The Power of Produce (PoP) Club is now at the Whitewater City Market on Tuesdays from 4-7 PM. This event may be new to Whitewater, but it is actually common at many markets around the United States! The PoP Club works to encourage families to attend the farmers market each week and empowers young shoppers to make their own nutritious food choices. Did you know? People are more likely to eat their fruits and vegetables when they attend the farmers market.
The Power of Produce Club is for kids ages 4-12 (registration is required). For each market they attend, PoP Club members receive one free coupon that allows them to purchase $3 of their own fruits and vegetables. Who doesn’t want fresh, tasty, local produce?
What’s the best way to learn about the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables? With fun hands-on activities! Along with receiving coupons every week that the children visit, they also get to participate in free learning activities. Some activities include: learning plant parts, planting a seed, decorating a garden rock, and painting with produce! The final two PoP Club dates at the Whitewater City Market are Tuesday, August 7th and Tuesday, August 14th where children can look forward to using the PoP photo booth and making thank you cards for their favorite farmers. For more information, visit our Facebook event page.
School gardens establish a learning environment that allow both children and plants to grow…and the kids seriously dig it. Throughout the gardening season, children learn through hands-on activities like planting, watering, weeding, harvesting and finally, tasting! In fact, school gardens actually increase consumption of fruits and vegetables among children. Since children are in the garden helping the plants to grow, they develop a sense of pride and ownership for the produce which makes them more likely to try the fruits and vegetables that they cared for. The eating habits they develop in the garden are also more likely to grow and continue into adulthood. Not only does a school garden increase consumption of fresh produce, but they also promote healthy lifestyles by decreasing sedentary behavior.
There are all kinds of garden activities that get the students up and active! Rather than sitting in a classroom they can be out and about in the garden measuring the plants, counting seeds, hunting for insects, identifying plant parts, and much more. Gardens can be used to teach concepts from just about any subject from science and nutrition to art and math!
Along with giving the children a “living classroom” school gardens also bring the community together. Teachers, students, parents and community volunteers can work together in the garden which helps to build the children’s social skills and self-esteem. Additionally, the community members can lead healthier lifestyles by staying active in the garden and trying the nutritious produce themselves.
Some school gardens even take the initiative to donate the produce to local food pantries. For example, the UW-Whitewater Campus Garden is hoping to donate 2,000 pounds of fresh produce this year to the Whitewater Food Pantry. If you’d like to help, stop by the Campus Garden located between the Ambrose Health Center and the Campus Bookstore on Starin Road. Summer volunteer times are Mondays 3-6pm, Tuesdays 3-6pm, Wednesdays 9-11am, and Thursdays 10am-1pm. You can also get involved with the Garden Gatherings at the Lincoln Growing and Learning Garden anytime between 4-6pm on Mondays throughout the summer, all are welcome!
Interested in helping out even more? There are currently two part-time Wisconsin AmeriCorps Farm to School positions open. Fort HealthCare is looking for a community outreach coordinator and a nutrition educator. The community outreach coordinator will work with the Healthy Community Coalitions as well as working to educate food service directors on local and nutritious food choices. The nutrition educator position focuses on implementing nutrition programs to teach children about establishing healthy eating habits. Both positions will be involved in the Eat Here Eat Well coalition. Applications are due at 5pm on July 20, 2018. Visit https://www.forthealthcare.com/farmtoschool/ for more info and to apply.
Eating local is beneficial to both the environment and our health. It’s estimated that U.S. meals have traveled 1,500 miles from farm to plate. These lengthy transportation times require crops to be harvested prematurely and result in lower nutritional content that continues to decline before being consumed. Local food travels shorter distances, which also means less fuel and fewer greenhouse gases.
Wisconsin’s water, soil, and climate contribute to it being ranking as one of the nation’s leading agricultural states. Here in south-central Wisconsin, we have a number of options available to access fresh, local foods during our growing season. Eating locally can significantly reduce your individual carbon footprint by avoiding the travel, but it also has health benefits because organic produce tends to be more affordable when purchased locally and directly from producers.
1. Shop at a food co-op
Co-ops generally seek local, organic, quality foods and dry goods. Rather than being privately or investor-owned, food cooperatives are owned and governed by the community. These grocery stores are open for all to shop but also welcome shoppers to join as member-owners, allowing them to vote on decisions regarding the operations of the co-op. To find a co-op near you, visit localharvest.org. Currently, the closest co-op in operating to Whitewater is Basics Cooperative, but there is there’s a co-op coming to Whitewater hopefully soon!
Whitewater Grocery Co. serves to nourish and educate the community while offering local foods, natural choices, and gourmet options. Planning efforts for the Whitewater GroCo began in 2016 and they anticipate opening in the next few years once they reach their target ownership goal of 1,000. For membership options and more information visit whitewatergrocery.co.
