Russett Rd. Front Yard Garden Initiative - 2010

Project Summary - Madison Area Permaculture Guild - Herb Collective and Hoop House Project

Tree Grafting Workshop Tree Grafting Workshop Tree Grafting Workshop Tree Grafting Workshop

This was the first year of the Russett Road Front Yard Gardens (RRFYG); a collaboration between the Madison Area Permaculture Guild, Public Health Madison Dane County, Edgewood College, Joining Forces for Families, Good Shepherd Food Pantry, and of course, the local community. We successfully installed gardens in 8 front yards on Russett Rd (this is more than 1/3rd of the properties on this 2 block road). The initial workday occurred in late April 2010 and had over 100 volunteers come out to help put in the gardens. The gardens were designed by the Madison Area Permaculture Guild. Two designs incorporated 2 large rain gardens, 7 vegetable gardens, and multiple flower beds. We planted 11 fruit trees surrounded by flower guilds and many other perennial edibles (including grape vines, service berries, elderberries, currants, etc). We also were able to ultimately install 6 rain barrels.

There were many different objectives we were trying to accomplish with the RRFYG’s; community building/engagement (with an eye on violence prevention), beautification, improving the environment, youth involvement, education re: when to harvest/how to prepare the food, and donating to the pantry. We successfully were able to meet all of our objectives. Many residents got involved with the gardens, with a handful volunteering on workdays and many more harvesting the produce. Additionally, multiple residents (including those who had been skeptical) commented on how beautiful the gardens were and clearly took pride in what had been accomplished. People are already talking about what they would like to plant next year. We also were able to successfully engage youth in the gardens, with elementary age kids coming out once a week during the summer and high school age kids having weekly workdays as part of a youth employment initiative. Additionally, installing the rainbarrels offered many opportunities to discuss water conservation with residents (especially the kids). And many residents could not believe how many butterflies were out on Russett commenting they do not remember seeing a single one in past years (I personally counted 24 in one yard on a summer afternoon!). Our garden coordinator, a UW student, held two garden tours where she discussed harvesting and preparing the produce and gave out recipes. And lastly, we made 7 donations (over 40 lbs of food) to the local food pantry.

We are currently working on making the project sustainable, creating a workplan for 2011 and perhaps replicating the idea in other low-income areas.

We are currently working on making the project sustainable, creating a workplan for 2011 and perhaps replicating the idea in other low-income areas.

Here are some links to news stories done regarding the gardens:

Visit Madison Area Permaculture Guild website at madisonareapermacultureguild.org