CEDAR FALLS – Getting attendees to consider engaging in different forms of backyard conservation is one of the goals of a familiar event next month.
The Healthy Cedar Valley Coalition, in partnership with the Black Hawk Soil and Water Conservation District, Iowa Northland Regional Council of Governments, Iowa Waste Exchange and others, is hosting its eighth hands-on tour from the backyard from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 18 (rain or shine).
While not a new event, the seven Waterloo and Cedar Falls locations on the tour will offer never-before-seen displays of sustainability practices consistent with different properties.
The seniors, now graduates, were recently recognized by Senator Joni Ernst’s office with an award for volunteering with LED Brighter Communities on projects and for meeting other requirements.
“This is a great opportunity to educate the community by allowing members to connect and talk with owners who will answer questions, educate and encourage adoption of these practices,” said Josh Balk, Dry Run Creek Watershed. and Source Water Protection Coordinator.
“Every year we try to find new sites,” Balk said, and those selected for 2022 are set in stone after planning began in November and December.
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Nothing displayed is considered “revolutionary” or a new practice in conservation; however, each site has its “nuances and differences” that make it unique.
“We encourage people to prioritize what they think is most applicable to them,” Balk said, knowing people probably won’t have time to meaningfully soak up all seven sites over the course of of the three hour period.
One property was featured on a previous tour, but will now have a rain garden and prairie landscaping to share with attendees, Balk said.
He noted that the event has grown from attracting 30 to over 130 people.
After past events, Balk said, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of “structural” changes people have made to their own properties — like adding rain gardens, permeable paving or landscaping to native grasslands.
There are also people who have made less visible changes like compost bins, rain barrels, alternative landscaping, sustainable gardening, birdhouses and backyard habitats, Balk pointed out.
The study had been commissioned by the Cedar Falls Racial Equity Task Force to help provide more affordable housing options through greater variety.
According to a flyer for the event, the seven venues include:
- “English Tudor Oasis”, 1036 Kern St., Waterloo – Has a backyard with pollinator patches and heirloom gardens with various plants and water features that attract all types of wildlife.
- “Kentucky Blue What?!”, 925 Reber Ave., Waterloo – Has a rain garden, native prairie landscaping, edible landscaping, short-growing ground cover, and will show “how maintenance can be reduced and compared to traditional turf while improving water quality and providing habitat for our local pollinators.
- “A Tale of Two Prairies”, 2413 West Ridgeway Ave., Waterloo – Has an open prairie area along the trail in the Katoski Greenbelt in addition to a grassy prairie to the west and habitat for high diversity pollinators in the east.
- “Veggies, Bees And Trees”, 1306 Forest Ave., Waterloo – Has a vegetable garden, as well as a flower garden for pollinators and three newly planted trees.
- “Buying Into Conservation”, 6607 University Ave., Cedar Falls – Demonstrates “conservation done right at scale” at Slumberland Furniture with bioretention cells, swales and three permeable paver systems for stormwater treatment.
- “Gargantuan Garden & Good Neighbor Glade”, 2022 Grand Blvd., Cedar Falls – Features homeowners who “manage their lawn using pesticide-free practices to protect their children as well as pets, pollinators and wildlife who also benefit from their yard” with clotheslines, garden compost, a variety of perennial fruit trees, and a vegetable and cutting garden – “all focused on child-friendly design and interaction”.
- “Setting the Table for the Monarch”, 2412 W. 27th St., Cedar Falls – Introduces the Tallgrass Prairie Center and how to add native plants that will create habitat for local pollinators.
Entrants can enter a raffle to win a $50 gift certificate from Wapsie Pines, a repurposed and painted 55 gallon rain barrel, a rain garden plant set, a handcrafted bee hotel or a Good Neighbor Iowa gift basket.
There will also be a raffle for a SingleSpeed gift certificate for people who, before 4 p.m. on June 16, indicate on the Healthy Cedar Valley Coalition event Facebook page that they wish to attend.
An “in-person finale” event is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on June 18 at SingleSpeed Brewing Co., 325 Commercial St., Waterloo. This is when the winners of the raffle will be announced and attendees can meet different volunteers, conservationists and possibly some landowners.