Salsa: A recipe for sustainability


Brittany Blomquist, IV Leader Staff Writer

Amidst tall stems and dense foliage, tomatoes and peppers provide bright spots of color in the IVCC sustainable garden on campus. All thrive organically, along with leeks, pumpkins, and onion crops, in the one-acre plot located near the disc golf course.
The onions, chopped and combined with the tomatoes and peppers, provide a harvest that is transformed into a homemade salsa, prepared by the students of the IVSustainability Club.
The concept behind the organic garden is to create an agricultural resource that can be supported through the sale of its crops, according to Jared Olesen, sociology professor at IVCC and adviser for the IVSustainability Club.
The idea also incorporates the concept of growing one’s own food, making healthy food choices, and choosing food from local organic sources.
Not only does this garden support that model, “it’s an idea that’s entrepreneurial,” said Olesen.
This year, IVSustainability sold the salsa made from the IVCC garden vegetables, on campus. By creating a finished product with an extended shelf life, the club hopes to increase the potential for profit, said Olesen.
The IVCC garden is in its second year. In 2015, half of the one-acre space was planted in crops and the other half acre was planted in rye grass and clover.
According to Olesen, rye grass has a strong root system; it will aid in loosening hard soil and add nutrients to it for the following growing season.
Additionally, IVSustainability has an aquaponics garden inside the IVCC greenhouse. Aquaponics utilizes a water-based growing environment, with nutrients supplied by fish, living in the same environment.
Olesen said this type of gardening is another facet to sustainable organic gardening.
Students interested in buying salsa can purchase a pint for $4 directly from IVSustainability. The salsa also was sold during IVCC’s Sept. 16 Spirit Day.
IVSustainability meets every Wednesday at noon; students can learn more on the IVSustainability Facebook page at or by contacting Olesen in his office in Room D-311.