Garden Local Food Politics

First Spade of Soil

Belgian Lettuce Patch - 2017
Belgian Lettuce Patch – 2017

I turned the first spade of garden soil Saturday.

In a couple of hours I removed cages, stakes and last year’s brush from the cherry tomato patch, turned over and broke up the soil, planted six kinds of lettuce, and posted the afternoon’s highlights on social media:

First spade of dirt turned; chives, walking onions, spring flowers up; lilacs, apple trees and pears budding (a lot); Caracas early carrots (57 days) planted; six kinds of lettuce (Wildfire mix, Ridgeline Romaine, Edox Butterhead, Red Salad Bowl, Australian Yellowleaf and Sanguine Ameliore) planted in the ground. I got out the mower to clear the brush from a small patch of garden because it was too windy to burn. It’s March 4 and spring has sprung.

First Spade
First Spade

Taking soil from one of the sunken containers I mixed a bag of leftover soil mix from last year with it in a green cart. I refilled the container and planted carrots, covering them with straw from the tomato patch. I poured a bucket of water into the container through the straw. It felt good to get into our garden.

Buds of apple blossoms appeared in abundance. If they bloom normally and pollinate it will be a bumper crop. The arrival of pollinators and timing of the last frost will be crucial. Fingers crossed everything goes well. Last year’s apple crop was virtually non-existent. We are due for a good one.

Lettuce Seeds
Lettuce Seeds

February was the warmest on record in Iowa. The frost was out of the soil and the green up will not be long. It is very early to be doing much in the yard and garden.

About 20 people gathered in our nearby town to chat over beverages and hors d’oeuvres with Congressman Dave Loebsack. For some it was the first time to meet personally with a U.S. congressman. The event lasted an hour and a local organizer took notes and discussed a plan of political action with the many young people in attendance. I listened with some members of my own cohort (older folks table) and snapped a couple of photos.

Coffee with Our Congressman
Coffee with Our Congressman

The main group discussion was about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and plans for the new administration to repeal and replace it. A bill is being crafted in the U.S. House of Representatives, but Loebsack hasn’t seen it even though he is on the committee that will eventually consider it. It rots to be in the minority for this and many other reasons.

Loebsack has been targeted by Republicans for the 2018 election.

“President Donald Trump’s 10-point win in Iowa in the 2016 election is emboldening the Republican Party to take on the state’s lone Democratic congressman,” according to the Quad-City Times.

Loebsack has been targeted since his 2006 election. We don’t assume re-election is in the bag and will have to see how the campaign rolls out. Already there are third party negative ads about Dave and a lot of work needs doing to retain the seat.

We turned the first spade of political soil yesterday as well.

Nuclear Abolition

Getting Nuclear With Loebsack

Dr. Maureen McCue speaking for the Iran Deal at Rep. Dave Loebsack's Office
Dr. Maureen McCue speaking for the Iran Deal at Rep. Dave Loebsack’s Office

IOWA CITY – A group of peace-loving constituents assembled Wednesday afternoon in front of U.S. Congressman Dave Loebsack’s office to demonstrate support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action negotiated between the P5 +1 nations and the Islamic Republic of Iran, also known as the “Iran Deal.”

The Iran Deal is designed to prevent Iran from enriching uranium to develop a nuclear weapon. If Iran complies with the agreement, they will get relief from sanctions that brought them to the negotiating table during the Obama administration.

Congress is expected to vote on approval of the Iran Deal as early as Sept. 9. Congressman Loebsack has not made a public statement on the matter, hence a concern of those assembled.

The gathering began with Dawn Jones, Wellman, serving as master of ceremonies. Jones helped organize the demonstration, which is part of a nationwide series of similar events under the umbrella. At one point 55 people were in attendance, as well as the local FOX News/CBS Channel and a couple of videographers.

Dr. Maureen McCue, Oxford, board member of the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights and chapter organizer for Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility, enumerated the benefits of the Iran Deal and urged Loebsack to vote for the bill. (Details of the Iran Deal are linked at this July 27 post).

Tom Baldridge, advocated for the Iran Deal on behalf of the Eastern Iowa Chapter of Veterans for Peace, as did Ann Stromquist of PEACE Iowa, Nancy Porter, John Rachow, Dan Daly and others.

Demonstrators Filing into Rep. Dave Loebsack's Iowa City Office
Demonstrators Filing into Rep. Dave Loebsack’s Iowa City Office

After the speeches, Jones walked into the office and spoke to Dave Leshtz, district representative for Loebsack. The group was invited inside to present a petition calling for an aye vote on the Iran Deal.

“(Loebsack) has a strong concern that many of the people who are pushing for a ‘no’ vote are the same people that pushed us into a misguided war in Iraq,” Leshtz said. “He believes in diplomacy. It is better not to shoot first and ask questions later.”

The frustration of several in the group was that Loebsack had not taken a leadership position by speaking for the Iran Deal well in advance of the vote. Some hoped he could influence his colleagues in the lower chamber.

David Leshtz and Maureen McCue
David Leshtz and Maureen McCue

“What’s holding him back from taking a position,” asked Shelton Stromquist, emeritus professor, University of Iowa American, Social and Labor History. “I just don’t understand. There’s broad support for this agreement. He comes from a progressive constituency. He hasn’t provided leadership on this or many other issues. What’s holding him back?”

I don’t know, Shel,” Leshtz said. “A vote will come. He will cast his vote. He may say something before. This (petition and demonstration) is helpful I think.”

Dan Daly, Iowa City, stressed that many in the room had helped Loebsack get elected in 2006.

“We want to stay positive. Urgency. Take action. Soon and very vividly, so more congresspeople can take cover behind his leadership,” Daly said.

Leshtz deferred to the congressman, who knows many of the demonstrators personally.

Both Iowa U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst are expected to vote “no” on the measure.

~ Written for Blog for Iowa