The Dubuque Rescue Mission Community Farm was founded on the core value of resiliency. To this end, the farm exists to contribute to the operational self-sufficiency of the Dubuque Rescue Mission and its residents, while engaging the broader community in building a
sustainable food culture. The Mission Farm serves the community by engaging Rescue Mission residents in farm cultivation, facilitating educational programs to promote a sustainable food culture, and providing healthy food to our most vulnerable community members.
Facing a growing need to provide fresh and healthy food to its residents, the Dubuque Rescue Mission convened community members in 2008 to create a small garden to provide produce for its kitchen. Through a partnership with the City of Dubuque, a small lot off Iowa Street was acquired and converted into a garden. In 2014, FarmTek/Grower Supply donated a 1,200 square foot greenhouse, which served as a catalyst to transform this small garden into a community farm that has become a gathering place for the community.
WHAT WE DO
Engage Rescue Mission residents in farm cultivation
The farm provides an opportunity for Mission residents to engage in employment skill-building programs through working to help maintain the farm. As urban farmers, the residents learn valuable skills, while spending restorative time in a natural environment.
Resident work exchange: The farm is one of six work assignments where unemployed Mission residents may fulfill their work exchange responsibilities for room and board.
Micro-greens and seedling sales: In partnership with the Dubuque Food Co-op,Mission residents learn the principles of small business development by growing and selling food products for retail distribution.The Rooted Chef: Provides education to low-income community members on the principles of growing and preparing food to create healthier lifestyles, while providing employment skills for a career in the foodservice industry.
Facilitate educational programs to promote a sustainable food culture
In 2015, the farm hosted over 360 visitors from the community and connected over 1,070 volunteers to meaningful work through educational programming focused on basic gardening, sustainable agriculture and food justice.Annual Sustainability Fair: In partnership with GreenIowa Americorps, thefarm hosts the annual Sustainability Fair to increase awareness of sustainable agriculture and energy opportunities.
Waste diversion composting initiative: In 2015, the farm’s on-site composting unit has saved 12,000 pounds of food scraps from entering the landfill, and exposed residents and local businesses to sustainable disposal practices.
Farm and Food Weekend: To get the community engaged in food production, ISU Dubuque County Extension and the Four Mounds Foundation work with the Dubuque Rescue Mission to facilitate a multi-day event to expose the Dubuque community to local family farms.
Provide healthy food to our most vulnerable community members
The farm grows over 2,000 pounds of food every season to supply the Rescue Mission free meal program. We also partner with the community to promote healthy, local food and collect donations that divert edible food from the landfill.
Balanced tray initiative:Due to the fresh produce from the farm, along with creative use of donated food, vegetable consumption as increased by 40% for Mission residents.
Market money program: The Rescue Mission partnered with Dubuque Main Street, Ltd., to create infrastructure that enables Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to purchase fresh produce at the Farmers’ Market, bringing in over 4,000 of SNAP dollars in its first year.