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!