Graceland University Sustainability and the Lamoni Food Pantry have teamed up to spearhead the Lamoni Raised Bed Community Garden Project featuring community gardens in downtown Lamoni. Members of both organizations, including Graceland Sustainability coordinator, Jennifer Abraham-White, formed the Lamoni Food Coalition, and the team surveyed enthusiasm in a community gardening project. When the team determined an acceptable level of interest, they received permission from the city for garden locations and began applying for grants.
Graceland University Sustainability is dedicated to the creation of a local food system that will infuse the community with fresh, nutritious and affordable food options. With an alternative food system that provides fresh produce to the community, members will make Lamoni more resilient in the face of rising food costs.
The mission of the Lamoni Food Pantry is to share in a tangible manner God’s love by providing basic foods, goods and services to neighbors in the community. The community garden project is for everyone, but it especially helps those in need.
The coalition successfully received funding from four sources: Hy-Vee One Step grant donated $1,000, South Central Iowa Community Foundation contributed $5,200, a Prairie Meadows Community Betterment Grant of $3,740 was obtained, and Lamoni club “As You Like It” will help with soil costs. The funds have been used to purchase raised bed kits, soil, tools, trellis frameworks, seeds/transplants, nonsynthetic fertilizers and pesticides, signage, and to provide general maintenance. A total of 12 beds will be constructed.
“We wanted to increase the amount of healthy food grown in Decatur County and to educate community members on how to maintain a garden bed to successfully grow their own food,” Abraham-White said. “We also want to bring people together with varied backgrounds into a vibrant downtown community.”
Each bed is rented annually. Project members complete an application and gardeners must live within the Lamoni city limits. Chemical fertilizers and most pesticides are prohibited, and only grow edible plants like onions, peppers, lettuce, spinach, radishes, carrots and herbs are permitted. All 12 beds have already been rented for the season.
One of the last guidelines is that participants will work to keep the garden a happy, secure and enjoyable place where all participants can garden and socialize peacefully in a neighborly manner. “Sure, the project is about growing food – and growing it right,” Abraham-White said. “But it’s also about developing a sense of community. Our gardeners and volunteers certainly observe that objective.”
Originally written for the Lamoni Chronicle by Gary Rees