Black-Eyed Susan along the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail

Black-Eyed Susan along the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Time to re-enroll in Kroger rewards program

As many of you know, The Kroger Community Rewards Program donates a percentage of each gas or grocery purchase to the Friends of the Pumpkinvine when Kroger shoppers pick the Friends of the Pumpkinvine from a list of eligible organizations on the Kroger website. This year, through October 2016, the Friends of the Pumpkinvine had received $563.59 from the Kroger Rewards Program from the purchases of 34 households.

However, participants must renew their participation in the program each year, and that renewal is very easy. Once you log in to your Kroger account at, you will see a button “Re-enroll now.” Click on it and the re-enroll is done.

If you would like to enroll for the first time, follow these instructions:

·         Go online to Be sure to have your Kroger Plus card handy and register your card with your organization after you sign up. (If you do not have a Kroger Plus card, they are available at the customer service desk at any Kroger.)
·         Click on Sign In/Register in upper right hand corner
·         Click on "Register" if you don't have a Kroger account
·         Click on "Create an account" just below "Forgot your password?"
·         If you are a new online customer, click on SIGN UP TODAY in the ‘New Customer?’ box.
·         That will take you to the "Kroger Community Reward" page.
·         Click on "Enroll Now" link
·         Sign up for a Kroger Rewards Account by entering your zip code, clicking on your favorite store, entering your email address and creating a password and agreeing to the terms and conditions
·         You will then get a message to check your email inbox and click on the link within the body of the email.
·         Click on My Account and use your email address and password to proceed to the next step.
·         Click on Edit Kroger Community Rewards information and input your Kroger Plus card number.
·         Update or confirm your information.
·         Enter NPO number (40758) or Friends of the Pumpkinvine, and select Friends of the Pumpkinvine from the list and click on confirm.
·         To verify you are enrolled correctly, you will see your organization’s name on the right side of your information page.
·         Remember, purchases will not count for the Friends of the Pumpkinvine until after you register your card.
·         If you use your phone number at the cash register instead of the Plus card, call 800-576-4377 and select option 4 to get your Kroger Plus card number.
·         Members must swipe their registered Kroger Plus card or use the phone number that is related to their registered Kroger Plus card when shopping for each purchase to count.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Pumpkinvine Nature Trail is part of regional active-transportation plan

 At the Friends of the Pumpkinvine annual dinner in April, James Turnwald, the executive director of the Michiana Area Council of Governments (MACOG), outlined how the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail fits into the recent trend in transportation planning called “active transportation.”  He defined active transportation as “human-powered transportation that engages people in healthy physical activity while they travel from place to place. Additionally, active transportation is necessary to support public transit to allow for more accessibility within and among communities.”

            The forms active transportation takes – biking and walking to work, for example – are not new per se, but what is new is that planners are emphasizing them much more than they have done in the past as viable transportation options. For example, MACOG’s vision, as outlined in the document Transportation Planning 2040, states: “In 2040, the Michiana Region will boast an interconnected, safe, and accessible transportation network where all residents and visitors can travel from place to place without use of motorized vehicles. Through infrastructure, programs, and policies, walking and bicycling will become a common, enjoyable, and viable transportation and recreation choice that will lead to healthier lives, safer communities, and economically and socially vibrant region.”

That last phrase, “socially vibrant region,” is a key element of the plan. Active transportation isn’t just about saving money on gas, cleaner air and less congestion on our streets and highways. It is a means for achieving a more livable and desirable community, a place where people want to move to. The plan’s “quality of place” goal, Turnwald said, is to “create economically and socially vibrant communities, through the use of active transportation networks that attract resident to live, work and play in our region.”

            I’ve been to numerous public meeting in the past few years where speakers emphasized the fact that we are in competition with other communities to attract and keep talented young people, and the way to do that isn’t necessarily going to be with a certain type of job. More and more young people look first for an attractive place to live -- one with good schools, hospitals and one where it is easy to walk and bike -- then they look for a job in that area. Consequently, if communities want to attract and retain young people, they need to build the type of community young people want, and that includes being a place that promote walking and biking

            This emphasis on active transportation and how it helps create vibrant communities is a ringing endorsement of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail -- a prime example of active transportation that promotes the quality of life in our region. In addition, I would like to think that it bodes well for the future of the trail, because the more we understand how important a well-maintained trail is to the quality of life in our area, the more likely it is that people will support the Friends of the Pumpkinvine when our emphasis shifts from closing the gaps in the trail to trail maintenance, the least glamorous part of a trail project. -- John Yoder

Sunday, December 25, 2016

2016 Blog statistic

I notice from the statistics that Google keeps about this blog that the Friends of the Pumpkinvine have posted only 11 blogs this year, down from

Flashbacks in the Trail Talk Friends of the Pumpkinvine newsletter

Four years ago I started doing a regular feature in the Friends of the Pumpkinvine Trail Talk newsletter called "Flashbacks," in which I highlighted something in the history of the Pumpkinvine (trail or Friends) organization that was significant five, 10, 15 and 20 years ago. The purpose of this feature was to remind people of the effort it takes to produce something like the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail.  There were multiple law suits, lots of uncertainty, generous donations and times of celebration along the say. I thought that knowing some of that history might make people more patient when the see the slow progress on closing the gaps in the trail.

