Community Growers Statement of Purpose:

To grow organic vegetables and fruits in an urban environment

To promote local food production as an alternative to agri-business and corporate food distribution

To innovate new and better methods for urban farming

To provide leadership in urban farming and inspire others to grow their own food

To provide successful models of local business

To advise and coach other aspiring urban farmers

To install additional urban farms and gardens

To green our city wherever we can

To reduce our own “carbon footprint”
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Part of one day’s harvest — additional 15 lbs of lettuce went to market :)

Square Inch City Farms To Change the Way We Live: Permaculture Cities!

Will Allen rightly booms forth during most of his glorious Growing Power tours…

It’s not how green is your thumb!
It’s how fertile is your soil!

And then…

Just start growing something, anything,
In any kind of pot. See what good will happen!

Community Growers Recruiting Square Inch City Farmer Apprentices

With Will Allen compost or homemade compost following Will’s methods,
A network of artist/artisan/urban farmers is giving people small hanging pots
To grow arugula for their family and friends, and, if they are ambitious,
For one of Milwaukee’s most revered family grocers, e.g. Sendeks on Downer,
Which put out the call for “local organic arugula” this week.

From Pots to Plots

The hypothesis is that 100 such pots will yield one or two
Apprentice city farmers,
Once the magic is experienced.

It will also yield returns for those offering the pots,
Intrinsic and otherwise. And…

Hastening the Emergence of 10,000 Mini City Farms & Roof Top Gardens

In each of our venerable industrial cities
Becoming, by necessity, something new…


Permaculture Cities!

What say?

Apprentice Urban Farmer
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Community Growers Arrive in Milwaukee to Provide Food Garden Coaches, Food Garden Art, and Garage/Home/Building Rooftop Gardens for Healthy Food

Urban Artisans Discover Urban Agriculture

Community Growers will help Milwaukee grow food in the backyards, lots, and rooftops of old Milwaukee and our historic suburban community partners. Send an e-mail to if you would like a quote for roof top garden installations, garden art and structures.

Community Growers will also “grow community,” aiming to combine the best theory with the best practice, eye on the prize of city habitats and neighborhoods that nourish body and soul.

Community Growers hopes to connect “food garden coaches” with people ready to experiment with growing increasing proportions of their own food, and, for some, food for local farmers markets and grocery stores.

If you wish to be considered as a Community Grower garden coach, or if you would like to meet Stephanie Philipps and Dr. Dave, two food garden coaches ready to help out now, send an e-mail to

Two founding members of Community Growers are Erik Lindberg and Josh Fraundorf, who will be sharing the story of this new network of artists, artisans, urban farmers, and sustainable development theorists and practitioners. Here is the start of what will be a sustained interview with Erik and Josh, starting with Erik Lindberg, co-founder of Community Growers.

If you would like to see a folk art photo sketch of the day the Growing Power compost was conveyed up onto the roof and deposited in growing beds, during wind, rain, sleet, and cold, here you go!

Interview with Erik Lindberg, co-founder Community Growers

Milwaukee Renaissance. You recently won a couple of awards for excellence in historic restoration artisanship. And now the word is out that you have invested considerable time, money, and energy on a “family farm” on top of a commercial building. Why are you doing this?
What is it you hope to accomplish?

Lindberg. You flatter me by mentioning the awards. They are the city of Milwaukee’s “Cream of the Cream City” awards for historic preservation. The awards actually go to the homeowners, as they are considered the stewards of their property, which (because they are, in the end, just passing through) ultimately belong to us all. The difficult part is getting homeowners to invest the time and money to restore their homes properly. After that, my part is fairly easy.

The idea for the “family farm,” which I also like to call my “Victory Garden” has all sorts of sources, the two primary ones being Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which I read about a year ago, and the work Will Allen has done at “Growing Power.” Kingsolver’s book is a gripping combination of grave warnings about the impact of our current eating and growing habits, and of joyous inspiration about what we can individually do as an alternative. Of particular impact on me was her discussion of the great amounts of fossil fuels imbedded in our food, largely from its shipping, but also from its means of production. I read Kingsolver against the background of what Will has shown possible in both an urban setting and in limited space. When I acquired the building that houses my company, the idea of putting the roof to good use had already had a full term gestation from these sources. I also have a very good friend (wink-wink) who has been a constant source of enthusiasm, inspiration, as well as countless connections with other like-minded people.

This sort of environmentalism is certainly “in the air.” The victory garden is one of countless reactions to what is becoming the obviously perilous state of our planet. We have to change how we do just about everything, and we’re collectively finally realizing this and trying to do something about it. The sad thing, though, is that both the warnings and the technologies have been available to us for at least 30 years, but only recently has the movement gained (or begun to gain) necessary momentum. We shouldn’t spend too much time bemoaning the trendy nature of this sort of thing, but it should curtail most of our self-congratulatory impulses. Although this is a time, for me, of great excitement, I really need to just put my head down and do the work. My wife, Liana, who is also my partner in this project, helps me do this, as she has a great appreciation of the particular beauty and wonder of a plant, when gazed at from a few inches away. This alone can be sufficient motivation.

I’m not sure what I can accomplish through this project, as I don’t know how well my process and procedures will fare. At the very least, we should be able to grow enough vegetables to supply us throughout the summer, and hopefully into the autumn and the winter. If we can achieve really good production, sharing and even selling our produce could be a possibility. But it is too experimental at this point to make any plans like that.

More generally, though, when you stand on the roof of my building, there are within view about 30 flat roofs, all of which are just sitting there, collecting heat and allowing a highly concentrated run-off after rain and snow. My larger goal is to see more business owners or their employees throughout the city install and nurture their own roof-top victory gardens. In the history of our species, many cultures (maybe most) have made use of nearly every resource at their disposal, including all available space. The idea of massive amounts of waste is relatively new and unsustainable. By necessity, I think our culture may have to rediscover this mindset, and I’d like to show how easy it is to use a roof for more than one purpose.
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Interview with Josh Fraundorf, Co-Founder Community Growers in next installment on Community Growers

Josh Fraundorf is the hands-on leader of Community Roofing and Restoration, which is probably by now Milwaukee’s leading roof system and exterior restoration company for our historic housing stock. Like Erik Lindberg, Josh believes growing food in the city is to become a leading green and growth industry in Milwaukee and beyond. Josh was key to his friend and associate Steve Lindner’s gift of several thousand dollars worth of excellent top soil to Riverwest and Harambee.

Here are some photos of that project.

Here is Josh Fraundorf in front of the Pabst Theatre the day Nik Kovac was sworn in. Josh had too many Community clients needing his attention to make it for the entire event. He showed up to shake Nik’s hand and let him know one increasingly important small local business appreciated Nik’s commitment to the greening of Milwaukee.

Last edited by Tyler Schuster. Based on work by Godsil.  Page last modified on November 17, 2008

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