2. Shop at local farmers markets
Whether you’re shopping for produce, honey, flowers, meats, products from the farmers market are minimally processed and more humane than conventional agriculture. You’re also able to meet farmers and artisans directly to learn about how and where your food is made. While farmers markets usually offer produce, some also have various forms of entertainment including music, food trucks, art, crafts, and other products. Going to local markets is a fun thing to do with family, friends, or to meet new people within the community. Check out localharvest.org to find farmers markets in your area.
Whitewater has two weekly farmers markets available throughout the growing season! From May through October, the Whitewater City Market is held at the Historic Train Depot (301 W. Whitewater St.) on Tuesdays from 4-7 PM. The Whitewater Farmer’s Market is held on Saturdays from 8 AM-12 PM at the True Value (1415 W. Main Street).
3. Join a CSA
Community supported agriculture (CSA) connects consumers to local food directly from farmers. By purchasing an annual “share,” members are provided with fresh, seasonal produce and other specialty products. Product offerings and delivery options vary by CSA. Visit localharvest.org to find a CSA near you.
UW-Whitewater is a host site for Wholesome Harvest CSA, a family farm located in Fort Atkinson, WI that offers a variety of membership options for their products including produce, meats, and eggs with weekly deliveries to the University Center for its members. They anticipate achieving organic certification in the next year or so and have used organic methods for a number of years. Additionally, the city of Whitewater is served by Regenerative Roots, a Certified Organic farm located near Jefferson, WI that delivers to The SweetSpot Cafe. As an added bonus, CSAs are typically looking for summer help and can be a great job for students to learn more about farming and gardening produce!
4. Start your own garden
Growing your vegetables is as local as it gets! If you don’t have the space or aren’t ready to commit to a traditional garden bed, container gardening is a manageable alternative and easy way to get started. Joining a community garden is another option, allowing you to rent a garden plot for the season. This also gives you the opportunity to connect with fellow gardeners to share tips and tricks! Attending volunteer sessions at the UW-Whitewater Campus Garden is another option to learn about gardening maintenance first hand.
Whitewater Community Garden (1201 Innovation Drive) has 30 plots available to the public with access to water and tools included in the rental fee. If you’re not in the Whitewater area, you can search for local community gardens at communitygarden.org.
As we head into the sixth season at the Campus Garden we reflect back on our mission to serve the Whitewater Food Pantry with fresh, organic produce, as well as to educate the campus and community about the benefits of organic gardening. A majority of the produce grown gets donated weekly to the local food pantry. To date we have donated over 5,000 pounds of produce; with roughly 1,400 pounds donated last year and 1,700 pounds donated in 2016. By adding a small orchard with a wide variety of fruit trees, we hope to reach the goal of donating 2,000 pounds of fresh produce per year.
Updates from the Garden Manager
As the weather gets warmer and the spring season approaches, activity in the Upham Greenhouse and the Campus Garden is rapidly increasing. The seedlings planted in early March (onions, leeks, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli) are craving the outdoors, awaiting the early planting sessions. The daily indoor watering and care of tomatoes, peppers, beets, chard, herbs, and brassicas will soon be replaced by the natural water cycle and some irrigation in the garden. Soon, we will be planting the seeds of cucurbits (cucumbers, melons, and squash). After some bed prepping, edging, and maintenance, all the seedlings will be ready to be planted throughout the month of May. This is a yearly routine with a strict schedule.
Though the schedule is demanding, we are introducing some new additions to the garden with inspiration from permaculture design. Our orchard is becoming much vaster with a wide variety of fruit trees and exotic shrubs. From native elderberry to plum trees, the diversity within the Campus Garden is growing each season.
This time of year, the amount of work needed outdoors is accumulating. We aim to plant crops outdoors in early May, and the full planting will take place after the last average frost date in late May. Volunteer hours continue from May through late October or early November, depending on first frost.
How to Get Involved
The best way for you to support the Campus Garden is to volunteer your time and energy by joining us for the work needed to keep up with the garden. Gardening tasks that regularly need our attention include bed prep/turning, weeding, watering, seeding/planting, harvesting, transplanting, cleaning/sanitizing, and more. Without the helping hands of our volunteers, we would not have the time available to maintain the garden and keep it going, so any and all help is greatly appreciated!
All skill levels are welcome. Tools and gloves are provided, but we recommend any experienced gardener to bring your tools you are most comfortable using (and maybe show us how you do it)! Volunteer hours are tracked for reporting to a number of different organizations that require them.
Join us at the Campus Garden, located between the Moraine Bookstore and Ambrose Health Center on Starin Road (764 W. Starin Road, Whitewater, WI 53190).
Lend a hand planing tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, melons, squash, peas, beans, radishes, greens, carrots, and herbs! Check out our Facebook event for more information.
Tuesday, May 29 from 3 – 7 PM
Volunteer Sessions (May)
Tuesdays: 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Thursdays: 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Fridays: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Volunteer Sessions (June – August)
Mondays 3-6 PM
Tuesdays 3-6 PM (Harvesting!)
Wednesdays 9-11 AM
Thursdays 10 AM-1 PM
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater campus sustainability news and related articles.