Madison Area Food Pantry Gardens expands, fulfills mission

Large effort to expand sustainability efforts with additional 12 acres

· May 5, 2023 Tweet

FH King

The Madison Area Food Pantry Gardens recently bought a 15 acre property that will provide a home base to the organization, allowing them to expand their produce capacities and sustainability efforts, according to NBC15.

The land purchased — named the Forward Gardens — is located in Verona and will allow the organization to continue fulfilling its mission.

The local non-profit is dedicated to providing local food pantries with fresh produce that accommodates all the cultures of Madison, according to the organization’s website.

Retired vice president of MAFPG Larry Binning said the organization also has a strong focus on educating communities.

“We try to let people know how produce grows, what grows and what you harvest,” Binning said. “We take things from planting to harvest with various groups, including students. Forward Garden was particularly inviting because it is in a metropolitan area.” 

The MAFPG has been partnering with the garden for a few years, but was able to purchase the large plot of land in February with the help of a major contribution from Dane County and local fundraisers, Binning said.

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Sustainable gardening practices are important for MAFPG. Binning said the organization focuses on soil conservation to maximize usage and efficiency of their resources while maintaining longevity in the soil.

Another long term goal is to campaign for greenhouses, which will provide MAFPG with a place to process and clean vegetables before distributing them. They also hope to make MAFPG more accessible to the public. By purchasing a home base, they have an ability to attract the public to their sites and see what MAFPG is all about, Binning said.

By purchasing this home base, the organization has the ability to attract the public to their sites, which helps fulfill the organization’s goal of education, according to Binning.

“We want to give people an opportunity to learn from the things that we can do,” Binning said. “We have vegetables out there now and our intention is to get into some perennial crops, oranges, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries — things that everybody’s familiar with, but very few people have direct access to. It gives us the opportunity for them to see how they grow and what the process is and maintain for a year and growing out in a hybrid circle.”

MAFPG is also focused on providing the community with culturally relevant produce. The organization sends out surveys to gather public interest in what they would like to eat, according to Binning.

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“We’re not trying to feed them something they won’t eat,” Binning said. “So we’re doing a fair amount of market based market analysis and growing relevant produce to the people that are the users of it.”

MAFPG also worked with University of Wisconsin students in a School of Journalism and Mass Communication class in the fall. Students in the class interviewed the MAFPG team, gathering resources to create a media kit for the organization.

Manager of marketing and public relations for MAFPG Darcie Van Dop said the organization had a positive experience and partnership with the students and UW SJMC.

It really was a win-win for both the students and for our organization, because now we have all this information that they put together for us that we can use in the future,” Van Dop said. “And they got to do something very hands-on, which is unlike other projects in the past.”

Van Dop said the partnership has been nothing short of amazing and has been super helpful as MAFPG enters a new chapter with an additional 12 acres to expand the work they do.

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This article was published May 5, 2023 at 9:00 am and last updated Apr 24, 2023 at 6:42 pm

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