What does Grow: Johnson County do, exactly?
Grow: Johnson County is a hunger-relief and educational farm initiative of Iowa Valley RC&D focused on reducing food insecurity and empowering a new wave of local growers. We are currently utilizing three acres of land located at the Johnson County Poor Farm in Iowa City, IA, where we grow organic fruits and vegetables that are donated to local hunger-relief agencies and provide hands-on gardening and farming experience for community members of all ages and backgrounds.
Why does Grow: Johnson County do what they do?
At Grow: Johnson County, we believe access to food--particularly, good food--is a human right. In Johnson County, there is an estimated 18,640 people who lack adequate access to food. The county is home to several amazing social service agencies that are actively fighting hunger. We strive to make sure their shelves and coolers are always filled with high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables, so that our neighbors in need can access foods that will sustain and nourish them.
How did Grow: Johnson County get started?
In 2015, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors asked the community to submit proposals for food-related projects that could potentially take place at the County Poor Farm. As a response, leaders from the local food system joined forces to piece together the vision for Grow: Johnson County and present it to the county. The Board of Supervisors expressed unanimous support for the project and offered Grow: Johnson County a five-year lease on two acres of land, to start. The county generously offered some seed money (pun intended), as well as access to water to ensure that GJC would get off the ground running. Much of 2015 was spent securing additional funds, building partnerships, and investing in the soil quality of the two-acre allotment--GJC leaders planted and maintained a cover crop designed to provide additional nutrients and improve the overall health of the soil. (Update: success!)
What are Grow: Johnson County's goals for 2018?
In 2018, we aim to increase the quantity, quality, and variety of the fruits and vegetables produced on the farm, using well-researched production methods. Additionally, we will extend the duration of our growing season through the addition of a high tunnel hoop house, providing our most vulnerable neighbors with access to good food for an even longer period.
2018 Program Goals
- Produce 40,000 pounds and 30 varieties of organic fruits and vegetables.
- Donate produce to 15 local food assistance programs consistently over 8 months.
- Engage 500 community members of all ages and abilities through on-farm educational activities.
- Provide gardening outreach to 2,000 individuals within local schools & correctional sites.
- Equip 4 aspiring farmers with experience, skills, and connections needed to launch a farming venture.
Who is Grow: Johnson County?
All of us. You + Me + Everyone. We are all in this together!
But if you want to know more about the hooligans behind the idea, here's our team.