Exploring and Learning About Convivium Urban Farmstead in Dubuque Iowa

Convivium Urban Farmstead

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While I was in Dubuque, Iowa I was treated to the inside track on an amazing place: Convivium Urban Farmstead. While it is a community-focused project in Dubuque, it strives to be environmentally and economically sustainable while providing education and outreach opportunities for the public. Convivium’s mission is “to create a positive impact on our environment by promoting sustainable living practices.”

AJ at Convivium Urban Farms

Convivium Urban Farmstead offers many different ways to participate in sustainability such as cooking classes, farm tours, workshops, and more. But let’s dig deeper into it and shine a light on all the amazingness that it really is.

Exploring Convivium Urban Farmstead in Dubuque Iowa

If you know me at all, you know I LOVE Farm-to-Fork restaurants and for so many reasons! The local economy is supported by a fantastic network that defies all the logistics issues we are currently dealing with worldwide from Covid fallout. You get the freshest meal possible that uses in season veggies from that tomato slice to fresh-cut fruit.

Convivium Urban Farmstead
This sign pretty much says it all

If you are lucky enough, there are other kinds of cool things like goat cheese, fresh ground beef, and tons of healthy fresh options that your body simply thanks you for. Convivium Urban Farmstead ticks all of those boxes of mine and is an educational facility on top of it all.

So, let me start with the food! From Breakfast Burritos to a Daily Soup – they have you covered with their made-from-scratch kitchen.

Farmstead Restaurant

We were part of a group with a pre-arranged meal in their event space. While most people went with the vegan wrap that was specially prepared for our group, due to my bell peppers food allergy I had a menu optional choice. Don’t get me wrong, I love green peppers but they no longer like me. Getting older is fun, LOL.

The Chicken Pesto Panini called out to me as it would be between slices of Millwork Bakery Bread and I am a sucker for whole-grain gluten goodness! Let’s face it, I live in Wisconsin because it is legal to have 5 starches on the same plate. I was also curious as to whether or not it would feature Convivium Urban Farmstead’s locally grown poultry or not…

Convivium Urban Farms Chicken Pesto Panini
Can you see that cookie hiding on my plate? That one was mine — not Tim’s

I opted for the half sandwich as I tend to eat less and usually, portions are beyond generous.

It did not disappoint – The crunchy goodness of the nuts in the dense bread’s buttery homemade crust made for a wonderful foundation for the unique blend of flavors I was about to experience. The right balance of Shredded chicken breast mixed with Convivium pesto and sundried tomatoes. Add in the caramelized onion and garlic sauce just before they grill it all?

Oh. My. Stars.

It came with chips and an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie that was close to my own recipe.

Farmstead Fresh

The shredded chicken breast was more of a fine dice – leaving delicately roasted chunks to be blended with a sundried tomato and pesto blend, created with their own locally grown heirloom tomatoes.

Convivium Urban Farms chicken
I am not really sure HOW fresh my chicken was but Yes, they know how to use that swing behind them, LOL

That onion and garlic sauce that both balanced out and challenged the pesto without overpowering it before the full assembly was grilled to golden-brown perfection.

It almost seemed lost on the understated white plate as it was surrounded with potato chips but was the clear hero in the midst – with its subtle layers for flavors just waiting to be discovered in that first bite.

It was so amazing that I ripped into it like a monkey on a cupcake…

The only thing that beat it? Tim’s cookie. Before you ask who Tim is – I will tell you – a fellow writer and great friend that I met through the Midwest Travel Network. He’s like that big brother that you have to constantly tease – and I saved his life by eating that cookie.


The Coffee Shop

Are you a java junkie? I love a good cup and this place rocks for beans. It doubles as a gift shop with a ton of unique offerings from mugs to T-shirts. There are also several good options for things produced from their gardens like jams and jellies.

the gardens at Convivium Urban Farms


On my lifestyle site, I have talked about meal kits before- the pros and cons, etc. What is nice about Convivium’s meals is the fact that they are “heat and eat” instead of cooking yourself. With a menu that changes weekly and discounts for larger orders, you can dine on gems like Penne a la Vodka with bacon or Bacon Rance Baked Chicken with Roasted Vegetables.

Besides dinners, there were breakfast and lunch options too – I loved the look of the muffin egg cups with their cheddar cheese shining through or breakfast burritos that look loaded with sweet potatoes.

Just listen to this: Eggs, Italian Sausage, Sweet Potato, Caramelized Onion, Spinach, and Parmesan. Doesn’t that sound like a much better and healthier option than driving through that fast food joint for a quick bite? Just look at the meals you could keep in your fridge for when you needed sustenance!

Nonprofit Organizations

As good as the food was, the food isn’t the real part of the story – the café offerings are a means to the end. The same can be said for the gift shop and HomeFresh Program.

It is simply a way to funnel funds into the non-profit gem that is really their passion.

