Our mission is to promote community, conservation, and creativity through the teaching of traditional arts and crafts, and practical life and outdoor skills.
Turkeyfoot Folk School endeavors to bring people together to share experiences and to have fun. By participating in one of our events or workshops, our hope is that you will walk away with a new skill or ability, or are inspired to craft and create, and that your respect for the natural world that sustains all of us is rooted or continues to grow.
Why the name Turkeyfoot? Turkeyfoot prairie grass, or big bluestem, is a tall prairie grass native to Iowa that has three long finger-like seed heads that are said to look like a turkey's foot. What you see above the ground is only one-third of the grass (which can reach heights of six to eight feet above ground). The rest is an incredibly deep root system under ground. This extensive root system helps turkeyfoot grass to grow back quickly after a prairie fire. Historically, much of Iowa was made up of tall-grass prairie -- a bridge of sorts between the forests of the east and high plains of the west. Now, only one tenth of one percent of Iowa's prairies remain.
A healthy prairie is one of the most complex yet balanced ecosystems on earth, providing for the plants and animals that call the habitat home. The perennial grasses like turkeyfoot are native to the prairie and the roots grow deep, crowd out weeds, hold water, improve the soil and water quality, and contribute to the innate beauty of the land. Before humans set foot on the prairies of Iowa, lightning, wind, and grazing managed the prairie. These days, we manage the prairie using controlled burns. These fires are used to eliminate invasive weeds not native to the prairie that choke out healthy grasses and flowering perennials. In the process, prairie fires act as a catalyst for seeds to come to life, germinate, and grow. The variety and lushness of new growth resulting from a prairie burn is often exponentially greater than the previous year. Only native perennials, like turkeyfoot, or big bluestem, that have been the basis for a healthy Iowa prairie for eons will survive the prairie fire.
Like the prairie, we are all part of a greater, complex system that in modern times can be disconnected from nature and our heritage. Turkeyfoot Folk School has been created to help burn away that which might deter us from coming together. As a community with strong roots, we can only continue to grow.