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GALESBURG, Ill. (August 14, 2013) – The Galesburg Community Foundation (GCF) recently approved Growing Together, Inc. as a designated fund holder, meaning the organization can receive assistance from GCF to meet their philanthropic goals. This
includes a presence on GCF’s website, www.ahealthycommunity.org, where donors can
specifically give to Growing Together. The foundation will also assist Growing Together
with donation management, planned giving programs, investment management and
The partnership is a perfect example of two organizations working together to create a healthier community. GCF strives to connect people to the things they care about and Growing Together is working to encourage local residents to use innovative agricultural strategies to support themselves, others and the community.
Josh Gibb, GCF executive director said, “This is a great opportunity to help Growing Together further build their organization and achieve their goals in battling food security issues locally. We look forward to helping Growing Together reach their philanthropic goals and working together to better serve the community.”
Growing Together began actively operating earlier this year and has already established an ambitious schedule. Matt Wallen, who serves as Growing Together’s Farm Manager, planted an acre with 30 different crops and has implemented projects served by 60 volunteers. The group also started an innovative Farm to Fork agricultural camp at Knox College this summer. The organization looks to continue these activities in the future, while expanding to provide more educational opportunities and food to the greater Galesburg community.
For more information about the many ways your organization can partner with GCF visit www.ahealthycommunity.org or contact Josh Gibb at 309-344-8898. For more information about Growing Together visit www.growingtogether.us or call Matt Wallen at 309-313-5039.
(This article was written by SAMI WAIGHT and published online with The Register-Mail on 8/7/13. Go to this link to read it at the newspaper’s website: click here)
A group of youth this week is learning about growing and preparing local food through Knox College’s camp, “Farm to Fork.”
This is the second session of the camp, which also was held in July, and is operated by Peter Schwartzman, associate professor and chair of environmental studies at Knox, and Matt Wallen, manager of Growing Together, an urban agriculture educational center in Galesburg.
The camp is funded by a Specialty Crop Grant from the Illinois Department of Agriculture to Knox County and the Galesburg Regional Economic Development Agency.
“It’s great,” said Isaiah Hill, 12, of Galesburg. “You get to learn about gardening, and you’re making friends.”
The camp includes both classroom instruction and field trips to local farms. A lunch is included on the Knox campus at no additional charge. The camp is held daily, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The campers are able to experience what it is like to grow a garden, and their lunches come from the produce they grow and harvest during the week.“The food is all locally grown,” said Rebecca Sundell, 12, of Galesburg.
Kale, tomatoes, okra and potatoes are just a small taste of the local foods the students experience. “I like that I get to plant,” said Hattie Kellett, 12, of Galesburg. “We don’t have a garden at home.”
The students have access to a farm owned by Knox College, as well as the college’s greenhouse. “I learned that a lot of people don’t really respect nature,” said Kellett. “That’s why this program was created. A lot of food (is) grown and it’s really good.”
The camp also teaches the harm and benefits of insects and plants. “Weeds aren’t necessarily bad, because bugs will eat the weeds more,” said Sundell.
The importance of composting was also emphasized. “We have compost,” said Mason Martinez, 11, of Galesburg. “You can take paper, banana peels and cardboard and take feed to red wigglers (worms). They make good soil.”
Schwartzman addressed the benefits of growing local food. “If you buy local food, you support local people,” he said. “You support local economy.” Kellett says she wishes more people would recognize the positive impact of growing and buying local food. “I wish they knew how much healthier it was instead of food from the store,” she said.
(Front Page of Business Section Register-Mail, Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013) link
by Tom Loewy
Matt Wallen is 23 years old.
That explains his wide-eyed enthusiasm, willingness to wear shorts while working outside in the beginning of February and — some might say — his seeming idealism.
The soft-spoken Wallen explained his decision to take on the role of lead farmer in Galesburg’s latest nonprofit corporation and first large-scale urban farming effort, Growing Together Inc., in other terms.
“My mom had this boyfriend who had a composter in the backyard,” said Wallen, who grew up in Good Hope. “And I would go out there with him and it was kind of cool to crank it and have him explain to me what he was doing.
“Then the day came that he reached in there and pulled out this black gold. It was the most beautiful soil I’d ever seen. It was just incredible.”
The boyfriend didn’t stay around, but he left behind the composter and an indelible impression on Wallen.
“The idea of soil creation led me to want to understand natural systems and an appreciation for the beauty of nature’s systems. Eventually that all led me to the desire to help people while I get my hands dirty.”
While a student at Western Illinois University, Wallen’s passion for soil and growing food led him to Will Allen’s book “The Good Food Revolution” and Allen’s urban farming Growing Power project in Milwaukee, Wis.
Along the way Wallen came in contact with Dr. Peter Schwartzman — and as fate would have it, Schwartzman had an audacious idea that was right up Wallen’s alley.
Besides being chairman of the Environmental Studies Department at Knox College, Schwartzman serves on the Galesburg City Council and has a history of community-based projects aimed at protecting the environment and educating Knox County’s residents about energy and food options.
Schwartzman founded The Center, helped start the Knox Prairie Community Kitchen and started a number of neighborhood gardens on property he purchased throughout Galesburg. But the professor had bigger plans.
After Doug Ball bought the Fifth Street property formerly known as Holy Rosary Abbey, Schwartzman approached him about leasing 3 acres of unused land to turn into an urban farm. Ball climbed aboard the idea and Schwartzman was off and running.
