Honduran Farmer Shares his Story with Iowa Partners
As a Christian response to world hunger, Foods Resource Bank (FRB) links the grassroots energy and commitment of the U.S. agricultural community with the capability and desire of small farmers in developing countries to grow lasting solutions to hunger. FRB engages volunteers to raise money through "Growing Projects" for between 50-60 overseas programs a year.
Last weekend, almost 60 representatives of Growing Projects across Iowa and the Midwest gathered at Zion United Church of Christ in Waukon to learn from one of the Honduran farmers who has benefited from their efforts. After receiving training from a local FRB partner in Honduras, Melecio Cantoral now grows 29 different crops on his 4 acre farm. This diversity enabled his family to survive crippling weather extremes last year and to share his harvest with his neighbors. FRB staff and volunteers emphasize the importance of sharing the stories of farmers in Iowa and around the world to build community and solidarity as they confront hunger. In addition to his presentations, Melecio shared his story in the Sunday Des Moines Register.
For more information about FRB, please contact Ms. Joan Fumetti at email@example.com or 515-421-5545.
Growing Dome Project Supports Year-Round Gardening and Vocational Training
Lush beds of salad greens are a welcome sight on a cold February afternoon at the Central Iowa Shelter and Services (CISS) Growing Dome. The Growing Dome project provides vocational training to people living at risk of homelessness and helps Central Iowa Shelter and Services get a head start on its summer gardens.
The physical structure is a 33 foot diameter dome structure which came in a box and took about a day to set up. The dome design allows it to maintain favorable temperatures without heaters or access to electricity and a large water tank absorbs heat in the daytime and releases it at night. Plans are developing for raising Koi fish in the water tank and selling them to local pet stores.
Employees in the vocational training program practice soft job skills such as punctuality, emotional intelligence, and following direction; develop gardening and culinary food preparation skills; and build their employment histories. As the Growing Dome project matures, trainees will expand food production in the indoor and outdoor gardens, process the harvest in the CISS certified kitchen, and begin marketing produce through a street-side food cart.
CISS purchased their Growing Dome from Growing Spaces. Start-up cost is a barrier, with the 33 foot dome kit costing $30,000. CISS partnered with DuPont Pioneer to cover the cost of the dome infrastructure.
Based on their experience so far, CISS staff recommends:
- Start slow. CISS is focusing on streamlining production in the Growing Dome before expanding to culinary and marketing activities.
- Partnerships are essential. This project was only possible because of the support of DuPont Pioneer and United Way of Central Iowa.
- Share the story. The Growing Dome project is an exciting initiative, but outreach to media and community groups is essential to spread excitement and encourage support from the community.