June 2011

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work to inspire Someone You Should Know: Phyllis Hasbrouck By Diana Henry The Jefferson Awards started more than 30 years ago in an effort to recognize the dedication and service of volunteers who trans- form lives and strengthen communities nationwide. This month, meet Phyllis Hasbrouck, the recipient of the Jefferson Award in Wisconsin. food only, well, grew. Today she has turned that passion into a way to teach others while giving back at Fitchburg Fields, a community garden that aims to promote organic, sustainable food practices. Founded in 2008 on a 4,000 square foot plot of borrowed land, P the community garden is her launching pad to challenge what she calls “nature deficit disorder.” “[For] so many people, their whole [day] is [spent] sitting in front of a computer,” Hasbrouck says. “To get outside is calming for the nerves—and at the same time you’re nurturing something. Once you start growing foods you will start eating more fresh, raw vegetables and fruits and less processed food.” It’s caring for the land, the earth and our health, all wrapped up into one mission, and Hasbrouck is a part of the process every step of the way. She leads the hundreds of volunteers who put in time at the garden each year while also raising funds to work toward their goals. And while teaching the community about growing and preserving their own food through classes and garden workdays is a mainstay of the organization, they are also making an impact in another way: Last year, the group donated 3,318 pounds of fresh produce to local food pantries, ensuring that everything they grow is put to good use. “When we first started we went to the Allied Drive Food Pantry and asked them what they wanted—and so that’s what we planted,” says Hasbrouck. The donations to the Allied Drive pantry continue today, while another community organization, Women in Transition, also re- ceives food for its residents. It’s the following feedback from a staff member at Women in Transition that keeps Hasbrouck digging. “It gets [the women] talking at mealtime. Talking is the beginning of friendships, friendships lead to healing,” says Hasbrouck. Hasbrouck hopes to raise enough money to buy a piece of land to call their own by 2013—and her eyes are set on part (or all) of 250 acres of land in northeast Fitchburg she hopes to rescue from de- velopment and transform into an “eco-village” where people learn how to grow food organically. Overall, she’d like more people to become a part of a movement that continues to grow in the Mad- ison-area. “Everybody can do something,” says Hasbrouck. “Big proj- ects happen from small projects and so whatever you can do, start doing it.” ••• Diana Henry is news anchor for WKOW27. Join her June 9 at 10 p.m. for “Someone You Should Know” featuring Hasbrouck. For more information on Fitchburg Fields, visit If you or someone you know is making a difference in your commu- nity and deserves recognition nominate them at 32 BRAVA Magazine June 2011 hyllis Hasbrouck loves getting her hands dirty. She says her love for gardening started when she was 12. At 19, after she got her first book on organic gardening, her love for growing Photos by Amber Arnold

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