Community Food Systems Program receives American Planning Association award

October 13, 2017
Students and volunteers planted a community orchard on Earth Day 2017 at Lutheran Hospital in Des Moines.

The Iowa Chapter of the American Planning Association recently recognized a Community Food Systems Program project with its 2017 Grassroots Initiative Award!

The UnityPoint Health Edible Landscape and Urban Orchard project is a collaboration among UnityPoint Health of Des Moines, Lutheran Hospital and the ISU Community Food Systems Program, coordinated by our team member Courtney Long.

“Des Moines was one of our pilot communities for the Community Food Systems process,” said Courtney, “and this was one of their first priority projects. We began brainstorming the potential in July of 2015, and the project became a reality on Earth Day of 2017.”

Here is the announcement from APA:

The Lutheran Hospital edible landscape and community orchard includes a dwarf apple tree orchard, raised bed garden, and will soon include a pollinator habitat on hospital grounds. This is a one-of-a-kind project in Iowa, and was developed within the Community Food Systems Program that started in 2014 in partnership with Eat Greater Des Moines.

The primary objective was to develop an initiative that would promote food access and education in the Viva East Bank neighborhood of Des Moines. This concept was implemented in the spring of 2017, with the community orchard ground-breaking and planting. Throughout the process, the project brought together more than a dozen partners in the development and planning of the edible landscape, and more than 100 people attended the ground-breaking event. This included students from Carver Elementary, to plant the first trees on Earth Day.

Other partners included the City of Des Moines (Planning and Parks Departments), Capital Park Neighborhood Association, Iowa State University Community Design Lab, Trees Forever and Wellmark (for funding).

Courtney Long

WHO-TV ran a fun story about the project.

Congratulations, Courtney! For more information, you can can contact her at (515) 460-3227 or