Cal-Wheat student donates 7,000 pounds of produce from her garden

Cal-Wheat student donates 7,000 pounds of produce
Published: Oct. 7, 2023 at 11:16 PM CDT
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WHEATLAND, Iowa (KWQC) - A student at Calamus-Wheatland High School has donated 7,000 pounds of produce, from her own garden, to various nonprofit organizations in the Quad Cities area. In less than two years, she has donated approximately $15,000 worth of produce.

Lauren Schroeder is a junior at Calamus-Wheatland High School and a two-time national grant winner with Future Farmers of America. Her journey began at a food drive during Covid where she noticed there wasn’t enough produce being given to community members.

In her sophomore year, Schroeder’s family provided her with a half-acre of land to start her own garden. After being awarded a grant from the Future Farmers of America, she was able to expand her garden to a full acre with a fence to protect crops from pests. The garden includes over 20 types of produce including tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, squash, cauliflower, zucchini, broccoli, herbs and others.

“I wanted to have something that would impact people and not just go show cattle,” said Schroeder, “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.”

Organizations she has already donated to include: Carroll Assistance Center, Wheatland Nursing Home, Café on Vine, River Bend Food Bank, Lost Nation Food Pantry, Family Resources, Lady of the Prairie, Community Action of Eastern Iowa. She plans to expand the garden and add organizations to her donation list through her first year of college.

Schroeder has spent over 1,000 hours working in the garden, with help from her siblings and parents, especially during the summer when she is playing softball and showing livestock. Her goal is to donate a total of 20,000 pounds of produce, by the time she graduates high school in 2025.

Her mother, Katie Schroeder, is proud to see her daughter take charge as a leader, for a project that revolves around her passion and serving others.

“How could you not be proud,” said Schroeder, “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.”