Guest Post: Grow food, grow life.

by Angela Steinkamp
Gratitude Committee & General Awesome Volunteer

Angela volunteered for the 2015 Great Milwaukee Victory Garden BLITZ and many BLITZes before. She wrote about her experience for the Brilliance Business Solutions blog, and you can see the original here! Thanks for such a beautiful post, Angela!

“Eat your vegetables!” They’re good for you. It’s true. Carrots, for example, are a good source of beta-Carotene, which, in your liver, is converted to vitamin A, a key nutrient for good vision, among many other benefits.

But what if your carrots are dipped into a chlorine bath to keep them looking colorful and fresh? Or what if getting to the closest grocery store means a long bus ride? Or a dangerous walk because there are no sidewalks?

Enter the Victory Garden Initiative. VGI exists to “build communities that grow their own food, creating a community-based, socially just, environmentally sustainable, nutritious food system for all.” What does this mean? What does this look like?

It means you could grow carrots in your yard. It looks like, among other events, The Great Milwaukee Victory Garden Blitz. The Blitz is an annual event, organized by VGI and volunteer committees that attract over four hundred people who help raise garden beds at community centers, churches, schools, and homes all throughout Milwaukee. This is all completed in fifteen days!

Team with completed garden beds

The Blitz is a huge undertaking, and volunteers are always welcome to participate in this event. So on May 19th, the staff at Brilliance Business Solutions joined another group of volunteers as we were given our marching orders. The 4’ x 8’ garden boxes had been constructed earlier in the week, by volunteers; we were going to be shoveling a high-quality compost-soil mixture into the boxes in the residents’ yards. With this kind of soil, you could grow some really excellent carrots.

As we drove through the central part of Milwaukee, we saw abandoned industrial corridors, boarded up homes, and, with a map in our minds, knew of no accessible grocery stores in that area. One resident was new to gardening and began asking us for advice on how to take care of a garden, including what to plant and where to place these plants in their yard. Luckily for us, the executive director of VGI was our driver and had all the right answers in regards to gardening. With the suggestions she gave, the new gardener became a bit more confident she could embark on this new and unfamiliar journey.

Now, the residents may not like carrots even with the health benefits, but they can plant other vegetables they enjoy eating, and with every harvest, they can rest assured that the food is edible and the path to it is short, safe and reliable.

At Brilliance Business Solutions one of our values is: wholehearted. Meaning: We value each other as whole people, living authentic lives including our spiritual lives, family lives, and work lives. We believe the most creative companies are those that allow people to be authentic to who they are.

We extend this value of each other, not just to our co-workers and customers, but to those in our community. They may not be our “next-door” neighbors, but the ability for them to live authentic lives is just as important as it is for us.

This event is impossible without the help of volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering with the Victory Garden Initiative, please visit their website, lear more about what they do and get in touch with someone about their various programs and events.

www.victorygardeninitiative.org

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