchartrain Hotel, the trendy Ace Hotel and the new Troubadour all have rooftops, bars and restaurants. This gives couples the option of having the ceremony in one venue and the reception in another at the same hotel without the need for transportation between the two venues.

Family destination wedding

  Instead of a large wedding that includes a weekend of parties and scheduled events, consider a destination wedding that includes immediate family only. Adams-Perret suggests planning a mix of scheduled events and free time so guests can explore the city on their own. This option combines a wedding and family vacation, which provides memories and photos for all.

Park setting

  If you tied the knot under a chandelier-lined ceiling the first time, why not hold the ceremony under the blue sky or a canopy of historic oaks the second time? The tranquility and natural beauty of places like Audubon Park and New Orleans City Park make for memorable occasions. Be advised: as Clandestine’s Troia points out, park weddings usually are a lot of work on the party planner’s end, since most of the equipment and decor — seating, china, glassware, etc. — has to be brought in. Permits also are required for many park weddings.

Alternative registry

  If both bride and groom have been married before or are older, they may opt to do something other than a traditional registry of functional wares, decorative items, china and crystal. Ideas include asking guests to donate to a favorite charity or a “honey fund” to help pay for the couple’s honeymoon instead of buying gifts, or having them attend a destination wedding without an obligation of also buying a gift. “When guests are spending money on plane tickets and hotels, their presence should be gift enough,” Sayatovic says.

Alternative attire

  Bridal couples don’t have to follow a dress code, but the style of attire should be in sync with the type of wedding planned and the venue. But couples also can think outside the box. For example, conservative, retro or bohemian could be style options for a daytime garden setting. The bride also can consider a dress change or two between the wedding ceremony and the reception. Conversely, a second wedding may be the time to go for the traditional bells and whistles, especially if that wasn’t the case the first time. If one spouse has been married and one has not, be mindful that this is a first wedding for one of you.

Including children

  Couples with children may include them in the event in traditional ways, such as having their young children serve as flower girl or ring bearer. Less traditional forms include having older kids be maid of honor and best man. Having children give their mom or dad away instead of a parent doing the honors, having kids accompany their parents down the aisle, or bestowing a gift on them during the ceremony are also ways to involve children.

  ”Presenting them with something such as a poem or piece of jewelry,” Adams-Perret says, “makes them feel that they are taking vows, too.”

After the wedding

  New Orleans is one of the top locations in the U.S. for destination weddings, Zackin says. If you’re a local, why not tap into what the tourists already know (New Orleans means built-in fun and entertainment) and book your honeymoon here, too? Historic homes used as bed and breakfasts, local hotels with private cottages and vacation rentals by owners are among lodging options. Antique shopping, sightseeing, dining at top restaurants and day trips are part of the offerings for wedding guests and couples who want to honeymoon in their own town.

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Leawood council’s goals for the city include dealing with Canada Geese

The Leawood City Council has zeroed in on about a dozen possible short- and long-term goals to explore for the city, including dealing with the large population of Canada Geese.

The council met in a special work session on Monday, a week before Mayor Peggy Dunn delivers her state of the city speech.

Sustainability, storm water best practices, and the demand for senior activities were among the issues discussed during the session. Mayor Dunn acknowledged that some items, like providing an activity center with senior facilities, might remain on the long-term wish list for quite a while due to budget constraints and the city’s shifting priorities.

By the end of the work session, councilors had whittled their discussion down to about 12 objectives.

The council agreed that researching how to reduce the population of Canada Geese should be a priority. Leawood is among several cities in the Kansas City area facing this problem.

The geese typically defecate every seven minutes, resulting in an accumulation of waste in areas such as parks, playgrounds, golf courses, and public areas. That waste can carry harmful bacteria such as E.coli. Geese can also be territorial and violent while nesting.

“They have attacked our police officers,” Mayor Dunn said. “These geese are vicious.”

Councilman Chuck Sipple of Ward 3 also garnered agreement from council members on his suggestion to install gateway signage around the city. Right now there is no standard for signage that indicates when visitors have crossed city lines and entered Leawood.

“I would like us to come up with a consistent and special sign that says ‘you are entering Leawood’ and have it in several places both coming from the west and the east.” Sipple said.

In what she described as a positive, fun project, Ward 4 councilwoman Julie Cain suggested Leawood join other cities that have resurrected painting fire hydrants with colorful and whimsical designs to beautify neighborhoods. The water department will be consulted to see if an adopt-a-hydrant program could be feasible.

