This year, Johnson County had a 40% increase in food insecurity due to COVID-19. It was a year with a global pandemic, a drought, and a derecho. Despite these challenges, the Grow: Johnson County program grew, harvested, and distributed more than 29,000 pounds of organic produce to improve healthy food access in our community.
“We had unique challenges this year, but I can say that out of the five years I’ve been on the farm that 2020 was the most inspiring and productive season I’ve experienced here,” says Grow Program Manager Jake Kundert, “We’ve hit our stride with production practices and benefited from a truly dedicated team of volunteers.”
November 6th was the season’s last distribution with partner Table to Table and included pumpkins, winter squash, carrots, and potatoes–all Thanksgiving favorites. In the next two weeks, the team will weatherize equipment for winter months and begin creating the crop plan for 2021.
This season was the first to benefit from a Wellmark Foundation-funded greenhouse. The Grow program also had generous local support from the Johnson County Board of Supervisors, MidAmerican Energy Foundation, GreenState Credit Union, Pyramid Services, Kalona Organics, General Mills Foundation, Iowa City Climate Action, and UNFI Foundation.
Grow: Johnson County is a hunger-relief and educational farm program of Iowa Valley RC&D It started in 2015 and serves 13 area hunger relief agencies. Grow’s mission is to improve healthy food access through charitable food production and hands-on education. The farm serves as an outdoor classroom to educate future growers on sustainable agriculture practices. Since 2015, the program has produced and distributed over 100,000 pounds of fresh, organic produce.