Farm to Fork partner Morning Glory, which has supplied the Bon Appétit team at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, IA, for three-plus years, is a small but mighty contributor to the community.
Donna Warhover, who owns and operates the farm with her husband, Bill, spent a beautiful Iowa morning showing General Manager James Richards, Executive Chef David Smigo, Catering Director Ivy Risch, and me around the farm. Morning Glory grows all kinds of vegetables, fruits, and greens for markets, a three-season community-supported agriculture program, and wholesale to clients such as Bon Appétit — all on 3 acres!
As they walked around the farm, Donna told the group how her journey into farming began when she took a Master Gardener class. She originally worked for Goodwill Industries and is passionate about working with adults with disabilities, so for her final project, she wanted to create a Goodwill Garden. That didn’t quite work out, but it inspired her to start her own farm. Twice a week she hosts a group of adults with disabilities as volunteers, harvesting and planting as well as helping her get ready for markets. She also receives help from The Giving Program, a group of middle schoolers from immigrant families who participate in service work in the community. She volunteers herself, with Labor For Learning, where she mentors other farmers in the community. She was proud to say most of her mentees have been young women.
Donna showed off her new greenhouse that was full to the brim with little sprouts and a high tunnel planted with rows of lettuces. Another, larger high tunnel is currently in the process of being constructed. This will enable them to extend their season and provide more produce to Bon Appétit in the spring. Donna pointed out their 1949 tractor that they retrofitted to be electric — “it’s as quiet as my Prius now!” she joked.
I got to plant a whole row of radish seeds using a tool that looked like a tiny seed bike. The group ended the visit talking about the new food truck Morning Star recently purchased. One of Donna’s mentees went to culinary school and has always dreamed of having a food truck. Donna and Bill want to use fresh produce from the farm to create healthy plant-forward meals, which they’ll serve at events on and off the farm to connect people to where their food comes from.