This was the first goal planning session for Lisa Harrison of Ward 3 and Dr. Steven Kaster of Ward 2. Both joined the council last year.

Councilwoman Harrison presented several ideas about bike lanes, recycling in the city, and installing a permanent restroom facility along Tomahawk Creek Trail. Replacing the portable restrooms with a permanent facility is something the council wants to accomplish, but flooding in the area has prevented a restroom facility from coming to fruition.

City administrator Scott Lambers updated the council on the status of previous goals. A draft of the 135th Street Community Plan will be ready to review in March. The plan will include updated development assumptions, the best sustainable landscaping ideas, and cultural amenities for development along the high-traffic 135th Street corridor. Ongoing work includes creating a policy for recognizing donations and sponsorships within the city’s parks.

The work session took place after an abbreviated special meeting in which the council voted to reschedule a public hearing. about the creation of a Community Improvement District for Camelot Court Shopping Center. That topic is set for discussion at the February 20 council meeting.

Mayor Dunn will deliver the annual State of the City address at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday,at The Lodge at Ironwoods.

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Special Section: Spring Profit Centers – Advertorial – Spring Profit Centers

Unleash your customers’ creativity with the Featherock® line of natural pumice boulders, planters, gravel, fire feature rock and carvings! Formed by the volcanic eruptions of the Mono Craters starting 40,000 years ago in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, Featherock pumice adds a rustic, timeless element to any landscape. At only a quarter of the weight of granite, volcanic pumice is the lightweight, logical choice for DIY gardeners and professional landscapers alike.

The unique composition of Featherock allows even beginners to carve and sculpt unique pieces of garden art or custom planters. (Our in-house artisan sculptor creates handmade mushrooms, bunnies, owls and bears to order as well.) From carving a single boulder into a custom birdbath to creating your own succulent and cacti soil mix with our ¼ inch gravel, pumice is a diverse material that can be used in many areas of gardening and landscaping — and the best part is that it is 100% natural! A Featherock workshop is a fun way to highlight some of our most popular DIY projects for customers to try.

Featherock also offers Sierra Artisan® pre-made planters in several complementing styles. Mix and match single, double, or triple hole planters in the garden for a landscape unlike any other. Envision trailing succulents naturally spilling over the sides of a marbled grey stone adding a dramatic and dynamic element to the garden. Sierra Artisan Mini Planters in single or double hole varieties are also available for miniature succulents and air plants. Hang them in macramé pot holders, decorate them with live moss, or even build a DIY plant bar where customers can build the perfect Featherock planter.

Inspire your customers to refresh their landscape this spring with easy to install Featherock boulders and gravel. Light enough to move by hand, Featherock makes natural stone accessible to those wanting to add rock to their landscape without the hassle of heavy-equipment. Our gravel comes in convenient 5 pound bags (or larger supersacks) and is available in ¼ inch, ½ inch, ¾ inch or 2 inch and can be used as decorative cover for gardens, fire pit media, and soil amendment. Our comprehensive line of pumice products will transform a yard into a natural work of art.

Featherock is available at rock yards and garden centers nationwide.

Fire pit rock
Sierra Artisan Mini Planter
Landscaping boulders
Artisan sculptures

For more information, please email or call (818) 882-0300. Check out for DIY ideas and customer projects!

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How long is too long? Grand Forks grass and weeds law gets early OK

The Grand Forks Committee of the Whole voted 6-0 on Monday evening in favor of a new ordinance regulating grass and weed length. The law has been described as a chance to clarify city code near construction sites and thickly vegetated parts of the city that raise thorny questions about how long grass or weeds should be handled.

“You’ve got some areas that do get very difficult to mow, and right now the Health Department doesn’t have any leeway to give those exemptions,” said City Council member Jeannie Mock, referring to weeds in a dirt pile on a construction site, near English Coulee or on the Greenway, “You’re probably not going to go mow that.”

But city and Grand Forks Health Department officials said a big part of the law’s genesis is city expansion and development. As subdivisions go in, it is unclear when and where grass has to be maintained. This law helps clarify that.

