Growing South Milwaukee, Growing Downtown

Momentum is growing in downtown South Milwaukee. So are tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, zucchini and some beautiful annuals.

You’ve probably noticed Growing South Milwaukee’s new community garden at 1308 Milwaukee Ave. It’s a welcome addition to our city center, a creative and attractive reuse of a vacant property that also brings the important mission of this organization to life …

“Growing South Milwaukee has a deep rooted mission to create and maintain community gardens that inspire all people to grow.”

The vision for this community garden was launched by Leah Minue at a public meeting in 2015. Within a few months, a team created a mission for the project, surveyed the community for interest, and filed for 501c3 non profit status.

In 2016, the planning phase began. They were given leads for several different public greenspaces for their garden’s home, but none of those spaces were a good fit. The team continued searching for vacant land, knowing the perfect situation would eventually come along. 

Throughout 2017, they promoted their donation incentive program, set and met aggressive fundraising goals, created rules for the future gardeners, and started searching for privately owned greenspaces.

The group’s perseverance paid off.

In 2018, they were introduced to the lot at 1308 Milwaukee Ave., and immediately began negotiating a lease for use of the land. When the garden design came together, they sold all 28 of their plots to eager gardeners. The beds were tilled and organic nutrients were added to get them ready for planting.

This year brings forth their first growing season, and as the community gardens, larger pieces of their final vision, like the forecourt, are starting to come together. All of these projects are done by volunteers and completely funded by donations and grants. Compost stations, a shaded workshop and rain water collection are next on their to-do list. 

So, how does the community garden work? Members are allowed to garden daily, from dawn until dusk during the growing season. Non-members may enjoy viewing the garden from the sidewalk and are allowed to stroll through via the grassy walkways. More details on their website.

It’s a non-traditional use for a downtown parcel, and I love it!

A special thanks to Growing South Milwaukee board — President Leah Minue, Treasurer James Davies, and Directors Brooke Gilley, Bacardi Arnold, Collin Bischoff, Emma Robinson and Matt Minue — for planting these seeds of change in our downtown, and city.

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