Starting a New Season on Healthy Soil

Program Location: Middleton, WI
By: Colin Higgins

For Growing Food and Sustainability (GFS), our training week signified the end of a successful journey through our first year or so, and the fresh start of a second year.  Unlike the first training week though, this one witnessed the continuation and growth of existing programs and the beginning of even more! Likewise, this training week had more participants attending, and caused the same amount of (if not more) giddy excitement and inspiration that last year’s did.

One of the most exciting areas of growth for me to witness was that of our farmers market stand.  Last year we had a booth at the farmers market with ample kids activities  – we reached many new families with them, but did not sell any produce. This year during training week there was time for our team to plan out what we wanted the market stand to look like, with focuses on selling produce and increasing attendance at the market. I found it especially exciting that we focused on this in our training week, as it is a way to get participants involved directly with the revenue generation aspect of our program and a way to ensure a successful farmers market stand.  In our discussion we built on the rough plans to have an event promoting the market.  We decided to have a Summer Season Farmers Market Kickoff which happened yesterday, Tuesday 6/18.

Summer Kick-off flyer
This event was exciting not only because we are promoting the farmers market to the community, but also because we are building on established relationships with vendors at the market – so everyone can do better together!

On another note, training week was a great experience for me because I was able to view it from a different lens than last year.  I had gone from being a participant last year, learning many of the trainings, to being a program leader this year, helping to plan and facilitate the week.

Overall, training week was a moment for me to stop and see where I had grown personally since last year, and also to see where GFS had grown since last year. Looking back provided the insight that, similar to our garden, our program is starting a second season, but on soil that has been built up by love, hard work, and community.  Moving forward from training week, I have high hopes and lots of excitement for what this new team will accomplish!

226458_10200219738512792_894384917_nAuthor: Colin Higgins is a junior at UW-Madison majoring in Geography.  He volunteered with Growing Food and Sustainability last year and stepped-up to a Program Leader role in the fall.

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