On Sept. 9, Giving Gardens hosted a fundraiser tour at six of their Stevens Point area community gardens.
Giving Gardens is an organization which aims to combat hunger in the Stevens Point area through community gardening.
According to Jeremy Erickson, Giving Gardens Manager, the organization now includes 16 gardens in Stevens Point, Whiting and Plover. The food produced in these gardens is distributed by a range of food pantries and charitable organizations in Stevens Point and Plover which give the local produce to people in need.
Erickson said that Giving Gardens helps to get their member gardens established by helping with construction, supplies and seeds. From there, many of the gardens are maintained by community partners while others are managed by Giving Gardens.
Much of the gardening is done by volunteers like Danny Werachowski who is an extern for Giving Gardens. Werachowski feels that in addition to donating food, the program also educates the community.
Werachowski said, “Generally, it does two things. On one side of the coin it educates, not only the externs who are learning skills like growing food and gardening, but also the broader community and the people we are donating the food to.”
“Not only is it easier to grow your own food, but it’s a lot healthier for you to grow the kind of nutrient-dense food that’s organic and prepared well in good soil,” said Werachowski.
School districts in the area are among Giving Gardens partners. Werachowski said school garden sites allow for kids to get their first experience seeing where their food comes while simultaneously providing food for the community.
“It educates and it also feeds which is really cool,” said Werachowski.
Another Giving Gardens member is the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point organization Students for Sustainability, which runs the campus garden. The student members of Students for Sustainability use the campus garden as an opportunity to learn about sustainable agriculture while supporting the broader community.
Hannah Zakrzewski, the campus garden manager, said that the vegetables grown are donated to the Aging and Disability Resource Center and the Salvation Army Hope Center. Zakrzewski estimated that this year, despite a slower growing season, the garden has already produced 100 pounds of produce and expects to continue harvesting into the fall.
The six gardens which participated in the fundraiser tour, not only showcased an array of gardening styles but also the diverse set of organizations which partner with the program.