Although this spring was slow to arrive, the peppers at the Iowa Gardening for Good farm are on track, thanks to North Polk Middle School. About 140 sixth-graders helped transplant over 9,000 pepper plants in a single day last week. This effort was part of the school’s curriculum to teach the middle school students about performing community service. In this case, all of the produce that will be grown is donated and distributed to food pantries in Iowa.

This is the third year the sixth grade has helped at the Iowa Gardening for Good. The Iowa Gardening for Good continues to expand the amount it grows — up to about 15 acres this year. All of this produce is donated and is due largely to support from volunteers.

It seems a great way to involve our youth in learning about how to grow food, as well as civic responsibility. For this project, they were transplanting peppers and eggplant in plastic mulch with drip tape. The students were divided into a morning group of 70 and an afternoon group of 70. They worked in teams of four. One person used a dibbler to poke a hole in the plastic and soil to make room for a plant. The second person took the plant out of the tray and placed it in the hole. The third person packed the soil around the plant and the fourth person followed with a watering can and watered each new transplant.

They were great help and helped us stay on track, despite a trying spring.