Hammersley:Growing Hope Among the Vegetables

Friday, May 22, 2009 - 6:23am

Neighborhood Party & Garden Helps Grow a Healthier Community

Madison, WI - May 16, 2009- Hula hoops, jump ropes, hip hop, mariachi and gardening are not the usual words associated with Madison's southwest side. Yet that was just what was going on this past Saturday in the Hammersley and Loreen Drive area as organizers kicked off the new children's community garden with a block party.

"The garden isn't just about growing carrots; it's about growing healthy communities. When neighbors know their neighbors, the community is healthier and safer. People are happier, they care about where they live, they care about their neighbors," says Kim Neuschel, a public health nurse who organized the block party and helped start the children's garden.

At the block party, children and families enjoyed a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, planted flowers, danced, played drums, showed off their hula hoop skills, jumped rope and drew on a block-long sidewalk chalk mural. Neighborhood officer Mike Hanson with the Madison Police Department organized basketball and gave out prizes. The police department even brought along one of their K9 police dogs who happily played ball and fetch with the kids. The main attraction of the block party was the garden and encouraging families to participate in the children's garden.

"This area has really become a food wasteland," explained Jessica LeClair, a public health nurse who works in the community. "There is just nowhere nearby that people can go to get fresh fruits and vegetables."

Community members and organizers hope to change that with the community garden. Starting May 28th from 6-7:30PM, children in the neighborhood can come to the garden every Thursday to plant vegetables, water the garden, care for their plants and learn how to cook with the fresh food they grew themselves. In addition to the children's garden, there are several family garden plots already reserved by local families.

The children's views on the day were reflected in their contributions to the sidewalk chalk mural. Written in amidst the rainbows, stars, scribbles, flowers and tree drawings were the words "peace," "love," "life" and "hope."

Organizers of the block party include Public Health Madison and Dane County, Community Action Coalition, the Madison Police Department and the Wisconsin Youth Company. Volunteers from those organizations as well as AmeriCorps volunteers with the Wisconsin Homegrown Lunch program, the Dane County Early Childhood Initiative and F.H. King all worked at the block party and will continue to help coordinate the garden. Additional volunteers from Joining Forces for Families and the Dane County Timebank were on-hand at the block party to help families plant and play games. The Hammersley garden is the newest of several successful community gardens in Madison.




  • Kim Neuschel(608) 516-8317
  • Jeff Golden(608) 243-0302