Community gardens in Madison and Dane County, Wisconsin are thriving. There are over 50 gardens in the area, and many gardens have doubled and tripled in size over the past several years. Across 30 acres of garden plots, more than 2000 households come together to grow fresh vegetables and so much more. In the gardens, gardeners become more self-sufficient and empowered by growing their own food. Diverse people come together to produce food, and find natural outgrowths of personal relationships, cross-cultural exchange, community development, beautification, environmental justice, crime prevention, leadership, and self-reliance for their neighborhood as a whole. Community gardens can greatly assist with food costs for families.
Over the past two decades, CAC (Community Action Coalition for South Central Wisconsin, Inc.) developed a strong foundation for community gardening in Dane County by playing a leadership role in providing oversight and support. Earlier this year, CAC announced that it would be discontinuing its Community Gardening program, effective May 31, 2014. Groups representing community garden leaders, City and County agencies, and local nonprofits have come together to form an Ad Hoc Community Gardens Planning Committee to work through this transition. In addition to developing strategies and approaches to support thriving community gardens into the next decades, the Committee has taken on responsibility for ensuring that support is provided to community gardens throughout the 2014 season.
To many of us, community gardens represent a vital piece of what community means. The transitions currently taking place – transitions in the ways we support and grow participation in community gardens – represent a truly exciting opportunity to reflect, dream, and mobilize. Garden leaders and a group of committed organizations and agencies are stepping up to envision the future of this rich tradition, and the possibilities are truly inspiring. We invite continued ideas and enthusiasm as we shape the future of support for community gardens in Madison and Dane County.
This website has been developed as a transitional home – a place to share information about the collaborative planning process that is taking place, as well as a place to continue to provide resources developed by CAC and our community of gardeners. Please explore our Resources page, Connect with the community, and stay tuned for Planning updates throughout the 2014 season!