Rural Wisdom: Eat well. Donít scrimp on groceries.
Rural Success Stories:
Acres of vision just a Stones Thoreau away
Some of the best stories worth telling are several hours’ drive away, which writer Betty Sayers found as she turned onto Davenport’s wide main street and found herself in front of Stones Thoreau, a food-based enterprise started by entrepreneur and visionary Dr. Harold Stone.
In this month’s rural success story, Harold describes his vision of a whole food system, where small towns and rural communities can work together with the resources they have to stop out migration and population loss.
He has begun the task of making that vision a reality with Stones Thoreau, his Davenport storefront that houses a commercial kitchen for canning, cooking and baking. He has created a gathering space for the local community and started both indoor and outdoor farmers markets to bring residents together to share their abundance. His is definitely a story worth telling again and again so feel free to share it with your friends.
Queen of Cookies
by Michelle McCormick
It’s not every day you meet someone who could vie for (and probably win) the title Queen of Cookies. But that’s exactly who writer Michelle McCormick met in this month’s Rural Success story.
Eileen Harman started her successful cookie business in her home 32 years ago. She started with a dream of having fun and she continues to do that every day. Her business has grown to 20 franchises in eight states and her two sons help manage the business.
She’s come far from those early years of delivering cookies in a Cookie Monster suit, but every day, she goes to work with that same goal in mind: to have fun.
Rosa Maria Wellness and Astrology Center
Hastings entrepreneur reaches for the stars
Michelle McCormick was a bit skeptical as she met with Rosa Maria Brooks, owner and operator of the Rosa Maria Wellness and Astrology Center in Hastings, Neb. She conjured up images of Professor Marvel from the Wizard of Oz and wasn’t sure just what to expect.
What she found was a confident businesswoman who brought a successful business from Colombia to Hastings. Rosa Maria Brooks expanded her dream from a thriving web business into a full-blown wellness center that caters to people both near and far.
A Eustis-based snack that snaps
Betty Sayers followed tips from her intelligence grapevine to Eustis where she found a family of wise cracks are putting the snap into Nebraska-based snack food.
When six siblings met for a family gathering back in 2011, they decided the family should start a business together. Based on an idea from sister Laurie, the family decided to start making a wheat berry snack food and Wise Cracks was born.
Wise Cracks are whole grain, lightly crunchy wheat berries roasted with a touch of salt and oil. The wheat berries are grown locally and classified as an all natural snack food. Sayers was intrigued from the first crunch and dug into the family’s story.
Articles & Essays:
Central Nebraska Public Power & Irrigation District - Part Two
Central canals are recharging the High Plains Aquifer
As we continue our look at the role water plays in Nebraska’s history and its future, this month we are learning about Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation’s series of canals and reservoirs that bring surface water to farmers’ crops.
It’s a complex system that helps create an oasis of green in central Nebraska, and as writer Betty Sayers found out, Central’s irrigation system has provided an unexpected benefit to the High Plains Aquifer that runs beneath this part of the state.
Water is important to Nebraska. It helps crops grow, provides hydro-power and creates recreation opportunities cited as a must by those choosing to move back to Nebraska. It can’t be ignored and needs to be preserved. Betty’s essay points to one of the biggest benefits of water, its use in agriculture, but she also asks those tough questions, how do we create sustainability in the system while preserving our current level of water for future generations? It’s a question we all need to ask ourselves and as you read this month’s essay, we hope you will think not only of Nebraska’ past, but also its future.
White Pelican Homecoming
It's for the Birds
Four years ago, Harlan County started the White Pelican Homecoming Celebration. This month, they are premiering “Pelican Frolics,” a work honoring the American White Pelican spring migration by combining chamber music and modern dance. The piece will be performed March 29 in Alma.
Central Nebraska Public Power & Irrigation District - Part One
Water - Nature's Ace
by Betty Sayers
Water is important in Nebraska. Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District, otherwise known as Central, has played a key role in creating the Nebraska we all know and love. Starting this month, Nebraska Rural Living has begun a series delving deeper into Central’s history and its role in the state today.
