My name is Angela Kingsawan and I have recently been welcomed into Walnut Way in the role of Urban Agriculture Coordinator. I’m excited to have the opportunity to interact with community members while doing something I’m passionate about within the city that I love.
My family has called Milwaukee home for several generations and I continue to raise my three daughters in our urban center. I have mixed Raramuri, Tigua, and Mexica ancestry. As an Indigenous person, it’s important for me to teach our future generations to take pride in where they come from and to maintain our natural surroundings. My mother and grandmother, along with other elders I’ve had the honor of crossing paths with, have given me my training in horticulture and permaculture over my entire lifetime. I have contributed in the garden since I was able to walk and have been an herbalist for my family and community for over 25 years.
Walnut Way’s urban agriculture campus features a hoop house, fruit trees, tulip gardens, and production gardens, stormwater management installations, and beekeeping.
While being introduced to the Walnut Way campus, I was enamored with the beauty of the neighborhood. Neighbors are friendly and helpful. There are orchards, a hoop house, and various areas where gardens had once been planted. I never thought there would be such a large natural space to work with in the heart of the city. I began sketching ideas for several areas of the campus, but I wanted to get perspectives from others before moving forward with any plans. I reached out to fellow staff, neighbors, and community leaders. Even though many discussions have taken place, I intend to let all garden plans be fluid and continue to evolve to meet community members’ needs from season to season.
This season we decided to grow culturally significant foods from many different cultures to create inclusivity for groups that may not have been represented historically. Expect to see Thai water spinach, Eritrean (African) basil, Ashwagandha, Greek Domata tomato, and chiltepin, to name a few, this season as we sell at the Fondy Farmers Market.
A corn maze has been planted on the southwest end of 17th Street with Oaxacan green dent and Cochiti popcorn, pictured above.
Enjoy the cool season with a corn maze and pumpkin patches
Across the street from the hoop house, we have planted the Three Sisters (corn, beans, squash) into a corn maze and pumpkin patch to create fun family events into the cool season. Cochiti popcorn, Oaxacan Green Dent corn, bear paw beans, tepary beans, and Mayo blusher squash make up the corn maze and pumpkin patch. When we harvest from the corn field, I will be sharing Native American recipes, crafts, and cultural practices.
Plant your garden this season at Walnut Way
On the north side of the Walnut Way center, we are creating an entire garden with in-ground garden plots that will be free for anyone living in the 53205 and 53206 zip codes up to the amount of space available.
Seeds, plants, garden assistance, and pop-up workshops will be offered to support first-time gardeners. Sharing and storytelling will be just as important as the actual gardening that will take place. I believe, our cultural foodways nourish our Spirit as well as the body. Everything we are growing, from flowers to vegetables, is culturally significant. In fall, we will lead community members in seed saving activities. By the end of this season, we will have harvested enough seed to create a seed library that will be housed in the Walnut Way Center.
Two beehives were installed with support from Charlie “Charbee” Koenen, the Beevangelists and beekeeper, pictured top right. The hives will provide much needed pollination to the nearby peach tree orchard and gardens.
Sweet news of honey and herbs
I’m excited to share that we welcomed honeybees to the Walnut Way campus. On the southside of the center, two Langstroth hives were placed in our peach orchard on 17th street. Bees are known for invigorating established orchards, and we’re hoping, with help from our bees, to get a huge crop of peaches to share during the summer months. Another one of the perks to keeping bees is the fresh local honey in autumn.
With honey in mind, I am in the process of planting medicinal herbs within the orchard and around the beehives. The bees will be harvesting pollen from herbs such as lavender, comfrey, yarrow, alfalfa, and Agastache to help create a medicinally potent honey which will help strengthen our immunity for the coming winter.
Step into the summer with strawberry fields and fragrant flowers
As we plan spaces in the gardens for family friendly activities, we are planting a new strawberry patch and flower gardens for learning, smelling, and picking thanks to a donation of strawberry plants from Lisa Granica.
In front of the hoop house, I will be planting a field of flowers with a multitude of different varieties. We will hold events to share information on how to use flowers for nutrition, beauty care, and medicinally. We will also encourage neighbors to stop by and harvest flowers on their own.
Residents of Lindsay Heights and other visitors are welcome to visit the gardens and volunteer following social distance safety precautions. Contact volunteer coordinator Deaduri@walnutway.org or Akingsawan@walnutway.org to schedule a visit.
Visit us at the Farmers market or in the fields as a volunteer
There are many more new and exciting things happening in the garden program. Our Growing Youth Leadership Internship program will begin June 1st and youth from the program will be selling every week at the Fondy Farmers Market. We will safely welcome small garden volunteer groups of Lindsay Heights residents to take part in garden activities, following all COVID-19 safety precautions.
We invite you to join us at the market and in the gardens. Please feel free to stop by and say hi or just walk the gardens and enjoy spending time in nature. If you would like to schedule a volunteer visit, please email email@example.com or myself at firstname.lastname@example.org to coordinate your visit.
Wild green blessings!