FFA Students, Land O’Lakes Spearhead Community Hunger Effort
The Land O’Lakes Foundation and the Roland-Story FFA chapter are partnering to address food insecurity in Story City through community gardening. For FFA students, the partnership provides an excellent opportunity for service learning and to engage with more members of their community.
Under the guidance of Advisor Brad Taylor, twenty-two FFA students manage 1.5 acres of sweet corn and 4,000 square feet of potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, onions, kale, beans and peas. So far this year, over 1500 pounds of fresh produce were donated to Loaves and Fishes, the local food pantry.
The garden would not have been possible without the support of many corporate and community partners. The Land O’Lakes Foundation provided $1,200 and a “tool-kit” of gardening information to help the FFA chapter launch the garden. The local Land O’Lakes WinField Answer Plot donated the land for the garden, and WinField employees are available to provide technical support when needed.
Additional partners include:
- Key Co-Op, which provides fertilizers and chemicals if needed;
- Story City, which delivers water to the garden with their tanker truck;
- The Story City Herald, a local newspaper that provides publicity, and;
- Several adults from the community who help with harvesting.
The Land O’Lakes Foundation currently supports twenty-one FFA chapters in the Midwest to manage gardens near Winfield Answer Plots, including Iowa FFA chapters in Creston, Gilbert, and Roland-Story. More information about the program is available on the Land O’Lakes website.
Based on their experience, Roland-Story FFA Advisor Brad Taylor has the following advice:
For FFA Chapters looking to start a project:
- FFA Chapters should contact a WinField representative about becoming involved with their project.
- After contact is made with WinField, the chapter should approach their local food pantry to find out whether they will support the effort and when is the best time to deliver or hand out produce.
- Start small and be sure to have enough workers to manage the garden.
- Till to control weeds early. Roland-Story FFA tilled the garden every day for the first month to eliminate weed problems (it took about 10 minutes to till the entire garden).
- When planting, space rows far enough apart to make it easier to control weeds.
- Publicize the activities using local newspapers and social media.
For Food Pantries looking to start a project:
- Talk to the local FFA chapter to see if there is a mutual interest. FFA chapters will need to know approximately how many families the pantry serves every week.
- Have ideas about what produce your clients prefer, and recognize that some produce should be distributed with recipes so that families will know how to prepare it.