by Kelly Moore Brands
Community Program Manager
Early mornings, late evenings, sleeping like a bear in hibernation in the in-between hours.
Muscling through each day to build as many gardens as we can.
Getting dirty, shoes filled with soil, dealing with rain and wind and hail (oh, my!), but also sunshine and laughter and the smiles of hundreds of volunteers and gardeners.
Relying on our amazing team to get it all done.
Five-hundred and fifty-five gardens in 15 days. That is the BLITZ.
It is one of the most rewarding things that we do here at Victory Garden Initiative – building gardens for people of all ages, ethnicities and income levels in every ZIP Code of Milwaukee and beyond. Just one example of how lucky we are to live here and do this work: our volunteers are incredibly tough – when the weather failed to bring us warmth and sunshine and daisies, they had to deal with it. When I asked them to go out all day and build gardens, they came back at the end of the day, soaking wet but still smiling, telling me that they built 72 gardens in the pouring rain! But with rain comes rainbows, and this year, by the end of the BLITZ, it was all rainbows:
- 381 gardens built and filled with soil
- 171 yards of soil delivered to fill existing gardens for a total of 552 gardens established
- 3,100 packets of fruit, vegetable and flower seeds delivered to gardeners
- 1,000 vegetable seedlings made available to BLITZ gardeners at Weber’s Greenhouse thanks to Weber’s, MATC and MPS teachers and students
- Over 350 volunteers including groups from 19 Milwaukee organizations
- 12 gardens installed at churches, 31 at schools and 37 at community spaces
- Over 50 gardens installed in the Washington Park neighborhood alone (a new record!)
- Sponsorships from 17 local and national organizations, helping us subsidize more gardens than ever before!
With each garden, we know we are closer to building a food system that feeds all people equally; with each food crop planted in someone’s yard, we are helping Milwaukee engage in healthy practices. Whether you BLITZed with us, painted signs, or supported us in any other way, thank you for all your hard work and dedication. As you can see, we literally could not do this without you.
Thank you especially to:
- Case/CNH for the use of their skid steer
- OneTouchPoint for donation of our Move Grass Grow Food yard signs
- Our BLITZ Committee – the best in the business!
- Dirtman (Jeff Leswing) – you are in the trenches with us every day and move soil like nobody’s business
- Aaron Habeck – your dedication to the food movement is inspiring, and your truck driving skills are on point
- Dennis Grzezinski – your constant support, from painting signs to connecting us to donors, helps us keep growing the BLITZ
- Chris Steinkamp – we wouldn’t have wheelbarrows (or maps!) without you
- Mary Creegan – you get the Energizer Bunny award – always asking “what more can I do?”