515.243.7063 (DM) 641.337.5019 (Orient)


What is Real Food Camp?

Real Food is a unique summer camp for teens like you that combines current food issues with team-building activities, hands-on learning and conversations with experts.

During the week-long camp, Sunday, June 26 through Friday, July 1, 2016, you’ll learn about local and global concerns such as food insecurity and hunger, local food systems, biotechnology and how the environment is affected by food production. In addition, you’ll work with other students to carry out a service project, harvest food, prepare meals, and build teamwork.

Field trips to places such as a farmers market, DuPont Pioneer, and the Neely-Kinyon Research Farm provide you with opportunities to talk directly with experts in food science, engineering, food production, nutrition and wellness and more. Each day concludes with time for you to reflect and talk to others about what you’ve learned. Want to learn more? Read camper testimonials.

What Makes Real Food Camp Special?


Real Food camp was developed and is taught by professionals experienced in agriculture and youth development:

  • Dr. Deb Hall of Iowa State University Extension developed the pilot curriculum. During 30 years with ISU Extension, Dr. Hall has served in several capacities including state 4-H and Youth Development Livestock Specialist.
  • Diane Weiland is the CEO/Program Developer for The Wallace Centers of Iowa and coordinates the Real Food camp. She plans each day’s schedule, contacts interesting speakers, and teaches some of the sessions.
  • Mosa Shayan, Farm Programs Manager, leads hand-on activities in the production gardens, emphasizing sustainable farming practices in soil quality, weed and pest management, and water conservation.
  • Katie Porter, Chef/Food Programs Manager, directs the hands-on meal and snack preparations, using as many fresh, local ingredients as possible.

The Wallace Centers of Iowa (WCI) operates two historic sites:

The Wallace House in Des Moines and the Henry A. Wallace Country Life Center near Orient. Both sites are on the National Register of Historic Places.

WCI provides educational programs and community services, produces sustainably-grown fruits and vegetables, and offers locally-sourced meals. More information about the non-profit can be found at www.wallace.org.

Field trips to places such as the World Food Prize, the Neely-Kinyon Research Farm, soil conservation projects, a local farmers market, and ethnic restaurants provide a chance for you to see the wide variety of businesses, corporations, research facilities, and organizations in Iowa that are involved in food production in some way.


Students say that Real Food camp helps develop leadership and problem solving skills and increases their knowledge base for potential careers in agriculture, food science, health and wellness, social services, environmental studies and other areas.

The optional independent project included in the Real Food camp has the greatest potential to impact your community. Students just like you learned the steps to planning a project and worked with WCI staff to figure out what they want to do.

Past projects include a Girl Scout day camp focusing on hunger and food insecurity, a healthy eating day camp for elementary students taught by teens, and a plan to increase youth entrepreneurs at a local farmers market. Staff regularly touch base with the students to find out how the projects are going and if the students need any help.

A Sample Day at Camp

  • Team building activity
  • Working in the production garden
  • Issue investigation and research
  • Field Trip
  • Physical activity
  • Meal/snack planning and preparation
  • Reflecting
  • Fun, laughter, making new friends, great food, and new experiences

If time allows, there may be other group activities such as swimming or movies. The usual day will begin at 9:00 a.m. and conclude around 7:00 p.m.

How do I sign up?

The initial application consists of the following:

  • General contact information
  • Short essay questions
  • Needs scholarship application if applicable

Upon acceptance, the following will be required prior to June 1, 2016:

  • Program Fee
  • Lodging Fee (if applicable)
  • Health and Permission Forms

Program Fee

Participants will take part in six days of programming (Sunday, June 26 through midday Friday, July 1, 2016) at a cost of $400. This fee includes all meals, snacks, t-shirt, program materials, additional supplies, field trip transportation, and project mentoring. Participants will be responsible for any extra costs that they incur on field trips such as additional snacks or souvenirs.

Overnight Accomodations

Students who live close to the Country Life Center near Orient, IA can drive there or be dropped off and picked up for each day’s program. If lodging is needed, all overnight accommodations will be from Sunday through Thursday night (five nights). Available options and costs include: Staying with a local host family ($100), double-occupancy room at the Hotel Greenfield ($350) or single-occupancy room at the Hotel Greenfield ($550). Adult supervision provided.

Register Now

Contact WCI CEO and Program Developer Diane Weiland at dianeweiland@wallace.org or 515-243-7063 with your questions. She’ll be glad to talk with you.