Summary of 2021
In 2021, over 700 volunteers were involved and helped throughout the season. Over 240,000 lbs of produce was distributed to over 50 different food pantries. The main crops grown were Watermelon, cucumbers, zucchini, muskmelon, acorn squash, butternut squash, green peppers and to a limited amount, carrots and cabbage. We also started an asparagus bed and 42 apple trees for harvesting in the future.
In addition we planted some cereal rye as a cover crop for several acres to try and help control some weeds and keep the melons and squash clean. It help some on the weeds. It kept the squash and melons clean. But the rodents were a major problem. They ate many of the watermelon plants and chewed the drip tape. The end result was we had to mend the irrigation lines each time we watered.
Covid concerns kept away most of the corporate groups. We had multiple church groups and scout groups help. The largest group was the North Polk 6th graders that came both at planting time and fall harvest. But the most significant pool was the groups of families that came out repeatedly that made the season a success.
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.