Neighbors to the World
Rural Success Stories:
Oxford Locker takes meat cutting up a notch
Writer Roni Lewis visited Oxford Locker in Oxford, Nebraska, recently where she found owner Carl Kramer has remade the meat locker into a destination that puts the community on the map.
When Kramer bought the locker, he wasn’t content to keep the business just as it was. Instead, his drive and vision transformed the processing plant into so much more. Not only does Oxford Locker provide butchering and processing, the business also serves noon lunches and sells hunting accessories and fire arms.
Kramer caters to his customer’s unique tastes and opinions, which is why he currently sells 15 varieties of jerky. And now Oxford Locker has opened a second location in Kearney, Nebraska. Find out more about Oxford Locker’s recipe for success in this month’s Rural Success Story.
Red Road Herb Retreat and Learning Center
Red Road Herbs is living textbook
by Betty Sayers
Betty Sayers met Rachel Liester, a country herbalist and entrepreneur at her family’s enterprise, Red Road Herbs, near Stanton, Nebraska, for a crash course on herbs and their medicinal and healing properties.
Rachel, her daughter Jazmine and husband Michael invite people to their gardens to learn about herbs and how plants connect to the planet. “Plants are the original medicine and offer healing,” Rachel said. “Plants keep us healthy over time. They look pretty and association with plants increases feelings of well being.”
The Liesters also invite the public to Red Road Herbs for various events over the summer. Rachel invites us to stop and walk through the grass barefoot in this month’s Rural Success Story.
Skeleton keys reveal charm of Orleans Hotel
When you walk into the Orleans Hotel, don’t expect your standard hotel visit. Instead, proprietors David and Marilyn Snodgrass will hand you an honest-to-goodness skeleton key and escort you to a room that is sure to provide a unique hotel experience.
The Snodgrasses scooped up the Orleans Hotel in May 2014 after the hotel had been on the market for more than six years, waiting for just the right owners. David and Marilyn fit the bill. They felt the hotel was their calling and they’ve worked hard to do it justice.
“In a very short time, the Snodgrasses have single-handedly revitalized tourism in this section of Harlan County,” writes Scott Rager. They opened the doors to welcome the community at Orleans Apple Fest and then booked a wedding party who rented the entire hotel. Things haven’t slowed down since. Though they are busy, we invite you to slow down for a minute and read this month’s Rural Success Story, an inspiring story about taking a historical building and bringing it back to life.
Summer Honors Program
Everything (and everyone) is awesome at SHP
by Scott Rager
Every summer a group of talented youth from across southern Nebraska meets in Holdrege for the annual Summer Honors Program. The program was first started in 1978 to give students an outlet and place to encourage creativity, excellence and empowerment. It has grown from 40 students to 126 students.
“Not only is it an opportunity for students to identify an area in which they excel, but it also allows a rural region to support and showcase a level of young talent that often goes unappreciated in most public school systems,” writes Scott Rager. Rager knows firsthand the benefits of SHP as he is an alum of the program.
The program has been recognized as one of the top gifted programs for rural students in the nation, and rural Nebraska should celebrate the talent this program encourages. Writer Scott Rager gets the inside scoop on what makes SHP awesome in this month’s Rural Success Story.
Articles & Essays:
Exploring Nebraska from a kayak seat
This month we welcome a new essayist to Nebraska Rural Living. Brad Eifert is a lifelong resident of Nebraska and has worked for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 22 years. His passion for all things outdoors led him and a friend to embark on a 36-mile kayak trip down the Missouri River in July.
What Eifert found along the way was serenity and beauty, coupled with the fierce and sudden intensity of Mother Nature’s whims. Eifert’s trip coincided with the Fourth of July holiday which created the perfect setting to celebrate America’s independence.
All too soon, the trip was over and Eifert found himself lamenting his return to reality. But he has learned that the best way to beat post trip blues is to plan the next adventure. Join Eifert on his adventure in this month’s essay. His tale may just inspire you to plan your own great escape.
Finding Nebraska Rural Living in New York City
When writer Angela Davis visited New York City recently, she found herself surrounded by water towers. Those towers took her straight back to Nebraska where water towers proudly mark the landscape of rural towns across the state.
As she tours New York City, Angela is continually reminded about scenes from rural Nebraska. She reminisces about all the unique water towers that dot Nebraska and finds that even half a country away, connections can be made between urban and rural in this month’s essay.
WWII Museums and Wildflowers
Clear skies over Nebraska
Writer Angela Davis is back with another adventure from across the globe. In May, Davis drove across Belgium from the Netherlands to the coast. She found a World War II museum and red poppies, a stark contrast between brutality and beauty, that made her start thinking about how that translates to what can be found in Nebraska.
What she discovered is that even though people might find themselves in Nebraska, beauty and history are all around, with a sprinkling of war museums across the state and fantastic gardens that provide a visual treat for the eyes. If we look at a place with new eyes, it is amazing what we can find hidden just behind the commonplace.
Though we might not all be able to adventure across the ocean like Davis, we can still find memorable experiences in our own backyard. Join Davis on her journey and then make your own memories with this month’s essay.
Writing rural decades ago
by Jennifer Chick
While Nebraska Rural Living celebrates rural living today, there are writers who have been building good will about rural living for decades, even centuries before us. Laura Ingalls Wilder is one of those writers and Jennifer Chick talks about her fascination with Laura in this month’s essay.
Chick was first introduced to Laura when she was 10, living on a farm in western Kansas. Something about Laura clicked with her. Maybe it was the setting since Laura also lived in Kansas at one time. Maybe it was Laura’s uncanny ability to get in trouble no matter how hard she tried to be good. Maybe it was Laura’s brown hair. How they both longed to trade their drab brown locks for golden blond hair.
