I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.
The Taproot Community
In nature, the strongest, most productive, and most resilient systems are those that are diverse and highly integrated -- Lots of different things working together and interacting in many different ways. That model applies to human communities as well. Taproot strives to create a vibrant community of families and individuals by offering a wide variety of sustainability and environmental educational experiences. With frequent fun gatherings and events, Taproot facilitates new connections between people of similar and compatible passions and principles. Taproot also enriches the larger community of the Iowa City area, extending and strengthening the fibers connecting people, organizations, and businesses who are committed to protecting the health of the earth and its inhabitants.
Kids and nature go together. If left to their own devices, children will always find the natural spaces in their realm, and through their imagination and play they will form a bond with the earth that is strong.
These days, however, kids have a more difficult time getting out in nature. Our lifestyles are extremely busy, with parents and children both working hard. During the down-time, computers, video games, and television have a powerful attraction, and parents are understandably reluctant to let their children out unsupervised into an increasingly scary world. As a result, kids spend less and less time in intimate contact with nature.
This is a very real and significant problem, both for the individual children and for the earth as a whole. We are learning that difficulties at home and school—attention, learning, and behavior problems—can be significantly improved with quality time in nature. We also hear more and more about issues such as global climate change, pollution, overpopulation, habitat destruction, and other things that threaten the very life of our planet. Our children are the best hope we have that this planet can recover and sustain a diverse and healthy spectrum of life--including human life--into the future.
Taproot seeks to strengthen children’s innate bond with nature by giving kids a foundation in the soil, air, and water, the plants and animals, and the biological processes that give our planet beauty and life. We want to let children sink a deep and strong taproot into the soil of our planet, a root which will support and nourish these young people throughout their lives. In turn, we believe these children will grow into adults who love and respect their fellow human beings, and who will actively care for the Earth that sustains us.
Adults also feel a strong longing for a relationship with nature. Taproot provides educational opportunities that broaden adults' understanding of the natural world, and give them knowledge and practical skills to deepen their experience. Workshops on food growing and preservation, lectures on sustainable energy options, canoe trips on local rivers, native species identification walks, and other programs help adults play a positive, active role in the natural system.
For many families, the richest and most memorable times are those spent outdoors. Taproot seeks to help families spend more time together in nature. Events such as the Family Camping Workshop and Campout teach basic outdoor skills. Taproot Family Days and seasonal celebrations like the Fall Harvest Party offer the chance to come together with other families for fun times in beautiful, natural settings. Taproot has programs appropriate for families of all experience levels, beginner to expert.
A Word about "Local"
We believe very strongly that the way to help the earth is by focusing on your home. In this spirit, Taproot invests heavily into the Iowa City area and Eastern Iowa. Whenever possible, Taproot patronizes local businesses for our food, equipment, printing, and other needs. We promote area businesses to our Taproot community. We do whatever we can to support efforts that improve our lives here in our area.
Taproot Scope and Future Plans
We have exciting plans for Taproot’s course. The following describe some Taproot components to look for now and in the near future:
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Out at the Taproot Farm, we have planted scores of fruit trees, blueberry bushes, raspberry canes, asparagus and strawberry plants. In addition, we have been setting up our land to support a small, highly integrated livestock grazing operation including laying hens, broiler chickens, turkeys, dairy and beef cattle, sheep and lambs, and pigs. Families and individuals will have the opportunity to buy a share of the farm’s produce each season. Members will be able to visit the farm any time to ensure that the animals and land are being cared for properly and humanely, and that the food they receive will be healthy and safe for their families. The farm will also be a component of the Taproot educational plan, teaching children and adults about the possibilities of raising food in an ecologically harmonious way.
Taproot will offer educational opportunities to home-schoolers. Food and farm learning, experiential nature exploration and study, and gentle outdoor recreation will all be available to small groups. Please contact us for more information.
Adult Book Club
We began the Taproot Book Club in 2009. Our past books have included Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder, by Richard Louv and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver. We will be meeting to discuss Hot, Flat, and Crowded, by Thomas Friedman in January 2010, and hope to choose our future reads with the group at that meeting. We will choose books that will inform us about the challenges facing humanity and the earth and inspire us to re-shape our lives to be more in synch with Nature. Please contact us if you are interested in participating, or have suggestions of books for the group to read together in the future.
We hope to start an Artist-In-Residence program in the near future. We will provide private lodging, home-cooked food, and solitude to a local writer, painter, musician, sculptor, or other artist so that they can focus their effort solely on producing their work. We will be looking for artists whose work strenghtens our community somehow, and we appreciate your suggestions.
Educational Workshops, Seminars, and Field Trips
Taproot has an impressive schedule of events for adults in the coming months. We are always on the lookout for more ideas for earth-related topics, and we welcome your suggestions.