Help us continue to connect children to healthy food and nature.
Dear GROWers (GROW supporters),
The other day, while walking near one of the school gardens, I saw a student of mine that I have had in garden classes since he was in kindergarten. I hadn’t seen him since March. Without missing a beat, he yelled to me from across the street, “Ms. Kari! I really wish we could be in the garden! I miss it!” My heart leapt with both joy and sadness in the same beat. “Me too, buddy...me too. Hopefully soon!” This now fourth grader, expressed what we at GROW have all been feeling throughout 2020. Something has been missing; children in the gardens exploring, learning, cooking and eating together.
While 2020 was not what we had hoped, GROW, like many other resilient organizations, quickly pivoted and adapted. Despite the uncertainty, we were able to bear fruit by way of innovation and growth. While we had very little face-to-face interactions with students, we found ways of sharing the bounty of the school gardens with families through the school district meal program. We were able to provide quality video lessons weekly with lessons focused on science, nutrition, culture and more. We helped build two new school gardens and merged with Hillview Urban Agriculture Center and have moved in and started growing in a state-of-the-art greenhouse on Western Technical College’s campus. We saw that even when conditions aren’t ideal, growth and transformation can still happen.
Our fundraisers had to go virtual or be cancelled. Farm camps and summer school garden enrichment classes were cancelled. Our overall donations were down. This was a reality. However, individual and business donors as well as foundations continued to believe in GROW’s mission. For that, I am ever grateful.
Like a fresh garden in springtime, 2021 brings with it a promise of new growth. We are starting the year with a full schedule of events that will connect children and families to healthy food and nature. We will begin with a Kids Cooking Challenge and spring plant sale. We will deliver spring garden lessons through a combination of video and in-person lessons. Greenhouse programming is underway with plans for virtual and eventually in-person field trips and tours. Bountiful produce and herb crops grow in the greenhouse to be shared with school lunch programs. We are starting a hydroponic growing system which will allow us to teach other growing method. We are excited to hold farm camp experiences again this summer. We look forward to each opportunity for safe hands-on learning throughout the year.
We hope you will continue to GROW with us.
Please consider submitting a donation in the mail using the enclosed stamped envelope and form below or a recurring gift through our website,
Donate on this site or by mailing to a check to: GROW, P.O. Box 1241, La Crosse, WI 54602
Your donation will make an impact on the lives of the children we serve.
Thank you from all of us at GROW and the children who will experience a connection with healthy food and nature because of your generosity.
Kari Bersagel-Braley and the GROW Team