Mary O’Connell’s Story
I have been gardening at the childcare center I run for ten years. Our curriculum at LifeWays is centered around organic foods, time spent in nature, and the children helping to prepare the food they grow. (Our website is www.lifewaysmilwaukee.com.) Our organic gardening with the children at LifeWays has been limited by the very small space we are able to rent in the community garden on our school property, and for years I have longed for a larger space where the children and their families could help us grow more food. My husband and I have just purchased ten acres in West Bend, WI, and are starting school gardens there for the childcare center and several urban school classrooms who don\’t have room to grow organic food on-site. Helping children learn about sustainable agriculture and offering them a positive experience growing, harvesting and cooking their own food is a passion I\’ve had for some time. I am currently enrolled in a local Food Leader Training Certification class, where I am learning all about permaculture and organic farming, and am eager to put these sustainable practices to work on our own Paradise Farm!
The area we plan to use for the school gardens is set back from the house and barn to give the family living there a bit of privacy from the school groups, as well as to make the best use of a beautiful sunny spot perfect for organic gardening. The problem? No water to this spot. We are seeking help to buy a used, working windmill that we will connect to a point well at the garden site. My permaculture training has taught me that wind energy is a renewable energy that is incredibly diverse and is making a significant contribution to the fight against climate change. A local source has offered a working wind mill for $2000 if we take it down ourselves and set it back up at our site.
The benefits to the community are numerous:
The school and daycare communities benefit from the food they harvest for their lunches, as well as the community that grows to support the growth of the organic foods.
Children and adults learn about sustainable agriculture, and where their food comes from…something sorely needed bu today\’s urban families.
Children and adults get to spend time in nature, doing real, honest work to provide food for their tables…again an experience many urban families are missing out on.
The benefits specifically of the windmill:
Wind power is renewable and inexhaustible
There is no pollution created
It is economically viable – harvesting the ground water via wind power is inexpensive and does not require electricity
The gardens get water! Very important for the children\’s plants to grow