On Friday, May 10, 75 students from North Polk Middle School volunteered at Iowa Gardening for Good as a service project. The sixth-grade students transplanted about 7,000 peppers in less than three hours. This is part of the same group that came out last fall to help us harvest peppers and conduct general fall cleanup at our garden site. They did a great job and were still full of energy, even after planting over an acre of peppers by hand. This activity was part of the school’s program to include community service in their curriculum.


The students worked mostly in groups of four. One student would use a “dibbler” to make a hole in the plastic mulch. A second student would carry a tray of plants and put one plant by each hole. The third student would carefully place the plant into the hole and pack the soil firmly around the plant. The fourth student would follow with a watering can and give each plant a drink.


As the season goes on, volunteers come and help pick the produce and it all gets donated to food pantries. This year the goal is to raise over 200,000 pounds, including over 30,000 pounds of fresh peppers. The plastic mulch and drip tape provide a very nice system to grow the produce with little weeding.


It is a great for the students to get hands-on experience at local vegetable production and have a meaningful impact on fighting local hunger. We are very happy to have over 400 students scheduled in the month of May to help establish over 13 acres of vegetable production. Despite the large number of May volunteers, we are still looking for more volunteers of any age during the summer or fall to help with harvest. For more information, see our website at https://www.iowagardeningforgood.com/.