Monona County Extension Works to Increase Food Security

Growing Together mini-grant allowed 1,591 pounds of fruits and vegetables to be donated to food pantries and residents in need in Monona County in two summers

Onawa, Iowa – The Iowa State University Extension and Outreach office in Monona County broke ground for a donation and home demonstration garden at the Monona County Fairgrounds last May.  Extension partnered with the ISU Western Research Farm, Monona County Fair Association, West Central Community Action, local Master Gardeners, ISU Rising Star Interns and members of the Green Thumb’s Garden Club.


 The Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Master Gardener program and ISU Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Education (SNAP-Ed) Program collaborated to provide these opportunities to ensure the produce grown will reach local food pantries and reduce food insecurity across the state.

gary and blazen

As part of the Growing Together initiative, volunteers donated fruits and vegetables to food pantries. In Monona County, gardeners were able to donate 533 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to the monthly food giveaways in Mapleton and Onawa in the summer of 2019. Hundreds of pounds of produce were also donated to Center Heights Low Rent Housing Agency in Onawa.  Approximately 500 people experiencing low income in Monona County were served this season.

“Our first growing season at the garden was a successful one. One of Monona County’s greatest needs is getting healthy food to low-income residents.  We are grateful for federal grant funds and our community partnerships and volunteers that helped the donation and demonstration garden to be a success,” said Melissa Beermann, Monona County Extension Director.

A home demonstration garden field day was held in August in collaboration with the ISU Research Farm, and ISU Horticulturist and pollinator experts. Watch for public educational opportunities that will be made available for the 2020 growing season.

garden staff

We are in need of more volunteers for the 2020 growing season. Contact Melissa Beermann at (712) 423-2175 or if you are able to help in any capacity.  Donation gardening is a very rewarding experience.

More information about the Growing Together project can be found online, as well as information on how to become a Master Gardener volunteer.