Lutheran Services in Iowa (LSI) is one of the largest human services agencies in the state and for decades has been providing critical support services to the immigrant and refugee population. Some of the refugee populations that they have worked with include people from Burundi, Sudan, Burma, and Bhutan. Recently, LSI embarked on an exciting new project by creating a community garden as a response to refugees and immigrants who have farming skills and who wish to grow food as a source of income or food for their families. Area churches and other community organizations have joined the effort by donating land, time, and volunteers, as well as lending business and farming expertise to the efforts.
The community gardens not only provide economic and nutritional benefits, but also help foster a healthy and active community within the immigrant and refugee populations and between the refugees and the locals. The LSI is currently running 10 community gardens in various Des Moines neighborhoods with around 400 families participating. Beginning with growing seeds indoors, participating families go on to produce a wealth of produce including corn, potatoes, melons, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, and mustard leaf. With the support of the community, LSI hopes to expand these community gardens and empower more families to take part in this innovative project. To learn more about this project, click here.