In the first half of 2013 Growing Power planned for the upcoming year of expanded growing areas which now include 300 acres of crop land and 100 acres of year round green houses. The expanded growing space required greater operational capacity and organization of our Rainbow Farmers Cooperative (RFC). Data systems and marketing initiatives were upgraded to facilitate greater sales and distribution opportunities. During this time we held our “Weekend Workshop Series” one weekend a month from January through June. 20 aspiring farmers participated in the Commercial Urban Agriculture (CUA) program, attended six months of workshops and were graduated from the program. Several thousand aspiring farmers participated in these trainings. A stand alone three day training series designed specially for aquaponics entrepreneurs, was also held each month.
Our day to day operations continue to inspire thousands of people through tours offered seven days a week, volunteer opportunities at our farms, work opportunities for urban youth, career advancing training for interns, and building the local food system in South East Wisconsin. Food systems were built through our market basket program, our wholesale operation, farm stands at local corporations, and at our café and farm stand.
Some new initatives include our involvement at Westlawn, which is Wisconsins’ largest public housing development. In collaboration with the housing authority and community members a community garden was established. Garden plots were sold for $10 and community members started to garden in their neighborhood. Growing Power provided daily supervision and support for the gardeners through our intern program. All the garden plots were filled with vegetable plants donated by Growing Power. This year Growing Power was part of the Americorps Farm to School Program and had two workers for 20 hours a week. The workers engaged six schools and provided nutrition education, training for teachers on starting gardens and aquaponic systems, and attended open houses to promote farm to school initiatives. The workers developed a curriculum that they used with students.
Significant progress was made in establishing green houses on Milwaukee Public Schools property at the schools. In collaboration with the school district, meetings were held with teachers, principals, and district administrators to establish a protocol for building and maintaining a year round green house at the school for the purpose of growing vegetables to be used at the school. We hope to build the first of these hoop house- green houses this fall and work on creating a template for a microeconomy centered around using the produce at the schools and selling the excess in the local area. Growing Power is also a member of a city wide aquaponic group that facilitates the development of aquaponic systems in school settings throughout Southeastern Wisconsin.
At our main farm and training center we continue to evolve and build additional year round green houses. Our goat operation grows each year with the addition of additional goats and this year we hope to collaborate with the only urban dairy in Wisconsin to make goat milk cheese. Black soldier flies have a new home on the farm with their own feeding station and green house. They are very happy flies and grow by the millions. Eventually their larve will be used to feed our 30,000 fish which are thriving in our aquaponic systems.
We are excited to harvest our expanded fields this fall and we thank your organization for your ongoing support of “The Good Food Revolution”.
GlobalGiving Report August 2012- December 2012 In the second half of 2012, Growing Power continued to take a leadership role in building a local and sustainable food system. Building on the momentum created from the first half of the year through special projects like the opening of the Growing Power Deli and Food Market, and our day-to-day activities like providing hands on environmental education to local youth and adults through tours and volunteer opportunities, giving technical assistance to budding farmers and small farm enterprises; providing interns with meaningful work experiences, and growing good food for local communities, Growing Power continued to see growth in all areas of operation. September 7-9, more than 1500 individuals participated in the Growing Power 2012 National - International Urban & Small Farm Conference in Milwaukee, WI. Attended by veteran and aspiring farmers, renewable energy experts, urban planners, gardeners, business owners, academics and chefs, this conference provided a forum to share ideas for building healthy and resilient community-based food systems. There were over 15 tracks total, encompassing a wide array of fields like Urban Planning Strategies, Urban Aquaponics, Environmental Design Innovation, Brownfields Development, Fundraising, Growing Food & Justice and Culinary Arts. In 2012, Growing Power kicked off the Growing Capacity for the Green Economy (GCGE) project, a collaboration between Growing Power and the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board functioning as a job preparation project designed to provide Milwaukee's underemployed & unemployed youth with skills, training and hands-on experience. A three year project, GCGE aimed to hire 150 individuals over the course of the project, providing them with valuable job training and leadership development to increase their employability in the Green sector. In 2012, Growing Power hired 67 individuals through GCGE, exceeded its goal of hiring 50 individuals in the first year of the project. The closing of 2012 brought the realization of the impact that Growing Power has on Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the United States and even the world. In 2012, Growing Power composted 43 million pounds of waste, provided fresh produce snacks for 45,000 Milwaukee Public School students, offset 40 tons of carbon and nitrogen, produced more than $750,000 worth of crops on 200 acres of growing space, raised 50,000 fish and millions of red wiggler worms. In addition the Growing Power headquarters in Milwaukee saw 30,000 visitors, over 1,700 volunteers and 371 youth corp graduates. Growing Power also provided the necessary training for 38 graduates of the Commercial Urban Agriculture Training program. These participants will move forward towards the first phase of their own urban farm plans. As we kick off our 2013 year, stay tuned for updates on our continued growth. We have set some high expectations that we fully intend to exceed. We would like to thank YOU, our enthusiastic supporters for helping us bring the Good Food Movement to life. We are genuinely thankful for all the ways in which you help us to impact communities that need it most.
