Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Youth Grow Local

I've been meaning to write for over a week now about the conference I helped plan and that went off swimmingly two weekends ago, February 20. I thought I'd wait until I got to see some of the photos from the conference, but still no photos. So, a few words instead!

As some of you know, I've been involved with a local organization for the past 8 months or so, Community GroundWorks at Troy Gardens, that has really changed my outlook on how I spend my time now and into the future. It's been a wonderful relationship, full of kid gardeners, outdoor cooking, hand-blended pesto, a fundraising campaign for an outdoor kids' kitchen, and lots of Madison community and people who care about kids and good food.

So, the purpose of this conference was to bring together all the people around the region who are working on youth gardening in its various forms. Over 150 people signed up! So many that we had to add another session to fit everyone in. There were workshops on seed starting, on hands-on garden activities, on cooking in the garden (led by me and two others!), on nutrition and health, on local resources for garden supplies, on garden-based school curricula, and more! (Check out the full schedule on the quick-and-dirty website I made for the conference.) Chef Tory Miller, a local celebrity chef from L'Etoile restaurant gave a keynote address and IronWorks Cafe, led by Undergound Food Collective's Ben Hunter, served a lunch of amazing sourdough bread; a potato and oyster mushroom soup; and a confit of local organic chicken, celeriac, and kale. There was so much energy throughout the event.

One of the most exciting aspects of the conference was just hearing where all of these people were coming from, and learning that there were over a hundred different jobs in the Madison area employing people to work on issues around youth gardening! It made me feel much more hopeful about the possibility of incorporating something like that into my future career--whether primarily or extra-curricular-ly. Madison is an amazing place because of all its enthusiasm for ethical and sustainable approaches to food and agriculture. Hooray!

(click on the image above to open a pdf of this awesome Garden
Toolkit put together as a resource by the Wisconsin Department
of Health Services and by Community GroundWorks)

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