In the summer months, we grow as much of our own produce as possible in a series of garden spaces donated by our neighbors. We call these gardens our “production” gardens, because we plant them with the intention of using all of this food in our restaurant and for our classes.

The Common Beds, however, are grown for the purpose of sharing with our neighbors and others who need or want fresh vegetables. These are yellow raised-bed garden boxes that we plant and tend. Each one has signage describing what vegetables are growing and how and when to harvest them. Right now, we have a total of 7 beds throughout the North End. We added one bed this last season and have plans to add two more next year — these three new beds were made possible by a sustainability grant from the City of Dubuque.

In addition to helping with these new beds, the grant also paid for two bikes with trailers that Convivium staff and volunteers use to travel to the common beds and production gardens to help tend them. In the past, we would have had to fire up our farm truck to haul supplies around, so having bikes has helped us reduce our carbon footprint.

Convivium is located in one of Dubuque’s two food deserts. This means that residents in this area of town have limited access to fresh vegetables. So, by providing vegetables in these Common Beds, we are hoping to alleviate this problem — one tomato or carrot at a time.