Feeding Families by Farming

Final report for FNC22-1353

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2022: $3,790.00
Projected End Date: 01/15/2024
Grant Recipient: North Kansas City YMCA
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Anjulette Smith
North Kansas City YMCA
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Project Information

Description of operation:

We have 10 garden beds and a greenhouse. We produce vegetables like brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, garlic, greens (leafy), greens (lettuce), okra, onions, peppers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and herbs.


Many people in our community suffer from food insecurity. The Urban Farm has provided over 500 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables for over 15,000 individuals in our community and the need is still great. The North Kansas City Urban Farm provides food for the community to those who are experiencing food insecurity, free of charge. The farm gives access to healthy food to the community, which improves and enriches the quality and health of the community. Sustaining the farm is crucial to sustaining our community.  

Project Objectives:

We would like to expand the Urban Farm from 10 beds and 10 orchard trees to 20 beds and 20 orchard trees to make a greater impact in the lives of the community to those who experience food insecurities. We will share our progress with our partners, such as the Kansas City Community Gardens and others through our website and social media.


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  • Nicholas Benakis


Materials and methods:

In collaboration with Kansas City Community Gardens and volunteers, the North Kansas City YMCA utilized funding from this grant to expand the number of raised beds and care for the young trees in our orchard. Funding allowed dedicated staff to focus on the urban garden in ways not previously possible. We were also able to purchase much needed mulch for moisture retention and weed prevention.

We have Potomac European Pear, Kieffer Hybrid Euro/Asian Pear,  Shenandoah European Pear,  Korean Giant Asian Pear, Shinko Asian Pear, Pristine Apple, Liberty Apple,  Li Jujube,  Chico Jujube,  Carmine Jewel Bush Cherry,  Caroline Raspberry, Hardy Chicago Fig, and Olympian Fig. They have done well and most will be ready to start harvesting next year per our KCCG/Giving Grove contact. The raspberry bushes are already producing edible fruit for our pantry. I have attached our planting key from The Giving Grove. It was suggested that native local plants, including elderberry be our next additions.

YMCA NKC Giving Grove Planting Plan

Our partnership with Kansas City Community Gardens brings much needed education and expertise for our staff and volunteers who are passionate about developing and  managing the urban garden for maximum harvest and enhanced opportunities for programming related to the garden. We have invited our youth from summer day camp as well as our Active Older Adult population to take part in tasks related to the garden which, in turn, gives both populations a feeling of accomplishment and being a part of something bigger than themselves.

Research results and discussion:

Through the support of the NCR-SARE grant, the North Kansas City YMCA harvested over 250 pounds of produce. This produce was then triple washed and placed in our food pantry. This food pantry is open to the public 5 days a week providing a valuable resource for our community. Through a partnership with Harvesters, we receive shelf stable food and some perishable items, but the urban garden harvest and occasional donations from the community and our members provide the majority of the fresh produce that we provide.

Garden and Harvest Highlights from the raised beds:

Hoop house for seedling growth at YMCA Giving Grove  Carrots harvested as part of YMCA-NKC Giving Grove project

YMCA - NKC Giving Grove produce harvested for food pantry  Mulched beds, at YMCA - NCK Giving Grove gardens

The Monarch Waystation is our newest addition to the garden and will attract butterflies to the area during migration season. This will help pollinate the plants, as well as provide an opportunity for collaboration with the conservation department as we explore Monarch and pollinator specific education topics to bring people into the garden space, encourage outdoor activity, and foster a sense of community. 

Participation Summary
30 Farmers participating in research

Educational & Outreach Activities

12 Consultations
12 On-farm demonstrations
2 Online trainings
10 Tours
2 Webinars / talks / presentations
12 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

25 Farmers participated
Education/outreach description:

We use word of mouth, social media and share about the urban farm during center tours, presentations to local groups like the City Council and North Kansas City Business Council. We share our successes, events and activities whenever the opportunity presents itself. During our Trunk or Treat this year, the farm was on full display as we had our local library reading stories and giving away books in the greenhouse situated between the farm and our orchard. All of the 300+ attendees then moved by the farm and into the YMCA for additional activities. Through a collaboration with Project Search and the Kansas State School for the Blind, young adults with visual impairments were heavily involved with the daily maintenance, watering, weeding and harvesting of produce. A local news station produced a story on the partnership which included the farm.

Learning Outcomes

25 Farmers reported changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness as a result of their participation
Lessons Learned:

We at the North Kansas City YMCA have discovered that we are in need of the expertise of local groups like the Kansas City Community Garden to guide us in this project for maximum effectiveness. We have learned the importance of consistent care for the garden, preparation practices for the orchard to help the trees thrive as they mature and eventually produce a harvest. As we continue to learn more, we see extreme potential in collaborating with additional groups like the North Kansas City High School Garden club, Master Gardeners, volunteer and social groups, etc. The potential for inclusion and education of our community and the garden as a program and resource that adds overall value to said community is immense.

Project Outcomes

25 Farmers changed or adopted a practice
3 New working collaborations
Success stories:

The most impactful story to date has been related to the Kansas State School For The Blind Project Search involvement. The job coach and each student who worked in the garden reported gaining so much knowledge and enjoyment from working the garden. They learned together, did research and spent countless hours in the garden each day after the collaboration began in August and until the first freeze of the year.

In particular, it was so neat to see the visually impaired students using their sense of touch and smell to inspect and learn about the plants and produce as they worked the garden and harvested the produce. One of the students named Jimmy enjoyed telling me all about the steps needed to store sweet potatoes after harvest so that they would gain their sweet taste.


We welcome the opportunity to be a grant recipient in future years to continue allowing the North Kansas City YMCA to better our farming practices, expand opportunities for the community to be involved with our farm and increase education of our members and community at large about urban farming practices.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.