Jacqueline King’s daughter inspires her to volunteer!
She encourages people to grow their own food.
“Victory Garden Initiative (VGI) does work throughout Milwaukee County and we believe that all people can benefit from growing their own food, regardless of income, race, gender, occupation or any other category. We also operate a farm in a neighborhood that has some challenging food-related health statistics. Because of the lower than average incomes, neighbors have less access to vegetables and the need for more fresh vegetables is more prevalent. Jackie King has a way of talking with people that inspires them to engage in the work of the farm. She tells her own stories, which in turns helps people understand their own food stories. Both Jackie and her daughter, Joscelyn (Jos) are inspirational people.” Gretchen Mead, Executive Director, Victory Garden Initiative
What made you become a volunteer?
When I saw how much it changed my daughter’s outlook on life, when she attended the Youth Education Program (YEP) at Victory Garden Initiative, I became convinced it was a cause that I wanted to support. She would come home talking about health, and vegetables, and why it’s important to grow your own food, and she really inspired me.
The YEP program teaches elementary and junior high age children, how and why to grow and cook their own food. In addition to vegetables, the in-depth curriculum focuses on sustainability, permaculture, healing herbs, and understanding seasonality. It is a very hands on approach, where children do much of the growing, harvesting, preparing and of course, eating, themselves.
Describe Victory Garden Initiative and the work they do.
Victory Garden Initiative builds communities that grow their own food, creating a community-based, socially just, environmentally sustainable, nutritious food system for all.
We have several unique programs, beginning with the Victory Garden BLITZ. The BLITZ is heading into its 10th year, and is the largest garden building event in the nation, building 500 gardens every year! It is a brilliant program, connecting people from all walks of life to both the important issues of good food and to each other. VGI also plants fruit and nut trees all over the county, trains leaders through the Food Leader Certificate Program, and teaches children, adults, college students, neighbors and friends how and why to grow, eat and prepare delicious, nutritious foods.
Gretchen Mead added, “Exciting this year, is the addition of the new building, The Farmhouse that we are purchasing across the street from The Victory Garden Urban Farm. Here our programs will fully develop to include a greater level of kitchen skill building, including old time crafts such as canning and preserving foods, root cellaring… and also more modern entrepreneurial crafts, such as preparing artisan goods for sale. Preparing farm-to-table meals for a large group will be added to the teaching this season. We also plan to integrate a kids cooking club into a regular routine at the Farmhouse. It is going to be a fantastic year!”
What do you do as a volunteer?
I am a board member with a focus on advancing the work at the Victory Garden Urban Farm. This involves outreach and community engagement to make the neighborhood aware of all the opportunities at the farm. My daughter, Jos has been in the YEP farm program for a couple of years and it has transformed her perspective on food. I became a believer in growing your own food by watching her and the other kids in this program!
How long have you been a volunteer?
What surprised you the most about volunteering?
I was surprised how involved the kids were in growing their own food! I couldn’t believe how excited and proud they were. I was impressed with how much they knew and how much they cared.
What new things have you learned through this volunteer opportunity?
I am the CEO of a water company called Clear and Fresh Water. We sell water filters and bottled water. I know a lot about clean water. What I didn’t know is how connected my work was to the work of Victory Garden Initiative. Food and water are two issues that can transform our health, and are much related. Food, water, environment, social and racial justice, health, are all part of the same conversation. We all need clean water AND clean food; it’s a basic human right.
Has it changed your view of the world in any way? Has it changed your view of the community?
I didn’t really understand the complexity of the issues related to food until I engaged in the conversations we have at VGI. I have learned so much about the changes we need to make.
Has volunteering helped you? Has it had benefits for you?
It has made my bond with my daughter much closer. We have had in-depth conversations about important issues, after she worked at the farm, which we never would have had otherwise. She motivates me to be better. And, I feel more connected to the community when I volunteer.
What are you most proud of?
I’m very proud that I was selected to be a board member, and am helping lead an effort that is so important to me.
Would you recommend volunteering to others? If so, what would you tell them is the benefit they’d get from volunteering?
Definitely! First, you should volunteer because everyone should know how to grow their own food, and the staff at VGI can help you with that. And second, gardening helps with stress, depression, and your overall health.
How would you suggest someone begin if they want to volunteer at Victory Garden Initiative or elsewhere?
The Victory Garden Urban Farm is a very inspiring place. It really paints a vision of a different kind of food system, which is hard to imagine without seeing it. Come to a volunteer day at the farm, and you will leave feeling a little happier and a little healthier.
Volunteer with Victory Garden Initiative
Fruity Nutty BLITZ – April 19-22
The Fruity Nutty BLITZ promotes planting fruit and nut trees in residential yards and community spaces throughout the Milwaukee area. Volunteers will be planting trees in morning and afternoon shift (or all day!) If we have more volunteers than we have trees to plant, volunteers will be able to help take care of the existing trees at our farm and help prepare for a great growing season there.
The Great Milwaukee Victory Garden BLITZ – May 12-26
The Victory Garden BLITZ provides hundreds of affordable raised garden beds for residents throughout Greater Milwaukee, while simultaneously bringing together hundreds of volunteers for an inspiring day of community building. Volunteer duties will vary depending on which day you choose, but will likely involve moving soil and constructing gardens. You’ll get to work with a team and travel from site to site all over Milwaukee to help your neighbors grow more food. Visit VictoryGardenInitiative.org/BLITZ for more details.
Farmhand – Victory Garden Urban Farm
Keep the Victory Garden Urban Farm productive, sustainable, and rewarding for the Harambee Neighborhood and City of Milwaukee. There are daily and weekly tasks such as composting food waste, watering crops, pulling weeds, harvesting produce, planting seeds, digging, mulching, etc. Help is needed Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, noon-4:00 p.m.
In addition, there are Board openings and Event Planning opportunities.
The Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee is a membership association serving over 500 nonprofit and corporate members and the nonprofit sector at large. The Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee is a catalyst promoting the interests and enhancing the effectiveness of the nonprofit sector in southeast Wisconsin. Its programs include training and consulting, Volunteer Milwaukee, financial management, and Jobs that Serve. For more information visit npcmilwaukee.org. To find a volunteer opportunity visit VolunteerMilwaukee.org.
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