Construction is almost complete on a spherical greenhouse at Iowa’s largest homeless shelter. The 30-foot dome at Central Iowa Shelter and Services in Des Moines will have reflective coverings and be insulated to grow vegetables year-round. Assistant shelter manager A.J. Olson says people staying at the shelter tend the gardens through a paid training program and food grown in the outdoor beds helps feed more than 200 people daily.
“We’ve had really good luck this year with doing a salad mentality,” Olson says. “We had four beds that had spinach and lettuce and that kind of thing and amazingly, that went really fast in our kitchen. Fresh salad was a big hit.” Olson says by growing food year-round, the gardening program can be expanded and any extra produce can be sold.
“We serve 250 people every night for dinner, how can we help supplement what the groups bring in to serve,” she says, “so here’s a beautiful salad for you that came from our garden.”
The dome cost about $40,000 to construct. Olson says the shelter’s Mulberry Farms and Food program is entirely funded by DuPont-Pioneer.