Following Allen’s Milwaukee model, Schwartzman formed a nonprofit corporation and reached out to community members to form a board of directors. He tapped David Hays as president, Terry Haywood as vice president, John Hunigan as treasurer and Carolyn Hawes as a board member.
Schwartzman simply networked with other community activists he met over the years.
“I didn’t know Peter all that well,” Haywood said. “But I took students to the Bioneers Conference and I always ran into him at the Youth Commission and at community events.
“He started talking to me about urban farming. He impressed me because I knew it was a project he had taken on before and I liked his ambitions. He asked me to knock on doors. So that’s what I’m doing.”
And Schwartzman asked Wallen to come as Growing Together Inc.’s lead farmer. He said the 23-year-old understands the kind of scope Schwartzman envisions for the project.
“Matt is here right now as unpaid employee,” Schwartzman said. “He turned down a job offer in Hawaii to take this job — because he believes in urban farming, alternative food systems and changing the way this community sees itself in the effort to grow food locally.”
The short-term goal of Growing Together Inc. is simple. Wallen, Schwartzman and the rest of the project’s leaders and supporters want to grow, sell and distribute locally grown foods to the community.
And they want to involve the community volunteers and, eventually, a paid staff.
“We have the best land in the world,” Schwartzman said. “Seriously. The land here is beautiful and you can grow food. But think about this: Of the food grown here, very little is ever consumed here.
“We want to change that. We want to show people that we can grow food in Galesburg that stays in Galesburg. We want to show people that it’s healthy, better for the environment and better for the community.”
In a news release, Growing Together Inc. issued a kind of mission statement: “Galesburg and many towns in the surrounding area suffer from significant underemployment and food security issues. Yet, at the same time, local soil is the richest in the world. And thousands of acres of land — several hundred within the city limits — have potential for the cultivation of fruits and vegetables year round. By linking the two together, providing the requisite skills, and promoting the necessary enthusiasm and fortitude, GTI will encourage local people to put innovative agricultural strategies to work as a way to support themselves, their families and our community.”
At its core, Growing Together Inc. isn’t just about growing food for the farmers’ market, local restaurants and to be distributed at local food pantries. Schwartzman envisions a kind of paradigm shift.
“You cannot overstate the social benefits urban farming can bring to a community,” Schwartman said. “We’re talking about exercise, social interaction, the opportunity to teach kids where their food comes from.
“We’re talking about people learning to cook differently with diverse ingredients. Maybe people will want to learn how to can fruits and vegetables. People think that eating local is sacrificing — but we can show that it’s retooling, reconsidering and maybe revisiting old ways that worked before globalization.”
Wallen said he isn’t interested in telling people they shouldn’t buy their favorite fruit in January from a grocery store.
“What we can do is replace some of what people eat with food that is grown locally,” Wallen said. “People would be surprised about the diversity of foods we can grow. We think of corn and soy as local produce — but we could go much further and meet a lot of the needs of the people who live in this community.”
Growing Together Inc. is starting with a budget of $125,000 and is seeking donations and sponsors.
To find out more about Growing Together Inc. you can find it on Facebook at www.facebook.com/growingtogetherus or the website www.growingtogether.us. You can also call (309) 351-2603.
(Register-Mail’s printing: link)
Growing Together Inc., a new nonprofit corporation in Galesburg, hopes to foster an environment conducive to providing food and state-of-the-art agricultural education/training to people year round.
In so doing, “GTI will help create a humane, vibrant and creative sustainable local food economy,” said Peter Schwartzman, board secretary for GTI.
Galesburg and many towns in the surrounding area suffer from significant underemployment and food security issues. Yet, at the same time, local soil is the richest in the world. And, thousands of acres of land — several hundred within the city limits — have potential for the cultivation of fruits and vegetables year round. By linking the two together, providing the requisite skills, and promoting the necessary enthusiasm and fortitude, GTI will encourage local people to put innovative agricultural strategies to work as a way to support themselves, their families and our community.
“GTI was inspired by the pioneering work of Will Allen and his world-renown Growing Power farm in the city of Milwaukee,” said board President David Hays. “What GP does serves as template to model for Growing Together in Galesburg. Growing Power and other burgeoning Midwestern urban farms can serve as valuable resources to Growing Together.”
“Through the development of Growing Together, we have the potential in Galesburg to address hunger, malnutrition, economic hardship, and challenged human relationships all simultaneously,” board Treasurer John Hunigan said.
GTI’s vice president, Terry Haywood, and board member Carolyn Hawes are also enthusiastic about the new initiative.
“Growing Together will add significant economic and social equity to the region,” Hawes said.
“GTI will bring people together and inject genuine positive thinking about their collective future,” Haywood said.
The world is becoming smaller and smaller. There is a movement worldwide to grow better food locally. Such food is better, usually costs less, and keeps food dollars in the community where they can be recirculated again and again, helping everyone. The environmental impact of transporting food certainly leaves its negative footprint as well. Galesburg can be a hub, a learning center and a bright spot in the Midwest by developing better ways to grow healthy food. Growing Together will become this anchor with the help of the community.
Anyone interested in volunteering, donating equipment or materials, becoming a member, find out more about GTI by visiting its website, www.growingtogether.us, its Facebook page, growingtogetherus, or emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are L-A-U-N-C-H-I-N-G in 2013.
Come join the fun and help us make Galesburg the hub
for Sustainable Food Production!