Several caring people and organizations have come together to create a gardening project at the Johnson County Poor Farm to help feed those in need.
Even if you don’t garden, you can help.
The project is in the running for a grant program and voting is already underway.
Find more information on the group’s Facebook page and see details from Grow: Johnson County on how you can help:
IOWA CITY – A new hunger-relief farm project called Grow: Johnson County has entered the Seeds of Change Grant Program for an opportunity to win up to $20,000 and is asking the community to get out and vote for their application. The grants will be awarded to organizations that help support sustainable, community-based gardening and farming programs that focus on teaching people about the food they eat and how it’s grown.
Grow: Johnson County (GJC) is a collaborative project that was recently awarded two-acres of farm land located at the historic Johnson County Poor Farm. The project will use the farm land to grow organic fruits and vegetables to benefit individuals and families in need.
“Our goal is to put good food in the hands of people who are unable to access it,” says John Boller, Executive Director of the Coralville Ecumenical Food Pantry and a GJC representative. “Unfortunately, for the 18,000 Johnson County residents that are food insecure, buying fresh fruits and vegetables at the store or at the farmer’s market just isn’t an option.”
Similarly, Boller notes, for agencies or programs serving those in need, limited budgets make it difficult to provide healthy foods like fresh produce for its clients.
“This is a true collaborative effort which will benefit so many agencies in Johnson County by providing fresh vegetables for their programs,” says Bob Andrlik, Executive Director of food rescue organization Table to Table and a GJC representative. “Table to Table is very excited to be embarking on the Grow: Johnson County project.” Starting in 2016, the project aims to grow 20,000 to 30,000 pounds of organic produce, all to be donated. Table to Table plans to collect and distribute the food to various food pantries, homeless shelters, and meal programs that serve residents of Johnson County.
The GJC project will also include an educational component, providing hands-on learning opportunities for the entire community. “Gardens heal people,” says Scott Koepke, an organic gardening educator and founder of New Pioneer Co-Op’s Soilmates program, who has helped shape the vision for the GJC project. “Give a person food, and they’ll have food for a meal. Teach them to garden, and they can have food for a lifetime,” he says. “I’m just honored to be able to have a small role in realizing this vital vision, especially when the need is greater than ever.”
From now through April 27, community members can vote up to once a day for the Grow: Johnson County project by visiting GJC’s Facebook page. After voting closes on April 27, the top 50 organizations with the most votes will move on to the final judging phase. Around May 5, Seeds of Change will announce the 34 grant recipients.
About Grow: Johnson County
Grow: Johnson County is a collaborative food production and food education project created by leaders from various nonprofit organizations in Johnson County, Iowa. The Johnson County Board of Supervisors recently awarded the project with two acres of land at the historic Johnson County Poor Farm. The project will spend this year restoring the soil and building community partnerships, in order to prepare for full-scale food production in 2016. More information can be found at www.facebook.com/growjoco.