The first plot that we started on, was a park from 1971-2016. Prior to that, there was a house on the lot.
When we moved into River Bend, Royal Park was in decline due to lack of funds and infrastructure. In the years that followed, everything was removed due to safety concerns and regulations until it was a sand pit with a few benches.
It is also about 10 feet from my house, and less than a foot from our neighbors on the opposite side. It was never planned or meant to be a park in our blocks configuration.
I first started emailing and calling the Parks and Rec department, and they told me that they might have the money to update the park in 11 years. That wasn’t good enough.
So my husband and I started on a 3 year journey working with our neighbors and the Parks Department to get something, anything, done with that space.
I ended up going in front of the city council, and advocating for being allowed to grow food on the space. And they ultimately decided to allow us to lease the land from the Parks Department.
We feel extremely grateful that the Parks Department and the City are allowing us to be stewards of this land.
We have expanded to work not only with the Parks Department to grow food on underutilized land, but are now also working with the City of Des Moines to access additional land that can’t currently be developed due to easements or building provisions. We are very grateful to be able to have such a good partnership with the City of Des Moines, and also grateful of how supportive they have been to our mission.
In the 2020 season we will be growing on just over an acre on plots all over River Bend, and gearing up to be growing on 3 acres in 2021.
We can’t wait to keep pushing and to keep growing Sweet Tooth Farm.