Walk past the Goodman Community Center on a sunny day and your eye will catch many things — the kid-approved playground and splashpad, the classic exterior of Ironworks meeting the modern look of Brassworks and the bike path that runs through the center.
But the most colorful addition by far is our community garden. Sunflowers, globe amaranth, Queen Anne’s lace, zinnias, marigolds, lavender: these are just some of the beautiful blooms you can find growing between the Madison bike path and the surrounding grounds. Dig a little deeper and you'll unearth kale, lettuce, carrots, lavender, parsley, dill and other vegetables and herbs. And like any other part of Goodman, our garden helps strengthen lives and secure the futures of our community.
As the weather warmed, the community garden became the secret ingredient of a new program: Teaching Sustainable Agriculture in Hospitality, made possible by a grant from Willy Street Co-op. For several years, the garden has served as a place for teens in our TEENworks program to plant, harvest and prepare dishes as a way to teach hands-on life skills. Now, participants can also learn how to use the many flowers, herbs and even plants considered to be ‘weeds’ to create visually stunning centerpieces.
Not only did our teens and members of other Goodman groups learn how to utilize each plant’s unique color, height and shape to create pleasing displays, the finished products were used as centerpieces for dozens of Goodman and community events - including a local 50-year high school reunion! The centerpieces were then available for guests and community members to purchase as a way to support the event. Some centerpieces were also saved for teens to take home in celebration of their new skills. All new centerpiece owners were sent home with a set of instructions on how to maintain, replant or cook each of the plants used in the bouquet.
Every part of this project was designed to be sustainable. All plants were cared for by the hands of the Goodman community; even the vases were donated by community members or made from recycled glass containers from our kitchens. Bartenders and members of the hospitality team learned how to make drinks out of garden plants, which have been added to the Goodman bar menu for all to enjoy responsibly. All plants are also both seasonal and local, so they will continue to bloom for years to come in a truly Madison fashion!
For more information about our Sustainable Centerpieces program or our garden contact:
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