River Bend has ‘Block Rocked’ by local Do-gooders.

On April 30th 6th Avenue Corridor partnered with Habitat for Humanity and the River Bend Neighborhood Association for a ‘Rock the Block’ celebration and clean up. The focus of the day was to landscape Anawim Housing sites. Learn about Anawim at www.anawimhousing.org.  Anawim Housing owns several properties on 6th Avenue and provides them as affordable housing to local residents.

The Anawim team received design assistance from 6th Avenue Corridor Graduate Intern Jarod Farn-Guillette to help make the properties beautiful. Farn-Guillette is an Iowa State University Landscape Architect graduate student.  He provided renderings of designs that are low-maintenance and improve the appearance of the properties.

The landscape design for the apartment buildings on 6th avenue included a layering of Russian sage and Karl Forester ornamental grasses, and Korean Boxwood and forsythia to border the façade. An array of lilies, hostas, and other perennials cascade from the porches of the Anawim houses.

Dowling Students

I had the pleasure of working with 32 Dowling National Honor Students.  With planting plans and materials in hand, the group showed great leadership and attention to detail for the plantings.  They hauled plant materials back and forth over several blocks on 6th Avenue.  I was impressed with their diligence!  They were clearly enjoying themselves.  Several times the group broke out in song! Impressive on a hot day!

In all we landscaped 12 properties.  Not bad for a day’s work!

While cleaning up I had a chance to talk more with some of the neighbors about 6th Avenue Corridor and the vision and goals for commercially revitalizing the district. Everyone was excited and I was able to get some meaningful insight on what 6th Avenue means to the residents and more about their vision of the revitalization.  As an added bonus, by the end of our conversation they were planting and cleaning along with me!

Lunch was an extra special treat by Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC.)  You must try my favorite of entre’ the day: Mexican Stuffed Peppers.

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

5 peppers

5 tomatoes or 1 can diced tomatoes

1 can black beans, rinsed

1 carrot, diced or 1 can carrots, rinsed

½ onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup dry brown rice

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

(Add 1 tsp cumin)

Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In one pot, pour in the ½ cup of rice and 1 ¼ cup of water.  Cover it and place it on high heat until it starts to boil.   Then lower to simmer and cook for 20-45 minutes, according to package directions.

In another pot, pour in the diced tomatoes, onions, beans, carrots, and garlic.  Heat it on medium heat.

After the tomatoes and bean mixture has been cooking for 10 minutes or so, turn off the heat.  Add the cayenne pepper, cumin, salt, and pepper to your liking.

Wash the peppers and with a knife, cut a circle around the stem.  Remove the stem and all the seeds.

Now begin layering inside your peppers.  Start with tomato and bean mixture.  Put 2 TB in the bottom of each pepper.  Add 2 TB of rice.  Layer until the pepper is full.  Top with Monterey jack cheese.

Place in the oven and cook for 45-69 minutes.

Check out photos of this wonderful event at www.6thavedsm.org, and give the peppers a try!

— Alecia Kates

Alecia enjoys the May 3rd Rock the Block along 6th Avenue