Tippecanoe Community Garden Build Day is today, April 16 at 1PM

UPDATE: The building has been post-poned until next week Saturday, April 23.

The good people at the Tippecanoe Presbyterian Church are going to begin building the Tippecanoe Community Garden today at 1:00 PM, weather permitting. According to Katie Knox, who leads the project, “We will reevaluate in the AM whether we will be able to proceed. Weather doesn’t look good for this though.”

Tippecanoe Presbyterian is at 121 West Saveland Ave., Milwaukee.


A record of the blossoming of my passion for urban gardening

I just found this short piece that I wrote this on July 9, 2008, when Stacie and I were living in a rented Bay View flat. Our landlady had very kindly offered to till the minuscule strip of grass running from the house toward the back alley. That, in conjunction with the Village Roots Garden, launched my continuing adventures in urban gardening.

• • •

I’ve got a wonderful new passion in my life. It’s helped put food on the table and brought me a satisfaction that exceeds virtually any that I’ve known before. The best part is not just that it will continue to reward me, and those around me for some time to come, but that anyone can have it.

This wellspring of satisfaction and joy is a two feet wide, ten feet long, and sits in my backyard. What is it? A pet? A car? What exactly is it?

It’s a garden. A long, narrow, bountiful garden.

While it’s “my” garden, I’ve had a lot of help from several people, including my family, my neighbors, and most certainly, Mother Nature.

But what I really like about the garden is that what’s coming out of it is enhancing the lives of virtually everyone around me. It’s especially benefitted the people who helped me with it, either directly or indirectly.

I made the first harvest from it on July 3. From that harvest came a huge basket of Romaine and red leaf lettuce, each leaf bearing a rich flavor, color, texture, and firmness unlike that of any lettuce that you could buy in a supermarket.

Next in the harvest were a handful of bright red radishes. My young daughter got a thrill from planting the radish seeds, and she was overjoyed to find some radishes were ready for plucking from the earth. Naturally, being a five-year-old, she won’t eat them. But she certainly planted them!

This was food that had grown right in my backyard in Milwaukee. More importantly, it came from our little garden in our little backyard. What’s even more remarkable is that two months ago, the garden didn’t exist. In fact, our little backyard is not even “our” backyard — my wife and I currently rent a lower flat in Bay View. But when our landlady offered to till a little strip of grass and turn it into a garden plot, we leaped at the idea. She followed through, and with a few bags of soil from our neighbors and a bag of “Milwaukee Black Gold” worm castings (read: worm poop) from Growing Power, we were soon in business planning, and planting our first home garden.

• • •

Of course, the adventures have continued since then. The building of the Bay View Hide House Community Garden has been the greatest achievement so far. And we’re starting to talk about building a similar community garden in Cudahy. Stay tuned for more on that, and please write if you’re interested in joining that project. Thanks!

Sept. 10th Beautification Day at the Bay View Hide House Garden

This came in via email a moment ago:

Hope all is well!!  I wanted to make sure everyone knew about the major beautification plans that are underway for the Bay View Hide House Community Garden.  Teri, from Arts at Large, has coordinated a phenomenal project between Muneer (fabulous artist that did Walnut Way) and Tippie Canoe school.  They have taken the fence posts that Home Depot has donated and have created super cool tiles that are an artist perception of the cellular structure of nature (ie, plants animals, insect etc).

Home Depot & BVNA will be installing the fence on Sept. 10th in the morning. VGI, Arts at Large and the kids from Tippie Canoe School are going to be installing benches, flowers, and woodburned sponsor signs around 11:30-2pm on Sept. 10th. We would love to see YOU there too!  The Bay View Hide House Community Garden is located on the corner of Burrell Street and Deer Place.

Feel to bring any perenials that you would like to see at the garden and we can plant them together!

Melissa Tashjian

• • •
This garden has succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. Many of the plants in it literally are six feet tall — and those are just the tomatoes! It’s been an honor to be a part of it.

Work continues on ensuring water access for urban gardens in Milwaukee

The question if if and when Milwaukee Water Works would turn off access to fire hydrants for community gardens has been a very hot topic in Milwaukee’s urban ag scene for some time now. Witness the dozens of people who attended the July 14 meeting (so briefly plugged on here), and subsequent meetings on the topic.

Another such meeting is happening Monday, Aug 16 at the Urban Ecology Center. It looks like it will be another good meeting, not just a meeting for the sake of having a meeting. Here’s the agenda:

6:00-6:30 Networking and Setting up for meeting

6:30- 8:30 Brainstorming/ Strategy Meeting

We are going to explore water issues, solutions, personal skills and affiliations to maxim are collective strengths, vision and creativity. The plan is to write a shared vision in a limited amount of time. All participants will be presented with a number of specific topics/issues expressed on the water group list serve. Everyone will then be asked to write down their ideas on individual pieces of paper. All of these ideas will be shared/displayed with the group, in what can be referred to as an idea map.  Discussion of these items takes place as they are being displayed. Once these ideas are displayed, we can begin to map them looking for not only commonalities within the group, but also associations that come within the presented topics. This will provide a way for us to focus our mission and purpose.

Brainstorming/Strategy  Meeting Agenda

Chris Terbrueggen and Beth Lukomski
Facilatator and Co-Facilatator

1) Welcome and Brief Introductions   20 min. (6:30- 6:50)

2) Assign Roles      10 minutes, (6:50- 7:00)
Late Comer Greater
Time Keeper
Parking Lot
New Member Outreach ( Sign up Sheet)

Brainstorming/ Strategy Session

3) Water  Issues and Solutions    40 minutes             ( 7:00- 7:40)
4) Individual Skills and  Affiliations   20 minutes      (7:40-8:00)
5) Focusing Mission Statement     20 minutes            (8:00-8:20)
6) Next Meeting Discussion  10 minutes                   (8:20- 8:30)
7) Donations for Urban Ecology Center

Pending: Group Decision Making

Please email Chris at: christopher402@gmail.com if want more information or would like to join the water working group listserv.

