Jadah watering the vegetable garden at Badger Rock Center

A student feeds her passion for gardening.

Badger Rock cultivates a tradition of urban agriculture with a Class of 2015 graduate

A poised, energetic young woman, Jadah is known by her neighbors as someone who stands up for herself and her beliefs, including her passion for growing food. She discovered her interest in urban agriculture as a student at Badger Rock Middle School (BRMS). A neighbor fondly shares a story of Jadah confidently responding to boys in the neighborhood who attend a conventional public school while they were standing in line at the ice cream truck one summer day. When teased about the odd shape and small size of BRMS, Jadah replied, “At my school, I’m learning how to grow food and make dirt. I may have grown the cabbage and carrots and peppers you just ate for lunch. What are you learning?”

Jadah’s interest in farming developed in part through the interdisciplinary curriculum focused on environmental sustainability at BRMS. The school’s hand-on learning opportunities are a direct result of the partnerships and collaboration fostered by Center for Resilient Cities at Badger Rock Center. During the weekly field day, students spend class time in the gardens on the Badger Rock Center campus. “We learn by doing,” Jadah explains. “When we want to plant something, we measure the ground and calculate how much room we need between the seeds to figure out how much of something we can grow.” The fresh produce grown and harvested by students and volunteers led by on-site partner Growing Power-Madison finds its way to the school’s salad bar as well as local farmers’ markets.

She’s turned her interest in urban agriculture into a part-time job through connections she’s formed at the Badger Rock Neighborhood Center. Working as a garden helper about 10 hours each summer week and a few hours a week during the busy school year, Jadah feeds her passion and earns her own money. She’s also building solid relationships with others in her community during those onsite hours each week. Her favorite task is weeding, though she works at watering and raking too. With her valuable experience, Growing Power-Madison is happy to have Jadah on the payroll, especially during the busy growing season. She’s recruited a friend and her two older sisters to the urban farm at Badger Rock Center as well.

“I really wasn’t into gardening before middle school,” says Jadah. “When I learned why it’s so important to eat locally and I got a chance to get into the gardens, I realized urban farming is very important to me. Now, I’d like to help other people learn about sustainability and urban agriculture so they will eat local foods too.”