The following is a Press Release from Community Action Coalition for South Central Wisconsin, Inc.
March 27, 2014
For Immediate Release: Community Gardens Growing in New Direction
For more information, please contact Greta C. Hansen, Executive Director, Community Action Coalition at 608-246-4730 , Ext. 217, Nancy Dungan, City of Madison Community Development Division at 608-261-9241 or Mark Woulf, City of Madison Food and Alcohol Policy Coordinator at 608-266-4611.
The Board of Directors of Community Action Coalition for South Central WI, Inc (CAC) met last fall to evaluate agency programs and plan for the next three years. They asked staff to closely examine CAC’s role in community gardens. Out of that directive, a community conversation with more than 50 individuals was held on March 4 to explore how different urban garden models might be developed in Madison and Dane County for 2015 and beyond. It was clear that CAC’s role in the community garden program would significantly change in some way.
Since that time, staff changes at the agency have necessitated a much abbreviated role for CAC for the 2014 season. Last week, CAC announced it would end its leadership role in the community gardens program in Madison and Dane County, effective May 31, 2014. “CAC is committed to ensuring that all community gardens that we currently oversee are in good position for this year’s growing season,” according to Greta Hansen, CAC’s executive director. “We will continue to do everything within our organization’s capabilities to help make this transition as smooth as possible.”
The process for determining a sustainable, gardener-driven community gardens program is continuing with a planning group made up of community stakeholders, including garden leaders, community agencies, local government, and others. This group will be responsible for identifying potential gaps after May 31, 2014 suggesting how the City of Madison and/or other agencies may be able to fill those gaps. This group will also be studying and ultimately proposing a new model for a community-wide garden program with funding sources, and hopes to have a structure in place before the 2015 growing season.
“First and foremost, I want to sincerely thank all of the dedicated staff at CAC for over 30 years of outstanding leadership in a community gardens program,” said Mayor Paul Soglin, “Madison has one of the best, most accessible community garden programs in the country, and it is because of the commitment of CAC to empower both individual gardens and gardeners to improve their neighborhoods. Nowhere else in the city will you see a more diverse group of people coming together than in our gardens.”
CAC will be working to make sure that registration is complete and water is turned on in all of the community gardens that they serve prior to May 31. The City of Madison is working with CAC and other agencies to ensure there is no interruption in mulch, compost, and water services in 2014.