Whatever the connection, Chick has been enamored with her ever since. She’s travelled to several of Laura’s home sites and read the books until they’ve fallen apart. Take a pilgrimage to those sites in this month’s essay.
Bursting with energy at Lewis Produce
by Betty Sayers
Writer Betty Sayers first met Marlon Lewis in Holdrege, Nebraska. They were both attending an meeting organized by Nebraska Food Co-op to discuss how to best highlight fresh local produce. The well-spoken man captured Betty’s attention and she soon arranged to make a trip to his garden near Orleans, Nebraska.
That’s how she found herself wandering through rows upon rows of bright green leaves and vibrant vegetables at Lewis Produce one summer morning. High tunnels loomed large in the background as Lewis talked about how he transitioned from a career as an industrial arts teacher and basketball coach to a full-time gardener.
Lewis Produce vegetables are grown naturally, which can be a challenging way to make a living, Lewis said. But he relies on a network of similar-minded colleagues to share tips and best practices. Find out more about Lewis Produce in this month’s Rural Foodie find.
Grinders Food Truck
Grinders Food Truck's orange glow lures them in
by Roni Lewis
The orange glow of the Grinders Food Truck lures diners in first, but then they linger and return for the mouth-watering sandwiches chef Jim Fry serves up. “You will go bananas for the experience of the Grinders Food Truck and the culinary genius of owner Jim Fry,” writes Roni Fisher.
Jim Fry has traveled the world but finds his calling in the food truck business. He serves up delectable and tasty sub sandwiches for hungry diners in Holdrege and Kearney. And his scrumptious side dishes don’t take a back seat. The food is balanced and hearty.
“We are real guys making real food,” Fry told Roni. “There is nothing fancy about it.” Roni searched the streets for the Grinders Food Truck and she shares her experience in this month’s Rural Foodie find.
Artistry with a spoon
by Scott Rager
Artists work with charcoals, pencils and paintbrushes, but Chef Ryan Puls of The Speakeasy in Sacramento is displaying his precision with spoons, ladles and knives. Chef Puls brought his artistry to The Speakeasy in 2012 when he returned to the family business as his father was contemplating retirement.
“Eager to implement his own ideas and a fresh menu, Puls knew that the introduction of new flavor profiles and cooking techniques would have to be methodical and slow paced,” writes Scott Rager. “After all, this is meat-and-potatoes country.”
But Puls balances it all with tried-and-true classics and inventive daily specials. His approach is maintaining and even growing TheSpeakeasy’s customer base. As The Speakeasy celebrates its 35th year anniversary this summer, the future looks bright. Try a bite with this month’s Rural Foodie feature.
Deer Canyon Coffee
Expect a story with your coffee
by Scott Rager
Writer Scott Rager loves how in rural Nebraska, the unexpected is never far off the beaten path. And when he pushed open the door at Deer Canyon Coffee in Sargent, that’s exactly what he found in this month’s Rural Foodie feature.
“With its walls filled with hunting trophies and mementos of world travel and local days of yore, Deer Canyon Coffee could easily have been the setting of an epic Hemmingway novel,” Rager writes. Owners Dick and Di Cowell have created a space for creating conversation, sharing stories and finding friends.
But it’s not only the setting and feel of the place that are drawing people to Deer Canyon Coffee. Rager said their coffee is the real deal, roasted on location in a roaster made from old Harley Davidson parts. Beans are imported directly from growers around the world in an effort to support sustainability. Start your morning with this month’s Rural Foodies find and you’re sure to have a great day ahead.
Keep in Touch
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Dynamic Towns & Cities:
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...
Holdrege is poster town for mid-western values
If you were looking for someplace that embodied the kind of values America was built on – hard work, education, common sense, care for others – you wouldn’t have to look farther than Holdrege, Nebraska.
Located near the geographic midpoint of the country, Holdrege is one of those towns where all the downtown intersections are paved in brick. The churches near downtown – and there are many – are venerable and substantial, with traditional steeples and stained glass windows, many referencing having been founded in the 1880s or 90s. The trees are old and big – ash and maple and oak and elm – and the houses have spacious, well-kept lawns and generous, shady porches.
Village of Oxford Proves Good Things Come In Small Packages
Cruise into the small (pop. 900) Village of Oxford in south-central Nebraska, and you’re greeted by a main street broad enough to park cars in the middle as well as at the curbs. The first Oxford citizens designed a spacious community with room to expand. Clean, wide streets and sidewalks with big, shady trees welcome customers and visitors. Twenty-two businesses comprise the business district, first laid out and built in 1880 when the Republican Valley Railway Company (later to become the Chicago, Burlington and Quincey) crossed Harlan County and into the fledgling town. 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.
Also Featured This Month
Good food artfully prepared is philosophy of Lexington’s China Hy Express
Who would imagine discovering a great Chinese restaurant in Lexington, a town known for an abundance of Mexican restaurants?
Nebraska Bed and Breakfasts offer interesting rural tourism options
With summer in full-swing, it’s time to head outdoors and enjoy some of your favorite activities, whether it’s sipping wine and listening to live music at a winery, finding a hidden gem at an antique store or creating lasting memories with your loved ones at a family reunion, a nearby bed and breakfast can help in creating that relaxing and rejuvenating getaway you have been looking forward to.
Alma’s Dragonfly Desserts advises “eat dessert first” — and who are we to argue?
Cheryl Brown, the owner and cake artist of Dragonfly Desserts, LLC, appears as quick and graceful as a dragonfly on the wing as she pounds out her fondant, frosts a cupcake or stirs up her amazing oat scones, all while visiting lightheartedly with a customer.