When the seed for creating a community garden at Ascension Elmbrook in Brookfield was first planted, organizers had no idea what it would take to make it a reality.
“It was a true community effort. Many hands helped our garden grow and become successful,” said Valerie Shurley, Regional Clinical Nutrition Manager with Ascension Wisconsin.
It started with months of planning and consulting a master gardener with the UW Extension. Once the design and location were finalized, the Elmbrook team got to work. With financial support from the Islamic Society of Milwaukee Brookfield and a local boy scout who volunteered to build the garden boxes, team members were able to plant onions, squash, peppers and tomatoes.
Gardening during a pandemic has its challenges and Shurley said the deer were especially hungry this year but despite the difficulties the garden flourished. Constant nurturing and guidance helped the plants thrive and produce nutritious vegetables for others to enjoy.
Several harvests throughout the summer and fall allowed the team to donate fresh produce to the Food Pantry Serving Waukesha County. “We serve about 500 families a week and our clients greatly appreciated the fresh, wholesome food the Ascension Elmbrook garden provided,” Laura Amenda, Food Resource Manager, for the Food Pantry serving Waukesha County.
The community garden is part of a broader effort to address the priority health needs in the community and achieve a meaningful impact. No one organization can affect substantial community change alone but as the Ascension Elmbrook community garden proves, working together helps a community blossom.