Gleaning Project

What do local growers do when they have harvested as much of a crop as they think they can sell, but usable food still remains in the field? Since 2014 they have contacted Healthy Cedar Valley Coalition to provide volunteers to glean the fields. Typical crops for gleaning are sweet corn in July and early August and apples, pears, and squash from September through early November. All the produce is sorted, bagged, and donated to the Northeast Iowa Food Bank for distribution to people in need. In 2014, the amount gleaned was 3,481 pounds of produce. In 2016, an especially successful year, 6,464 pounds of food were salvaged by volunteers, the equivalent of 5,387 meals and a 45% increase over the previous year.

Collaborating in this project are HCVC partners NorthernIowa Food and Farm Partnership, the Recycling and Reuse Technology Transfer Center at UNI, and the Northeast Iowa Food Bank. Sheri Huber-Otting, chair of the Maximizing Fresh Produce theme group for the HCVC, says, "I am excited about our community partnerships that make this effort possible. If you would like to volunteer or have produce to glean, call me at 319-235-0507. Many thanks to all of our past donors and volunteers."

Gardening Classes

The HCVC Fresh Produce Theme Group has offered spring gardening classes to the public since 2012, partnering first with Hy-Vee, then ISU Extension, and recently the Cedar Falls Seed Library. Starting with classes in Backyard Composting and Vermicomposting and Planning, Prepping, and Planting the Vegetable Garden, the format was changed in 2016 and 2017 to a round-robin, with attendees able to hear presentations on four topics in a two-hour session. Topics have included heritage tomatoes, flowering perennials, native prairies, pollinator gardens, and the vegetable garden at the Northeast Iowa Food Bank. Instructors are local Master Gardeners and Waste Trac Educators.

HCVC has also brought in speakers for stand-alone events that educate the public about gardening, the environment, or food security. Feed Iowa First founder Sonia Kendrick spoke in the fall of 2016; and organic farmer Jordan Scheibel and retired science teacher Jim Kessler provided a Green Yard Makeover in the spring of 2017.

Classes and events have always been offered free of charge.

Film Festival

Since 2010, Healthy Cedar Valley Coalition has teamed up with University of Northern Iowa's Recycling and Reuse Technology Transfer Center (RRTTC) for an environmental film series. Films are free and open to both students and the community.

Currently HCVC partners with UNI's RRTTC and Center for Energy and Environmental Education Northern Iowa Food and Farm Partnership to promote local growers through a Food and Film Festival held on a Saturday in March. Local growers market their products and services and HCVC provides free environmental health films.

Community Gardens

HCVC focuses on Fresh Produce Availability for everyone. HCVC's advocacy efforts have helped provide gardening space for schools, in urban neighborhoods, for newer immigrants to our community, and churches.

HCVC also encourages gardeners to donate excess fresh produce to the Northeast Iowa Food Bank. People of all ages and from varying socioeconomic statuses--both adults and children are encouraged to garden.

Event Recycling

Two Healthy Cedar Valley Coalition members, Waste Trac and Green Iowa AmeriCorps, have joined forces to provide a new recycling service to the Cedar Valley!

Portable, folding, recycling containers, bags and carts are now available to borrow, with the goal of reducing the amount of trash and litter generated at community events and to recover recyclable materials from the waste stream.

The recycling equipment is open to groups in Black Hawk County, Bremer County, Buchanan County, Fayette County and portions of Grundy County. Consider using the equipment at walk/run events, art festivals, city celebrations, fundraisers, school carnivals, workshops, and green weddings! The equipment can be checked out, free of charge (subject to availability) on a first-come, first-served basis. All applications must be accompanied by a refundable deposit check. All equipment must be picked up and returned to the Waste Trac Education Team office (located at 1500 Bluff Street in Cedar Falls).

To reserve equipment for your event or to download a brochure/application, please visit or call Waste Trac at 319 266-8722 (TRAC).

HCVC Children's Booth

Since 2011, Healthy Cedar Valley Coalition partners have provided an educational Children's Booth with the goal to provide activities that educate children in one or more of the following categories: Gardening/Planting/Healthy Food, Recycling/Reusing, Health/Wellness/Physical Activity, and Sustainability. Initially all activities were held at the downtown Waterloo Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings.

In 2014, HCVC began providing Children's Booth activities two days per week at several Waterloo Schools summer feeding sites where all children 18 years of age or under are able to receive free meals. Feeding sites are located where at least half the children in the area are eligible for free or reduced-priced school meals. The Black Hawk County Health Department currently organizes the educational Children's Booth activities with many HCVC partners providing educational programming.

My Waterloo Days

The HCVC focuses on their Fresh Produce Availability theme through the use of community gardens.

The Healthy Cedar Valley Coalition was present with various booths at the My Waterloo Days event held at the Expo Center in Waterloo last June. It was a very successful event where the coalition was able to get their name out to the community and interact with over 200 participants by providing them with a variety of health services. Some of the services provided included blood pressure and blood sugar readings, as well as body fat index testing. There was also a booth directed towards children that displayed useful and fun gardening and composting activities, ideas, and information. This table also promoted the Waterloo community garden and the local food bank. The My Waterloo Days event provided the coalition with the opportunity to interact with the community and spread useful health and environmental information to participants in a fun and interactive way.

Salsa Saturday

The first annual Salsa Saturday event was an empowerment education project that the Healthy Cedar Valley Coalition was very excited about and is looking forward to continuing in the future. It was held on Saturday, September 11th at the Jesse Cosby Neighborhood Center in Waterloo, Iowa. The event was done in order for community members to be able to come out and learn more about the Waterloo community gardens and how to get involved with this up-and-coming community project. Garden tours were provided which was followed by a salsa making demonstration where participants learned how to make a delicious range of different salsas using fresh and healthy ingredients. Free chips and salsa were provided and a salsa making contest took place where community members were able to make and showcase their favorite salsa recipe. This was an event for the entire family with various outdoor garden activities provided for the kids. The HCVC is always looking to expand and would love having community members come out to learn more about what the HCVC does and how they can become involved!