Malvern man grows organic produce to provide affordable options

Sells food at cashierless, downtown stand
Posted at 7:26 AM, May 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-24 12:35:07-04

MALVERN, Iowa (KMTV) — On a piece of land that has buried train tracks running through it, Tyler Bartley decided to create a large garden to grow local, organic produce.

In the bedroom community of Malvern, Iowa it can be tough to compete with the city about a half hour away.

"It was always hard to offer something here that Omaha didn't have better, but having good farmland and quality produce, that's not a challenge here," said Bartley.

They're able to grow on a larger scale than a typical backyard garden and people are responding to Sown Local Foods.

"The amount of food has almost tripled in five years, and we're now just scratching the surface on field production of watermelon and sweet corn and stuff that you'd see at bigger stands," said Bartley.

They have plots of land in Malvern, Council Bluffs, Glenwood and Pacific Junction.

Once the produce is harvest, it's sold through a number of places. They've partnered with a meal delivery service and restaurants. They also sell at farmers markets and a stand in downtown Malvern.

At the stand, a lock box serves as the cashier. People can just leave payment and take produce. They accept many forms of payment including SNAP benefits.

"The people that are shopping want healthy food for their family, and if you're on a tight budget that's sort of the sweet spot we're at anyways," said Bartley.

Bartley said it takes a lot of hard work, but it's worth it because they feel good about the work they're doing in his hometown.

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