Beyond Troy Gardens

Madison Area CLT Partner Community GroundWorks Reaches Out

By Marge Pitts

Community GroundWorks at Troy Gardens (CGW), formerly the Friends of Troy Gardens, has begun teaching and expanding urban agriculture beyond the borders of the 25-acres, owned by the MACLT, on which CGW maintains community gardens, an organic farm, natural areas regeneration, and walking trails that are always open to the public.

Now Troy Farm Manager Claire Strader and Education Director Nathan Larson are launching two new programs respectively that will take them away from Troy Gardens in order to expand CGW s reach to private homes as well as East Side Madison teens.

The first endeavor,  Madison FarmWorks, will install and maintain organic gardens of any size at clients homes and businesses. Madison FarmWorks will offer a range of services from which clients can choose all or part, including garden design, installation, and weekly maintenance as well as crop harvest and delivery to the family’s doorstep. They will provide a monthly newsletter with stories from the gardens, harvest tips, recipes and news about the growing local and organic food movement. Clients who simply need help getting started may choose the “Build Your Own Farm” option, with the benefit of CGW s instruction and consultation specific to their goals.

The second new program, the East High Community Farm Project, part of CGW s Youth Grow Local Initiative, is  a seed-to-table curriculum opportunity to learn how to grow food as well as how to harvest and prepare it, according to

Collaborating with Madison East High School and the Goodman Community Center, CGW’s objective is to engage a diverse population of high school youth in creating and maintaining a small production farm on land adjacent to Kennedy Elementary School on Madisonís East Side.

The site was formerly used as part of the East High Agriculture Program, but the program was temporarily suspended after long-time agriculture instructor Mary Klecker retired. According to East High Principal Alan Harris, work has begun to consider how the agriculture component of East Highís curriculum might be reinstated. ìWeíre working with the Goodman Community Center and Troy Gardens on putting together a community-based ag program that would incorporate several different pieces that have some potential, Harris said.

According to Becky Steinhoff, Director of the Goodman Center, most of the food will be used in Goodman s meal program and food pantry. A crucial aspect of the program, Becky points out, is  that the farming and culinary arts component will be supporting food security issues in our community.

We want to create a new model of sustainable agriculture education, says Nathan Larson, that is linked to the school district and has a diverse array of community partners.

[Sources for this article include an article by Jim Massey published in The Country Today, ]