Lied Lodge & Conference Center selected as readers’ favorite by Meetings Focus MidAmerica

Last month, we were delighted to learn that Lied Lodge & Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm was selected as a “Best of MidAmerica’ meeting venue by Meetings Focus readers for the fourth year in a row.

In addition to receiving the same honor in 2009, 2010 and 2011, Lied Lodge has also won the Enviro-Management Award from the American Hotel and Motel Association.

Lied Lodge is a growing destination for conservation-minded groups looking for an ideal, nature-filled setting to regroup, recharge and plan for the future. The U.S. Forest Service, the Society of Municipal Arborists and the Nature Conservancy, all long-time Foundation partners with a rich legacy of stewardship, have chosen Lied Lodge for gatherings.

The goal is for guests to leave seeking to make a difference, taking their conservation advocacy to new levels in support of sustainable forestry, clean air and water and community improvement.

Readers of Meetings Focus MidAmerica were tasked with choosing their favorite properties with consideration toward quality of meeting space, guest rooms, staff, service, food and beverage, amenities, activities and overall value.

Recognition like this – as well as from the inclusion of Arbor Day Farm in promotions like Passport Nebraska – have helped put Lied Lodge on the map, and we’re already seeing a difference. The number of visitors staying for conservation-related gatherings doubled in the past year.

We appreciate the recognition – and look forward to welcoming even more visitors in the years ahead. (Below is a short video we put together last year about meeting at Lied Lodge).


Apple Harvest 2012: Carrying on the tradition

Apples and apple orchards are a time-honored tradition at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, and the 2012 apple harvest carries on that heritage.

Bushels and boxes of apples, circa 1930, from the Joy Morton Orchard Company.

Apple trees have thrived here since 1855, when J. Sterling Morton and his wife, Caroline, moved to Nebraska City from Michigan, and planted several varieties of apple trees on their homestead, the property now known as Arbor Day Farm.In the 1920s, J. Sterling and Caroline’s son, Joy – founder of the Morton Salt Company – partnered with Grove Porter and formed the Joy Morton Orchard Company on this land, one of many local orchards supplying a wide selection of apples for the southeast Nebraska region.

Today, the orchards at Arbor Day Farm are still going strong, even with the very dry year that 2012 has turned out to be. As is typical in drought years, the apples are smaller in size this year but the quantity of apples in the orchard remains relatively consistent with recent harvests.

U-Pick and Pre-Picked Apples

From now through late October, 14 varieties of traditional apples will be available here. Many people enjoy the “u-pick” orchards, where one can wander through the apple trees and hand-pick for themselves any combination of varieties in five- or ten-pound bags, or half- or full-bushel. Improved orchard signage at Arbor Day Farm will help people find just the apples they’re looking for. Free hayrack rides to the orchard are available for the fall season on Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 5pm.

For those who love apples but don’t necessarily wish to pick their own, the Apple House Market is a one-stop shop for pre-picked apples. A team of orchard workers picks apples daily in the orchard, bringing their harvest into the market for purchase. Five- and ten-pound bags, half- and full-bushel quantities are ready to go for your convenience.

The Preservation Orchard

It’s impossible to discuss apples and apple traditions without noting the Preservation Orchard at Arbor Day Farm.

This collection of heirloom-variety apple trees was originally planted in the late 1980s and today consists of 90 rare, antique apple varieties, some dating back to the 1500s and originating in Rome, France, Ireland, Turkey and beyond.

Many varieties of preservation apples are not necessarily “pretty” – many have russeting (discoloration of the skin), odd shapes, or irregular sizes. But just as one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, one also shouldn’t judge a vintage apple by its outward appearance. Certain varieties of these heirloom apples have exceptional flavor and are prized for baking.

For the 2012 apple harvest season, visitors to Arbor Day Farm will have the opportunity to purchase these heirloom apples in five-pound bags at the Apple House Market. Quantities are limited and selection will vary as different varieties are ready for harvest.

We look forward to sharing the apple tradition with you this fall at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City.

Amy Stouffer lends a hand for all-things-communication at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, NE. Her favorite tree is the ginkgo. This piece was cross-posted on the Lied Lodge & Arbor Day Farm Blog.

Art in the Woods coming to Arbor Day Farm this Saturday

There’s a bit of a buzz through the trees at Arbor Day Farm this week — and I don’t just mean the summertime cicadas.

