Thousands of food-insecure residents in Johnson County will benefit from a new greenhouse. 

By September 4, 2019 No Comments

Iowa Valley RC&D is proud to announce that it will be installing a 30 ft by 96 ft greenhouse for its Grow: Johnson County program which provides fresh produce to 13 hunger relief agencies. The program requires greenhouse space to produce fruit and vegetable transplants to be used in its production fields.

“Since we are farming in Iowa, where cold weather can extend into late April, it’s important to start our plants inside where they can grow in a protected environment,” says Jake Kundert, Food Systems Director and Grow: Johnson County Program Lead. “If you put a seed in the ground, that seed has to compete with all the other weed seeds growing at the same time. But if you put a transplant in the ground, it has a head start.”


The greenhouse will be located adjacent to Grow’s current production area at the Johnson County Historic Poor Farm in Iowa City. Over 80% of the program’s food production area is dedicated to crops that need to be started in a greenhouse. In 2019 alone, this amounted to 74,000 transplants.


Since the program began, Grow has met the need for transplants by coordinating off-site greenhouse space, most recently through a generous partnership with Kirkwood Community College. With this greenhouse, Grow will be able to produce the 70,000+ transplants on-site and provide an added educational opportunity in greenhouse management.

Installation of a double-walled, gothic-style, high tunnel greenhouse will begin this fall and will be complete and in-use by the start of the 2020 production season.

This significant infrastructural addition is made possible by funds from The Wellmark Foundation’s multi-state grant program along with community and local government support through the Iowa City Farm to Street Dinner.

Iowa Valley RC&D is a nonprofit based in Amana, Iowa that works to grow local economies, strengthen food systems, foster protection and enhancement of natural resources, and develop awareness for the arts, history, and culture. They facilitate partner collaboration, solve problems at a system level, and leverage resources to get more done.

Grow: Johnson County, a program of Iowa Valley RC&D, is a 5-acre hunger-relief and educational farm initiative to improve healthy food access through charitable food production and hands-on education.

Contact: Jake Kundert

Food Systems Director

Iowa Valley RC&D