Why I Love Milwaukee: A Community Garden, and Growing a Community

As the executive director of FUEL Milwaukee and the VP of community affairs at the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, Corry Joe Biddle has become a nexus for Milwaukeeans.

Growing up in the Berryland projects on the North Side, there were always people around. Loneliness was rare; community was a constant. The shared backyard for every kid in the neighborhood was Havenwoods State Forest.

My mother and I would grow green tomatoes and zucchini in Havenwoods’ community garden. Together, we’d fry the fruits and veggies at home, and she’d encourage me and tell me how good of a gardener I was.

My green thumb kind of faded as I grew older, but lessons like the importance of looking out for my neighbors stayed rooted in my psyche. It’s a lesson that seems to be rooted in all Milwaukeeans.

Every leader in this city – politicians, judges, businesspeople – has been willing to mentor eager young professionals. We continue to come together and are willing to help each other, whether it’s tilling a garden plot or giving pointers on expanding a budding business.

Before my mom passed away in September, the last meal I ever cooked for her was fried tomatoes. The thing I grew up with never left me.

— as told to Adam Rogan

“Why I Love Milwaukee: A community garden, and growing a community” appears in the December 2018 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop or find the December issue on newsstands, starting Dec. 3.

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Adam is a journalist who recently returned to his Wisconsin home after graduating from Drake University in December 2017. He interned with MilMag in the summer of 2015 and has been a continual contributor ever since. Follow him on social media @Could_Be_Rogan