Mark Metcalf

Building communities, one garden at a time

By - Apr 28th, 2011 04:00 am

Gretchen Mead

As we move into the warmer, brighter days of spring, I’ve decided to embark on a new series that centers around urban ecology in the city of Milwaukee, beginning with local, sustainable food.

We live in a time where most everything is industrialized, processed and (supposedly) made more efficient. While certain technological marvels have done wonders for our society, they have also changed the way we relate to the natural environment, and are leaving indelible marks on our earth. This rings especially true for the food system. To meet demand, animals are pumped full of hormones to grow larger, faster. Crops are hybridized to produce more than what nature normally allows. Pesticides and other chemicals keep perishable items “fresher” for longer periods of time.  Because of this, we enjoy out-of-season fruits and vegetables year round, plumper chicken breasts and the convenience of having just about anything available at the local grocery store whenever we want it.

In the meantime, the effects of such convenience are being manifest (among other ways) in the surge of health issues. Type II Diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and myriad other health problems are on the rise. Gretchen Mead says these factors initially inspired her to create the Milwaukee Victory Garden Initiative ,which works to help people and communities reconnect with the food they eat by teaching them how to grow it themselves.

As a clinical social worker by training, Mead feels that there is a direct correlation between physical and mental health and the food system, echoing the old adage “You are what you eat.”  But the modernization and industrialization of agriculture has distanced us from what we eat, and even more, where that food comes from.

Mead says that Victory Garden Initiative was formed to shift that consciousness by giving people the tools they need to grow their own food. Whether it’s helping set up beds in your own backyard, offering food pantries space to grow or assisting individuals with purchasing beds in community gardens, the goal is simple:

Victory Garden Initiative empowers communities to grow food, reawakening our intimate relationship to human and food ecology; advancing a resilient food culture: from soil, to seed, to plate, to soil. When everyone is a farmer, we will have a socially and environmentally just food system.

Today I’ll talk to Gretchen about how urban agriculture and sustainable food sources can create stronger communities and help preserve the earth’s natural resources.

Listen now:

(Windows Media)


For more information about VGI and the garden blitz on May 28, click here.

To subscribe to these podcasts through iTunes, click here.

0 thoughts on “PODCAST: Building communities, one garden at a time”

  1. Anonymous says:

    […] This entry was posted in In the Press. Bookmark the permalink. ← Gretchen in the Journal-Sentinel […]

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