Sharing the Bounty: Early Summer Partnership with Brown County Extension & New Leaf Foods Helps Local Gardeners This Growing Season

Earlier this year, Green Bay Botanical Garden successfully donated more than a thousand plants to the New Leaf Foods Garden Blitz and the Extension Brown County Community Gardens Program for the second year in a row!

The 1,248 plants donated are considered winners from the All-America Selections (AAS) organization. The Garden utilizes parts of our landscape to grow a trial and display garden for a number of edible plants each year. Our Horticulture Team starts these plants by seed. Once they’re ready to be taken out of our greenhouses and planted in the Garden, any extras are saved to be shared with our local community.

Once again we partnered to donate the extras to the Garden Blitz and the Community Gardens Program!

Ashley Barkow (Horticulturist) and Aubrey Fliss (Brown County Extension Community Gardens Coordinator) pose for a photo with the veggies during drop off.

“We have roughly 300 gardeners that participate every year,” says Aubrey Fliss, Brown County Extension Community Gardens Coordinator. “70% of our participants are at low-to-moderate income levels so we have plant giveaways and also drop off these donations at each community garden location as needed.”

Mark Konlock, Director of Horticulture, emphasized that there are definite perks to sharing these specific plants.

“By donating vegetables that are All-America Selections winners, we’re giving people plants that have been tested throughout the country that are higher yielding, more disease- and insect-resistant, and better tasting,” he says. “This makes it easier for people in our community to be more successful gardeners and to grow and eat healthy food.”

Patio Choice Yellow Tomato
Red Ember cayenne pepper

Garden Blitz and the Community Gardens each received about half of the plants (624). These consisted mostly of tomatoes and peppers which are popular options for testing, along with a few other vegetable options mixed in like pumpkins and watermelon. Along with the organizations receiving the plants, each plant’s tab offers a link to a website for vegetable planting tips.

Plants were distributed to local residents who had signed up to rent a garden plot through the Community Gardens Program. During the annual Garden Blitz in May, organizations and individuals that had purchased raised garden beds through their program received the donated plants – about 80 recipients.

“With Green Bay Botanical Garden’s help, there’s no way people aren’t going to grow food with these boxes,” said Dillon Weist, New Leaf’s Urban Food Forest Coordinator.

Barkow (Horticulturist) chatting with Weist of New Leaf Foods.

The Garden is thrilled to be able to donate these plants for a second consecutive year. These donations help those in our community connect with plants and provide people access to affordable and nutritious food.

Ashley Barkow, a Horticulturalist at the Garden, spoke on the importance of the donation, which she coordinated directly:

“Partnership is the very essence of what we do. Our motto and mission is ‘connecting plants with people,’” she says. “By providing food for those who need it most, we create a bond of trust and community.”

Barkow believes this is one of many ways that Garden puts its mission in action, helping the community in a tangible way. 

Konlock agrees wholeheartedly.

“As we grow as an organization, I think we need to take the Garden and what we do here outside the borders of our 47 acres, out to the community. Doing this allows us to meet new people that may not have the option to always experience the Garden in person.”

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