Who else can proudly claim that they help balance local food insecurity by giving out 300 casseroles every Thursday for FREE? Who can say they were able to step up during Covid lockdowns and provide meals for kids who no longer were getting a free or reduced meal program at their local school?

Convivium can.

Convivium Urban Farms non profit
Volunteers are assembling Chicken Teriyaki and Rice Casseroles for Thursday’s pick up. 300 Single and Family sized gems.

Yes, it brought grant interest that let the scale operations so they can help educate and feed even MORE people, but they stepped up to the plate first.

You can learn more about their casserole program here and even donate to help keep it going.

community garden

Convivium Urban Farmstead is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to create a community around all aspects of food. We were gifted with a tour of some of their community. Following AJ around the local urban community gardens, you couldn’t help but engage in his excitement.

Convivium Gardens

He likes to say it all started with an “Ask”. That first backyard of a hair salon where the yard wasn’t being used. He asked if he could plant a community garden there and they said “yes”. Soon people came to him and offered up spaces for gardens, mulching sections, even live chickens!

Convivium Gardens
A demo garden for potato towers and huge variety of beans

As we walked over reclaimed red bricks, it became clear that they loved to repurpose as much as humanly possible to create unique spaces for their three kinds of gardens: Demo gardens, common gardents, and production gardens.

The demo gardens are primarily to show of different kinds of vegetables, as well as ways to grow them, the common gardens let people help themselves, and the production gardens supply the restaurant and packaging processes.

Convivium Gardens mulch
You can see their mulch and compost system from the streeet

We were schooled in “crop plants” and “worker plants” as well as included on the lessons he learned himself about what did and didn’t work in some instances. While we massaged our kale leaves to taste the difference, we heard all about how he believed in no-till farming.

He does all of this on the offered land – which is just amazing to me. His community recognizes his desire and passion to help the community and they are all onboard to help.

We were invited to pull things right off the vines to try – from Cucuamelons to fresh strawberries as he shared insights on Potato Growing Towers and vertical trellises for optimizing space. Even a spiral garden concept that laid out I think he said over 50 feet of herbs in linear feet in condensed space that was maybe 8×6 feet.

Convivium Spiral Gardens
Just look at the creative use of space

It was so much more than just looking at a converted greenhouse – the governance practices really caught my attention to how much bigger this was than just an urban farm concept. It was an urban garden network.

Their concept comes from AJs edible landscape background and is simply amazing.

If he had to share one tip with a budding gardener it would be: “Mulch it and stick with these easy crops”.

We are talking Beans, Beets, Tomatoes, Peppers, and Lettuce – these all give you a great bang for your buck, are easy when you want to harvest the seeds for the following year if you use heriloom seeds, and preserve well. Just think of all the things you can do with tomatoes! Sauce, tomatoe basesd soups, red pasta sauce, pizza sauces, fresh salsa, and then just eatting them fresh!


easy kinds of veggies to grow

Anyone can whip up a bed of greens – not everyone can give back so much to their community that they become not only a force of nature but a true asset to their neighborhood.

It doesn’t stop there. With everything I mentioned already, you would think they have enough on their metaphorical plate – but they have classes! Nutrition education, good and cheap cooking classes, and How to Garden – so they aren’t just giving the community fish, they are teaching them how to fish.

Don’t you love them as much as I do?

Convivium Urban Farmstead Reviews?

You can hit up Yelp or TripAdvisor yourself but look at a few of my favorites:

Pleasant surprise! I loved everything about this place! The house-made chai tea and all of their fresh made-to-order breakfast options were amazing, and I was impressed by their urban gardening efforts. I also appreciate how they support the community in a variety of ways. A very kid-friendly space as well. Highly recommend!

Fabulous meal and mission! I enjoyed breakfast at Convivium with friends while in Dubuque to watch the Loras College men’s soccer team. It met, and exceeded, my high expectations. The duck egg quiche was delicious and unique, the bacon and biscuit with home made jam were amazing! Most importantly, the mission of this nonprofit cafe inspires, bringing healthy food to a neighborhood that has few grocery options. They farm their own property, plus some of the neighbors’ yards. Locals can take the produce they need! Win win for customers and community!

Let’s face it – it isn’t a good place, it is a great one and you can find it on Jackson St Dubuque Iowa. There is nice outdoor seating if you catch the weather right – in the midwest, that often has a limited window of time.

Edible landscapes
Can you imagine if we all turned at least part of our yards into a food source?

The next time you find yourself in Dubuque Iowa plan to stop here for lunch – you will be helping support a great cause. I look forward to seeing what they do next!

Farmstead Hours

You need to know that it is closed on Monday and Tuesday – but open Wednesday through Sunday from 8 am to 2 pm. It can be a challenge to get to but you just need to get to 2811 Jackson Street in Dubuque, Iowa. You can reach them by calling 563.557.2900 or shooting them an email at info@convivium-dbq.com.

Places To Stay Nearby

Other fun places in Iowa we like: