Allen SWCD Education Trailer set up at New Tech Academy in October 2022. Soil Health and Waste Management Systems Displays set up for students.

The Allen County Soil and Water Conservation District has greatly enjoyed serving Allen County and the surrounding counties in 2022. We conducted numerous field days, workshops, webinars, tours, and provided other forms of education to the community. We can’t wait to continue serving our community in 2023.

Bloomingdale Urban Gardens

With the partnership of the Bloomingdale Neighborhood in Fort Wayne and through the financial aid of USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), we were able to develop a demonstration garden. This garden demonstrates the soil health practices which include 1) minimizing disturbance of the soil, 2) keeping the soil covered, 3) maintaining living roots in the soil, and 4) increasing diversity.

Before the growing season ended, we planted a cover crop mix of cereal rye and crimson clover in one of the beds. We are excited to have a cover crop termination workshop this spring at the garden! If you have any questions or would like to tour the garden, give us a call at 260-484-5848 ext. 3.

Bloomingdale Gardens in summer 2022. Raised garden beds with peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, zinnias, mulch and cover crops.

Education Trailer

The Allen County Education Trailer build was completed in June of this year. It has been professionally wrapped and our educational displays will be installed this winter. We look forward to a great season with it in 2023.

Allen SWCD Education Trailer at New Tech academy in October 2022. Soil Health Display and Waste Management Display set up.

Project Wrap-Ups

The Soils Project which provided resources to local producers to better understand their soils as well as the Flatrock-Auglaize Watershed Management Planning Grant have been completed and closed out. A huge thanks to the staff, partners, and contractors who worked so diligently on these projects and made them great successes.

The Flatrock-Auglaize Watershed Management Plan will be available on the Allen County SWCD website as soon as it is finalized.

Field Days and Workshops

The District hosted numerous field days and workshops. Around 100 people joined us for Going Green for Ag on March 17th with various topics on soil health, innovative technologies, and nutrient supply changes. The Annual Soil Health Field Day at Roemke Farms was a great way to connect with over 200 farmers and landowners about soil health, cover crops, and advances in equipment. Fifty people joined us for Day at the Lake which is an educational trip to Put-In-Bay on Lake Erie. The “Coffee and” webinar series hosted 8 seminars with topics focused on urban and small farmers.

The Urban and Small Farms Program hosted a farm tour to the Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center and gave a cover crop planting demos at Bloomingdale Gardens.

2022 Soil Health Field Day at Roemke Farms. Soil pit and cover crop discussion.

Pontoon Tours

Nine educational pontoon tours were conducted in 2022 reaching over 80 individuals. These tours traveled Fort Wayne’s 3 rivers: the St. Marys, the St. Joseph, and the Maumee. Participants learned about the history of the rivers as well as current management strategies that are improving water quality. We will continue to provide pontoon tours in 2023 when the weather warms up!

Pontoon tours in Fort Wayne, IN with New Tech Academy Students. Conservation education.

Community Partnerships and Involvement

Staff from the Allen County SWCD participated in numerous community events including the Fort Wayne Farm Show, Black Loam Conference, EcoFest, Master Gardener Garden Walk, 4H Fair, Pedal Paddle Play, Fort Wayne Farmers’ Market, Bloom Fest, and World Rivers Day.

The District also partnered with the following organizations and agencies: USDA – NRCS, Farm Service Agency, Indiana DNR, Maumee Watershed Alliance, Legacy Taste of the Garden, Northeast Indiana Local Food Network, Purdue Extension, Fort Wayne Parks Dept, ISDA, Roemke Farms, Farm Bureau, Bloomingdale Neighborhood Association, Northeast Indiana Innovation Center, New Tech Academy, Washington Elementary School, United States Geological Survey, Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management, IUPUI, etc.

Allen County SWCD farm tour at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College. Silviculture. Community Event in Northeast Indiana.

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:

Want to learn from Marissa directly? Check out some of her upcoming classes:

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 for scholarship application and information.

Buy Tickets for the Rivers Summit III here