The Anderson Farm Center (AFC) is a major component of the park's master plan and mission of the friends group. Anderson Park Friends, Inc. (APF) is an advocate for an improved food system for southern Dane County. The values of inclusion, equity, and diversity are important to the organization. The center consists of three components; see below.
The Anderson Farm Center is a new concept connected to the 310-acre Anderson Farm County Park. The Park is located at 914 Union Road, Oregon, WI 53575. The farm center is located at 805 Union Road. Anderson Park Friends is partnering with Dane County Parks (DCP) and UW-Extension, Oregon Food Pantry, and Rooted (a nonprofit specializing in small-scale agriculture). The center is one of three agricultural initiatives in the Dane County parks system.
Approximately 70 acres of farmland is identified in the master plan for a agriculture. The current concept of a farm center is focused primarily on approximately 40 acres of farmland west of Union Road. Additional land on the east side of Union Road is also designated for future agricultural activities. As of August 2022, approximately 12 acres are in use. Discussions this fall will consider an incremental expansion to additional acres.
Note: The farm center was featured in the December 3, 2021 edition of the Isthmus Magazine. Click Here for more information.
Water and Irrigation System
APF and Rooted collobarated on a joint project and solved the “access to water” problem that existed for the last three years. The new agriculture well and pump house were used in 2022 to support the installation of a new irrigation system. We worked with Rooted (our partner) and installed the new irrigation system in early July. The underground irrigation system serves 12 acres of land. The system has a combination of equipment for garden hoses and can also manage up to 2-inch hoses used by larger parcels. Individuals leasing garden plots are responsible for moving water within their garden plot.
Funds raised during 2021 through grants and donations were used to pay for the related expenses. Many favorable comments were received. Access to water was a major reason for the success of the food pantry garden. It was a “lifesaver” during July’s hot spell.
1. Food Pantry Garden
In 2023, APF maintained a food pantry garden consisting of an in-ground garden and eight raised beds. APF partnered with the Oregon Area Food Pantry (OAFP) to grow fresh produce. Over 2,000 pounds of fresh produce (more than 15 vegetable varieties) grown for three food pantries. The three pantries are in Oregon, Belleville, and Badger Prairie Needs Network (Verona). Volunteers provided over 600 hours of time towards this project. Click here for the 2023 flyer.
APF's garden is affiliated with the Madison Area Food Pantry Garden network. Volunteer opportuniities for individuals and groups are available.
A new relationship was started in 2022 with Little John’s kitchen. We delivered over 300 pounds of slightly "nicked" produce to them. They donated 400 square feet of refrigerated warehouse space off Greenway Cross Road, Fitchburg enabling APF to store onions and squash. As a result, we greatly reduced spoilage.
2. Community Gardens
The Center operates 22 community gardens (.25 acres each). APF partners with Rooted and Dane County Parks to make this plots of land available to the public. This project supports 17 Hmong families and local growers so they can have access to land. Multiple families are and supported by each plot. Each plot is leased for one calendar year. Gardeners are screened to ensure they can maintain a garden of thid size. See the above photo. Click here for the 2023 flyer.
3. Small Scale Agricultre
The current 4-year plan has 24 acres targeted for expansion within the framework of "market gardens/growers". A transition within the next four years will support 5-12 local small-scale agriculture businesses that will lease land for an extended period. This component will possibly start in 2023 with one or two growers.
If you like what we do, chip in a little to make a big difference, go to the form on: www.andersonparkfriends.org/newhorizonsproject. More funds are needed for Phase 2 expansion during 2024-2026.