Go The Distance, Plant A Mile

Go The Distance, Plant A Mile

"Buy Fresh, Buy Local" program in central Iowa is partnering with producers and others to help low income Iowans eat more fruits and vegetables.

Greater Des Moines "Buy Fresh Buy Local", a project of the Drake University Agricultural Law Center and Iowa Heartland RC&D, joins DMARC Food Pantry Network in partnering with three sponsoring members this year to help low income Central Iowans eat more fruits and vegetables.  Rinehart Family Farm, Kitchen Collage of Des Moines, and Cultivating Compassion: The Richard Deming Foundation are providing the resources for volunteers to help grow a mile worth of vegetables that will be distributed this fall to families using food pantries. The 12 DMARC food pantries and the Food Bank of Iowa will distribute these fresh vegetables. 

Go The Distance, Plant A Mile

"Buy fresh, buy local" project rolls out "Go the distance: plant a mile" initiative

"When central Iowa's plates have more servings of fruits and vegetables that are fresh, flavorful, and locally grown, both families and farmers benefit," says Matt Russell, coordinator of the campaign and staff member at Drake's Agricultural Law Center.

The first volunteer activity was Tuesday, April 3 at Kitchen Collage. Volunteers cut 150 pounds of seed potatoes which were planted on Thursday at the Rinehart Family Farm near Boone. Volunteers were able to join in the activity between 12:00 to 5:00 PM to help cut potatoes. There was an opportunity for the press to cover the event from 4:00 to 5:00 PM at Kitchen Collage, 430 East Locust, in Des Moines. 

This is a pilot project that organizers hope to scale up in future years

Samples of potatoes prepared from a recipe families will receive with the "Go the Distance" vegetables distribution in the fall were served. Recipes for the project will focus on healthy, inexpensive, and simple dishes.

"This pilot project, which we hope to scale up in future years, will increase the amount of locally grown produce available to low income families," says Russell. "This year, we're planting a mile. Can we plant two miles next year? How about a 5k?"

For this project, Rinehart Family Farm is providing land and raising the crops during the growing season. DMARC and others are recruiting volunteers to come to the farm to plant, weed, and then harvest the vegetables. Greater Des Moines "Buy Fresh, Buy Local" with the support of sponsors will pay the farmer for land, water, and maintenance costs. Harvested food will go to the DMARC food bank and then be distributed to the individual food pantries. "We will test the efficacy of combining the commercial interests of farms and the good will of volunteers to establish an effective model for getting farm-scale, locally grown produce to area food pantries via the food bank," says Russell.

This year's crops include: a half mile of potatoes and summer squash planted by volunteers with another half mile donated by the Rinehart Family from their existing crops including beans, sweet corn, onions, and tomatoes. Information about Greater Des Moines Buy Fresh Buy Local can be found on the website: www.buyfreshdrake.org. For more information about this project, contact Matt Russell at 515-689-8219 or [email protected].
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