Archive for Cindy’s posts

Gnat Attack

   If you’ve spent any time outdoors this spring in Eastern Iowa, you’ve probably seen them. Swarms of black flies –most people call them gnats – that surround their victims in a frenzied cloud.

   Bug experts say there’s not much you can do to protect yourself against black flies. The pests come out during the day; while mosquitoes come out toward evening, so you can either lock your doors and stay inside or put up with the huge welts they’ve been known to leave. See story here:

    Removing the gnats’ habitat can reduce their population, as well as the number of mosquitoes, which start to appear about the time the gnats die. Linn County Public Health  monitors for mosquitoes, which carry risk of diseases such as West Nile virus. Residents can report bad infestations to the health department at (319) 892-6000. Workers are using larvicide to control mosquito larvae in standing water, but the same can’t be used against black flies, which live as larva in fast-moving water such as rivers.

   Both insects made my top 10 list of bad bugs:

  What makes your’s?

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Where do you go for strawberries?

Now that Iowa’s largest “you pick” strawberry farm – Hagen’s Berry Farm near Palo – is out of commission for the 2009 season, where else can Eastern Iowans go to pick strawberries?

I found a few growers at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship site: 

But  I’m sure there are many not listed.

Here are the hours for some of them. Call ahead, as opening days vary.

    Bagge Strawberries near Independence is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays beginning around June 14. Prices are $1.95/pound for pre-picked and $1.20/pound for “you pick.” Call (319) 334-3983.

    Heartland Farms near Waterloo is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Sunday, with both “you pick” and pre-picked strawberries. Prices were not set as of last week. Call (319) 232-3779.

    Koehn Berries and Produce in West Union is open 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Closed Sundays. Prices are $2.30/pound for pre-picked and $1.15/pound for “you pick.” Call (563) 422-3716.

 Owner Max Hagen asked me to reiterate that Hagen’s Berry Farm near Palo will not have strawberries this year, but expects to return the following season. The fields were flooded last June and although some of the plants survived, Max said the quantity and quality would not be what his customers have come to expect.

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Milk rally Saturday

No milk dumping, but farmers plan to rally Saturday, May 30, 2009, at the Manchester Livestock Auction over low milk prices. Manchester is about halfway between Dubuque and Waterloo on Highway 20 in northeast Iowa. The site is at 1624 22oth St.

 You can see the story here:

 Speakers include:

Joel Morton – Farm Aid (hotline director)

Arden Tewksbury – Pro Ag Manager – will talk about Senate Bill S.889 and how it will solve the problems

John Crabtree – Center for Rural Affairs

Chris Peterson – Iowa Farmers Union

Joel Greeno – president American Raw Milk Producers

Francis Thicke – Dairy Farmer

Bryan Gotham – a New York Dairy Farmer

 For more information contact: Dave Knipper at 563-590-1596 or Jerry Harvey at 641-203-4063

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Homegrown Iowa band rocks! Update…


Aeroroot - Lf. to rt: Steve Krusie, Brett Karminski, Tracy Tunwall, Clint Landis

 UPDATE 6/22/09: Aeroroot was one of four bands to make it from this weekend’s competition in California to the finals at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland on  Oct. 3.

“It was more humbling than anything else,” lead vocalist Clint Landis, Frontier’s chief marketing officer, said of the outcome.

Aeroroot performed at The Key Club on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, Calif., on Saturday, beating the NBC network’s corporate band and other well-seasoned groups to get to the finals.

“We certainly were the least slick band there,” said lead guitarist Brett Karminski, Frontier’s brand manager. “We kind of felt a little bit out of place. Our only goal was to not mess up and to play as well as we could.”

The band’s raw performance apparently struck a chord with the three judges, who announced Aeroroot as the fourth and last group to make it into the finals.

“We heard, ‘and from Norway, Iowa,’ and that’s all we remember,” Karminski said.

Aeroroot performed the weekend before at Floodstock and the Relay for Life benefit, both in Cedar Rapids. Landis said they will likely take a break, but might do a few more gigs before October’s contest.

Other Aeroroot members are drummer Steve Krusie, Frontier’s director of public relations, and Tracy Tunwall, who plays bass guitar and sings backup vocals. Formerly vice president of human resources for Frontier, Tunwall is now an assistant professor at Mount Mercy College.

Here’s the previous post, before Aeroroot’s  competition in California:

Great story here out of Frontier Natural Products Co-op in Norway, Iowa. Aeroroot, a band made up of co-op employees, has made it to the regional semi-finals of the 9th Annual FORTUNE Battle of the Corporate Bands.

