Small Learning Farm Working to Teach Sustainability

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ANKENY, Iowa -- Food pantries in central Iowa routinely say the hardest item for low income families to get is fresh produce. A small learning farm in Ankeny wants to change that.

Since 2008, Cherry Glen Farm has helped families live a more sustainable lifestyle by offering classes on a variety of topics and for most of the students they start at the beginning.

“A lot them do not have a clue, honestly,” said Dr. Ray Meylor, Cherry Glen Farm. “We have kids out here that don’t know how to drill a hole in a piece of wood or a pipe. They don’t know how to properly use a shovel or a hoe and they really don’t know where the food comes from.”

In almost a decade of operation, they have helped set up dozens of community gardens at schools and neighborhoods. Dr. Meylor says these are skills they must pass on.

”It’s essential. You know, it’s essential for them, their kids, their grandkids, this is generational wealth. Sure, you eat this really good tasty food and it’s pleasurable but it’s also essential and those kids should not miss out,” said Dr. Meylor.

Every Thursday, during the summer, a group of students from Community Youth Concepts come to pitch in.

“Cherry Glen is an instrumental player. From helping us with gardening projects that benefit DMARC’s food network to working with our students to learn about the importance of bees and extract honey,” said Amy Croll, Executive Director of Community Youth Concepts.

Glen Cherry has worked with local pantries including the Iowa Food Bank to provide produce but the long-term goal is to give people the skills to do it themselves.

“It is hard to explain sustainability to someone who does not help in a garden, or tries to grow produce on a larger scale. They do not consider soil health or a water shortage an issue, until they see grocery prices shoot up,” said Dr. Meylor.