Have you ever heard of the zucchini problem? No, it isn’t some mathematical theorem posited by an academic with the last name of a vegetable, but it can be reduced to a simple equation. To paraphrase Lawrence Hoffman from Groundwork Milwaukee, “one zucchini plant equals more zucchini than one person could ever know what to do with.” The urban gardening nonprofit is offering a solution to this problem, however: partnering local gardeners with volunteer couriers via an app called Fresh Food Connect.
Groundwork Milwaukee manages over 100 community gardens across the Milwaukee area, ranging from at-home micro-gardens to a two-acre urban farm just off Capitol Road. Their programs transform brownfields into community spaces, empower volunteers and at-risk youth, and provide gardeners with resources and training in sustainable, eco-friendly urban farming. Now, with Fresh Food Connect, they aim to save excess produce from the compost bin and get it to local food pantries.
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So how does it work? It all starts with downloading Fresh Food Connect from your app store. From there you can register as a gardener to schedule pick-ups for your unwanted produce, or as a courier to deliver donations. Donations will initially only be accepted from six ZIP codes, from Riverwest and the East Side to the Bay View and Wauwatosa areas, but Samson Srok, Food Systems Specialist with Groundwork Milwaukee, says expansion is only limited by the number of volunteers they get.
While all volunteers are welcome, couriers are needed most right now, according to Hoffman and Srok. Anyone can be a courier as long as they have reliable transportation (bikes welcome!) and availability on Friday afternoons, or Monday mornings in the Bay View area. Donations will go to pantries that have partnered with Groundwork Milwaukee, like Tikkun Ha-ir’s Veggie Chop Shop and New Beginnings are Possible.
If Fresh Food Connect doesn’t work for you, but you still want to get involved, Groundwork Milwaukee is always taking new volunteers for their other programs across the city. The ideal volunteer will have an interest in gardening or construction, but no qualities are more important than a willingness to do good and get your hands dirty.
For further information about Fresh Food Connect or Groundwork Milwaukee’s other programs, you can visit their website.