The Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) Foundation received a grant from the Dubuque Racing Association to support two new initiatives central to the college’s engagement in the local food system. These funds, in the amount of $8,280, supported the purchase of community garden materials needed for the NICC School and Community Gardens project at the Peosta campus. A portion of the funds will also support the college’s collaboration with Steeple Square to establish a Culinary Arts Program. Both projects will support low-income residents of Dubuque County and surrounding areas.
This summer, volunteers planted and harvested a variety of fresh produce including cucumbers, kale, squash, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onions, beets, peppers, radishes, tomatoes, carrots, and summer squash. The fall harvest will include lettuce, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, beets, carrots, turnips and micro-greens. The raised garden beds are located north of the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety facility and near Burds Road.
The college’s local food system projects are meant to address food and nutrition issues the low-income, under- or unemployed residents Dubuque County and surrounding areas face on a daily basis. The NICC School and Community Gardens project will help provide food-insecure NICC students and community members with access to local, fresh produce at minimal or no cost, and the Culinary Arts Program will train at-risk residents to enter a career pathway rooted in local food.
The goal of the NICC gardens in years two and three is three-fold: 1) Increase community involvement and education regarding the benefits of local food production; 2) Introduce students and staff to healthy food options though the NICC cafeteria; and 3) Establish and stock a fresh produce food pantry for NICC students.