The Organic Learning Center (OLC) is located about one mile north of the Milwaukee County Cooperative Extension offices. The OLC is used for hands-on training and demonstration of intensive cropping systems, drip irrigation, extended season hoophouse growing, crop rotations, and composting, all on just 1/4 of an acre. An independent farmer is establishing a business model for the site, selling through farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), and wholesale and sharing records to show whether micro-scale organic farming is viable.
Visitors to the OLC can see examples of many research-based organic growing practices used to produce a high yield of healthy crops on a small piece of land. The soil is improved with cover crops, compost, and organic fertilizers and prepared for planting with a tractor, large rototiller, and hand tools such as forks and spades. Control of weeds and pests is done without chemicals, with a variety of tools and cultural practices. The urban location makes it easy to reuse waste materials such as brewers waste, leaf compost and kitchen scraps as soil amendments and mulch. Students and visitors learn about efficiency and high yield organic growing on this small scale to develop new models of urban farming that strengthen the food system, the local economy, and the ecosystem in urban areas.
View the Organic Learning Center Video
The Shoots n’ Roots Urban MicroFarm Training program teaches small scale vegetable growing, using research-based organic practices and results from the Organic Learning Center MicroFarm project. Participants learn organic methods to increase their food production on a small scale to supplement their family’s food budget or to begin farming businesses. “Shoots level” students put their learning into practice in their own small plots and participate in hands-on lessons throughout the season.
In 2009, over 40 people from both Milwaukee and Waukesha counties participated in the classroom lecture series, with 15 Shoots level students. Half of the 2009 participants are active Master Gardeners, and continue to pass along their training and knowledge in using organic methods through volunteer work and teaching.
- Scheduling Vegetable Planting for Continuous Harvest: ATTRA
- Sustainable Soil Management: ATTRA
- Organic Soil Conditioners: UWEX
- Biological Control of Insects and Mites: UWEX
- Managing Insects in the Home Vegetable Garden: UWEX
- Garden Facts – handouts on specific pests: UWEX
- Organic controls for specific pests: ATTRA
- Growing specific vegetable and fruit crops in Wisconsin: UWEX
- What is Organic Agriculture? : ATTRA
- Postharvest Handling of Fruits and Vegetables: ATTRA