Downtown Ames to spring to life with flowers and vegetables

Ian Steenhoek

Downtown Ames is about to spring to life once again this year with flowers and vegetables.

The Main Street Cultural District and Country Landscapes have teamed up with the City of Ames to bring some life to downtown Ames by planting flowers.

This event occurs yearly to add pretty sights to downtown Ames. This year is a little different, however, with the addition of vegetables in the gardens for the public to use.

There are two beds this year devoted to growing various vegetables, including peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, beans, spinach, herbs and squash. Local residents of downtown Ames are free to harvest them. 

One bed will be located near Bank of the West, and the other on the corner of Douglas and Main. 

“We want our downtown residents to have access to fresh vegetables,” said Cindy Hicks, MSCD Executive Director. “There are many advantages to living in an apartment downtown, but having a vegetable garden usually isn’t one of them.”

There is a sign requesting users to take only what they can eat. Unharvested vegetables will be picked periodically and donated to Food at First, a local food pantry in downtown Ames.

Food at First offers seven meals per week to those who are hungry and need food. Most donations are leftover produces from places such as grocery stores and restaurants. 

This year the flowers were planted by student volunteers from Nevada High School. The flower planting took place Friday afternoon, and was made possible by the Hy-Vee One-Step Garden Grant. Due to rainy conditions the vegetables cannot be planted until the future. 

The various plants will be maintained by volunteers and will be watered three times a week by the city of Ames.

There are many benefits to having a public garden. Hicks went on to explain the potential health benefits that free vegetables can offer, and also that some residents don’t have the opportunity to grow their own food. These new gardens offer downtown residents this opportunity.

It was stated in a press release from the Main Street Cultural District that this year will be used as a test to see how well the program works. There are hopes to expand the gardens to include multiple level garden boxes and trellises as well as adding these gardens on every block.