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Effort underway to get more people into gardening

(Radio Iowa News) – Gardening is being promoted to Iowans through a new statewide initiative that’s designed to reach out to people who’ve never grown anything as well as current gardeners who might be able to grow a little more to give away. Angie Tagtow is project coordinator for Cultivate Iowa.

“We are focusing our efforts on low-resource Iowans to encourage them to think about gardening as a way of not only putting fresh foods on their plates but also saving their food budget and hopefully improving health and food security,” Tagtow says.

The project also targets existing gardeners, encouraging them to grow more produce and donate it to a nearby food pantry or community group. Gardening doesn’t need to take a lot of time or money, in fact, she says it should save you both commodities. Through gardening,

Tagtow says you can keep some green in your pocket while also putting green on your table. “You don’t need to have a back yard to grow a little bit of your own food,” Tagtow says.

“If you go to the Cultivate Iowa page and click on the garden link, we’ve got some simple steps in which all of us can do to grow some really wonderful vegetables in containers.” In fact, using containers as a garden also means fewer weeds to pull.

The website, www.cultivateiowa.org, contains a trove of downloadable information on how to start the process of tilling the soil and growing delicious veggies.

“Tomatoes and peppers are great container garden as well as backyard garden plants,” Tagtow says. “Easy to grow, they’re some of the best-tasting vegetables that we have and some of the vegetables that we most often eat here in Iowa. So, tomatoes and peppers and greens also do really well whether it’s directly sewn into the ground or in containers as well.”

To get started, she says, all you really need is a container, potting soil and either seeds or plants. For established gardeners who can grow a little extra to donate, Cultivate Iowa enables them to make pledges, find nearby organizations that accept fresh produce and track their donations.