Aeroroot will be playing in Cedar Rapids at Floodstock on June 13, before they leave for the competition in L.A.  Drummer Steve Krusie said the band will play the same set at Floodstock as it will for the judging.

 If you can’t catch them in Cedar Rapids, you can listen to the band here:

Songs they entered in the competition were Voodoo on the Bayou, a cover of Cold Black Night and Dance with Me. Steve, who played in garage bands while a Kennedy High School student in the ’70’s,  said all three songs are on the Web site.

Here is more info from Frontier:

   Selected as one of 16 corporate bands to compete in regional semi-final events, Aeroroot will perform at The Key Club on Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood, Calif., on June 20. Formerly the historic Gazarri’s nightclub, the venue earned its fame as the home of future rock and roll stars, including The Doors, Tina Turner and Van Halen.

 “To be honest, if we thought we really had a chance, we would have been too nervous to even record our entry,” admits Clint Landis, lead vocalist and Chief Marketing Officer for Frontier Natural Products Co-op, which is located in the rural rolling hills and farm fields of eastern Iowa.

 Aeroroot submitted its CD entry to the contest in March. A panel of representatives from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum selected the final 16 bands, which include groups from such corporate giants as NBC, Symantec and Johnson & Johnson. At stake is an opportunity for the band to play in the final competition at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, on October 3, 2009.

 Other Aeroroot members include lead guitarist Brett Karminski, Frontier Brand Manager, and Steve Krusie, Director of Public Relations, who plays drums and sings back-up vocals. Tracy Tunwall, formerly Vice President of Human Resources for Frontier – who is now assistant professor at Mount Mercy College – plays bass guitar and also sings back-up vocals.

 Based in Norway, Iowa, Frontier Natural Products Co-op is best known for its broad variety of natural and organic products, including culinary herbs, spices, and seasoning mixes; bulk herbs, spices and teas; and pure aromatherapy products.

 The name Aeroroot comes from the name of the herb arrowroot, one of the natural products Frontier produces. The spelling was changed as a nod to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Aerosmith. “We considered using lungwort, the name of another herb, but decided the images associated with that weren’t very attractive,” quips Krusie.

Formed five years ago during a lunch break in Frontier’s on-site organic café, Aeroroot intended only to provide entertainment for the annual holiday party. The performance was an overwhelming hit and with encouragement from Frontier employees, the band decided to stay together and began playing for charity functions, including fundraisers for the American Cancer Society and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Before heading to L.A. for the 9th Annual FORTUNE Battle of the Corporate Bands semifinals, Aeroroot is slated to play its competition music set at 1:00 p.m. on June 13 at the Floodstock Festival in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, an outdoor benefit concert to assist in the recovery of the devastating eastern Iowa floods of 2008.

For more information about Frontier Natural Products Co-op, visit

For more on Aeroroot, see:

The official Facebook page for the competition:

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Meet me at the market

   The first Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market of this season will be Saturday, June 6, from 7:30 a.m. to noon and I plan to be there. Stop by the KCRG/Gazette table in Greene Square Park sometime between 9-10 a.m. and say hi! I’d like to hear what you’re interested in reading about on this blog and in The Gazette.

  As reporters, we occasionally receive products from companies that we cannot keep. Dandelion Earth Friendly Goods recently sent several items that the eco-conscious readers of this blog might enjoy, so I thought it would be fun to have a drawing. If you stop by our table – remember, just between 9 and 10 a.m. or so – sign up and you could win some of these cute Earth-friendly products. 

   Here is some information that Dandelion sent:

Dandelion Earth Friendly Goods

Dandelion Earth Friendly Goods

At a time when “organic,” “green,” environmentally-friendly,” “renewable” and “sustainable” is a part of our everyday culture, consumers are sincerely moved to help preserve the planet and the health and well-being of their families. With the desire to champion an emerging “green” awareness, Re-Think It, Inc., is launching its collection of Dandelion Earth-Friendly Goods that turns living green into easy living.
   Dandelion Earth-Friendly Goods are made entirely using eco-friendly materials and processes, from organic cotton grown without pesticides and chemicals, coloring process and right down to the plant-based fibers used in filling the plush toys. The ReUsables – the divided plates, bowls and utensils – are made from corn, rather than conventional plastics comprised mostly of petroleum.
Stop by the table on June 6 to see these items and let us know what’s on your mind. For more on Dandelion, go to:

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Bugged by bugs?


