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Pilot Project for Sustainable Agriculture

By Staff | Aug 13, 2013

GRANT FUNDS -- Iowa Lakes Community College received a matching funds grant from Palo Alto County Gaming Development Corporation to initiate the pilot project for Sustainable Agriculture for a Healthy Community. The garden is located on the west edge of the Emmetsburg campus. Steve Olerich (right), Food Service Director at Iowa Lakes Community College, is pictured with Renae Jedlicka, board member on Palo Alto County Gaming Development Corporation.

Iowa Lakes Community College has had a garden for five years. With grant funds from Palo Alto County Gaming Development Corporation, the college was given the opportunity to expand the garden, add an irrigation system and start the pilot project for Sustainable Agriculture for a Healthy Community.

Steve Olerich, Food Service Director for Iowa Lakes Community College (pictured, right), said, “This is a biological project. Anything we learn, which is daily, we are willing to share with anyone in the community.”

The garden is just under an acre, but availability is endless, thanks to the college, says Steve.

“If it wasn’t for Cal Christensen, this wouldn’t have happened,” said Olerich. “Cal (retired ag instructor at Iowa Lakes) is certified in chemicals and he helps us so much. We are currently using conventional gardening techniques, but we are working toward organic.”

When planting began, young students from Head Start came out to watch. Olerich promised them they would be able to pick their own pumpkins this fall.

All kinds of vegetables, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini and even peanuts and ornamental corn can be found in the garden, plus all kinds of herbs.

Produce from the garden will be used to feed students and faculty on the North and South Campuses of Iowa Lakes Community College.

“We will also help with the Hotel-Motel program, making pumpkin pies from scratch,” Olerich said.

Excess produce will be provided to the food pantry, outreach centers and nursing homes.

“I’m amazed at what we have been able to do and the knowledge we have gained,” said Olerich. “Thanks to Palo Alto County Gaming Development Corporation for the opportunity to start this pilot project.”

–Jane Whitmore photos/story