I enjoyed digging into the history through old newsletters and timelines. How easy it is to forget the people and critical events that brought us to today.

However, as I was thinking about flashbacks for the coming March 2017 issue, it occurred to me that there is a slight flaw in my method going forward. If I were to continue to do flashback at five-year intervals going back 20 years, then in the fifth year of that cycle, I would start repeating events from previous flashbacks. In other words, the 10-year flashback of 2017, i.e., 2007, is the same as the five -year flashback of  2012, i.e., 2007, and so on.

Since I started the flashbacks four years ago, I have one more year to do them before I start repeating the events, but the writing is on the wall, as they say.   I will need to find another method for giving people a sense of trail history or decide that it isn't important to know that much history.

Monday, November 14, 2016

A 80-mile birthday walk ends on the Pumpkinvine

A 80-mile birthday walk ends on the Pumpkinvine
By B. Harry Dyck
An 80th birthday is something special. Considering the longevity of US males is only 76.61 years, I am quite happy to be on the plus side of that rather sobering statistic. One regular activity that has surely contributed to my longevity is walking, an exercise I have now followed for at least a decade. Wanting to do something unique for this 80th birthday, I decided an 80-mile walk would serve that purpose memorably, and I intended to do the 80 miles in eight days. To add a little variant, I started looking for coins, since my daughter and I had been competing for years in this fun challenge.
My first day’s walk was a 12-mile loop with a celebratory stop for a coffee and bagel at Panera Bread, two miles from home. Day two took me on another loop – in the opposite direction -- an 11-miler to our former home in Elkhart where, as luck would have it, I found some friends and neighbors at home willing to socialize over coffee and cookies (That surely adds to longevity too, not so?)  Day 3 Eric, my son-in-law dropped me off in Nappanee from where I would walk home. Alas, the break for coffee and a refill of water that I had intended in Wakarusa was not to be since their shops on my route were all closed on Sundays. Too bad since I was already low on water. What to do? Keep on walking, that’s what - down CR 3 until I heard a human voice coming from the open window of a nearby farm house. In response to my call and request for water a friendly voice invited me to ‘Come on up.”  I was promptly supplied with my water needs but with the happy discussion following about commemorating my upcoming 80th birthday, this kind lady acknowledged that she had had a birthday just the day before. I doubt that she had half as many birthdays as I, but, ‘Joy’  -   on with my walk.  By the time I had covered 10 miles, rain threatened but thanks to cell phones, my chauffeur son-in-law arrived to rescue me moments before the clouds opened.
My Days 4 and 5 were noteworthy for the delightful repast I enjoyed with Jim Smith, Goshen, and a brand-new golf ball I found off the sidewalk in Bristol. By Day 6, I had already walked 64 miles and nothing to rue the undertaking yet except for one blister under my big toe, nothing that a bandage and an extra sock could not remedy.
And then I was on to the last 18 miles of my Birthday walk - from Shipshewana, down our renowned Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, through Middlebury, and on to my goal - The Chief Ice Cream Shop in Goshen where a dozen of my finest friends joined me to celebrate the venture I had undertaken. As for the accumulation of valuables I sought:  I found 32 cents, that aforementioned golf ball, and enough hardware to go into business selling used nuts and bolts.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Seniors are generous contributors to the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail

Last fall the Friends of the Pumpkinvine recently sent out a fundraising appeal to close the gap in the Pumpkinvine between CR 33 and CR 20. As responses to that appeal came, I was struck by the unselfish generosity of seniors toward a project that will benefit others much more than themselves.

Later I met one of those senior donors at a social event and thanked him for his $1,000 contribution. He’s over 90 years old and not able to ride his bike anymore, but he immediately said in response that he gave to the Friends of the Pumpkinvine so that future generations could enjoy the trail.

This generosity of these trail supporters who give so that future generations can enjoy a greenway that links three towns reminds me of the response of seniors to our 1993 appeal to buy the Pumpkinvine corridor. We promised donors then that anyone who contributed $500 toward the purchase of the Pumpkinvine corridor would receive recognition at Abshire Park. Sixty seven households, individuals and organizations took the challenge, and their names are indeed on the sign in the plaza in Abshire Park. I know that at least 13 of those people have died and did not see or use the Pumpkinvine in any significant way. They were motivated by intergenerational thinking. 

I look at that plaque occasionally, and quietly thank those who showed their support for a project that many in the community said would be an unqualified disaster – unsafe, a magnet for crime and full of litter. Those same opponents also claimed we didn’t own the land. Yet these 67 people gave anyway. Disregarding the naysayers, they made a down payment on a potential greenway, and because of their willingness to take a chance that it would be successful, we have a greenway that is a community treasure.  

Friday, July 29, 2016

Great week

Early May:  It has been quite a week for trails in Elkhart County. The city of Elkhart announced plans to connect the downtown to the MapleHeart Trail and the Google Trekker came to town to take photos of Goshen's trail, including the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail.