IHYC Rooftop Gardens

Iowa Homeless Youth Centers (IHYC) is developing the Rooftop Gardens project in Des Moines. Once construction is completed later this year, the gardens will offer an apprenticeship program for young adults who are at-risk or experiencing homelessness. Through the program, participants can gain employment experience, access to healthy locally grown foods, and nutrition education.

About the program

Youth served at IHYC need both soft-skills training and workforce training to help them secure employment. Most youth in our programs do not have a resume or haven’t held a fulltime job before entering our programs.

IHYC Rooftop Gardens will strive to break the cycle of poverty by providing guided work experience and a livable wage. With guidance from staff, young adults will learn to operate our year-round rooftop hydroponic farm, including growing, harvesting, and packaging of the produce.

IHYC will partner with local grocery stores to purchase the produce grown at Rooftop Gardens at a set price. After construction and initial operating expenses, the IHYC Rooftop Gardens will be a self-sufficient program.

About the gardens

Currently under development, the IHYC Rooftop Gardens will be located at 2705 E. Euclid Avenue in Des Moines. The building will house a combination of hydroponic farms inside of a year-round functioning greenhouse, raised beds, and vertical growing techniques.

In the first year, the gardens will grow fresh basil and thyme in one hydroponic farm, and romaine heads of lettuce in a second farm. A cohort of 12-16 youth will serve as apprentices each year. While in the program, participants will receive a financial stipend of $12 an hour for 30 hours each week.

This is the first rooftop garden farm in Iowa.

Support us

You can help youth grow by investing in IHYC Rooftop Gardens. Contact Lisa Behrends at 515-577-4853 to learn more.