Like all farms, transition from spring to summer is filled with hard work and anticipation. Growing Power was excited to keep things rolling as the growing season warmed up. In between our hearty growing and harvesting efforts, we managed to stave off the majority of ill drought effects on the crops (thanks to our method of growing year – round in hoop houses and using our nutrient dense, moisture rich compost - and hardworking staff!), and finish up our planning for our National – International Urban & Small Farm Conference, September 7th through the 9th 2012 here in Milwaukee.
Growing Power is also overjoyed to report that our Martin Luther King Drive Growing Power Deli and Food Market is officially open! We are committed to making sure under-resourced communities can get access healthy, affordable (and tasty!) foods. The new market and deli not only serves light fare made with locally sourced products, as part of King Commons( a development site of mixed-use housing and commercial space) Growing Power’s Deli & Food Market will provide fresh, naturally grown fruits and vegetables, as well as other organic food products to local residents – the majority of which is delivered fresh from local Growing Power farms and hoop houses, less than 10 miles away. This community food project was developed in collaboration with a local Milwaukee -based community organization, the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corporation.
Through the remainder of the year we will look forward to continuing the great work made possible by supporters like you: providing hands on environmental education to local youth and adults through tours and volunteer opportunities, giving technical assistance to budding farmers and small farm enterprises; providing interns with meaningful work experiences, and growing good food for local communities. The holiday season is rapidly approaching too, and in many places, hurting communities need support and good nourishment to weather the cold season coming their way. Growing Power is committed to serving on both a local and national level, and we hope you will continue to join in by lending your crucial support- both financially and otherwise. Stay tuned for updates on our continued growth, and as always, we‘d love for you to drop us a line and give us some feedback! Thank you for your continued support and input- it really does mean the world to us.
The year certainly got off to a great start! Growing Power's national "From the Ground Up!" workshops began, and tons of amazing folks from all over the country came to our national headquarters in Milwaukee to learn about a variety of exciting subjects. So far this year, over 300 participants were able to choose from a plethora of options including Aquaponics, Bee Keeping, Community Project Design, Composting, Hoop House Construction, Myscpoaping, Year Round Production and Marketing, and Renewable Energy. Our staff is always excited to see new faces (and old!) and they take great pleasure in sharing their knowledge with diverse audiences. "From the Ground Up!" workshops are held once a month through June; check the website (http://bit.ly/HVbRpF) for dates and more information or give us a call if you have questions-- we'd love to see you there!
We're also busy planning our second annual National-International Urban & Small Farm Conference, to be held in Milwaukee from September 7th to 9th, 2012. Growing Power first hosted this event in 2010, when nearly 1500 participants gathered at the Milwaukee State Fair to share ideas for building healthy and resilient community-based food systems. This year we're looking forward to an even larger affair, where passionate folks from all walks of life- farmers, aspiring farmers, renewable energy experts, urban planners, business owners, academics, chefs, and people from countless other areas will be present and ready to mingle. There will be 17 conference tracks in total, including fantastic sessions like Urban Planning Strategies, Environmental Design Innovation, Brownfields Development, Fundraising and more! We anticipate over 3,000 participants will attend, and the nation’s most well-known food-system experts will share their knowledge and expertise! To register, or find out more about the conference, visit the site: http://bit.ly/9AakoP.