Writer Betty Sayers takes us on a trip back in time to hear the story of one man’s dream to turn the plains of central Nebraska into a fertile oasis. His dream, laughed at by many back then, transformed the semi-arid prairie into a lush garden, growing food for America, food for export to world markets, and recently, grain into biofuels.
Why I love rural Nebraska
Why I love rural Nebraska
by Sierra Klein
Sierra Klein is a younger person living in a rural town, one of a rare, but much needed segment in our rural communities. In this month’s NRL essay, Sierra describes why she came back to rural Nebraska and why she loves living in a rural area.
She describes how she has found ways to be involved while fostering a love of reading in her hometown. Her blog has gotten her in touch with readers and authors from around the world.
For Sierra, living rural gives her the time to follow her passions while also ensuring that when she needs a helping hand, she doesn’t have far to look. We hope you also might find a bit of yourself in Sierra’s story.
Not your typical day at The Office
by Scott Rager
Scott Rager met another visionary in this month’s Rural Foodie feature when he stumbled upon a local watering hole in Alma that epitomizes the phrase “a place where everybody knows your name.”
Chef/owner Gabe Johnson opened The Office one year ago after an extensive renovation to revive the hometown bar once owned by his parents. “The result is a sports bar that appeals to the clientele that Gabe knows so well,” Scott writes. “The Office is a place where local patrons will identify with their past and tourists drawn to Harlan County Reservoir will make memories of their own. No one will be a stranger in this place.”
Nebraska has many of these culinary and cultural treasures tucked in unassuming storefronts along tree-lined main streets. Gabe, in an effort to support the local community where he lives, works and plays, seeks to compliment other local establishments, not compete with them. He is a true example of what Nebraskans must continue to do to make their communities thrive and bring people back to these rural gems. Cheers!
Mariscos Villarreal Seafood Restaurant
Tropical foodie trip curbs March blues
If you need another way to beat the wintertime blues, look no further than Betty Sayer’s feature on Mariscos Villarreal Seafood Restaurant in Grand Island. Since we can’t send everyone on a holiday trip to sunny Mexico, Mariscos Villarreal is the next best thing.
Owners Eduardo and Nelly Villarreal learned all about great seafood in their hometown of Bucerias, Nayarit, Mexico. They have brought those flavors to central Nebraska and the fare they offer is sure to awaken your taste buds.
“When the tropics and fine seafood call to me again, I will be traveling to Mariscos Villarreal for the fresh and flavorful experience of Chef Eduardo’s creative recipes and extraordinary seafood ,” Betty writes. Set sail with her in our March Rural Foodies feature.
Main Street Cafe
Blown away by Louisville cafe's comfort food
It was a strong Nebraska wind, and a dedicated diner’s high praise, that drove Scott Rager to Main Street Cafe in this month’s Rural Foodies trek. When he blew in the door, he found a port in the storm serving comfort food to rival Grandma’s.
The Poor Boy sandwich has people talking all the way from the muddy Missouri to the bluffs of the Panhandle. The Pork Tenderloin is Instagram worthy. And Waitress Jodie’s recommendation of onion rings and Grandma Chubb's Chicken and Noodles didn’t disappoint.
Ole's Big Game Steakhouse & Lounge
This taste tall tale begins in Paxton
by Scott Rager
After just one visit to Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse and Lounge, Scott Rager has his own tall tale to tell, one that features The Best in the West chicken fried steak, Omaha-worthy Ruebens and the Best Burger in the State.
All this can be found in a place with as much character as the safari adventures featured on the walls. A place that caters to outdoorsmen and nourishes them with a good meal at a fair price. A place where you can speak about your kill or your catch in the company of people who won’t second guess the details of your story.
