Sprout: The Des Moines Urban Youth Learning Garden at Drake University is located on 30th and Carpenter. Sprout serves as an environmental education tool, urban gardening resource, and healthy food access point for students kindergarten through higher education, and community members. It features an outdoor classroom for 30 adults or 50 children, theme-based raised beds, fruit trees, native Iowa plants, and a more. Sprout is significant for the neighborhoods surrounding Drake because 97% of students K-12 qualify for free or reduced lunches, so fresh fruit and produce from Sprout are important for the students in this neighborhood.
In 2012, the Sprout Garden was established when a Drake Environmental Science and Policy Capstone class wrote and received a grant from the State Farm Youth Advisory Board. The garden was established on Forest Ave. and moved to its current location in 2020.
Partnering with Des Moines Youth
The major strategic partner in the project is the Boys and Girls Club of Central Iowa. Twice a week students from the Burt Boys & Girls Club plant, grow, and learn in the garden. This fosters interaction between Drake students, the BGCCI, and the surrounding community by bringing different groups of students together in the garden. For example, Drake students volunteer to help teach the environmental curriculum to the BGCCI students, which not only increases environmental learning for all parties but also fosters a sense of community. Sprout has also partnered with the local Girl Scouts and other youth-serving organizations.
Sprout is always looking for ways to increase student and community involvement; if you are interested in volunteering with Sprout, bringing a class or group to the garden for educational purposes, etc., please contact email@example.com or coordinator Marlee Rutledge at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone who volunteers or participates in the garden is welcome to take home produce. Surplus produce is placed in the Free Little Pantry, located adjacent to the Sprout Garden. Produce and non-perishable items are available for all - take what you need, leave what you can! Visit the Little Pantries Facebook page for more information.
Composting at the Garden
Drake students living in the residence halls can drop off their produce scraps, coffee and tea grounds, and moldy bread to the compost containers in their residence hall. Volunteers collect and deliver the compost to the garden each week! Thank you to Drake Environmental Action League (DEAL) for their partnership! Others can also drop off their compost at the garden!
Food Forest (Coming Soon!!)
The Drake Food Forest is a half-acre permaculture expansion to Sprout. The Food Forest ecosystem will serve as an outdoor learning lab focused on sustainable urban agriculture and provide another community access point to healthy and fresh foods. The Food Forest is designed by: Jeff Reiland, Owner of Abundant Design, LLC. For more information and to see a diagram, please visit our Sprout Word Press.
Sprout Garden is on the traditional, ancestral, unceded land of the Báxoǰe (Bah Kho-je) or Ioway, Sauk (Sac), and Meskwaki (Fox) peoples - Drake Land Acknowledgment