When we entered 2020, we had a new director, new plans, and parties in the works to celebrate our 25 years as an organization... and then COVID-19 hit! While very little went as planned, this was a season that exemplified the best of City Sprouts and the Omaha community. When we shut down our city in March due to COVID-19, it was a time of fear and hopelessness, but our experiences since then have left us feeling the exact opposite: full of hope and a belief that our community can overcome anything when we work together.
As lines at food pantries grew longer, we knew we had to find a way to respond. This led to the addition of three new urban farm sites and an increase in our food production goal to almost 20,000 pounds! This was made possible through partnerships with nonprofits to access land, share resources, and cultivate the land. Fresh, local produce has been distributed throughout the Omaha community through food pantries, nonprofits tackling food insecurity, and innovative approaches to farmers markets, including free farm stands and a pay-what-you-can farmers market.
Our educational programming shifted quickly to the virtual environment, with Little Sprouts and Growing Gardeners workshops reaching more people than ever before. Our community gardens provided not only a space for growing food, but also a safe place to come together as a community (six feet apart, outside, with masks and sanitizer!). The Urban Farming Internship kicked off a bit late and split into small groups at our various sites, but was a huge success and made our production goal possible.
This was a tough and uncertain year, but there was still so much good and too many highlights to share! Watch the beginning of our virtual gala with Executive Director, Katie's overview of the year or read some of our other highlights below:
Most of our educational programs, including Little Sprouts (3-7-year-olds), Garden to Table (middle-schoolers), and Growing Gardeners (adults), have switched to a virtual format at this time.
We were able to offer hundreds of free seed packets to community members through our Little Free Library & Pantry.
Little Sprouts, our summer program for 3-7-year-olds, began early in April and has been extended through November of this year in its virtual format. Thanks to a grant from The Rotary Club of West Omaha we were able to extend this program as well as offer supply kits to families.
Remember our pink education center off of 40th and Seward - well it got a new facelift and is now, appropriately, green!
Events like our Pollinator Jamboree changed format as well. Thanks to a grant from the Omaha Community Foundation we were able to supply 30 families with pollinator kits to enjoy this late summer.
Our community garden still buzzed along and improved. The garden plots filled up and were gardened by community members, with new social distancing guidelines.
Thanks to some generous individuals we have a new roof on our chicken coop, a beautiful new garden bench, and improvements to our shed ramp and cob oven. We have even solidified plans and funding to add a geodesic greenhouse next year, thanks to Conagra Brands Foundation!
We’re glad to have been able to offer Growing Gardeners workshops throughout the year in a virtual format so gardeners can still safely learn and improve their gardening skillset.
We were grateful to have some wonderful volunteers and interns, including virtual programs intern McKenzie Blaine, help us out this year.
2020 was our 25th-year-anniversary! We didn't get to have the big party we wanted but still pulled off a virtual gala. Check out the recording above which includes farm tours, music, and interviews with our interns!
Our interns and farm crew grew over 14,500lbs of produce this year! This has been our most productive year yet with 6x anything we've grown before!
This was a tough year, but as you can see there was still so much good in it as we saw our community come together! We are full of gratitude for all that has been possible this year, thanks to our amazing funders, donors, volunteers, and partners. And extra kudos to our incredible staff and board who showed resilience, creativity, determination, and passion as we faced many big changes and unknowns. Let us never forget the spirit of collaboration that made it all possible!