•  •  •
Chris Terbrueggen’s article provides a very good overview on the subject. A more ‘official’ perspective can be found in Karen Herzog of the Journal Sentinel. To be fair, no gardeners, be they hobbyists or people who depend on their garden for food or a source of income, are quoted in either story. The City has been very forthcoming with their desire to work with us, the urban gardeners. I think that did come through in both stories. And the value of having multiple sources of media is shown by the difference in perspectives in the two stories.

Water access strategies for community gardens meeting 6pm tonight

The vitals:

Water Access Strategies for Community Gardens Meeting 6pm Tonight (Wednesday, August 11th)

Independence First 540 S. First St.

How will we create sustainable, long term solutions to ensure access to water for urban agriculture? Who pays for water for community gardens? What are the strategies to harvest rainwater for gardens? Wanna help?

Fantastic garden salad with homegrown ingredients

The joys of having a community garden or a home garden are proven to you when you sit down to eat what your garden has produced. That happened for me today at dinner, which had a salad made from ingredients that were grown our own back yard. It had:

Two Roma tomatoes
Three yellow cherry tomatoes
Half of a cucumber
One spring onion
Three green beans

The only thing cooked was the beans, which are actually purple beans until you cook them, through which makes they turn green. I still don’t know what does that, but I think it’s the coolest thing since string beans. (The previous link explains it, by the way.)

All of the vegetables were sliced and chopped into small pieces to make a lovely salad. To that we added sea salt and a tiny splash of balsamic vinegar, both of which we bought at a store somewhere. Other than that, it all came from our back yard.

(At this moment, lightning struck within a mile of our house. Wow! Glad my laptop was unplugged!)

Anyhow, the flavors were lush and interwoven. The great thing about garden vegetables is that you don’t have to use very much spice or condiments to illuminate the dish’s flavor. A tiny dash of salt and a fleeting drizzle of balsamic vinegar is all you need. Fantastic!

Kansas City, Missouri embraces urban gardening in its Climate Protection Plan

Another draft left over from July or August 2009!)

In July 2008, the Kansas City, Missouri City Council adopted an ordinance entitled the Climate Protection Plan, which commits the Missouri side of Kansas City to trying to implement recommendations to reduce greenhouse emissions and increase local food availability.  There is quite a bit about food in the plan, which I wanted to draw your attention to.  You can see the whole process, including recommendations and documents, online. Note the language in it:

Buildings & Infrastructure – Land Use Planning & Development

Recommendation #3 – Promote metropolitan food production using methods that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon […]

Summary of specific issues

The industrial food system is heavily-reliant on fossil fuel inputs to plant, harvest, process, package, and transport food as well as to manufacture and apply synthetic fertilizers and biocides. In order to reduce the ecological footprint of our food supply, we need to increase the percentage of food eaten locally that has been grown within the metropolitan area using methods that build organic matter in the soil—sequestering carbon—and minimize fossil fuel use for farm machinery, transportation, fertilizers, and biocides.

People in the local group Victory Garden Initiative are able to rattle off things that sound virtually identical to that at the drop of a hat. But the above language is not from food activists. It’s is from the City of Kansas City, Missouri. KC is not one of the supposedly hippie-infested likes of Boulder, Colorado or Madison, Wisconsin. (And really, both have been overrun with yuppies for ages now.) Kansas City is as middle-America as you can get, with all the problems and joys and challenges of anywhere else in the country. They’ve got their feet on the ground. Most of the folks I knew in K.C. weren’t too fond of pie-in-the-sky thinking. But they can see what’s coming down the road. Which is why it makes prefect sense to me that this is in their recommended  “Strategy/action plan”:

Strategy/action plan

1. Create urban agriculture zoning to foster fruit and vegetable production as well as small-scale animal husbandry on vacant land and lots within neighborhoods.

2. Ask the Board of Parks and Recreation to explore the possibility of opening up portions of City parks for use as community gardens, for-profit and nonprofit urban farms, and produce markets.

3. Through the City’s website and publications, encourage residents to grow food in home and community gardens using methods that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon and to compost their food and yard waste to provide organic matter for urban gardens and farms.

4. Through the City’s website and publications, encourage institutional entities including businesses, churches, and schools to make land available for community gardens and markets and to compost their food and yard waste to provide organic matter for urban gardens and farms. Provide recognition to businesses that participate.

5. Revise City property codes to explicitly allow tall garden plants, front yard gardens, and cover crops.


8. Designate the promotion of urban food production using methods that reduce greenhouse emissions and sequester carbon as a priority in Community Block Development Grant appropriations.

9. Provide funding to Kansas City Community Gardens, the Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture, and other nonprofit organizations to increase their support for community, home and commercial gardens in metropolitan Kansas City.

10. Establish a real estate tax abatement provision for privately-owned lands with no residences or businesses onsite that are operated as nonprofit community gardens.

11. Provide funding to the Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture to help them expand their efforts to increase the number of urban farms in metropolitan Kansas City.


13. Establish a fund to pay for soil remediation on contaminated lands to enable their conversion to urban farms and community gardens.

Much of this was produced with the help of the University of Missouri Extension. But, it was adopted as municipal code. Milwaukee’s city and county representatives need to adopt similar principles and actions as well.