Iowa Gardening for Good is a501(c)(3) created by the Blackmer family that focuses on involving people in growing things of value for a good cause.
Our home and "gardening" location is near Madrid, Iowa which is roughly half way between Ames and Des Moines. We live on a hobby farm of about 20 acres. Our property is not a commercial ag production facility. Although the location is a farmstead that previously engaged in raising hogs and growing corn, soybeans and hay, the Blackmers are not engaged in any commercial ag production at their location.
Tracy has a Ph.D. in agronomy with a background working in agricultural and water quality research. Doreen was raised on a farm near Decorah, Iowa and has a M.S. degree in animal science and is a registered dietitian. Since they both have an agricultural background, Tracy and Doreen wanted to find a way to utilize their large acreage in a positive manner that promoted ag production and involved others who wanted to learn about growing ag products. In, 2016, Tracy quit his full time job to dedicate more time to develop this non-profit.
The Blackmer family has lived on this acreage for over 15 years and in this time has organized a number of projects striving to involve more people in agricultural production and trying to link them to various types of service projects. Some of these former and on-going projects can be seen under the "Projects" link above.
Currently, our largest project involves producing vegetables that are distributed through local food pantries and other partner agencies. We use our land and donate use of our equipment to grow vegetables and Tracy offers his gardening knowledge to supervise the project. The primary labor source we use is volunteers that are scheduled throughout the growing season. We are deeply appreciative for all the help we have received in making our ideas and projects a reality and for friendships that have been made through Iowa Gardening for Good projects.
Our Mission and Goals
To provide agricultural expertise and logistical support to increase local food production and supply local needs/charitable purposes by involving youth and other community volunteers.
1. Secure resources to support a garden of 8 acres of irrigated vegetable production. This base will enable:
a. Producing food for food banks/pantries and other charitable outlets.
b. Developing educational resources for web access and support materials.
c. Provide the environment for hands-on training for youth and other volunteers on how to grow/pick produce.
2. Develop plans and kits for local community gardens to greater expand local production. These kits could provide the resources for outlets like churches or activity clubs to obtain some base plans and materials to establish their own local garden.
3. Develop a website and planning manual to deliver gardening, food preparation, and other logistical information.
4. Set up a logistical infrastructure to get greater community involvement for the 8 acre base garden.
5. Work with schools and other programs to involve youth to learn about how food is grown.