Improvements Made to Hidden Gem on Iowa State Fairgrounds

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DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa State Fair is just a little more than a couple weeks away, and a group of volunteers hopes you'll check out a hidden gem that's undergone some improvements this year.

The Polk County Master Gardener’s Discovery Garden is located on the south side of the Agriculture Building on the Iowa State Fairgrounds. Polk County Master Gardener Patrick Schmitt said, "Just a serene peaceful atmosphere. It's a place for people to come and enjoy and unwind. You wouldn't think that during the fair."

About fifty volunteers with the Polk County Master Gardeners regularly work on it, and lately they've been busy making improvements. The group raised about $100,000 through private donations and business and government grants. Schmitt said, "We're pretty excited to show it off, and I think people will be immensely excited during the fair."

The major improvement is a new permeable pathway. It offers a smoother surface than the rock that was previously there, allowing people to get around much easier. It also offers environmental benefits.

Polk County Master Gardener Jean Roe said, “It filters the rain water and reduces the nutrients that are in the water because the water runs right down through here and filters everything and the water that goes into the ground is much cleaner than it was prior.”

The permeable pathway is made out of 40,000 recycled colored bottles and crushed regional stone. New signs explain the project. "We're trying to educate the public on different ways they can use this in home application," said Schmitt.

You'll also discover new art in the garden, a taller children's tunnel, and new benches. "It's very peaceful for them to come and sit and just enjoy the flowers and enjoy it," said Roe.

The Polk County Master Gardeners will hold a donor appreciation night Wednesday, July 27 at the Discovery Garden to show off the improvements. The Iowa State Fair runs Aug. 11 through the 21.

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