Growing Power-Milwaukee

11-18-20-16-growingpower_20161118_145448On November 18, 2016 three of our staff members flew to Milwaukee to present at the Growing Power Conference hosted by Will Allen. The theme of the conference was “Let’s Scale It Up! Growing Food and Farmers: Best Practices in Growing, Distribution and Community Building.” This post shares some their reflections. 
11-18-20-16-growingpower_img_1527Crystal Jones, Cha’Shay Woldridge and Melissa Tang (here with Will Allen) presented CommunityGrows’ programs & model on scaling up through education. For a small community-based nonprofit like ours, scaling may look different but still has a large impact in building our future leaders in the community. Through educating youth we are able to build a connection with growing food, eating healthy food, cooking food and creating a ripple effect throughout the health of the community. Our model creates trust, rapport and consistency with youth as our programs teach youth multiple times a year. We also prioritize and are intentional around hiring a diverse staff, especially from the community. 11-18-20-16-growingpower_img_20161118_145606196_topCha’Shay spoke about her experience in the BEETS program and why she decided to come back as a staff member. We wrapped up our presentation with a cooking demo of hummus pinwheels! 11-18-20-16-growingpower_img_1525We also got to share the day with our former CommunityGrows Garden Educator, Serena Padilla, who now lives near Milwaukee and joined us at the conference.11-18-20-16-growingpower_img_20161119_114152576
11-18-20-16-growingpower_20161119_160108When recollecting about her experience at Growing Power, Crystal Jones, our Seed-to-Mouth Cooking Coordinator, felt without a doubt, that this conference was the most multicultural conference she’d ever been to and had the pleasure of being a part of. “Living in a nation where there is often so much that divides one from one’s neighbor, there was something very remarkable seeing people from every walk of life and countless nationalities, come together for the same purpose. That purpose being, the strength building and betterment of our communities, our future, and our world. Listening to speaker after speaker and interacting with conference attendees, I could tell one thing to be true – that these people (myself included), had come here to talk, listen, learn and be inspired – sure. But more than that, I could tell that I was in a room full of doers. People who would walk away from the conference and put into practice many of the tools they gleaned.”11-18-20-16-growingpower_20161118_154938“One of the most beneficial bits of information I returned home with, was from the “Political Plate” discussion, wherein governmental resources that aid in environmental work and nutrition education locally and globally were shared. I am excited to see how CommunityGrows might be able to make use of these resources and further the work that we do in San Francisco.” 11-18-20-16-growingpower_img_1523
Everyone at CommunityGrows was excited to share this conference experience with our Garden Assistant & BEET alumna, Cha’Shay Woldridge. This was the first time she would speak at a conference, first time flying, and first time in Milwaukee. 11-18-20-16-growingpower_img_20161119_182918460She spoke proudly of her role in the community as a Garden Assistant and offered new insights on how to support communities like the Western Addition. One thing Cha’Shay took away from the conference was “that there are people in this world who care about where their food comes from. They care about making the world a better and healthier place. They are giving people a chance to learn and experience all these new things. We have a voice and it’s getting out there that your body and what you put inside of it is an important thing to know about.” Cha’Shay also commented, “I want to learn about aquaculture, composting, food distribution, soil reclamation, horticulture, and sustainability. This conference inspired me to continue teaching and reminded me how important my job is to me and the community.”11-18-20-16-growingpower_20161118_154058