Spread the Word: Groundwork Milwaukee Manages More Than 100 Community Gardens

This time of year, many Milwaukeeans have gifts on their minds – not just for their loved ones, but also for their most loved causes.

This story is taken from Milwaukee Magazine‘s 2019 Charitable Giving Guide. We found 20 deserving nonprofits for you to consider supporting this holiday season. 

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Groundwork Milwaukee is often called “Milwaukee’s best kept secret,” a label Deneine Powell, executive director, finds frustrating. “We want converts!” she exclaims. “Spread the word!”

Groundwork Milwaukee, operating since 2006 (they merged with Urban Gardens in 2013), is part of 18 Groundwork USA networks around the country. The Milwaukee organization is best known for managing 100+ (2019 count: 122) community gardens in the Milwaukee area, the majority of them in the city. Groundwork Milwaukee provides aspiring urban gardeners — who work in plots ranging the size of a postage stamp to a whole city block — with resources, information and programming (think cooking, canning and nutrition classes). Plus organic soil.

In addition, Groundwork Milwaukee cultivates orchards and pocket parks, initiates youth employment programs and maintains a production farm where they grow for local food pantries. Their volunteers — many of them urban young people — glean local fruit and nut trees where food would otherwise be wasted.

Groundwork Milwaukee also sponsors numerous environmental and conservation projects. A current initiative is getting all of their gardens off city water by building at each garden a 270-gallon tote structure to collect rainwater.

“Water is a valuable resource, and costly, especially for people on a fixed income,” Powell says.  Getting the gardens off city water will also help with some of the issues around climate change, such as urban flooding and stormwater runoff.


The gift that keeps on giving

Last March, Executive Director Deneine Powell opened her final jar of canned tomatoes from her community garden. “A little bit of summer in there,” she says.

Ground Milwaukee “Merch”

Need some accessories for your garden? Look no further than Groundwork Milwaukee. Under the “Shop” tab on Groundwork’s website:

This Story is part of the December issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

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