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.
It’s been a very productive week here at Growing Food and Sustainability. We finally finished our fence. That means no more rabbits nibbling our plants!
The proud construction team with the completed fence!
This week our camp theme was water. This included not only the water cycle, but also how plants are affected by rain and drought. The older campers created their own rain sticks and learned about the chemistry of water molecules. They also learned how to plant melons. Meanwhile, on Friday, our younger campers had the chance to diagram the water cycle and learn how weather and outside factors impact plants. They also planted summer squash. Continue reading →