Sprout: The Des Moines Urban Youth Learning Garden at Drake University is located on the corner of Drake’s campus by the Knapp center, and is right across from the Boys and Girls Club of Central Iowa (BGCCI). Sprout serves as an environmental educational tool, urban gardening resource, and healthy food access point for everyone kindergartners to adults. While also available to use for team volunteering for businesses or any group that wants to give back to the community.

It features an outdoor classroom for 30 adults or 50 children, theme-based raised beds, fruit trees, native Iowa plants, and multilingual signage. Sprout is significant for the neighborhoods surrounding Drake because 97% of students K-12 qualify for free or reduced lunches. Additionally, Sprout is located in a food desert, so fresh fruit and produce from Sprout are important for the students and adults in this neighborhood. Any student who learns or volunteers in the garden is able to take fresh produce home. Sprout also has a free mini pantry right outside the gate so that anyone can have fresh and safe food.

The major strategic partner in the project is the Boys and Girls Club of Central Iowa. Two times a week students from various clubs 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 usually 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 garden isn’t just for children we offer the use of our garden over the summer/fall for groups to come and volunteer. It’s a good way to give back towards the community while also building teamwork and can create a more opening space to get to know people better.

Sprout was brought to life in the Summer of 2013 with the help of many community partners. We are excited to see where this growing season will take us!