When my family moved to the River Bend area, our home was next to Royal Park, which was once a cute little park but had turned into a sandpit with a couple of benches due to lack of funding and infrastructure. We knew we were in the middle of a food desert and that it just made sense to turn that rundown park into a community garden that could help provide fresh produce for our neighbors. Along with Keri Thein, we got to work contacting the Parks and Rec department and were told that they might have some money to update the park…in 11 years. That wasn’t good enough.
What followed was a three-year journey for me and my husband, working with our neighbors and the Parks Department to turn a rundown park just 10 feet from my house into something that could benefit the community. I got in front of the city council, advocating for the ability to grow food on the plot. Ultimately, they agreed to allow us to lease and be stewards of the land.
Since then, we’ve expanded to a multi-acre plot at 101 Franklin Ave, which we refer to as the “Beach Plot.” This is a nod to the fact that it’s in an area once known as Franklin Avenue Beach in the early 1900s. In 2020, we grew over 8,000 pounds of food and in 2021, we are on track to beat that number. We grow garlic, lettuce, kale, swiss chard, dill, green onion, tomato, and other chemical-free vegetables on this land. You can find all of this, along with my homemade breads, fresh eggs, and more at the Heart of Des Moines Farmers Market.
New Plot Needed
In 2022, our lease at 101 Franklin Ave is up. That means we, along with RadiateDSM Urban Farm, are looking for plots available to purchase in Des Moines so we can continue our work. We’ve teamed up to create the Rooted Farm Collective.
We couldn’t do any of this without the support of the Des Moines community. It really does take a village and our village is strong.
Monika Owczarski (she/her)
I’m a first-generation (accidental) farmer committed to helping to create equity in our food system and fighting for social justice. As I get deeper into the food and farming world, I’m finding myself more concerned about the direct human impact of it all. I think about who was harmed to bring food to tables and whether the food was harvested by people who are being violently exploited. It’s all connected and it all matters. My mission is simple: get good food to people who want it and to help folks who want to start a garden space or farm in any way I can.
In My “Spare” Time
Board Member, Supply Hive
President, Junior League of Des Moines
Whether it’s a question about how to work with us, donate, or something else, send us a message.