Rolling Into 2021 with Awe, Thankfulness, and Gratitude

Dear VGI Community,

On behalf of myself and the entire board of directors, I would like to first acknowledge with awe, thankfulness and gratitude how we not only ‘weathered’ 2020 but how VGI went above and beyond difficult times.

With AWE:  At the staff and VGI leaders who got creative to continue to make the greatest impact

With Thankfulness: We are truly thankful to be a part of a community that is committed to social and food justice,

With Gratitude:  Reminds me of just how fortunate we are!

As we move forward in 2021 and on the journey of another year of MORE of what we do best! We are very excited, energized and ready to hit the earth/soil/ground running! We have new leadership in place with our Executive Director, Michelle Dobbs. She and the staff are certainly not in hibernation this time of year. They are busy with planning programming, coming up with creative ways to engage the Harambee Neighborhood, bring Chef Joya’s great food to more people, get more BLITZ garden beds installed and thinking of all we can do with the children we serve.

On the board level, I am again humbled, committed to our mission and enthusiastic to be the board chair for this year. Also, we have a new Vice-Chair who is an emerging/strong leader for VGI plus the community! Chelsea Cross wanted to take a moment to share her excitement on joining the board and her new leadership position:

“We live in a nation that perpetuates unhealthy eating with capitalistic ads for bad food, alcohol, and tobacco on our TVs and highways. These ads appease the companies with no care for our environment that mass produce our ‘food.’ As a repercussion and quid pro quo for Big Pharma, our medical system would rather treat instead of prevent. Armed with my education and health background, as Vice-Chair, ending these ramifications that reverberate across mostly low-income, minority communities is my dedication. It is an honor to carry the work started by Gretchen Mead so many years ago and I am incredibly grateful to learn from Susie and the rest of the VGI community. – Chelsea”

If you are looking to safely get involved with VGI here are few ways to do that now:

  • Mark your calendars for our Cultivate Harambee dinner series! These outdoor, socially distanced dinners will take place the first Saturday of the month from May-October. From 4-7pm you can drop by our Farm and Farmhouse in Harambee for a delicious meal prepared by Chef Joya using VGI produce. Stay tuned for more announcements on our website, newsletter, and social media as we’ll update as each event gets closer with what fun entertainment will be happening as well as volunteer opportunities!
  • Get ready for the 13th Annual Great Milwaukee Blitz! We’re still working on finalizing plans for a 2nd pandemic Blitz, so while our registration forms aren’t fully live yet, you can still sign up to get on the volunteer list here or onto the list for purchasing a bed here. Once the official forms are live, we’ll send you and email so you can sign up.
  • As always, we greatly appreciate your support through a financial donation here or helping out with our wish list here.


Thank you to all our friends, supporters and community members!

Susie Ralston, Chairperson of the Board of Directors

Letter from the Board

Dear VGI Community,

Ten years ago, our Executive Director Gretchen Mead had an idea. She planted it, like a tiny seed. With help from others like you who believed in this idea, she nurtured the seed that was the vision of Victory Garden Initiative and as the seed grows into something spectacular – so has VGI! I am sure, like me, you too are very proud of the growth of our organization and also look to the future with high expectations of the impact we can have.

It is our 10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY! We are celebrating all that we have done:

  • installing gardens/ bringing fresh food to people’s yards all over the city
  • planting trees and orchards,
  • training community food leaders,
  • launching community gardens,
  • engaging volunteers,
  • BLITZing (bringing together 100’s of volunteers to build garden beds)
  • building our farm, (providing programs for children and adults at The Farm in the Harambee neighborhood)
  • and, teaching children and adults to grow their own food!

None of these endeavors could’ve been possible without you. So this year and always, we also celebrate you. You helped us plant seeds. You helped our gardens grow. You helped our staff excel and our volunteers grow personally. You helped countless neighbors, children and community members. On behalf of everyone at Victory Garden Initiative, we THANK YOU!

On behalf of the VGI Board of Directors, we are deeply grateful for your generosity and continued belief in the impact we make in our community. Your impact will continue into 2018 and beyond. There are exciting things on our horizon. As we continue our current programs, we are exploring new adventures like growing our educational programs at The Farm and creating our very own CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program.

Please come to our annual fundraiser, The Fruity Nutty Affair on February 22nd! It is always a fantastic event with amazing food from the best local restaurants, music, and silent auction and all the proceeds go to VGI…..what a fun way to give to Victory Garden Initiative!

Best regards,

Susie Ralston, Chairwoman of the Board, Victory Garden Initiative