Last spring, the staff at nonprofit farm Grow: Johnson County had to order onion seedlings from Texas and spend hours driving back and forth from the farm to greenhouses at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, where they were growing 50,000 to 70,000 seedlings to be transplanted onto the farm’s five acres of land.
Next year, they won’t have to do either of those things. Thanks to a grant and community donations, they’re constructing a greenhouse on the farm that will make things a lot easier.
The small farm they run on the Johnson County Historic Poor Farm serves as both an educational tool and a way to provide fresh produce to 13 partner agencies, everything from food pantries and meal programs to snacks for preschoolers at Head Start programs. This last season, they donated more than 20,000 pounds of produce.
Program director Jake Kundert said the greenhouse will help them grow even more next year. Along with growing transplants to kick off the spring season, the 96 foot-long greenhouse will give them space to cure garlic, onions and winter squash as well as have potential for in-ground growing, which could mean having fresh produce longer into the fall.