Japanese beetles

Japanese beetles

 Spring in Iowa is too fleeting. Rare are those 70-degree days with cool nights before the air explodes with humidity and bugs begin their annual invasion. I can look at healthy green potato plants today and know that in a week or so the Colorado potato beetle will begin its defoliation quest. Same is true of the lush rose bushes that succomb ever earlier to the dreaded Japanese beetle, a copper-colored foreign invader.

   Because of the devastation they wreak on my plants, the Japanese beetle and potato beetle rank number one and two on my list of “bad bugs.” I was enjoying my backyard garden last night trying to think of others when a mosquito bit my leg. Mosquitoes= #3.

Colorado potato beetle

Colorado potato beetle

   Here are the others: 4) gnats or whatever those little black bugs are that bite behind the ears. 5) chiggers – not an insect, but larvae of a specific family of mites – the Trombiculidae. If you’ve ever suffered through chigger bites, you’ll know why these are on my list. 6) wasps – I try to leave them alone, but they seem ubiquitous this year and more aggressive – building wherever they take a liking, which includes my back porch and my sons’ club house.  7) ticks – again, not an insect, but my general worry over them keeps me from enjoying the outdoors at times. 8) Ants – luckily we don’t have  fire ants like they do in the south, but they’re just a pain when they decide to come in the house. 9) termites – again a general anxiety thing. 10) Emerald ash borer – not here in Iowa yet, but a preemptive disdain for a foreign invader that will someday devastate our ash trees. 

Emerald ash borer

Emerald ash borer

   What makes your list? I’m sure I’ll think of more, now that our perfect spring days are in the past.

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What’s growing in new community garden

Barb Pople wants goodwill to grow in a new garden at Cedar Valley Townhouses in Cedar Rapids, formerly known as the J Street Apartments. Barb, who is going on her seventh year living at Cedar Valley, is the driving force behind a new community garden at the complex, but she noted that many others are involved.

 The following organizations have pledged their support for the garden:

Healthy Linn Care Network

Linn County Connects

Green Iowa AmeriCorps

Cedar Valley Apartments

East Central Iowa Council of Governments

Metro High School

Mission of Hope

The Serendipity Project

Peoples Church

SouthWest Area Neighbors (SWAN)


Individuals and organizations that have donated labor and/or materials for the project:

ZJ Farms                                               Plants/Seeds    

Peoples Church                                     Building materials

Cedar House Shelter                              Money

Cedar Valley Apartment residents           Seeds/labor

Linn County Connects                            Plants/Seeds/Gardening Tools/Labor

Bill Elam                                               Use of rototiller

Green Iowa AmeriCorps                          Labor

 If I’ve left anyone out, please let me know by adding a comment below or sending an email to:

 You can see the full story with photos here:


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Frost warning and Houby Days morel winners

Meteorologists might call it a frost advisory, but here’s my warning: if you’ve planted tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers or other plants that might be susceptible to frost, including annuals in planters, bring them inside (the ones in pots, that is) or use an old sheet or otherwise cover the others. Forecasts call for temps in Eastern Iowa to dip close to freezing both tonight (Sat., May 16) and tomorrow night (Sun., May 17.)

Now, on to more morels. Houby Days is taking place in Czech Village this weekend, a celebration of the mushroom (houby in Czech.) I heard mixed reviews about the morel crop this year, some saying they’re finding hundreds and others saying last summer’s flood messed up this season in Iowa.  Among the activities in Czech Village – on 16th Ave. SW in Cedar Rapids and some events across the river, including an egg and houby breakfast – was the annual houby contest, featuring morel mushrooms. Trophies were awarded for the largest, most unusual, smallest and best display. Here are the winners:

Largest morel (10 1/2 inches) from Mike McNeal, Cedar Rapids. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Largest morel (10 1/2 inches) from Mike McNeal, Cedar Rapids. (photos/Cindy Hadish)

Skylar Strawn, 11, of Cedar Rapids, with his award winning smallest mushroom, (in the plastic bag, attached to the larger one) which he estimated at 1/2-centimeter.

Skylar Strawn, 11, of Cedar Rapids, with his award winning smallest mushroom, (in the plastic bag, attached to the larger one) which he estimated at 1/2-centimeter.

