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Former City of Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz

Former Mayor Dave Cieslewicz's Blog

Spuds & Sprockets

July 25, 2010 1:31 PM

Both gardening and biking are rapidly growing trends in Madison. On Saturday morning I got to combine them.

Saturday was my eighth annual Community Gardens Bike Tour. Sponsored by the Community Action Coalition, it's become a late summer (ok, mid-summer this year) ritual in which a few dozen people join me on a bicycle ride touring three or four community gardens around town. This year the CAC's great garden coordinator Nicole Craig planned a tour of east side gardens starting at the East High Youth Farm, and then Glendale Elementary School followed by an excursion into darkest Monona (I did not cross the border, not because I don't love my former home of Monona, but because I had a family obligation in the afternoon).

Because there was an emphasis this year on Madison Public School gardens, school board member Ed Hughes joined me on the trip. Ed and I were really impressed by the great work that staff members at the schools are doing to get kids involved in understanding the science, culture, economics and politics of food.

And it's also a lot of fun. Kids at Glendale have created a brand new garden this year from scratch with the help of only slightly older folks from AmeriCorps, MSCR and the UW Extension. Their young garden includes a pizza garden, salsa garden, buttefly garden, and garden sculptures created by the kids. In a nice story of community involvement, a young man named Max from AmeriCorps explained how his father, a carpenter, volunteered to build a handsome wooden shed to house the tools of gardening, and the kids decorated it with murals and a rooftop of grass (no word on whether goats will grace the roof next season).

At the East High garden, coordinator Kitty King explained that there's an additional emphasis on supplying food pantries with goods from the garden. I noticed an emphasis this year on potatoes, which provide a lot of nutrition, and on beets, which is unfortunate because I hate beets.

There are now 53 community and school gardens in Dane County, double the number when I started the tours eight years ago. If you want to learn more you can visit the CAC's website at Also, the Madison Community Foundation is doing great work to support community gardens. You can visit them at


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