Forest Ave. Outreach Expanding Programs

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Forest Avenue Outreach program started out as a single community garden in the King-Irving neighborhood but has grown to much more.

"I said let's do a community garden," said Ralph Chiodo, Founder of Forest Ave Outreach. "The kids love it, they can't wait to get into the garden. "

Ralph and Rebecca Chiodo moved to Des Moines in September 2012, to live as urban domestic missionaries.

The program exploded with the support pf the community and lots and lots of hard work. Between the various outreach events, community gardens, fishing clubs the program has been embraced by families and neighborhood youth.

"There are so many (programs) I get lost sometimes,"Chiodo said.

One biggest programs for this year is the Summer Sustainability Series.

"We just trying to teach sustainable living," said Chiodo. "People don't always know where to start and where to find the resources. So we give basic overviews of that."

Chiodo said he is always surprised on how popular the program has gotten.

"I've had kids fighting over raw beets and baby kale," said Chiodo. "Who would have thought that an elementary kid would be fighting for raw kale."

He said that one of the byproducts of these programs is it keeps kids busy and out-of-trouble.

"It's critical. There are a lot of opportunities for them to engage in no so good actives," said Chiodo. "We want to provide as many opportunities as we can for them. Just keep them busy and teach them how to garden."

All the classes offered by Forest Ave. Outreach are free to the public. The Summer Sustainability Series runs every Thursday evening at 1337 18th St. in Des Moines.