Of course, leading up to the conference, Growing Power will be carrying on with regular activities; providing hands on environmental education to local youth and adults through tours and volunteer opportunities, giving technical assistance to budding farmers and small farm enterprises; providing interns with meaningful work experiences, and growing good food for local communities. 2012 also finds us refining our methods and systems; for example, Growing Power is partnered with UW-Milwaukee’s Great Lakes Water Institute and Freshwater Sciences to research optimal conditions and time for spawning fish (Lake Perch) in four, 1100 gallon tanks; so exciting! Organizationally speaking, we are also in the midst of our strategic planning process and look forward to building internal capacity to better serve both the local and the national community.
As our project draws to an end here on Global Giving, we'd like to take this time to thank YOU, our enthusiastic supporters! We wouldn't be able to accomplish anything without your support. You donate your time, your hard earned money, and your passion for The Good Food Movement with willing hearts and open hands. We are genuinely thankful for all the ways in which you help us to impact communities that need it most.
Here at Growing Power, we also value stakeholder input; what do you like about how we’re doing things? Where do you see opportunity for improvement? We read every comment on facebook, every email you send our way, and every letter that lands in our mail-- and we’d love to know more.
So don’t be a stranger. Play with worms. Eat good food. And may your gardens ever flourish!
Our Mission : Growing Power is a national nonprofit organization and land trust supporting people from diverse backgrounds, and the environments in which they live, by helping to provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe, and affordable food for people in all communities. Growing Power implements this mission by providing hands-on training, on-the-ground demonstration, outreach, and technical assistance through the development of Community Food Systems that help people grow, process, market, and distribute food in a sustainable manner.
Our Vison : Inspiring communities to build sustainable food systems that are equitable and ecologically sound, creating a just world, one food-secure community at a time.
What a year! Growing Power accomplished quite a bit in 2011. We are excited to share our success, as none of it would be possible without you! Overall, Growing Power continued to expand its educational programming, increase community outreach, intensify local food production, boost distribution and refine its existing urban sustainable food system programs. We composted more than forty million pounds of food waste in 2011—more than ever before—and transformed it into healthy soil. We maintained thirteen farm stands in the city, providing fresh food to urban communities with few healthy options and hired more staff at living wage salaries. We trained 1,500 beginning farmers through our weekend workshops and acquired more than a hundred acres of new land to grow more food. We graduated forty-three people from our Commercial Urban Agriculture program and continued serving youth through our Service Learning Program, Youth Corps and numerous educational outreach projects and tours.
Growing Power has also continued developing Community Food Centers throughout the country. During the grant period the organization expanded to partner with sixteen organizations across the country in over 12 states to implement Regional Outreach Training Centers (ROTC). These Centers are organized in a way that provides the immediate community with training, technical support, and programming in sustainable agriculture based off of Growing Power’s successful community-based food systems work. Through the ROTC development, Growing Power training and technical assistance will build the capacity of community leaders to empower children and families in urban and rural communities to achieve a healthy, dignified and environmentally sound standard of living. The Community Food Centers are located in various regions including the Southeast, Southwest, Northeast and other areas.
Our composting operation is flourishing as well: we partnered with the local Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) to secure three locations to support centralized large scale compost operations and increased year round food production. We also made great strides on the renewable energy front : our 10.8kw solar photovoltaic array, since its installation in the spring of 2010, has produced 24.8 MWh (24, 838, 174w). The energy created by our solar array is estimated to have offset 10.4 tons of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions! We installed a new polycarbonate roof in Greenhouse One allowing over 40% more light for an estimated carbon offset of 4.85 tons!
In the New Year, we are looking forward to ramping up production, expanding distribution, developing organizational capacity and strengthening community outreach. We are moving forward on preparation for the five story vertical farm and finishing our plans for the local store on Martin Luther King Drive , which will include space for retail, a deli and a farmstand situated below office and residential apartments in a distressed (but developing) neighborhood. Growing Power is also excited about continuing its relationship with the Milwaukee Public School System in our “Farm Fresh to MPS” initiative (since October, Growing Power has supplied 5 tons in carrots alone!)
We love hearing from you, so feel free to shoot us an email or a phone call with questions you may have about what we do here. Even better, pay us a visit! We have tours daily at 1:00pm at our headquarters, and through June, you can participate in Growing Power’s monthly “From the Ground Up!” weekend-long workshops (visit our website for registration info). Growing Power hopes your New Year has gotten off to a great start, and looks forward to sharing our progress with you in the coming months!
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