There’s a lot of satisfaction in growing your own food, but one high school FFA student in Wheatland, Iowa, leveled up her game by donating 7,000 pounds of produce from her own garden to nonprofit organizations.
Lauren Schroeder is a junior at Calamus-Wheatland High School, and her garden began as an supervised agricultural experience (SAE) on about a half-acre of land before expanding to a full acre thanks to an FFA grant. According to TV station KWQC, Schroeder grows 20 types of crops, including tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, squash, cauliflower, zucchini, broccoli, and herbs.
Her garden started last year after she saw the need for fresh produce in the community in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I wanted to have something that would impact people and not just go show cattle,” Schroeder told the TV station. “I want to impact community members.” She added, “Many people help you out, but it makes more difference when you help other people out. That’s what makes me most happy.”
Over the course of two years, Schroeder has donated about $15,000 worth of produce, and her goal is to hit 20,000 pounds before she graduates in 2025.
The teen gets help from siblings and parents in her garden, as well as from outside organizations. River Valley Co-op has been a major supporter of her project by helping Schroeder test soil levels and donating fertilizer to help increase production. This year, River Valley put forth funding for Schroeder to pick three organizations to donate $250 to.
Schroeder has had success in livestock showing and crop contests at the Iowa State Fair, and her plans to continue her garden and donations signal a very bright future ahead.