Your Stories

Strong regional food systems keep wealth within communities, help students see future

Food and economic security in rural communities is directly related to community development. In many rural areas, food purchased at grocery stores is imported, and dollars spent for this food ultimately end up out of state.

For example, in our home state of Nebraska, our staff found residents spend nearly $5 billion annually on food. Approximately 90 percent of that money leaves the state, as reported in a 2015 Center for Rural Affairs white paper.

Rural Rockstars: Washington County farmers are stewards of the land

In 2013, Iowa launched the Water Quality Initiative, an action plan to meet the goals of the Nutrient Reduction Strategy to cut pollution and hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico. The initiative urges farmers, landowners and city residents to voluntarily adopt conservation practices that fit their unique needs and landscapes. Five years after Iowa started the Water Quality Initiative, I traveled to the county with the most acres in cover crops to see what makes them different.

RhinoSaurusRex Knits boosted with Business Plan Basics loan

RhinoSaurusRex Knits is an online store that specializes in whimsical hats and scarves for children and playful grown ups. Some of the hats resemble dragons, unicorns, or owls, and all are created from original patterns.

Christine Pfortmiller, the creative genius behind the business, makes these unique handmade creations. Her inspiration comes from fairy tales, folklore speak, and, most of all, from watching children at play.

Fire enhances native plant community in prairie lands

I wanted to learn more about the practice of prescribed burn (sometimes referred to as controlled burn) as it relates to our work with women farmer and landowner learning circles.

So, I caught up with Karen Rathje, a learning circle participant from our series.

Karen owns land in Nance County, and read about the conservation learning circle for women farmers and landowners in the paper. She cash rents her ground – the original plot has been owned by her family for 104 years.

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