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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.

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.

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.