This is Gabrielle reporting in as Growing Food and Sustainability’s Youth Farm Director (if you don’t know us yet, we’re a Summer of Solutions program and Local Initiative in Middleton, WI). A big goal of ours is to provide fresh, local produce to the Middleton community. To that end, we have donated over 2,500 pounds of produce to the MOM Food Pantry (all by bike trailer!) in the past two growing seasons. We also love donating our produce to other good causes, like the Middleton High School Ecology Club’s Annual Organic Dinner!
Last year was the first year that Organic Dinner featured produce grown right at the school. This year, we teamed-up with Ecology Club to make it even better: all of the produce used in the meal was grown at the Youth Farm, and all of the cooking was done by the students themselves! We had a great dinner featuring pasta with pesto and tomato sauce, bread, kale salad, and ice cream. Many local businesses supported our efforts and 130 community members turned out for the dinner. What a success! Continue reading →
Around this time two years ago, my sister Natalie and I hatched the idea for Growing Food and Sustainability. It’s amazing to see how far our program has come since then, when it was just words and a vague vision in our minds.
Our first year taught us so much: we kept a garden alive in a record drought, learned that 9 weeks of continuous summer camp is too much, discovered how to form a close-knit team in three months, and found out that working 55+ hours per week all summer ends up burning you out before the fall harvest. We met amazing kids, ate delicious produce, got a darker tan than ever before, and tried so many new things. It was exhausting, exciting, hard, inspiring, and we knew we wanted to give it a go for a second season.
There are countless and valuable things I have learned as an intern of Growing Food and Sustainability. In this entry, I want to talk briefly about my feelings over using young people as productive power across cultures. I was born and raised in Taiwan, a country where Chinese is the dominant culture. After coming to the US to study as an undergraduate student, I observed difference in people’s attitude and faith in what children and young people could achieve between the two continents.
Nothing has moved me more than seeing our members cooperate and accomplish so many things with our bare hands and sweat. Within a couple months, we restarted compost, weeded and seeded the Youth Farm, ran a stand at the Farmers’ Market, set up a drip irrigation system, and built a fence around the farm to protect vegetables from hungry wild animals. The children at the summer camp also eagerly participated in our farm works. They proved to me that young people, even teenagers, are just as capable at many tasks as older adults are.
Growing Food and Sustainability has now reached it’s halfway point this summer, and I could not be prouder. The interns have grown closer and found work rhythms together, the kids are already giddy about coming back for the next session of garden camp (and as are we to receive them), and we are beginning to plan our upcoming community events including a benefit dinner and harvest festival. There have been major construction team accomplishments, and the garden is looking beautiful. While it seems strange to see the chard get harvested and watch the radish bed lay dormant, it is after all the middle of July. It seems about time for these things to happen, and we can simply look on our accomplishments, savoring our hard work and our harvest.
Tis’ the season, the growing season that is! It has finally arrived after a long hard winter and for gardeners the growing season beats Christmas by a land-slide. This is Morgan here and I have been part of the Growing Food and Sustainability team since the beginning in 2012. I’ve spent my time this past year volunteering with the Hinahara sisters and working with children at the youth garden. Even though my time spent will be limited this summer with GFS I am continuing to take part in gardening with local community members and will be a face around the town.
I’ve got to say that it has been a splendid summer thus far with plenty of rain and sunshine and I hope we are as lucky in the following months to produce a bountiful crop yield. This past week I have picked more strawberries than I could have ever imagined. Being a new gardener as I have been this past year, I have had an eye opener with how much food one can grow within the own boundaries of their yard. I’m telling you, if anyone would wants to cut down on their grocery bill, all they have to do is plant a small garden in their backyard. Continue reading →
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.
Hello, and happy summer! What a perfect combination of sunshine and rain we’ve been having; all the better to gear Growing Food and Sustainability and all of our summer campers to get into the garden this season! I’m Sara, a participant with GFS and a summer intern for our youth garden programs. This summer will mark my first with GFS, as well as my first working with younger kids, as most of the work I’ve done so far has been with the high schoolers at Clark Street Community School. I must say, I can’t wait to meet all the new campers; being a part of this program is as important and educational for me as I hope it will be for all of the gardeners-to-be. I am even more excited because our Growing Food and Sustainability family just keeps growing!
Last week, our new summer interns and volunteers, along with our program leaders, participated in a training week to gear us up for the summer garden camps we will lead together. Instead of doing push ups and garden obstacle courses, we focused on reflective activities as well as team/community building activities and brainstorms–though we did fit a bit of running around and laughing our heads off into a session or two. Continue reading →