by Susie Ralston and Moshe Katz
VGI Board Members
Dear VGI Friends,
Thank you to every single person who contributed to this year’s Annual Giving Campaign. With your generosity, Victory Garden Initiative has set, accomplished, and surpassed a lofty goal, gratefully receiving over $30,000 to cap off a fruitful 2015. $20,000 was matched by the Herzfeld Foundation to fund our youth programs. THANK YOU!
In 2015, VGI also elected two new Co-Chairs to lead our Board of Directors. Let’s take a moment to introduce ourselves and tell you a bit about why we decided to accept this role.
If we haven’t yet met, my name is Susie Ralston, and I am proud and grateful to serve as one of your VGI Board Co-Chairs.
As a volunteer-turned-board member, many reasons compelled me to roll up my sleeves and support the “grow-your-own” food movement VGI is leading. Perhaps the most poignant one came on a warm, sunny day this summer when I took my 24-year-old daughter to visit Concordia Gardens: She grew up in a holistic environment filled with fresh food and now lives in the city of Chicago. My city girl got out of the car and stood in the middle of VGI’s urban oasis; she didn’t move but simply stood in awe of the neighbor children picking the carrots, greens and beans their families loved! The look in her eyes mirrored the glee in one boy’s eye as he shared his harvest with her.
My name is Moshe Katz, your other Co-Chair. These past months have been a great expression of contributing to the things I believe in. I began working with VGI years ago when I built gardens for the renters in my apartment properties. I felt then, as I do now, that everyone should have an opportunity to grow their own food. Food gardening gets us outside and offers us the most nutritious fresh vegetables possible, teaches children lifelong lessons, and offers a timeless connection to the natural world.
Since I witnessed the effect of those gardens on my tenants, I have participated in helping many other garden projects grow though my work with VGI. When I was asked to be the Board Co-Chair, it was a natural progression of my commitment to this mission.
As Board Co-Chairs, we are very proud of how 2015 has been a year filled with GROWTH at VGI, and we are committed to GROWING the organization in the new year! To ring in 2016, we would like to invite you to GROW with us in 16 ways:
- Grow your own food. On May 7-21, 2016, the Great Milwaukee Victory Garden BLITZ will continue with 500 more gardens. Purchase a garden for your yard, your child’s school, or your loved one–today!
- BLITZ Your Town. Does your community need to grow its own food movement? We can bring the BLITZ to your neighborhood.
- Become the Food Leader your community needs.
- Patronize our FarmStand to purchase your produce from kids growing and selling food in their own community!
- Celebrate with your comrades in this movement. Do you have your tickets yet for the 2016 Fruity Nutty Affair?
- Share your abundance. Do you put your money where your mouth is? Individual donors are the single most important funding source for VGI’s mission.
- Confirm your commitment to this work: Take the pledge and become a member.
- Host a dinner with your friends and our Executive Director to engage them in the grow-your-own food movement.
- Help us plan an event. (In August, our friends at Braise catalyzed our first 5-Mile Dinner!)
- Become a Garden Mentor and help your friends and neighbors grow their own food.
- Make your home the center of VGI activities in your neighborhood. First step: Potluck!
- Gather 9 other people in your community to win a Fruity Nutty orchard.
- Contribute your skills and talents to VGI’s infrastructure. Your marketing skills, community connections and green thumb have found a home: Volunteer!
- Come to Concordia Gardens for a work day.
- Be an intern.
- Come to the office and say hi! (We just want to see your happy face.)
In 2015, VGI grew more food in front yards, urban farms, schoolyards, businesses and along city trails than we could’ve predicted. It’s up to all of us to keep this momentum going—even when we want to be inside hibernating!
An undercurrent of support fuels these accomplishments, so in 2016, we will also continue to grow in our donor support, fundraising efforts, attendance at our annual events like the Fruity Nutty Affair and more. All this fruitful work is meaningful and delicious, but it could not happen without the investment of our community: you! We look forward to an exciting 2016 filled with even more GROWTH!
With deep gratitude,
Susie & Moshe