Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Decorah Decorum

I love that title (say it out loud), and I don’t think it’s too far off the truth. There was a certain “decorum” in Decorah, Iowa, but not in the overtly Lutheran way I expected. It’s the home of Luther College, but we didn’t even visit campus. I decided, however, that if I ever had an alternate life as a professor or Lutheran college student, I’d consider Decorah!

We made Decorah a destination in the trip back from Nebraska, mostly because of the Seed Saver’s Heritage Farm. (Blogger won't load my pictures again, so gaze at this site's scenery) We found that lovely spot, and spent almost a full day exploring their trails and fields and browsing books and seeds in their timber-framed visitor center. They have an impressive mission, preserving old varieties of seeds to preserve genetic diversity. They have the farm in Iowa, but encourage partnerships among members, sharing their own varieties.

Their compost pile was impressive: growing product for seeds (not the actual produce) means lots of BIG cucumber and melon “shells” with their seeds carefully scooped out, jumbled together into a huge pile. The heritage orchard was similarly mind-boggling: hundreds of trees, grown for the trees themselves (for grafting), not the actual apples. We did sample a few apples (WF’s a true apple variety buff) and tried to note their names, hoping to someday propagate some old varieties in our “orchard.” We also wandered their small disjunct population of white-pines: it was like being back in Northern MN: weird.

We looked in the window here, but didn't realize till later that there really IS still a hatchery in this spot: An interesting marketing twist, no?

And any town with a charming co-op like the Oneota Co-op gets a gold star in my mental “good towns to live in” list. It was small, but it managed to offer some great stuff I’ve not seen elsewhere and a cozy little deli (using real dishes, something our new big city co-op hasn’t managed).

We were co-op tourists quite a few places along the trip: Lincoln, Nebraska, Ames, IA, and Viroqua, WI: all fine places if you ever find yourself passing through. I love glimpsing the little pockets of lefty culture in Midwest towns: it gives me faith that there ARE good people in that place, kin of a certain type. What else do you take as a sign of “kin” in a new town?


Prairie Chick said...

I am soo green with envy that you visited Seed Savers...Sounds like a great trip- you and yours really put on the miles.

Deb said...

I just became an official member of Seed Savers Exchange; I'm hoping to make it to Heritage Farm some day, especially after your description!

cyndy said...

Color me green also- ever since Abundant Life had their fire Seed Savers has become even more important. Thanks for posting about your trip!

Wildside Musing said...

Have I said it yet? Welcome back home!