Local Fresh Food Movement Growing
Schools and communities planting orchards and raised bed gardens.
If you’ve been thinking about planting a vegetable garden in your yard, church or business, now is the time.From May 10 to May 24, Victory Garden Initiative (VGI) will build as many as 500 4- by 8-foot raised-bed gardens across the city during the Great Milwaukee Victory Garden Blitz event.
Gardens, including organic soil, cost $160 and are installed by VGI volunteers.
As part of its efforts to create a better food system in Milwaukee, VGI staff and volunteers recently planted five community orchards during the Fruity Nutty 5 Tree Planting event.
“This is part of the larger fresh food and urban agricultural movement,” said Michael Pettit, a volunteer. “It’s feels good to think about driving down the street and saying, ‘See those fruit trees, I planted them!’”
Alysse Gear, development and administrative coordinator for VGI, said communities had to apply for the orchard giveaway. The application required the community to describe how an orchard would better their neighborhood.
“We’re planting trees that are pretty developed but they probably won’t (yield) fruit for another two years,” Gear said. “But then after that they’ll be there for 25 to 50 years, providing food for the long haul.”
Each community was free to choose what trees they wanted planted in their orchard. In addition, community representatives will participate in VGI’s tree care classes to learn how to maintain their orchard.
“(This) is different from gardening since it’s much less maintenance and a lot longer lasting,” Gear said. “It’s fun because all of the volunteers are learning how to plant trees so they come away with a new skill.”
The event ran smoothly, save some confusion among inexperienced volunteers.
“Not (every volunteer) has an equal amount of information or skill so people get confused and sometimes … don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing,” Pettit said. “But I wouldn’t really call that an obstacle; it’s just part of the process.”
Volunteer Augusta Crumble said that a former neighbor inspired her to plant.
“When I was living in Illinois, I had a neighbor with a peach tree and full garden in his front yard. I would go by and talk to him so I could get peaches but he was so kind and whenever I’d come over, he’d offer them to me,” Crumble said. “I got a chance to meet him and his family that way. It would be great to have this community be one where neighbors can come out and take from the fruit we’re growing.”
One of Crumble’s volunteer efforts was planting a raspberry bush outside of Highland Community School, 1706 W. Highland Ave.
“I’m happy to be involved because it gives me a chance to participate in activities in my community,” Crumble said.
This story was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, where you can find other stories reporting on fifteen city neighborhoods in Milwaukee.