PEI Faculty Seminar Series Video: The Des Moines Farming Corridor
Downtown Des Moines once lacking in its 9 to 5 downtown a residential presence, has been radically restructured through a process that I developed 25 years ago with the Des Moines Vision Plan of 1990. The plan has fostered the city’s urban transformation through several projects that reversed the flight to the suburbs including new residential and commercial developments that have people flocking back to the downtown by the thousands, new public spaces, new cultural institutions and an increasing number of exciting events. To sustain and amplify the momentum generated by this process a new project that will resonate both with Iowa’s historical roots in farming and with new twenty first century trends and technological advancements is being developed: the Iowa Farming Corridor, and the DMFC – Des Moines Farming Corridor will represent its first prototype.
This first stage of restructuring was based on transforming, upgrading or redeveloping existing conditions. A new phase in the development of Downtown Des Moines, the DMFC will propose new questions that address contemporary issues including food, health, education and sustainability. It would help educate people about gardening practices, reconnect city dwellers to the source of their food, and contribute to an increased awareness of the health benefits of choosing fresh vegetables and fruits over highly processed foods. The farming corridor will complement the Des Moines school lunch initiative. Students, starting in kindergarten through high school, will learn about farming in greenhouses build in the school yards. The greenhouses, will create energy efficient winter farming. ‘Deep winter’ greenhouses, with a passive solar heating system that captures the day’s warmth and underground heat storage that releases it at night will allow year-round farming. And finally, in terms of the environment, eating locally grown food will help to reduce the distance from farm to table and lowering carbon emissions related to transporting food.