Victory Garden Initiative

Victory Garden Initiative builds communities that grow their own food, creating a community-based, socially just, environmentally sustainable, nutritious food system for all.

The Victory Gardens of WWI and WWII supported the war effort. People throughout the United States grew their own food in yards, parks, and community spaces so all available resources could go toward the war effort.

Today, we are once again in our green spaces growing food, but today we are fighting a different kind of battle. We are fighting for food security and the health of our ecosystems. We are fighting for resilient communities that support one another and for strong local economies. Through gardening we are seeking a connection to the cycle of life, and for good, tasty food...from garden to plate.

So how does one become a Victory Gardener of today, you ask?

It's quite simple. We become vegetable gardeners. If we are already vegetable gardeners, we help someone else do so through mentoring. We find creative ways to grow food right where we are - in our yards, on our rooftops, on our patios - no piece of earth should be overlooked! We garden ubiquitously and confidently knowing that we are doing what is best for our families, our communities and our country.

Who We Are
Victory Garden Initiative builds communities that grow their own food to create a community-based, socially just ecologically sustainable, nutritious food system for all. It all started with a group of friends in 2009. Together, they installed 35 raised bed gardens in a SINGLE DAY, serendipitously launching Victory Garden Initiative! In 2016, we built 555 gardens in fifteen days, bringing our grand total to over 3,000 gardens built across Milwaukee and beyond! VGI Team- Gretchen Mead- Executive Director Kelly Moore Brands- Community Programs Manager Beverly Tyree- Education Programs Manager Meenal Atre- Mission Advancement Coordinator Polly Muradas- Educator Ian Powell- Farmer Logan McDarmott- BLITZ and Volunteer Coordinator
What We Do
OUR PROGRAMS AND INITIATIVES • THE GREAT MILWAUKEE VICTORY GARDEN BLITZ is our biggest event! With hundreds of volunteers, we install as many 4 x 8 ft. raised-bed gardens as we can in two weeks. 3000 gardens have been built so far. • Our GARDEN MENTOR PROGRAM matches new BLITZ gardeners with experienced food growers to help them have a successful first season. • During the FRUITY NUTTY 5 CONTEST each spring, we award 5 community orchards to applicants with the best plans for bringing their communities together around growing food perennially. Each group wins 30 fruit-and- nut producing plants to install in urban environments. We raise excitement and support for this inspiring initiative at the FRUITY NUTTY AFFAIR each February. • Our MOVE GRASS CLASSES teach gardeners (new and experienced) about garden planning, tree care, permaculture, soil rehab, healthy cooking, rainwater conservation and more. • YOUTH PROGRAMS take kids of all ages out of the classroom into the garden, getting their hands dirty and their hearts excited about growing food. We work on gardening skills; improved perceptions of produce, soil, and the natural environment; group work; nutritional knowledge, and more. Every Thursday, we open the FARMSTAND, run by the kids that grow, harvest, and market the veggies. • VICTORY GARDEN URBAN FARM is our community garden, urban orchard, compost site, rainwater harvesting demonstration, and production farm in Milwaukee’s Harambee neighborhood. We play, eat, learn, explore, and create a tangible vision of a healthy, socially just food system on this beautiful land. We celebrate each September at the FARMRAISER. • The FOOD LEADER CERTIFICATE PROGRAM creates food system changers—actionists equipped with the tools to lead their community toward a better food system for all. In this yearlong program, participants learn about the food system, community organizing, growing food, and leadership.
Why It Matters
Victory Garden Initiative believes that every person, in every household, can connect to their food source through the act of growing it. This act reminds us that we are of the earth, that we cannot live without the earth; that our needs are met, not by the economy, but by the earth. Growing food will re-integrate us with deep ecology, guiding our culture towards a sustainable, abundant future, freed from financial inequalities. Envision our post-industrial world transformed to an abundant and sustainable ecosystem through the reintroduction of food growing into our urban ecology. When fruit trees fill our parks, and nut trees are harvested by our neighbors, when food pantries house vegetable gardens and school children participate in growing their lunches, we will have a secure, sovereign, socially just and sustainable food system.
July 23, 2015
In this Next Avenue Moment, join Gretchen Mead from The Victory Garden Initiative in Milwaukee, WI as she takes you step by step on how to assemble your own raised bed garden.
July 13, 2015
By Sheila Julson
July 4, 2015
By Kristine Hansen // Photos by Tim Klein
June 26, 2015
by Angela Steinkamp (Gratitude Committee & General Awesome Volunteer)
June 2, 2015
by Gretchen Mead - Executive Director
May 21, 2015
Who: Who taught you how to garden? Who did you call when you first started growing your own food and you didn't know what to do? Now you have an opportunity to pay it forward by becoming a Garden Mentor! Mentees are chosen from among this year's Blitz participants, with priority given to those who have no prior gardening experience.
May 17, 2015
By Susan Bence & Michelle Maternowski Friday marks day seven of the 15-day urban garden blitz in the Milwaukee area. Several hundred volunteers are ferrying wooden planks and trucking mound upon mound of soil to build, and fill 4x8 raised garden beds. The effort is in its 7th season and is the brainchild of the Victory Garden Initiative, or VGI.
May 16, 2015
By Michele McCormack
May 13, 2015
By Nate Imig You may notice more raised garden beds popping around the city this month – 500 more of them, to be precise. The uptick is thanks to an annual program at the Victory Garden Initiative called the “Garden Blitz.” For the next two weeks, hundreds of volunteers will go door-to-door, installing small raised beds at costs affordable to homeowners.
May 10, 2015
By Susan Bence With the motto “move grass – grow food,” the Blitz is a 15-day, volunteer-driven event. Organizers expect to create more than 400 raised beds this month. The Victory Garden Initiative, or VGI, created the program seven years ago, during which approximately 2,200 "above ground" gardens have been constructed across the Milwaukee area.
May 8, 2015
This week, we’re featuring an article by Emily Thornburg at the River Revitalization Foundation. On August 7, they are hosting the next Wild and Scenic Film Festival, the world’s largest environmental film festival! Read on to hear about one of her favorite featured films. by Emily Thornburg (River Revitalization Foundation)
April 15, 2015
Concordia Gardens is a 35-plot community garden located at 220 E Concordia Avenue in Harambee. You may rent 1-3 garden plots for the 2015 season on a sliding scale of $10-$30 for the first plot and $10 for each additional plot. We look forward to a great growing season with you!
April 1, 2015
by Gretchen Mead, Executive Director
March 26, 2015
From Saturday, May 9 through May 23, hundreds of volunteers will join Victory Garden Initiative for the Victory Garden BLITZ. Over these two weeks, volunteers will build 500 4x8’ raised bed gardens filled with healthy organic soil in locations throughout Milwaukee.
March 25, 2015
Check out the amazing video our now Blitz Co-Coordinator Kelly put together for the Fruity Nutty Affair! Hear from previous orchard winners why their orchards mean so much to them. We can't wait to plant the next SEVEN in three weeks!
March 12, 2015
May 9th – 23rd, 2015 Each year during the Great Milwaukee Victory Garden Blitz, Victory Garden Initiative volunteers install hundreds of raised beds gardens in backyards, front yards, schools, community centers, and places of worship - just about anywhere you can imagine!
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