The first WEI hoophouse training funded by your donations through the Bonterra Global Giving Challenge drew 100 active participants each day in our first WEI/Growing Power weekend training collaboration. (See photo gallery below). WEI’s next 100 Hoops Project will involve training and organizing WEI hoop house construction crews and the building of three new hoop houses for several members of the Urban Community Food Justice Council – a joint project between WEI and the Environmental Justice Advocates of MN that includes at least four farming groups from each organization: Waite House Latino Farmers, Little Earth of United Tribes Urban Farm, Latino Peanut Farmers, Indigenous Peoples Heritage Farms, Association for Advancement of Hmong Women Farmers, Kwanza Church Farm, Hawthorne EcoVillage, and Ascension Church Farm. In addition WEI plans to build smaller hoop houses on-site for our cultural heritage farmers working on their own plots at the WEI farm. These will be in place in time for spring seeding and seedlings. All of these hoop house projects still fall under the first phase of our project proposal with a goal of $28,860. We are still raising money for this phase and so you can still be a first phase contributor to the 100 Hoops.PROJECT REPORT: WEI’s first hoop house building project occurred on October 23-24, 2010 at the Women’s Environmental Institute during WEI’s first Growing Power Training Weekend. The weekend was a rousing success! Over 100 participants attended the two-day training session with Will Allen from Growing Power, Inc. Participants included a multi-generational group of emerging farmers, educators, representatives of various NGOs and non-profits, sustainability organizations, schools, counties, and various community leaders and individuals involved in the struggle for food justice in the Twin Cities and around the world. Global Giving scholarships were awarded to 10 individuals and provided the opportunity for emerging farmers from economically challenged communities to participate in the weekend training. This first hoophouse construction project was used as a training session for participants who are now able to build hoophouses at the sites for their own local farm projects, mostly small urban community farms in underserved neighborhoods in the Twin Cities. Global Giving scholarship recipients are already signed up to give time to the WEI hoop house construction crews, which will be convening in the spring to build more hoophouses. First stop will be reconstruction of the hoop house at Little Earth of United Tribes, followed by a series of three more hoop houses to be built for members of WEI/EJAM’s food justice project and three smaller hoop houses for WEI’s cultural heritage farmers. Our goal is to complete ten hoophouse construction projects during the 2011 growing season.In addition to hoophouse and aquaponic construction training offered during the WEI/Growing Power weekend, workshops presented by Will Allen and his Milwaukee-based Growing Power staff, as well as numerous WEI-affiliated local instructors, covered other related farmer-training subjects such as composting and vermiculture, bee-keeping, organic berry growing, post-harvest handling, r oot-cellars, microgreen farming, garlic growing and biointensive farming practices. The weekend culminated in a group panel discussion on how to keep the participants connected via a shared information e-news and possibilities for developing collaborations in the Twin Cities and surrounding regions. Participants developed a strong sense of community over the weekend and were rewarded by the completion of a 20x40 hoophouse, including an interior aquaponics tank, that will be used for further farmer training as the winter recedes and the next growing season returns.
Participants left with a renewed sense of mission, many with a stated goal of bringing the knowledge they gained during the weekend back to their own communities. As one attendee commented,"You all did such an awesome amount of good work and I think it really came to great results...I hope you are pleased. As for me, that weekend has started a whole cascade of activity for me. I've been re-organizing and typing out all my notes and contact people info on all kinds of things. I'm starting a project at my son's charter high school in West St. Paul to grow seedlings indoors and start a worm bin with a group of inner city kids. I've also got my name as #2 on a community garden plot just biking distance from my house." -- Mary Ann, WEI/Growing Power workshop participant
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