Local Food Programs and Specialty Crops in Iowa Receive $ 300,000 in Federal State Grants

Red wine, hazelnuts, melons and Christmas trees among the Iowa products that will be studied or supported

Iowa Local Food Programs and Specialty Crops Receive $ 300,000 in Federal State Grants
Iowa Local Food Programs and Specialty Crops Receive $ 300,000 in Federal State Grants

Hubbard and Butternut Squash are in dry storage Oct. 17 at the Field to Family Food Hub in Iowa City. The nonprofit hopes to eventually expand beyond locally grown produce to also offer yogurt, dried beans, honey and maple syrup. (Rebecca F. Miller / The Gazette)

Iowa’s specialty crops – including hazelnuts, melons, and cold-hardy red wine – received a boost this week with $ 300,000 in federal money awarded by the Department of Agriculture and Agriculture. Iowa Land Stewardship.

The grants, funded through a Specialty Crop Block Grant provided by the United States Department of Agriculture, were made to 14 organizations or projects in Iowa to develop specialty crops or expand the use of locally grown produce. , the state said on Wednesday.

Field to Family, an Iowa City-based nonprofit, will use its $ 24,000 grant to expand awareness to school districts in eastern Iowa to put local foods on their school lunch menus, a said Executive Director Michelle Kenyon.

“We have a very high concentration from farm to school,” Kenyon said.

The program works with Iowa City, Clear Creek Amana, Solon, College Community, Union Community, and Vinton-Shellsburg school districts, connecting them with farmers who can produce food for school lunches. Locally grown foods include apples, zucchini, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, watermelons, cantaloupe, and cherry tomatoes.

“We want to grow,” Kenyon said. “Part of securing this grant will allow us to contact school districts to add education to the work they do. “

Iowa State University, home to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and ISU Extension, received funding for four projects, including $ 11,577 to develop best practices for improving the quality of cold-hardy red wine in Iowa. .

Iowa has more than 60 wineries that grow dozens of cold-hardy grape varieties. But some Iowa winemakers have faced challenges developing high-quality wine from the red grapes that grow here.

Above Left: Fireside Winery is shown on a wooden wine barrel at Fireside Winery. The winery produces approximately 34,000 gallons of wine per year.

“The biggest problem we’re seeing is the lack of tannin and tannin stability in the varieties of red grapes we grow,” said Zach Bott, winemaker at Fireside Winery in Marengo on Wednesday. “The State of Iowa is working to understand why this is so and to help us develop growing and winemaking practices that will help us overcome this problem. “

Other grants went to the following programs:

  • Des Moines Public Schools – Central Campus Environmental and Agricultural Sciences Academy: $ 24,000 to build a formal orchard and 10 beehive apiary to teach students and supply local food banks.
  • Golden Hills Resource Conservation and Development – Perennial Native Seed Production for Rural Resilience: $ 23,987 to train growers to develop seed plots of native plant species to use for local restoration projects.
  • Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation – Teaching About Christmas Trees: $ 9,499 to raise awareness and understanding of Christmas trees as a specialty culture in Iowa through the development of lesson plans, hands-on activities and virtual outings for children. educators and students.
  • Iowa Department of Agriculture – Summer Farm Campaign: $ 34,895 in partnership with the Iowa Department of Education, FoodCorps and ISU Extension and Outreach to increase support for the crop industry by expanding access and demand for Iowa’s specialty crops during the summer months.
  • Iowa Farmers Union – Helping Iowa Schools and Daycares with Local Food Sourcing Plans: $ 24,000 to help Iowa schools set local food sourcing goals and create a plan supply, as well as certifying more individuals as Farm to School and Early Care Network coaches.
  • Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and Iowa Wine Growers Association – Specialty Growers Conference: $ 24,000 to provide networking and education opportunities for specialty growers at a combined specialty growers conference February 9-10 in Ankeny.
  • Iowa Nut Growers Association and ISU – Developing infrared radiation processing technology to produce high quality and safe hazelnuts: $ 21,882 to develop infrared radiation drying technology to dry inshell hazelnuts, evaluate its benefits and produce hazelnuts without allergens.
  • ISU – Meeting Product Development and Food Safety Needs for Value Added Producers in Iowa: $ 24,000 to Adopt Short Course and Interactive Program for Food Development and Food Safety Practices foods in specialty crop products.
  • ISU – Expanding Specialty Melon Production and Markets: $ 23,968 to identify, introduce and evaluate new specialty melon cultivars under Iowa growing conditions.
  • Lutheran Services in Iowa – Visual Education Resources for New American Specialty Crop Farmers: $ 24,000 to tailor key elements of production, marketing and record-keeping training for refugee farmers in virtual formats in a variety of languages ​​and make them more accessible.
  • Practical Farmers of Iowa – Blueberry Farmer-Led Research and Awareness: A New Specialty Cultivation Opportunity for Iowa: $ 24,000 to Lead a Farmer-Led Research Trial on Blueberry Varieties and Tolerance in the shade and share the results at farmer-to-farmer educational events, publications and media.
  • University of Northern Iowa – Expanding Growth. To eat. Gambling Awareness Campaign: $ 23,810 to stimulate demand for and consumption of specialty crop products and promote local farmers by developing Grow. To eat. Play campaign created by Healthy Harvest of North Iowa.

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