Some 120 raised-bed gardens will be established in six low-income neighborhoods in Des Moines, Iowa, as part of the Des Moines Community Food Project. The organization behind this project, which will be funded by a US Department of Agriculture grant, is Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI).
The project in Des Moines marks a major step for PFI. The organization began its community food systems work as “Field to Family,” with help in 1997 from a W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant through the Food Systems Professions Education (FSPE) initiative’s Vision 2020 Project. That FSPE grant ended in 2001.
Field to Family grew into the Community Food Systems Project, continuing with the goal of developing a comprehensive approach to local food, farm hunger and nutritional issues. Most of its food systems projects, such as establishing the Magic Beanstalk Community Supported Agriculture and a local farmers’ market, took place in Ames, Iowa. “The Des Moines project marks an extension of our work by expanding to a larger metropolitan area and taking on new partners,” says Gary Huber, PFI’s Food Systems Program director.
In addition to establishing the 120 community gardens, Huber says the Des Moines project will create an edible landscape/orchard at a central institution such as a school, provide open-pollinated heirloom seed to local gardeners so they can grow their own seed and assist two area gardeners in developing business plans to develop their produce businesses.
For more information about Practical Farmers of Iowa and the organization’s Community Food Systems Project, visit its Web site at www.pfi.iastate.edu.