The buzz I’m talking about is centered around the grand opening of our new exhibit called Art in the Woods. This collection of nature-inspired sculptures and artwork will be unveiled here Saturday. The days leading up to the grand opening are filled with artists coming and going, hauling supplies deep into the forest, overcoming unexpected challenges (“…what do you mean the epoxy isn’t holding?…”) and making sure all the parts and pieces are in place.

It’s been a fun process, really.

We should start with a big thank you to The Nelson Family Foundation in Nebraska City for their support of the arts in general, and specifically of this Art in the Woods exhibit. Susan at the Tree Adventure has logged many hours communicating details via email, phone call, text and smoke signals with the selection of artists — not to mention with the 25+ other artists who tossed their ideas into the hat for consideration. The selection committee (Jenni, Rebecca, Mike, Lu and others) pored over each submission and put in some healthy debate on which ideas made the final cut. Rod, Darry, and others on the Arbor Day Farm landscape crew know the in’s and out’s of these 260 acres better than anyone and have been irreplaceable in working with the artists to make their creations look their best and hold up to the elements.

And then there’s you.

We thank you for helping us spread the word about Art in the Woods to your artist friends and in your creative circles. It’s because of your networks and friends that we have a collection of very cool, very interesting pieces that we think you’ll enjoy this summer at Arbor Day Farm. And we thank you even more for bringing friends and family to the Tree Adventure this summer to check them out. We thank all the artists who’ve obviously spent a lot of time, effort, and energy refining their work and getting it ready for our enjoyment, too.

If you can, please join us on Saturday, June 9, 10 am at the Tree Adventure and help us unveil Art in the Woods to our visitors and friends. We’re expecting a number of the artists to be with us that morning, so you can chat with them about their creative vision and inspiration for their works. But consider yourself warned: maybe don’t mention the epoxy.

The Family Bond, by Doug Hoevet; Gering, NE

Amy Stouffer lends a hand for all-things-communication at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, NE. Her favorite tree is the ginkgo. This piece was cross-posted on the Lied Lodge & Arbor Day Farm Blog.

Recapping the role of Lied Lodge in Omaha’s Elevate 2012

The following guest post was written by Amy Stouffer, the Nebraska City-based e-communication specialist and web content manager for Arbor Day Farm.

People enjoy locally-raised food at the to-g(R)o food station at Emerging Terrain: Elevate.

Omaha’s 36th street bridge drew an eclectic crowd on Sunday afternoon — one of artists, foodies, locavores, and people just fortunate enough to score tickets to one of Omaha’s coolest food-meets-art events, called Elevate.

The event was the brainchild of Emerging Terrain, an Omaha non-profit that, in their own words, “uses whatever we can – exhibits, installations, paintings, feasts – to get people to think about and really see our environment. At Emerging Terrain, every project starts with the same questions – what story have we written on our landscape? And what more do we want to say?”

Judging by the chef and artist collaborations on the bridge, there’s plenty more to say.

  • Burlap bags filled with mini-gardens, suspended from cables high above.
  • A tabletop skateboard-on-a-pulley-system that delivers tasty food to eager diners.
  • A 20-foot table etched with names and addresses of people displaced by the construction of Interstate 80 through Omaha in the 1950s and 1960s.

Lied Lodge’s Chef Matthew Taylor teamed up with two artists, Bob Trempe of Philadelphia and Brian Hamilton of Omaha, to bring about their food-and-art station, entitled to-g(R)o. In concept, the design centered around physical changes to a landscape over time as a space becomes forested, colonized, deforested, and otherwise changed as a society develops. In practice, the display looked like 3-D rolling hills of corrugated cardboard, with tree seedlings and cones of food tucked into the cells between sections.

(Ed. note: Chef Taylor and his team were also featured in the Omaha World-Herald’s photo gallery here).

“Our exhibit today recognizes that as people come into a space,” said Chef Taylor, “they have to make room for themselves. So as participants in this station, people need to step into the design and pick up food from the landscape, which clears a spot for them to sit and enjoy it.” Once inside the 14’ x 20’ design, diners were encouraged to sit and relax in the space while dining on three kinds of locally-raised food: chicken, bison, and pork, each paired with fresh greens and edible “dirt.”

Before moving on to the next station, diners were encouraged to take an Arbor Day Farm tree seedling from the exhibit space and plant it at home – giving them a role in changing our landscapes for the better through tree planting.

