Summer Draws Near

Cross-posted from Growing Food and Sustainability

Our latest bout of rainy weather here in Wisconsin hasn’t kept us from moving steadily toward the sunny days of summer!

The greenhouse is brimming with seedlings. Our babies our growing up and in two weeks they will be ready for you to take home and plant in your own garden! Don’t forget to join us for our annual Spring Plant Sale on Saturday, May 17th from 9am-noon and Sunday, May 18th from 1-4pm (while supplies last!) This is an important fundraiser for us and a way to help you start your own vegetable garden!

DSCF1644This year we’re offering 4-pack variety packs of tomatoes, in addition to eggplant, broccoli, basil, peppers, and more!

We are still enrolling campers for our 3rd summer of Garden Camps! It’s not too late to sign-up to join us in the garden this summer. We’re in the process of adding a new outdoor kitchen and project area at the Youth Farm which promises to make this summer better than ever! Registration information can be found here.

Our summer intern team is taking shape! We are in the midst of our final round of intern interviews. Five amazing new interns are already signed-on to work with us this summer. We’re so excited to welcome them to our team and to involve them in a transformative summer full of farming, education, and community building!

The Power of Youth

By: Rita Chen
Location: Middleton, WI

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-Middleton, WI

The team in Middleton, WI is so excited to be a part of this inspiring network of youth leaders!

Our Program

We are designing and running a sustainability and environmental education program primarily for middle and high school youth that focuses on gardening and food production but also incorporates art, people-powered transportation, and multi-age relationship building through teaching and mentorships.  The program’s home base will be the garden and greenhouse, located on public school land in central Middleton, where we will hold the majority of the workshops and host open garden work hours.  However, we will also expand our work into the greater Middleton community.  Some of our ideas include running a kids activity table and possibly selling some of our produce at the Downtown Middleton Farmers’ Market, taking group bike trips to the nearby Bock Community Garden, and delivering (by bike trailer) a percentage of the produce we grow to the Middleton Outreach Ministry’s food pantry.

Workshops will incorporate a variety of sustainability topics and will often use the garden as a hands-on classroom.  Students will learn basic gardening skills such as bed construction, seed starting in the greenhouse, composting, transplanting, caring for plants, maintaining the garden, harvesting, washing, and distributing produce.  We will also discuss and put into practice topics such as nutrition, the nutrient cycle, alternative transportation, water conservation, energy efficiency, and we will host several cooking classes at the nearby Willy Street Co-op.  All of this will help connect the garden to the larger issues of sustainability, health, and justice.  Personal expression through art and writing will be a part of every workshop as well.  We will incorporate garden-fresh snacks as often as possible, and participating students will have the opportunity to bring fresh produce home to their families on a regular basis.

During open garden work hours, students will be able to spend additional time at the garden based on their level of interest.  The garden will be a safe, supervised space, where parents can feel comfortable leaving their kids and where kids will know they can interact with a supportive adult.

Gabrielle Hinahara

Gabrielle has extensive farming and gardening experience and has also worked with youth.  In college, she was involved with F.H. King Students for Sustainable Agriculture, where she helped to lead educational workshops for the student body in addition to volunteering in the garden.  In the summer of 2010, she worked as the head counselor at the Frost Valley YMCA Farm Camp in New York, where she helped run garden-based outdoor education classes, counseled middle school-aged youth, and advised and evaluated the counseling staff.  In the fall of 2010, she worked as an intern at Growing Power, an urban farm in Milwaukee, WI, where she learned about intensive growing systems such as vermiculture and aquaponics.  She recently completed a full-season apprentice at Simple Gifts Farm in Amherst, MA, which runs a 300-member CSA and also sells at the local farmers market.  This is where she gained most of her agricultural knowledge, including learning how to plan greenhouse and field planting schedules and how to grow and harvest almost every type of produce, from strawberries to squash to lettuce. 

Natalie Hinahara

Natalie has significant experience organizing groups of peers and also in effectively communicating and partnering with adults.  She was the student representative on the City of Middleton Sustainability Committee both her junior and senior year of high school and was president of the high school Ecology Club during her senior year.  She also has experience working with youth in a garden setting, since she volunteered in Middleton’s Bock Children’s Garden in the summer of 2010.  In college, she is currently a member of the UW-Madison chapter of Slow Food and is an intern in WISPIRG’s anti-big ag campaign, where she is learning community organizing skills.  She is also majoring in art, so her talent in this area will contribute to the arts portion of our program.

Right now, we are working on securing land for garden space at both Middleton High School and Kromrey Middle School.  We are excited to know how much land we will have so that we can design the gardens!

If you are interested in keeping updated on our progress, please join our facebook group!