UW-Parkside’s Campus Garden donates 669 pounds of fresh produce to Racine County Food Bank
SOMERS, Wis. - University of Wisconsin-Parkside’s campus garden donated 669 pounds of fresh produce from July to November to the Racine County Food Bank. This donation is a 367 pound increase from 2019, with RCFB staff noting an increase in requests for fresh produce in 2020.
“It has been great to be able to utilize the relatively small space to produce sustainable, locally sourced food for the community and the flowers also benefit pollinators,” Associate Lecturer Julie Kinzelman said. “With the pandemic and the need to help address food insecurity, we’ve been purposely tailoring the produce to have high yield, recognizable vegetables.”
With support from the UW-Parkside campus garden, the Racine County Food Bank was able to provide 1 million pounds of food to its affiliate pantries, shelters and community meal programs, allowing emergency food to 25,602 households last year.
Many individuals have seen the effects of food shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is illustrated in a short film by UW-Parkside student Reagan Becker.
Located behind Tallent Hall and next to the Student Health and Counseling Center, the Campus Garden has also been able to provide vegetables for UW-Parkside and the surrounding community. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Campus Garden has also allowed students, faculty and staff to stay active since the plots enable the participants to socially distance.
The vegetables grown in the Campus Garden are organic, heirloom varieties of produce, with herbs and winter squash provided to A’viands Campus Dining. Some of the produce grown included melons, cucumbers, potatoes, zucchini, cabbage, tomatoes, peppers, winter squash and carrots.
In the future, Kinzelman hopes to expand the garden with assistance from the Parkside Environmental Club (PEC), creating more plots which will allow our campus to provide additional help to those with food insecurities. The addition of the hoop house will extend the growing season by protecting sensitive plants from the elements, such as late spring and early fall frosts. This will allow the garden to provide additional produce to A’viands during the spring or fall semesters, which are primarily outside of the traditional growing season.
In 2020, the campus garden provided space for seven additional gardeners with associations to UW-Parkside along with the PEC, who developed the UW-Parkside Garden Handbook and installed several raised beds in the hoop house. The Campus Garden gives a nod to the history of this agricultural area and the people who lived off the land prior to UW-Parkside’s construction.