For the 2010-2011 school year, Growing Power, through its Rainbow Farmers Cooperative, provided 10,167 Milwaukee Public School (MPS) elementary-aged students with a locally grown and fresh snack, i.e., sunflower micro-greens, carrot sticks. Of these students, 8,897 are SNAP-eligible. This local food procurement is a major component of Growing Power's and the Milwaukee Public School system's partnership. As MPS teachers and students receive training in urban sustainable agriculture methods, project implementation, and curriculum development, Growing Power is actively increasing production and its Rainbow Farmers Cooperative membership to be able to meet the food needs of Wisconsin's largest public school district (81,372 students total). Growing Power has been providing locally grown food to MPS since the 2008-2009 school year, when the organization conducted a pilot project with ten elementary schools to introduce new and healthy, locally grown foods to students and review their reactions. In general, students are very receptive to trying the sunflower micro-greens (which have a nutty flavor reminiscent of sunflower seeds, a popular snack food for many students) and even more excited upon touring the Growing Power National Training and Community Food Center. In the past three months, Growing Power staffs welcomed on average five groups of youth per week. Altogether, the organization educated over a thousand youth through tours, planting projects, and service learning.
In addition, Growing Power staff will have completed the "From the Ground Up" workshop series by the end of June, 2011. Altogether, six weekend-long workshops were offered to train participants in various urban and sustainable agricultural techniques/systems. Current topics include 1. Living Biological Worm Systems & Compost; 2. Aquaculture; 3. Beekeeping; 4. Community Project Design; 5.Year-round Greenhouse Production; 6. Hoop-house production; 7. Mycoscaping; 8. Renewable Energy; 9. Hoop-House Construction; and 10. Dismantling Racism in the Food System.
In May, Growing Power graduated its 2011 Commercial Urban Sustainable Agriculture Training Class. Altogether, 43 people graduated and will implement their business/strategic plans in communities across the U.S. in Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Detroit, Phoenix, Indianapolis, Dallas, Nashville, Birmingham, and many more.
Finally, Growing Power launched its “Growing Capacity for the Green Economy” Initiative this past April, 2011. This ambitious initiative will support the construction of 150 hoop-houses throughout the City of Milwaukee for local food production/distribution AND the creation of 150 full-time positions by the end of 2013.