Local/Urban Prairie Field Day to Be Held

Mahaska County office of Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) along with the Mahaska County Master Gardeners will host an Local/Urban Prairie Field Day Tuesday, August 23, beginning at 6 pm at the Oskaloosa Elementary.  Other stops for the field day include Watson planting at William Penn and the NRCS -Oskaloosa Service Center.   The event is free and open to the whole family and includes a summertime treat at our last stop.

Prairies once stretched across Iowa and the Midwest.   Once 85% of Iowa was covered in prairie, today less than 1% remain.  Native plants and wildlife thrived creating the ecosystem which created the rich productive soil that dominates and defines Iowa. Prairies, specifically prairie plants, are part of our heritage as Iowans.  Native plants include many types of grasses and forbs which offer many advantages to the introduced landscapes which dominate many local/urban settings. These advantages will be discussed at the stops of the field day.

The field day will include a welcome and remarks from Myriam Lafreniere Landry, from the Mahaska Soil and Water Conservation District.  She will highlight the urban prairie plantings that have been completed in 2021 and 2022 in Oskaloosa.  The Oskaloosa Elementary location is on the southwest side of the building (1801 Orchard Ave, Oskaloosa – please park in the west lot).  The planting was completed in June of 2022.

Specifics of each location’s plantings will be discussed as we visit the sites, including costs and sources of funding. The Soil and Water Conservation District personnel will provide information about the financial assistance available for this type of projects.

The field day agenda will continue with a visit to the Watson planting at William Penn University (201 Trueblood Avenue, Oskaloosa).  It is located on the northwest corner of campus, on the north side of the Penn Activity Center (PAC) and west of Watson Hall.  Parking is available in the PAC parking lot.  This planting was completed in June of 2021.

Green Iowa, Americorp members, will be on hand to give updates on the existing plantings and planned projects.  Pam White, Mahaska County Master Gardener and board member of Iowa Prairie Network will identify plant species and provide growing tips.  This organization is a grass roots, volunteer, organization that is dedicated to the preservation of Iowa’s prairie heritage.

The field day will end at the NRCS Oskaloosa Service Center (2503 Todd Street, Oskaloosa).  This planting was completed in 2021 also.  Please park in the parking lot and on side streets.

The event is free and open to the whole family, but reservations are suggested to ensure adequate summertime treats. RSVP to Joy VanWyngarden at 641-673-3476; NRCS-Oskaloosa Service Center or email joy.vanwyngarden@ia.nacdnet.net .   Inclement weather will postpone the event.  If in doubt, please check local media and event organizers, as well as the organization’s Facebook pages.

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