We were able to install a greenhouse which allows us to start our own seeds and lengthen our growing season. We were also able to host a 7-week garden and cooking class for 5 local youth groups which brought low-income children to the Food Bank for classes. The classes involved harvesting crops from the garden to be taken into our onsite kitchen where we would prepare a meal or snack together. The kids were then able to take produce home to share the recipe with their families.
What challenges did or does your project face?
Northern Iowa was under a major drought for about 2 months. This greatly impacted our total production, but we are still on track to harvest over 3,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables this season.
How are you working to overcome them?
We are looking into a better irrigation system in order to mitigate any future drought conditions we may face. This will most likely include drip lines and more connection hoses to cover more beds.
What did you or your project learn this season that might be useful to others as well?
The kid's relationship with produce and trying new things greatly opened up when they were in control of what they harvested and cooked with. One week we tried garden pizza - we opened the gates to the garden and told the kids that they could put whatever they wanted on their pizzas (as long as it was edible). They chose beets, kale, nasturtium flowers and leaves, collard greens, purslane, tomatoes, and dandelion blossoms. This arguably our most successful week - the kids were very proud of their creations and said it was the best pizza they had ever had.