“There really couldn’t be a better fit between the artistic concept and design that Bob and Brian dreamed up for this event and the food that we serve at Lied Lodge,” Chef Matt said. “By staying local and sourcing the best of what’s in the landscape closest to us, we’re treading lightly on our environment and preserving its viability. Plus, it just plain tastes good.”

The collaborators, from left: Artist Bob Trempe of Philadelphia; Lied Lodge Chef Matthew Taylor; Artist Brian Hamilton of Omaha

to-g(R)o by the numbers:

  • 14’ x 20’ dining environment
  • 375 sheets of 40” x 80” corrugated cardboard
  • 630 individual, interlocking sections
  • 33 modules that combine to produce the form
  • 150 tree seedlings from Arbor Day Farm

to-g(R)o menu:

  • “Micro Farm Scapes” – selections of farm bounty served with edible soil and micro “pastures”:
  • “Sunny Side Ham” – TD Niche Farm Heirloom Pork, carrot-horseradish emulsion
  • “Prairie Fire” – Perfect Ten Ranch organic bison, juniper, smoke
  • “Chicken or the Egg” – Plum Creek Chicken confit, pickled egg, Woody Creek Farm Lavender aioli

What’s next:
After the event, this exhibit will go back to Emerging Terrain headquarters in Omaha for a while, with the anticipation that at some point, it will be relocated to Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City for its permanent home.

For more:

See a photo slideshow of to-g(R)o at the Emerging Terrain event.
Watch a short video of preparing food and the exhibit before the event.

This piece was cross-posted on the Lied Lodge & Arbor Day Farm Blog.

Lied Lodge & Conference Center executive chef participating in “Elevate” event in Omaha Sunday

Attendees at this Sunday’s “Elevate” event in Omaha will have the chance to sample dishes titled “Sunny Side Ham,” “Prairie Fire” and “Chicken or the Egg,” as well as edible soil, all prepared by Lied Lodge & Conference Center Executive Chef Matthew Taylor.

The location – the 36th Street bridge over I-80 – is also worth noting. The bridge overlooks a series of transformed grain elevators (pictured below), representing the event’s focus on food, transportation and design.

Elevate is sponsored by the Omaha-based research and design non-profit Emerging Terrain.

Chef Taylor is participating in a team with two designers during the Sunday event, which aims to highlight the connection between what we eat, how it gets there and the infrastructure that supports the process. Each team is constructing its own menu and station, and more than 100 people are expected to attend.

He is working with designers Bob Trempe of Philadelphia and Brian Hamilton of Omaha. Hamilton also produced one of the six pieces selected for this year’s Art in the Woods, launching Saturday, June 9 at Arbor Day Farm.

The title of the team’s contribution is “To Grow.”

A number of known quantities in the area will also be on teams. Grey Plume, Pitch and Nebraska Brewing Company are among the Omaha eateries represented at the event. Lincoln-based GUP Kitchen and Bread & Cup are also participating.

We’ll have photographs and a recap of the event early next week.

Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns tours Arbor Day Farm

United States Senator Mike Johanns of Nebraska toured Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City this morning and was keynote speaker for the American Agri-Women mid-year meeting, hosted at Lied Lodge & Conference Center.

Senator Johanns and members of his staff members toured the Tree Adventure attraction at Arbor Day Farm, the greenhouse and hazelnut growing facilities and even worked alongside crew members as they packed tree seedlings to be mailed to Arbor Day Foundation members.

As a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and the Committee on the Environment and Public Works, Johanns is well-positioned to advance legislation in support of conservation and sustainable development.

We’re glad to host the Senator. Of course, with an early apple bloom, this is an ideal time for everyone to visit Arbor Day Farm.

This weekend, visitors to Arbor Day Farm can take a closer look at the blooms on board the Discovery Ride, departing the Tree Adventure at 1pm on Saturday and Sunday. This guided tour includes a stop in the orchards and information about the apple varieties currently in blossom. The cost of the Discovery Ride is $4 for adults, $3 for children ages 3-12 and free for children 2 and under, and is separate from regular Tree Adventure admission.

You can read more about the Senator’s visit at the official blog of Lied Lodge and Arbor Day Farm.

In the photo atop, Senator Johanns discusses the Arbor Day Foundation’s hybrid hazelnut program with Doug Farrar (left), Vice President of Arbor Day Farm, and Nursery Manager Adam Howard. Below, the Senator takes a turn at packaging tree seedlings.