Local business raises ‘seed’ money for Garden Blitz
New Leaf Health Foods help people grow their own food, green thumb or not
By Kira Doman
With the anticipation of warmer weather, nothing says spring more than gardening. At New Leaf Health Foods in Green Bay, they’re already planting the proverbial seeds for its Garden Blitz event coming up in May.
“The planning starts now,” Kim Diaz, event organizer said.
Roni Woodke joined the Garden Blitz planning team in late 2021, but said she has been involved with its programs since 2020.
“I loved it,” Woodke said. “I loved that it was just, get in and do the work, and see the results. It was the instant gratification of ‘we’re all coming together to make something happen!’ and it’s just really satisfying,”
While the event is planned for the weekend of May 12 – 15, Garden Blitz involves the installation of garden boxes on people’s homes across the community now by New Leaf volunteers.
Woodke also said it’s a great way to meet people and help relationships bloom. They also provide a sort of green thumb mentoring program.
“The majority of people who want a (garden) box are already interested in gardening and doing some of it, but we also do boxes for people who are new to it.” Woodke said. “The Green Bay Community Gardens partners with us to provide a mentorship program. So you can request a garden mentor, and then that person will come to your home, look at the box, and say ‘This is what needs to be done.’ It’s a program to teach people how to prepare for the spring.”
Mentors meet with mentees in a way that suits both of their schedules, five times for one hour in the growing season, May through October.
“It’s just two people connecting over gardening,” said Woodke.
For those who claim they don’t have a green thumb to care for a garden box, Woodke puts their worries to bed,
“It’s all in selecting the plants that are going to be tolerant to your level of expertise and the care they need,” she said.
For someone who is positive they’re a plant killer, but wants nothing more than to be a nurturer of foliage, Woodke recommends planting things like cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and other varieties of tomatoes. The two main components to remember for a bountiful harvest are quality soil and watching for when to water, Woodke said.
Woodke also said if an individual is struggling with their garden box, Garden Blitz volunteers can answer questions as well as offer other resources for individuals who want to further pursue their horticulturist education.
“Through the UW extension, there’s a lot that you can get into, and I haven’t even tapped the surface there,” Woodke said. “There’s a lot happening in terms of how to learn.”
This year, the Garden Blitz has introduced permaculture to the event, in comparison to gardening and farming. Permaculture is the practice of using the native plants in one’s backyard.
“For people who have jobs and other commitments, but still want to be able to produce their own food, permaculture is the perfect solution,” Woodke said.
She also said her favorite thing about participating in Garden Blitz and being a part of the team, is the sense of community that comes from this event.
“I’ve never been part of a group of people that are just so pure in their intentions,” Woodke said. “No one there is trying to convert you to a sale, it’s just people coming together to share the love of good food you’ve grown yourself.”
She also said one positive thing to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic may be people’s focus on where their food comes from.
“I think COVID, in general, has helped spike interest in the topic,” Woodke said. “It’s about having that independence, and I think that COVID was a really good example of how we’re dependent on a system we don’t have control over. When there’s a glitch in that system, you have to have some understanding of your alternatives.”
Growing one’s own food, and knowing where it comes from is a luxury that many have lost touch with, and Woodke said she is excited to teach others about it.
While New Leaf Health hopes the Garden Blitz event continues to bloom, funding comes in through grants, seed money, online fundraising and a fundraising platform specifically for people in garden initiatives where a part of their donations are matched through the Seed Money campaign.
“We are one of the Give BIG Green Bay organizations this year, an organization dedicated to raising money for nonprofit organizations in the community,” Woodke said.
Kira Doman is from Washburn, Wi and loves writing fiction pieces as well as her arts and entertainment articles for Green Bay City Pages