There is a new effort and partnership between the Madison Police Department and the residents of the Parkside Apartment complex, located at the corner of W. Washington Avenue and S. Park Street. The area consists of a mix of public and private housing complexes commonly known as the "Triangle." I know this area well as I once worked in the Triangle as a Neighborhood Officer back in the early1990s and consider it one of the best and most rewarding assignments I have had here at MPD. This particular partnership, led by current South District Neighborhood Officer Kimberly Alan, gives the residents of Parkside Apartment complex a unique opportunity to come together and engage in a positive activity, often difficult to do in the central city – gardening. With the help of Journey Mental Health, the Community Development Authority and the Dane County University of Wisconsin Extension Office, Officer Alan and the residents they have started growing vegetables for the residents in the cafeteria area of the building.
On March 12th the initial planting day occurred and was a success with 22 families participating! In just two hours more than 1,000 plants were started. Since then more residents have come into volunteer and planted even more trays of seedlings. Volunteer residents staff weekly hours in order to allow the residents that do not live in the security-locked building access to the cafeteria. Officer Alan initially came up with the idea that promoting gardening in one of the city's low-income buildings would be a wonderful, and healthy, initiative for the residents of this building. This program gives the residents an opportunity to grow their own food and it allows the community to come together and interact in a positive manner.
This initiative has really taken off thanks to one idea from one police officer within our agency. The residents have really taken to this project and have started to take it over with the continued support of the various agencies mentioned earlier. This effort would not have started without the generous donations from various community agencies and stores in our area. Journey Mental Health has donated volunteer coordination time and donation of the seeds and planting supplies. Quality True Value Hardware of Madison has donated seed trays and Farm and Fleet of Madison has donated soil. The UW Extension Officer has donated light tables, seeds, other supplies, volunteer Master Gardeners and translators. Community Development Authority has provided the use of the cafeteria area, utility service for lights and heating of the room and assisted the coordination of the volunteer and donations. Enough cannot be said to thank these organizations for their efforts.
This is just one of many stories of our community working together and I am very proud of Officer Alan's involvement in this remarkable initiative!
A local news station has covered this story as well and I encourage you to check out the following link: