Earlier this month, gardeners converged on Wisconsin from many corners of the country to discuss their work and dream about the next phase of the Going to the Garden initiative. Gardeners hailed from New Mexico, Alaska, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Washington D.C.
Projects ranged from gardens in urban settings, to gardens on a Navajo reservation, and from rekindling an older generation’s nearly lost knowledge of growing gardens, to working with communities far detached from agriculture.
The group began by visiting Growing Power, an innovative and now widely acclaimed urban farm in Milwaukee. The group continued on to the family farm of Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) manager Jeff Boshart, where they shared about their own experiences in gardening and began to dream about the next steps for Going to the Garden.
Going to the Garden began several years ago as a way to encourage and support efforts of congregations wanting to engage their communities by addressing food insecurity and hunger. This project has been a collaborative effort between the GFCF and the Office of Public Witness. It began by providing grants to start or expand community garden-type projects, and continues to seek ways to connect this work with advocacy and addressing larger issues relating to food.
In addition to building and strengthening connections between those leading community gardening projects, the retreat brought out some interesting ideas for moving forward in supporting advocacy with these diverse endeavors. The main idea that emerged is creation of a Garden Advocate position, through which several interested Going to the Garden partners will be able to apply for funding help to expand their advocacy efforts. Through the GFCF, funding will help community members who are connected with local gardening projects work to expand the capacity of the projects to engage in advocacy on the local and national levels, relating to food security and hunger as well as providing additional support for publicity and outreach.
Keep watch for these developments and connect with the gardening growing season on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GoingToTheGarden and at www.brethren.org/publicwitness/going-to-the-garden.html . Those interested in the Garden Advocate idea may contact Jeffrey S. Boshart, manager of the Global Food Crisis Fund and the Emerging Global Mission Fund, at email@example.com .
-- Nathan Hosler and Katie Furrow of the Office of Public Witness contributed this report.