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Workshops at Growing Power include information on aquaponic systems.

A guide to greening your garden

Note: The contents of this guide were checked for accuracy when this article was updated on April 8, 2009 at 4:33 p.m. We continually update the thousands of articles on, but it's possible some details, specials and offers may have changed. As always, we recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the businesses mentioned in the guide.

Just because we live in the Midwestern heartland, doesn't mean we're all natural farmers.

From composting to bio-dynamics to plain old annual planting, there's myriad information out there with tips, advice and instructions. To help you navigate the information and find the style of garden right for you, Milwaukee businesses and organizations host classes and informational sessions to offer guidance and knowledge.

Whether you're looking for simply the basics or you're ready for advanced techniques, here's a guide to greening your garden this spring.

Boerner Botanical Gardens
9400 Boerner Dr., (414) 525-5650
If flowers are your thing, this is your place. Referred to as Milwaukee County's living museum, the Boerner Botanical Garden connects eight gardens of lush seasonal flowers and plants. Maintained by the Milwaukee County Horticultural Staff, the gardens are not only the perfect place for a walk but also the ideal location for a bit of education. Check their monthly calendar for classes on planting, potting and floral arrangement.

Fondy Food Center, Inc.
2200 W. Fond du Lac Ave., (414) 562-2282
If you're growing your own produce, you might not need fruits and vegetables from the Fondy Market but it has plenty more to offer. The year-round market is home to "Taste of the Season;" an educational show promoting the importance of healthy cooking by exposing guests to new vegetables and preparations.

Hawk's Nursery
12217 W. Watertown Plank Rd., (414) 258-5525
Hawk's Nursery in Wauwatosa offers one of the most knowledgeable yet least expensive universities you'll ever attend. Every Saturday in April, May and June, head to Hawk's Garden Center for classes on planting gardens, blooming flowers and maintaining an ecologically sound garden. Every class is $5; complete six classes and earn a John Hawk's University Advanced Gardener Certificate plus a $50 Hawk's gift certificate.

Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful
1313 Mount Vernon Ave., (414) 272-5462

As one of the leading environmental non-profits in Milwaukee, Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful pushes for neighborhood cleanup, resource conservation, waste reduction and environmental forums. To educate the public, they offer adult classes on rain barrel construction, rain gardens, composting and vermicomposting. Just check the Web site to register.

Growing Power
5500 W. Silver Spring Dr., (414) 527-1546
Growing Power owner and founder, Will Allen believes healthy communities depend on healthy food systems. Originally a small-scale local project, Allen's farm is now one of the most successful urban farms in the nation, complete with operations in apiculture, aquaculture, hoop house design and composting. Allen runs "From the Ground Up!" workshops to provide hands-on training to learn, plan, develop, operate and sustain community food projects. Project participants leave the workshop with improved skills they can take back to their communities and pass on to others.

Milwaukee Urban Gardens
1845 N. Farwell Ave., (414) 431-1585
Milwaukee Urban Gardens began in 2002 as an effort to create gardens, protect the land and educate residents on the benefits of gardening. They have four gardens throughout the city; Village Roots Garden in Bay View, Hocking Heritage Garden on Milwaukee's North Side, Spencer Community Garden and Greenfolks Garden in Milwaukee. They run educational programming for kids out of Greenfolks Garden but also host a slew of classes on gardening, composting and greening for adults.

Slow Food Wisconsin Southeast
While Slow Food doesn't host educational sessions, it is teaching plenty. Formed in 2003, Slow Food supports local cooperatives, small farms, locally grown food and school gardens. Promoting events with Milwaukee Urban Gardens and the Fondy Farmer's Market, Slow Food brings relevant films and speakers to the area. Want to see the real impact of your gardening? Check in with Slow Food Wisconsin Southeast.

Urban Ecology Center
1500 E. Park Pl., (414) 964-8505
The Urban Ecology Center is probably one of the city's greatest hidden treasures. Along the Milwaukee River behind Riverside High School, this combination education center, recreation park and ecology research station is an organization worthy of attention. The Urban Ecology Center runs programming for kids, teens and adults all summer long but get your garden started with informational sessions this spring. The center runs a monthly newsletter chock full of tips and suggestions for environmentally sound gardening and landscaping.


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