When Iowa teen Lauren Schroeder showed up to a community food drive during COVID, she didn’t see a lot that actually nourished people—just a lot of boxed and canned goods.
She decided to become the change she wanted to see, and after receiving a half-acre of land from her parents, she grew 7,000 pounds of produce with a market value of around $15,000 and gave it all away to food banks and non-profits in the Quad Cities area.
The senior from Calamus-Wheatland High School likes to tend cattle and play softball, and had never managed a garden before, but according to her mother Katie Schroeder, she took studies of agronomy and gardening to heart.
Her work drew the attention of the education-industry organization called Future Farmers of America, which gave her a small grant for supplies and seeds. She received help from her younger siblings, but still put in the hard yards of watering and deweeding—2 to 3 hours in total every day.
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Her work, and FFA’s trust, soon bore fruit, and she began donating 15 types of veggies to organizations like Carroll Assistance Center, Wheatland Nursing Home, Café on Vine, River Bend Food Bank, Lost Nation Food Pantry, Family Resources, Lady of the Prairie, and Community Action of Eastern Iowa.
“It was a really good feeling to know that anyone who wanted fresh vegetables would be able to get them,” Lauren told the Washington Post. “I knew that I wanted to keep going.”
After receiving a second grant from Future Farmers of America, she turned her half acre into a full acre, and expanded the number of vegetables to 20 different species.
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Her goal is to donate 20,000 pounds of vegetables by the time she graduates next June.
“How could you not be proud,” said her mother Katie, “she really chose to focus on learning about agronomy, learning about gardening, learning about vegetables, but just really taking it to the next level and actually helping people out with it.”
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