Butch and Toni Velky of Swisher, with most unusual winner - 6 mushrooms growing together - which they dubbed "Bohemie Six-Pack"

Butch and Toni Velky of Swisher, with most unusual winner - 6 mushrooms growing together - which they dubbed "Bohemie Six-Pack"

Tom Slade, Solon, and Tyson Gosnell, Shellsburg, carry away their best display award winner, which included at least 250 morels. The two revealed where they found them: "In the woods."

Tom Slade, Solon, and Tyson Gosnell, Shellsburg, carry away their best display award winner, which included at least 250 morels. The two revealed where they found them: "In the woods."

There was no award for cutest display, but Debbie Eickstaedt and Theresa Shaver of Cedar Rapids undoubtedly would have won with this fawn.

There was no award for cutest display, but Debbie Eickstaedt and Theresa Shaver of Cedar Rapids undoubtedly would have won with this fawn.

Looks like the weather was right for these morels, which are actually carved out of pine wood by Ron Takes (in tan jacket) and Tom Brislawn of Troy Mills.

Looks like the weather was right for these morels, which are actually carved out of pine wood by Ron Takes (in tan jacket) and Tom Brislawn of Troy Mills.

Finally, if you want to know even more about morels, my brother, Gregg, passed along the following link to a paper by Lois Tiffany of Iowa State University and Donald Huffman of Central College:

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Swine flu made me do it and finding more morels

     Here’s the deal – I don’t have the time, the ego or the Ashton-Kutcheresque lifestyle to be really great at Twitter.  But when one of my sources in my job as health reporter for The Gazette – the Iowa Department of Public Health – announced it would start Tweeting swine flu updates, I had no choice but to jump in and join. (and yes, we now call it H1N1 flu – please no calls from the pork industry – bacon’s yummy!)

    So now you can follow me on Twitter, though I cringe saying that, partly because of that ego thing, again, but mostly because I’m a very private person. I won’t be Tweeting about the great things my sons did for me on Mother’s Day or the cool “Life is Good” t-shirt my sister surprised me with (thanks Henna!) or heaven forbid, what I’m making for dinner. Unless it’s these awesome morel mushrooms my new best friend Dave gave to me.

Morel mushrooms from Dave (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Morel mushrooms from Dave (photo/Cindy Hadish)

So basically, I promise I won’t bore you with the mundane details of my life. On the other hand, in my job as a reporter, I do get to go to beautiful places (including many area gardens this year, I hope) and meet fascinating people (like Dr. Johan Hultin, who dug up bodies in the Alaskan permafrost to decode the origins of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic: see The Gazette this weekend.) So, if that’s the type of Tweet tidbit that’s interesting to you, look me up on Twitter.

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Buy Fresh Buy Local

The following came from the River Bend Buy Fresh Buy Local chapter about its membership drive:

 The River Bend Chapter of Buy Fresh Buy Local is seeking members and supporters for its 2009 campaign and directory.  This new chapter was formed in 2008 when 34 growers and/or supporters in Clinton, Delaware, Dubuque, Jackson and Jones Counties produced the River Bend Chapter’s first directory, designed to make connections between consumers and available supplies of locally produced fruits, vegetables and meats. 

 Copies of the 2008 directory can be obtained from members of the steering committee which include: Joe Wagner, Kris Doll, Steve Swinconos, Steph Chappell, Rose Rohr, Marilyn McCall, and Kris Doll in Jones County, Lori Schnoor in Jackson County, and Jim Keitel in Clinton County.  Directories can also be obtained from the Limestone Bluffs RC&D Office in Maquoketa (563-652-5104).

 Anyone interested in becoming a member as a producer, restaurant, market, or sponsor should contact a steering committee member above, or call 319-462-3196 Ext. 3 or 563-652-5104.  Membership fee is $40 and includes a listing in the 2009 directory for the River Bend Region.  Membership form must be received by May 15 in order for the listing to appear in the 2009 directory – 10,000 copies scheduled to be distributed in the six-county area in June.

 The Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign is built upon the premise that local food is fresher and tastes better than food shipped long distances.  In addition, when you buy local food it keeps your food purchase dollars circulating within the local economy and supports family farm producers. 

 River Bend Chapter of Buy Fresh Buy Local is a partner of FoodRoutes Network (FRN), which provides technical support to non-profit organizations working to strengthen regional markets for locally grown foods.  Visit to learn how FRN is reintroducing Americans to their food – the seeds from which it grows, the farmers who produce it, and the routes that carry it from the fields to their tables.  As a national nonprofit organization, FRN provides communications tools, networking, and resources to organizations working to rebuild local food systems across the country.

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