Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Youth Grow Local Conference

This past weekend, I was able to participate in the Community GroundWorks (CGW) Youth Grow Local Conference. I've written about CGW before (and yes, the online voting is still going on, through April 3!), and although they provide an amazing array of agricultural and community-building services to Madison, this Youth Grow Local conference is always among the most inspiring for me. This conference brings together people from all across Southeastern Wisconsin to talk about growing food with young people.  The conference website (a quick little google site that I built) lists the following as the highlights of the event:
  • Learn how to start and maintain a school or community youth garden
  • Network with others who are involved in the youth gardening movement
  • Attend expert panels designed to assist both beginning and experienced gardeners
  • Learn a variety of lesson plans and hands-on activities to use in your garden
  • Meet public health professionals involved in researching and promoting youth gardening 
And indeed I was able to do all this and much more!  Because I was a room host for the event, I spent most of the morning in this space, learning about "Resources for Your Youth Garden," and "Hands-on Garden Activities":

Where I also got to eat awesome snacks from the REAP Farm to School program (beauty heart radishes, jicama, carrots, raw sweet potatoes, red peppers):

And got to browse an amazing library of books related to gardening and youth gardening--I've listed a few of my favorites below (click on the individual books to see the full Amazon profiles). If you'd like more recommendations on any of these topics, let me know, as I have a full list.



I also got to learn about this really useful service the University of Wisconsin offers, where they'll test your soil for a very small fee and let you know if it's contaminated with anything and what steps to take to remediate it. If you're gardening in urban areas, this is especially important, because the history of your land may include all kinds of things that you don't know about, but that could bring contaminants into your garden. For more info on the UW service, see their site here. If you're in other states, check with your own state universities to see if they have a similar service available. 

I also audio-recorded most of the sessions, so if you're interested in attending after the fact from afar, those recordings will be available online and I can report back here if anyone would like.

Very happy to have been part of this event once more!

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