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Leave a big, steaming pile (nicely bagged) on your curb

Wanna avoid the threat of setting your neighborhood on fire or being fined for illegal burning? Compost those leaves, lawn owners! Not only is it the most responsible move ecologically ... it's about the simplest (legal) option. Through Dec. 2, the Indianapolis Department of Public Works will be collecting bagged leaves in Marion County. They'll pick up 40 bags per household per week at no charge, and they'll even give you the compost to use in your yard next year if you head over to South Side Landfill. Also note: Keeping storm water drains clear of leaves (and other waste) helps our combined overflow systems contain their loads and protect the local watershed.

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You've come a long way, baby

As the percentage of Indiana's 18-44-year-old smokers drops over the years, infant health advocates note a coinciding dip in the state's pre-term births, now at 11.9 percent, down from 12.4 a year earlier. The March of Dimes applauded the continual declines in both rates despite Indiana's preterm birthrate exceeding the organization's best-practices target of 9.6 percent. While several factors contribute to preterm birth, " ... smoking is linked to premature birth and low birth weight," March of Dimes Indiana State Director Tanya Hand said in news release celebrating the state's progress. Indiana's performance on the MOD report card is in line with the national average premature birth rate of 12.2 percent. Both Indiana and the U.S. earned a grade of "C." Both samples also had upticks in uninsured women, not a positive indicator for the health of pregnant women.

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Greens for the Greater Good

Here's to the inaugural harvest of Indy Urban Acres, the city's burgeoning urban garden project! Farm manager Tyler Gough reports the half acre of plantings, which ranged from cucumbers to collard greens, yielded about 2,000 pounds of harvest — all exclusively shipped to Gleaners Food Bank for distribution to hunger relief agencies in 21 counties. All this despite a late start, with seedlings hitting the freshly tilled dirt in July — just in time for 26 rain-free, high-heat days. Urban Acres plans to expand its operation across more of its eight-acre site on a former gravel pit on the east side near Interstates 465 and 70 and will need more volunteer involvement, Gough said. In addition to expanding field plantings, the farm plans to add hoop houses and greenhouses to expand fresh produce options year-round.

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