Oak Damage: Upcoming Webinar

We must help this keystone species ASAP
Join us August 5 at 8am

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Over the last twenty years, we have seen perennial damage to the leaves of oak trees.  Join us on Zoom, August 5 at 8am, as Dr. Jesse Randall of Michigan State University shares his findings regarding the effects that pre-emergent herbicides have on native tree health. We will also hear an explanation about the oak tree’s role in our ecosystems from Douglas Tallamy, the author of several books including the current bestseller The Nature of Oaks: The Rich Ecology of Our Most Essential Native Tree

Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 875 1425 6235


Dr. Jesse Randall is Michigan State’s Forestry Innovation Center Director.  Previously employed with Iowa State, Jesse has spent the last decade researching the effects of various unnatural chemicals on the native and essential trees of our ecosystems.
Douglas Tallamy is a professor of entomology wildlife ecology at University of Delaware.  He has written three books about environmentalism, two of which are New York Times Best Sellers.

Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 875 1425 6235

Taking a Breather!

Hi all! As of today, 7/20/2021, Prairie Oaks will be going offline for some much needed rest & recovery! We have been working very hard and have been fortunate to work with some incredible, insightful, curious, and hard-working folks from our community and beyond. Stay tuned for when we open our doors back up. We look forward to reconnecting in the future with new projects, people, and opportunities!

Happy Little Cotyledons

Spring is definitely here, and we are working almost as hard as the bees.

Sidra already has many veggies and greens transplanted into the garden, including kale, collards, chard, cabbage, and broccoli. She is also raising some very eager tomatoes and peppers, as shown by the little green cotyledons they have put on display in the hoop house. Her experience working on production farms in Illinois guides her with confidence through the garden, giving us much needed insight for starting plants early.

IMG_9522Last week, Sidra, Moselle, Joyce, and David (our extremely helpful neighbor) planted bare root Contender peaches, Yellow & Gold Delicious apples, Stella & Montmercy cherries, and Stanley plums alongside the Lincoln pears in the orchard. We are considering planting pawpaws there as well. YUM!

Joyce & Tony have been teaching Sidra how to remove invasive species from the woodland and prairie, namely Multiflora Rose, Garlic Mustard, and Russian Olive. It is no easy task!

Moselle has been preparing the guesthouse to accommodate volunteers on-site. We have listed ourselves as hosts on HelpX and WWOOF websites. More hands on deck not only speeds processes along, it also gives us the opportunity to create community and to learn from each other.

springAlong with the buds, blooms, and first leaves, many critters are starting to emerge from their winter dens as well. Toads, rabbits, geese, deer, and one giant snapping turtle have already made their debuts.

In the woodland, we have been graced by the billowing tiny Dutchman’s Breeches, the whimsical Bluebells, and the unassuming Bloodroot. All bringing their own colorful palettes and scents. As Sidra said, it’s almost as if this place turned into a Japanese garden overnight!

Check back for updates as we keep planting, growing, and learning. Happy Spring!


febsunrise“You say Iowa is severe and blight-bare, a dead cornfield in winter.

I say it is the red-tailed hawk, gliding in widening circles above frozen ground.
It is the bald eagle on the branches of a slumbering bur oak.
It is Orion’s Belt and Ursa Major, brilliant in the cold night sky, jewels among countless stars like sea foam on a dark ocean.
It is the icy hoofprint of deer in the pine wood, and it is the blue and red jays and cardinals, cheerful flashes of color in the somber late-winter palette.
It is the belly track of unseen mammals, dragging along their brown-grass paths between pond and cozy den.

It is a modest beauty, a world masked in subtlety.”

-Sidra Schkerke

Sidra began working at Prairie Oaks earlier this month. She has been working at farms across the Midwest for a few years and has brought a multitude of skills, insight, and knowledge along with her.