With each retelling, Scott finds the tale of his dining experience there growing bigger, more elaborate. “The amazing thing about Ole’s is your experience there is rooted in a bit of fantasy,” Scott writes. “Much like being on an expedition or safari, Ole’s allows you to take home a story that is truly extraordinary.”
Keep in Touch
Our newsletter comes out once a month, but today’s social media also allows us to keep in touch between issues. Take a look at our Facebook page. Follow us on Twitter. Find us @NebRuralLiving. And visit our blog. We love hearing from our readers, because (and we’re not biased) we have the best readers around!
Dynamic Towns & Cities:
Cambridge opens its arms, offering high-tech capabilities and new housing development
Cambridge is the kind of town where canopies of maple, ash and oak trees shade sturdy wood-sided homes and walkers, bicyclists and runners enjoy wide sidewalks, a park with a creek, and miles of well-kept trails. It’s a town known for a friendly, front-porch culture and a healthy lifestyle, opportunities to prosper in business, quality schools, and a strong sense of community.
At the same time, some of the latest and best internet technology available between Omaha and Denver fuels business start-ups, telecommuters and entrepreneurs. PinPoint Communications, headquartered in Cambridge, made fiber optic cable available to every home and business in Cambridge and brought wireless access to the public park and campgrounds.
Cambridge’s main street is a portrait of productivity in small town America. Every store front is currently leased and open for business. more...
Curtis, Maywood are beautiful spots to live the Nebraska good life
Nestled in the beautiful Medicine Creek Valley, Curtis and Maywood are roughly equidistant between McCook, Lexington and North Platte. Separated by only seven miles, both communities proudly proclaim excellent school systems and today, as it has been for millennia, the primary business in Frontier County is farming and ranching. Archaeological evidence suggests the population of the valley is roughly the same now as when it was occupied by Native Americans 1300 years ago.
Today, Medicine Creek Valley is home to the progressive Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, a new community center, an abundance of community spirit and an indomitable drive to thrive.more...
Indomitable spirit keeps Bertrand vibrant and dynamic
“To make a small community thrive, you work together.”
Bertrand is thriving in great part because this solidarity message is spoken in many different ways and by people of all ages and occupations in Bertrand. The town is bustling with committees planning the Bertrand Rodeo, the famous Bertrand craft show, a talent show, theater, music and sports activities, and fund raising events for families in need. Businesses also thrive in Bertrand. Over 72 businesses handle most wants and needs in the community, including a medical clinic and a weekly newspaper, the Bertrand Herald, which was recently sold to new owners.
If the perfect small town exists, it just might be Minden
If you could sit down at a drawing board to design the perfect small town, you’d start with a superb education system, then add in gracious and affordable homes. You’d want to make sure you had a prosperous manufacturing sector so there would be good jobs and a sound economy, then perhaps you’d want to add some interesting retail enterprises on wide, safe streets. You’d want to make sure to design in a strong sense of community, with a lot of citizen participation in community decisions, quality healthcare facilities and nearby opportunities for camping, hunting and fishing. Put down your pencil. You’re describing Minden.more...
Also Featured This Month
Quality and variety make the difference to Schwarz Family Farm's success
For many big corporate farms, increasing ROI might mean introducing additional fertilizers, pesticides or GMO seed; for the Schwarz family of rural Smithfield, Neb., it means introducing more praying mantises, lace wings and lady bugs.
A pizza tradition at Indianola’s Rocket Inn
In Indianola, one food central to the culture for decades was a very special pizza recipe, brought to Nebraska by an Italian war bride in the late 1940s. The Rocket Inn has been in continual operation for 70-odd years with only four owners, and even today, in a farming community of only 700 people they sell 500 pizzas a week, Mondays through Saturdays.
Cross Creek Golf Course is hidden jewel of rural Nebraska
With a reputation for having some of the flattest country in the U.S., golfers unfamiliar with Nebraska are surprised at the variety of terrain offered at one of rural Nebraska’s best 18-hole courses, Cross Creek in Cambridge.