Although Iowa is an agricultural state, most of today's kids are not from a farm. Most have never even helped with a garden. Part of the mission for the Iowa Gardening for Good is to help educate children about how food is grown. While we are not focused exclusively on youth, we do welcome kids of all ages as long as they come with adequate supervison. We have had families, church groups, Parks and Rec day camp groups, corporate volunteers, college students and service fraternities. Below is a series of pictures with explanations to give a better idea of what kids might expect. Also, go to the kids page to see other opportunites that parents/leaders may want to consider when they come such as fishing, bon fire, animal petting and more.
Learning how to plant
These volunteers are holding up row markers and seed for the planting they did that day. They are holding up kohlrabi seed.
Team work for problem solving
These middle school-aged kids were told to plant rows 4 feet apart and plant the rows straight enough so the the area between rows would permit use of a rototiller.
Learning how to transplant
This volunteer is transplanting pepper plants. Most of the items planted on this farm are planted into plastic mulch that has a dripline for irrigation underneath.
Putting up a fence for support
Volunteers below are putting up a woven wire fence that is used to support tomatoes. The tomato plants are tied to the fence with twine as they grow.
Harvesting is like a treasure hunt
For many of the younger volunteers, the new experience of finding vegetables to pick is exciting. The bigger and more unique the find, the more exciting it is. .
Planting a fall garden
These volunteers are planting carrots, radishes and turnips for a fall garden. Many people only think about spring planting, but harvest can occur through October in Iowa.
The power of an army
Although some groups only come for a few hours, many volunteers for a few hours can do a lot. These volunteers are planting a fall garden.
Team work for families
The three volunteers in red (mother and two daughters) are working together planting sweet potatoes. The youngest on the right is poking holes in the plastic, the middle person is separating the transplants, and the Mom is firming the soil around the transplants.
Enjoying the picking
For many of the kids, the actual picking of the vegetables is a fun and new discovery.
Learning where food comes from
Not many kids have ever thought about where their stringbeans come from. They actually are produced from a plant, not a can or freezer bag.
Harvesting tomatoes needs TLC
These young volunteers are picking cherry tomatoes. They learned the importance of carefully placing the tomatoes into the crate as opposed to just dropping or tossing them. .
Harvest and weeding
Although we try to reduce the need to weed by using plastic mulch, there are weeds that need to be pulled at times. This volunteer was pulling weeds while picking peppers.
Harvesting the produce
These volunteers are carrying a crate of zuchinni. They learned that picking the veggies is just part of the work.
Harvesting the produce
These volunteers are picking produce. As they pick enought to fill a crate, they get another one. For many of the vegetables, picking can be a fun family activity.
These volunteers are moving crates to areas where picking is going on.
Weighing the harvest
Aftering picking the vegetables, we weigh each crate for our own records, but also to let everyone know how much they picked.
This project provides a nice outdoor activity that lets youth groups do a service project that also exposes the kids to how food is grown.
Carrying out the harvest
Most of the harvested vegetables are loaded into plastic crates for the food bank. Some of the crates can weigh over 50 lbs. It is interesting to note that younger kids tend to naturally team up to carry where as adults tend to struggle themselves or defer the task to others..
Measuring the success
For most groups, we weigh the produce they picked so they know just how much they picked. Many times, the volunteers like to have a picture of their accomplishement.