This spring, residents across the Dallas County area are coming together to help plant community gardens in support of their local community.


Last year, the town of Dallas Center planted their first garden just south of the Dallas Center Elementary School with the help of United Way, volunteers, and school district staff. However, with the suspension of school due to COVID-19, this year the garden will limit the number of people involved and volunteers will wear masks on days when planting together.


“The first thing to know is that nothing will be ‘typical’ for our school garden this year or last year,” Dallas Center resident Bob King said. “The families growing the food will learn to harvest and sanitize the food they pick. They can take what they want during the summer and turn the excess over to the Dallas Center Food Pantry.”


Other community organizations, such as the Van Meter Meter United Methodist Church, are working to plant tomatoes, assorted peppers, basil, and more, after receiving a grant from Dallas County and support from local residents. Van Meter giving garden volunteer Kari Strong said that 100 percent of the produce will be donated to those in need. This includes seniors, families, or Hunger Free Dallas County.


“We realize now more than ever there will be a greater need for fresh, organic produce for families and seniors and we are excited to share that with them,” Strong said. “Our goal is to improve community health by providing food to those in need and planting spiritual seeds throughout our community.”


In addition, Waukee Area Christian Services first began its community garden, The Fruitful Vine, on the grounds of Westview Church over 10 years ago. The fenced in main garden is approximately 1/8 acre of growing area, including 20 raised beds and 4 larger in ground beds. The garden serves patrons of the food pantry located at the church and typically grows what clients request such as spinach, beets, and green beans, to name a few.


“Providing clients with fresh from the earth produce is a luxury many cannot afford. It helps us meet our goal of providing healthy choices for those in need,” Julie Robeson of the Waukee Area Christian Services said.


Robeson also said that the community garden will continue to allow people to plant during the time of social distancing but on a single sign up basis. These new sign up restrictions will allow individuals and families to come and work in the garden on their schedule and without the risk.


“The local community is a tremendous support for the garden. Individuals enjoy the time in the sun and working with clients,” Robeson said. “Groups of students come to serve from various churches and schools. Groups of employees also come to serve. It is an amazing collaboration.”