In the interview below, Marissa Renz, the founder of Plant Happiness LLC, shares about her journey in developing her 4,000 sq. ft. market garden. Marissa married her love of native plants to her gardening business, and the result has been phenomenal! Not only does she provide food for her family, customers, and beneficial wildlife, but she also educates others on incorporating conservation practices in their growing spaces. Plant Happiness LLC continues to make a positive impact on the environment and the Fort Wayne community.
The market garden grows dozens of plant varieties including vegetables, fruits, leafy greens, and native plants that provide habitat for pollinators and beneficial insects. Crops are grown using sustainable practices such as cover cropping, composting, integrated pest management, and companion planting.
Marissa’s garden shows that no matter what size your lot, garden, or farm is, you can make a big difference on the environment around you. Adding native plants to your landscaping or garden can increase water infiltration into the soil and can provide habitat for beneficial insects and pollinators. Keeping your soil covered with biodiverse plants, mulch, or cover crops keeps soil intact and can build organic matter.
Learn from gardeners like Marissa about how to make a big impact in your community and in your home!
Visit the Plant Happiness LLC website here: planthappinessfw.square.site/
Want to learn from Marissa directly? Check out some of her upcoming classes: https://www.enrole.com/pfw/jsp/instructorDetail.jsp?instructorId=83CE1F68
Derek Thompson, a Noble County Farmer and NRCS District Conservationist, shared about life on the farm and the return on investment of incorporating conservation practices onto his operation in an interview with the Allen County Soil and Water Conservation District.
Thompson is a third generation farmer of a 1,000-acre grain and dairy farm. His family’s conservation journey started in the ’70s when his father tried out a no-till corn planter from the Noble County SWCD. Although not lead adopters, the Thompson family now incorporates no-till and VRT soil management into all their acreage because of their return on investment, time savings, and the pride that comes with restoring the soil and the land. Their other conservation practices include sidedressing nitrogen, buffers along ditches, grass waterways, cover crops, and planting green.
Although being a District Conservationist with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) has played a role in the farm’s conservation journey, Thompson believes they would have still ended up exactly where they are even without his involvement with NRCS.
Watch the full interview below!
Soil testing is a valuable way for farmers, gardeners, and those with lawns to know what nutrients are already available in their soil, as well as what nutrients should be added. Not knowing what is already available in your soil, makes it easy to over-apply or under-apply fertilizers. Over application can cause negative impacts on water quality if runoff transfers the excess nutrients to waterways. Having too few nutrients in your soil can impede plant growth.
No matter what you’re growing, getting a soil test is important!
On Friday, May 14th, the Allen County SWCD and Purdue Extension partnered to teach soil testing to the first grade students at Washington Elementary School in downtown Fort Wayne. The students did an excellent job listening!
The class learned the importance of getting a soil test. Their faces lit up as they answered questions about how we can protect our water systems by keeping excess nutrients out of them. Excitement filled the school grounds as teachers, students, and agency staff chose different locations to collect soil samples. Each student was able to pick a sampling location.
The first graders not only learned about soil testing, but they also learned about the different textures of soil. Students felt examples of sand, silt, and clay, as well as play a game that taught them the different properties of these textures. Sand is the largest particle with lots of surface area. It feels course when rubbed between your fingers. It allows for good drainage and doesn’t hold water or nutrients very well. Silt is the medium-sized particle. It feels smooth like baking flour when wet. It doesn’t stick together, so it still has good drainage, but it is small enough to hold water and nutrients. Clay is the smallest soil texture. It sticks together when wet, giving it a sticky texture. Much of the soil in Northeast Indiana has a heavy clay content. Clay does not drain water easily, sometimes remaining waterlogged and causing root rot in plants. On the other hand, clay soils are excellent at holding nutrients.
If you knew all this, congrats! You are smarter than a first grader, but don’t stop there! Keep learning about Conservation Practices like soil testing.
This demonstration was sponsored by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through our Urban and Small Farms Program. The USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
Leaders, innovators, elected officials, and community members come together to discuss the state of our rivers, the fluid economics of good water, and how to turn challenges into opportunities.
Our Wednesday evening event begins at 6 p.m. and will take place at Promenade Park featuring a social hour, discussions on the local impacts of riverfront development, the smart sustainable Great Lakes Region cluster, and the economics of harmful algal blooms.
The Rivers Summit III September 16th event will begin at 9 a.m. and be held at The Grand Wayne Center. The Summit will address federal commitments to water quality, partnerships that succeed, the state of the lake (Erie), and feature a panel discussion with leaders in water quality followed by a Q&A session.
This year’s guest speakers include Jim Banks– U.S. Congressman; Susan Crouch– Indiana Lieutenant Governor; Dave Heine– Indiana State Representative; Dr. Chris Winslow– Director, Ohio Sea Grant Program; Richard Batiuk– Retired Associate Director for Science, Analysis, and Implementation at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office; Jeff Reuter– Former Director, Ohio Sea Grant Program; Matt Fisher– Lake Erie Foundation; Jordan Hoewischer, Ohio Farm Bureau; Jeff Leonard, Defiance City Administrator; with introductions given by Tom Henry– Fort Wayne Mayor; Ann Marie Smrchek– Maumee Watershed Alliance and Dick Waterfield– Waterfield Capital.
Tickets for the evening event are priced at $10 each and include a beverage ticket. The day event is priced at $30 and includes lunch and refreshments. Our General Admission ticket includes entry to both events and is priced at only $35. We are offering a 50% student discount and limited scholarships are available. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for scholarship application and information.
Buy Tickets for the Rivers Summit III here https://maumeewatershedalliance.org/riverssummit/