“(There) were areas where there were homes being constructed on some of the lots, but not all of the lots,” City Attorney Howard Swanson said of a problem the city faced several years back. “Despite having a large number of letters going out to the developers or the contractors asking them to mow, they took the position that we can’t mow because we’re building some of the lots—and the Health Department was trying to show that, well, you’re not mowing on this lot, and the grass is long. Cut it.”

The ordinance’s language repeals the city’s current grass ordinance and replaces it with a multiple-page set of definitions, regulations and exemptions for when grass and weeds do and don’t have to be maintained. It declares tall grass and weeds “predominantly exceeding 8 inches” a public nuisance —though that includes certain exceptions, including for medians, gardens or landscaping displays. Gardens, the law says, can only be placed on berms or certain public property by the city or Park District or with city permission.

Exemptions to the ordinance exist in for safety, environmental and other reasons, such as locations where the land is undevelopable, areas near a stormwater pond or the coulee or where construction is occurring.

The move to change the law comes months after a complaint brought by Henry Howe after his berm was scrutinized under the existing grass and weeds ordinance. The berm at Howe’s downtown property at 421 DeMers Ave. was given notice by the Grand Forks Health Department, and Howe was ordered to mow the area or risk paying for the Health Department to do it, plus a fee. Howe’s complaint, which maintained that the city’s ordinance was unconstitutionally vague, was ultimately dismissed for procedural reasons.

“It looks like they’re trying to correct some of the problems with the ordinance,” Howe said Monday, “and apparently have realized that the ordinance as it’s written is certainly problematic.”

But Swanson said the changes aren’t about Howe.

“If he feels that we’ve addressed some of his concerns, that’s fine,” he said. “The impetus for this redraft occurred prior to that. And for for all practical purposes, the changes in the code don’t affect his property one way or another.”

City Council member Sandi Marshall was absent on Monday evening.

The ordinance received an early recommendation and is expected to make two appearances before City Council before it can be made law.

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Agricultural impacts of the Alabama drought

The 2016 drought that now continues into 2017 in Alabama has impacted everyone. Whether it’s cutting back on your water usage or paying a few more dollars for groceries, Alabamians still feel the impacts.

The agricultural industry was definitely not immune with livestock producers and farmers suffering every day we spent without rain. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) gave us a glimpse at how the ag industry is handling the drought, and showed us a great resource for those looking for some solutions.

Let’s start with row crops (corn, soybeans, cotton) in Central Alabama. Many farmers saw terrible crops of dry-land corn and soybeans. However, the cotton crop was a good one, owing to ideal planting conditions, lots of sunshine, timely rain during the summer and ideal weather for opening and harvest.

Attending local farmer’s markets in the area gave you a mix of results. Some larger farms with the ability to irrigate were able to manage the dry conditions while those with smaller farms suffered with the lack of funds to water as needed.

Livestock were also impacted by the drought. So far more than $30 million in USDA disaster funds has already been distributed for livestock feed programs and non-insured disaster assistance support. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that, because livestock feed was in short supply, cattle sales were 19% ahead of 2015 in Alabama. This limited the amount that livestock was sold for.

With people in the industry looking for help, ACES came up with an all-in-one resource, The website is geared toward farmers and livestock producers, but can also be a valuable tool for those not in ag.“ is a comprehensive resource for the state’s residents,” said Dr. Gary Lemme, Alabama Extension director. “It addresses the needs of farmers and producers as well as homeowners.”

The website features sections on, livestock feed, crops, gardens landscaping, families, farm finance, wildlife, water and weather. It also includes videos and important information on the ongoing drought. Emery Tschetter, Director, Communications and Marketing for ACES says the website “has worked so well that we are laying the groundwork for additional sites that help us respond to flooding, storms, and other rapidly developing issues of state and regional importance.  We’ve heard from people across the region who found it helpful because it directly answers their immediate questions from a trusted Alabama source.” And the site will not just shut down once the drought is over. Tschetter says as long as there are financial impacts stemming from the drought, the site will be active. 

No one knows how long that could be, but it most likely will take longer than the drought itself for the state to recover.

The website also includes a free iBook titled “Climate and Crops.” It’s designed to help farmers understand how weather patterns in the fall and winter can set the stage for insect and disease problems in the next spring and summer. It features sections on corn, cotton, peanuts, soybeans and wheat.  The iBook reports the findings of 25 climate and crop experts from four of the Southeast’s leading research universities, including Auburn, the University of Georgia, the University of Florida, and Florida State University.


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