Intensive gardening enhances neighborhood tables and the school’s curriculum.
Center for Resilient Cities forges connections that help to grow community food systems and local economic development.
When Badger Rock Center was in the imagining phase, Center for Resilient Cities looked for a strong urban agriculture partner with which to collaborate. At the same time, Growing Power was in search of a location for its Madison urban farm. We came together, toured several possible locations in Madison, and determined that the Badger Road site was perfect for meeting everyone’s needs. Growing Power gave us a great start and handed off the urban agriculture program to us in 2016.
Now, our site-intensive, year-round, organic urban agriculture program is jointly managed by Community GroundWorks and Center for Resilient Cities, with assistance from UW-Madison Badger Volunteers and other volunteer groups. Our program is becoming an essential source of fresh produce in the neighborhood food system. With the 2017 launch of the Badger Rock Community Market, fresh produce can be sold nearly year-round in a neighborhood that lacks a grocery store. In addition, produce grown on site is prepared by our staff and guest chefs for the monthly CommUNITY dinners held at the Center.
Urban agriculture is also central to Badger Rock Middle School’s project-based learning curriculum. Teachers and students work in the school gardens and the greenhouse under the direction of our Community GroundWorks Farmer in Residence, learning how to grow food intensively and year-round. Badger Rock students take what they grow into the Center’s commercial grade kitchen, preparing healthful snacks and smoothies as they learn about nutrition. In the future, we hope to build out the greenhouse aquaponics system, offering neighbors the opportunity to learning about how to sustainably grow yellow perch, a major source of protein that is part of Wisconsin’s food heritage.
Future plans include community gardens in which neighborhood residents can grow their own food. Badger Rock Neighborhood Center will also offer food preservation classes to help neighbors put up and enjoy the bounty of their gardens throughout the year.
Students, volunteers, visitors from across the state and around the world – all are welcome at Badger Rock Center to see urban agriculture practiced at its finest. But come prepared to lend a hand!
- About a third of Badger Rock Center’s land is devoted to intensive, large-scale urban agriculture.
- We keep an apiary of honeybees and a coop of Polish chickens.
- We grow food year-round in our greenhouse and hoop house.
- We collect water in two large underground cisterns that we use to water our crops when Mother Nature doesn’t!
Our edible landscape includes apple, cherry and plum trees, grape arbors, and raspberry, currant and aronia bushes. Eventually, our edible landscape will expand to include other fruit and nut trees and shrubs. Training in food production, preparation and marketing will involve entrepreneurial youth development with an emphasis on neighborhood green jobs.