During this time of helping others and giving thanks, University of Wisconsin-Parkside’s campus garden has stepped up and donated 1,019 pounds of fresh produce from July to November to the Racine County Food Bank. This donation is a 350-pound increase from 2020, and an increase of more than 700 pounds from the 2019 donation.
“It has been very rewarding to be able to supplement food pantry, shelf-stable products with sustainable, locally sourced fresh vegetables from the UW-Parkside campus garden,” UW-Parkside Associate Lecturer Julie Kinzelman said. “With donations from the Racine County Food Bank and the 18th Street Pick-N-Save, we were able to label and package the produce to make it easier for clients who come on foot or use public transportation to get their produce home in good condition.”
Kinzelman said the Parkside Environmental Club also assisted with the garden, prepping plots for planting in the spring, building more raised beds for the hoop house, painting the shed, planting flowers, and helping with end-of-season weeding. In the future Kinzelman said the team may try to extend the growing season further into November and December by building cold frames and planting a second crop of cold tolerant plants like spinach, kale, and lettuce.
Kinzelman and her husband, also a UW-Parkside alum, expanded the number of leased plots in 2021 in order to welcome four new gardeners. She added that, although the recent lack of rain and high heat resulted in the gardeners needing to use more water than usual, there were some silver linings. Okra and hot peppers were abundant, and the warm weather allowed for a second crop of cabbage, green leafy vegetables, radishes, and green beans.
Located behind Tallent Hall and next to the Student Health and Counselling Center, the Campus Garden has been able to provide vegetables for UW-Parkside and the surrounding community for the past several years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Campus Garden allows students, faculty, and staff to stay active since the plots enable participants to socially distance.