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.
April 10, 2016
By Max Templin
April 2, 2016
Concordia Gardens Urban Farm is 1.5 acres of community garden, urban orchard and production farm in Milwaukee’s Harambee neighborhood. In Wisconsin, 29% of adults are obese, disproportionately affecting low-income populations like Harambee.
March 26, 2016
Being a part of the program kindled her passion for socially and environmentally just and nutritious food systems, and she says it gave her the extra push she needed to incorporate thinking about the food system into every part of her life.
March 14, 2016
St. Ann Center’s new Bucyrus Campus will soon be branching out, literally. The Campus, at 2450 West North Avenue, was chosen as the winner of one of five new community orchards awarded by Victory Garden Initiative (VGI).
March 11, 2016
Recently the Victory Garden Initiative (VGI) ushered in the hope for spring when they announced the winners of five new community orchards that will be planted in April.
March 5, 2016
By Maria Duryee
February 9, 2016
By Erik Hanley An orchard of trees bearing fruit and nuts could take root on two lots in Hales Corners. That's assuming the village wins the trees in Fruity Nutty 5 orchard contest.
February 3, 2016
by Gretchen Mead, Executive Director
February 3, 2016
by Gretchen Mead, Executive Director Last week I had the great honor to sit in front of my son’s 1st and 2nd grade class. These 6- through 8-year-olds interviewed me about what Victory Garden Initiative does, asking me: “What inspires you?” and “Do you grow peaches?”
December 30, 2015
The Great Milwaukee Victory Garden BLITZ is the NATION'S LARGEST GARDEN-BUILDING EVENT!
December 23, 2015
Every year, Food Tank highlights organizations that contribute to creating a more sustainable global food system by protecting biodiversity, producing valuable agricultural research, fighting hunger, and much more. One of those organizations is our member Victory Garden Initiative.
December 5, 2015
Dear Friends, You could call it serendipity, but I call it intention.
December 3, 2015
by Natalie Kane (Events and Outreach Intern)
November 6, 2015
The Fruity Nutty Five Contest is now accepting entries! Organize your community. Plan an urban orchard or food forest. Share your plan with us. Win an orchard. It's that simple!
October 19, 2015
The Food Leader Certificate Program teaches emerging food leaders to grow their own food, learn about the food system, and lead food projects in their communities. Food Leaders who complete the full program will graduate with a formal certificate.
October 2, 2015
by Gretchen Mead, Executive Director Dear Friends,
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