Over 150 Farm to City Market Baskets were donated to unemployed individuals and their families over the Holiday season. These market baskets included fruits and vegetables commonly eaten around the Holidays as well as fresh greens and salad mix grown in our year-round greenhouses at the Milwaukee-based Community Food Center. The baskets were complemented by locally produced butter, eggs, and spices donated by Penzeys Spices. In addition to these donated baskets, Growing Power continued to deliver weekly orders and provide daily regular market baskets for families seeking affordable, safe and healthy food.
January, 2011 marked the beginning of Growing Power’s “From the Ground Up!” workshop season. From the Ground Up! Workshops are intensive, hands-on trainings offering diverse groups the opportunity to learn, plan, develop, operate, and sustain community food projects. Project participants leave the workshop with improved skills that they can take back into their communities and pass on to others. These workshops are for both rural and urban projects. Several sessions are offered per workshop, including Living Biological Worm Systems & Compost, Aquaculture, Beekeeping, Community Project Design, Year-round Greenhouse production, Hoop-house Construction, Mycoscaping (mushrooms), and Renewable Energy.
Several Milwaukee Public School teachers have enrolled to attend all of the monthly workshops (three to date) and brought Milwaukee Public School students to the January workshop. The workshops are offered one weekend per month on a monthly basis, January – June. Altogether, Growing Power welcomed hundreds of people at the Milwaukee-based Growing Power Community Food Center to participate in these workshops. Scholarships are available on a monthly basis and provided to people with a demonstrated need and interest in intensive sustainable agriculture.
January also marked the beginning of Growing Power’s Commercial Urban Agriculture Training (CUA) Course. This five-month course is a series of monthly sessions that align with Growing Power’s workshops. The CUA trainees learn basic skills in business and non-profit development throughout the five month training concluding with the development of a customized business plan for future implementation. Growing Power welcomed over 50 trainees for the 2011 season who travel from all over the country to attend these monthly sessions. Growing Power completed three monthly sessions to date, covering topics such as Project Planning, Marketing, and Financials and Human Resources.
In general, over the four month period, Growing Power welcomed over 5,000 people to tour the Milwaukee-based Growing Power Community Food Center. Our tour guides shared information about our sustainable agriculture systems and the history of Growing Power. Tour participants ranged from Milwaukee Public School students, university volunteers, families, government officials, businesses, and farmers. Growing Power considers these tours as a gateway and introduction to the organization’s effective programs. Several people have elected to participate in a Growing Power training, the market basket program, or other special events as a result of touring our Milwaukee facility. Tours are offered daily at 1:00PM Central Time and made available to groups through our Main Office: 414-527-1546.
Growing Power is also well underway with the national Food Security Fellowship program that will offer exchange experiences for professionals from the U.S. and select African countries working in community food systems. Growing Power’s Milwaukee and Chicago facilities will host Food Security Fellows during the 2011 year, exposing these Fellows to the innovative and successful urban sustainable agricultural systems that have developed over the past two decades. Some Growing Power staff and qualified individuals from across the U.S. will participate in exchanges in select African countries, sharing knowledge and exchanging experience and information.