Des Moines, Iowa homeless youth center, construction of an urban farm project

A one-of-a-kind rooftop garden under construction in Des Moines will be the centerpiece of a program to equip at-risk youth with the skills to find jobs and earn a living.

The Iowa Homeless Youth Center offers a variety of services to homeless and at-risk youth between the ages of 16 and 24, but group director Toby O’Berry said one service was still lacking: training the workforce. of work. At the Rooftop Garden, which will be located at 2705 E. Euclid Ave., young people will be able to grow fresh herbs and other produce year-round using hydroponics technology, while earning an allowance of $ 12 from the l hour for 30 hours per week. a period of 3 months.

The products will be sold to retailers in the region so that the project can stand on its own and avoid the subsidy search cycle. During this time, O’Berry said, the young people involved will learn soft skills to help in the workforce, such as communication and interacting with a supervisor, while also giving young people the opportunity to engage with them. community and increase their access to nutritious food.

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“It gives them the ability to plan and learn for their future,” O’Berry said.

The $ 3.5 million project, which has already started, has been launched with funds from various organizations, companies and partners, and is expected to be operational next year.

“It really touches on a lot of different priorities and initiatives from different communities,” O’Berry said.

The site will also serve as an educational space for schoolchildren to familiarize themselves with hydroponic agriculture.

The project falls under the district represented by Linda Westergaard on the municipal council of Des Moines. She said she fully supported the project and that it would help young people in the community while providing jobs and fresh produce.

“It’s 100% a good project,” Westergaard said.

Chris Higgins covers the Eastern Suburbs for the registry. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chris_higgins_.

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