Though it has pastures, cornfields, and livestock, Bloomsbury Farm isn't your average farm—in fact, it's an agritourism destination. The farm boasts more than 20 attractions, including a 10-acre corn maze and a giant jumping pillow popular with kids and flightless birds alike. For the more adventurous, a newly installed zipline speeds people across the farm at a height of 40–50 feet, offering bird's-eye views of the land below. Throughout the year, special events celebrate the seasons with wine tastings, concerts, and breakfasts with Santa.
Sponges and brushes glide across unfinished works of art beneath shelves brimming with more than 150 forms and 60 glazes at The Potters’ Obsession. Visitors thumb through inspiration books and wield stencils to color and paint mugs, bowls, and Gumby when he is going into witness protection. In the art-dappled space, warmth bleeds from a kiln, where the staff completes pieces and locks glazes into a sleek finish. The Potters’ Obsession also hosts special events, birthday parties, and painting packages to help Girl Scouts and Brownies to earn art badges.
Named Best Florist by CityVoters, Pierson’s is a family-owned-and-operated flower shop boasting a cornucopia of blooms to complement tabletops, occasions, and sentiments of every sort. Celebrate a birthday in the company of a vibrant Teleflora fresh blossom potpourri ($29.99), or help a friend get well soon by gifting a daisy day dreams basket ($29.99) in place of a grab-bag of cybernetic implants. Season-savvy sniffers can sort through a large selection of autumnal options, including the fall for daisies arrangement, which serves up red and yellow daisies in a clear glass vase ($27.95), and the sugar maples arrangement, which flaunts nearly every warm, rustic tone of fall ($29.99) but never takes a chilly tone of voice.
Trees Forever works with volunteers in local communities to care for trees, native plants, and prairies. Together, they have organized more than 4,000 projects to plant more than 2.8 million trees and shrubs across Iowa and Illinois. The tree plantings, which take place in both rural and urban areas, help improve water and air quality, increase energy conservation, and help restore and beautify the natural environment. The organization’s urban farms, trail enhancement, and disaster-recovery efforts also connect locals to nature and serve as a resource for food and recreation. Another focus of Trees Forever is engaging the public in environmental stewardship. It produces educational materials for this purpose, such as the Spirit of the Trees documentary series, which examines Native Americans’ relationship with trees and forests.
After the Cedar Rapids Parade of Homes honored Jason Buresh's well-groomed yard with its Curb Appeal award, Buresh decided to capitalize on his landscaping talent. In January of 2000, he established Artistic Landscaping and Lawn Care. Although Buresh earned a formal degree in applied science and agricultural marketing from Kirkwood Community College, his lawn-care education actually started in childhood, when he honed his knowledge of plants and landscape design on his family’s farm. Today, Artistic Landscaping and Lawn Care creates lush, green lawns with aeration, dethatching, fertilizing, seeding, and mowing services. The company also installs greenery and retaining walls to beautify yards or keep out roving bands of lawn flamingos.
Iowa City Fencing Center founder Judy O'Donnell has speared more than 30 years of experience in the Olympic sport of fencing. She has represented the United States numerous times on an international stage, and has taught beginners and global competitors alike.
In 2010, Judy opened ICFC to share with the community her lifetime's worth of dueling wisdom, offering instruction in all three styles of fencing: foil, epee, and saber. Her encouraging commands bounce off the walls of two large training rooms, where groups meet to practice blade work and churn out meticulously carved pumpkins. Classes at ICFC are available to students starting at the age of 5, and private lessons provide the opportunity to train with Judy one-on-one.