In 2015, Farley Center Volunteer Ron Schell and Madison Area Food Pantry Gardens Volunteer Tom Parslow applied for a City of Madison Seed Grant. Together, we received a small grant to establish native and perennial fruit and vegetable gardens. The initial goal is to harvest 8,000 servings of raspberries, serviceberries, strawberries, currants and asparagus. These berries and asparagus will be distributed to food pantries in packaging that educates consumers—primarily low-income and minority families—about the benefits of these foods.
These plants will produce a harvest of healthy, vitamin-rich, local fruits and vegetables for many years to come. They will also beautify the landscape, provide food for pollinators, and create community among those who tend the plants and help with the harvest.
This proposal is an investment in a healthy food future for low-income Madison families. We expect many of the plants to produce fruit and vegetables for more than twenty years. Over the years, as we experience and learn about propagation of these fruits, we will expand production.
This is a new program here at the Farley Center. Perennials, mostly raspberries, strawberries and gooseberries, were planted in 2015 at both the Center and at the Ken Witte garden in Madison. There are plans to add asparagus in the near future. Once the fruit is ready to eat, it will be sent to various food pantries such as the Allied Dunn’s Marsh Food Pantry and the Saint Vincent de Paul food pantry on Fish Hatchery Road.
Ron Schell and Tim Flores are the Volunteer Co-Coordinators for the Food Pantry Gardens. We hope to have Food Pantry Stewards to help in the future as this project expands.