Jefferson Award: Phyllis Hasbrouck - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Jefferson Award: Phyllis Hasbrouck


FITCHBURG (WKOW)-- How often do you think or talk about where your food comes from? A local organization is trying to get more people talking about it. It makes the founder, Phyllis Hasbrouck, this month's Jefferson Award recipient for volunteering and inspiring others to volunteer as well.

Phyllis Hasbrouck loves getting her hands dirty. Her love for gardening started when she was just a young girl.

"Collards, and kale, of course many kinds of tomatoes and tomatillos, and many kinds of peppers: hot and sweet," said Hasbrouck.

That is just a small list of what's growing in the garden of Fitchburg Fields. Hasbrouck and a friend started Fitchburg Fields in January 2008.

Its mission is to promote organic, sustainable food. It's also a center for teaching food preservation and cooking. Hasbrouck says many kids today, and I would suspect many adults, have what she calls Nature Deficit Disorder.

"You're out in nature if you are growing food and that is just really good for people's mental health," said Hasbrouck. "So many people their whole job is sitting in front of the computer and to get outside is calming for the nerves and at the same time you're nurturing something."

Growing your own food not only gets you outside.

"Once you start growing foods you will start eating more fresh, raw vegetables and fruits and less processed food," said Hasbrouck.

"I was making soups out of my freezer all winter long, it was very satisfying," said Hasbrouck. "Those are groceries I didn't have to buy."

This is the third growing season in their 4,000 square feet of borrowed land.

"We're all about teaching people how to grow their own food, preserve it, and cook it," said Hasbrouck.

Hasbrouck is a part of the process every step of the way. She leads the work in the garden. She's a fundraiser. The non-profit has one half-time staff member. The rest of the work is done by volunteers. About 200 volunteers donated 800 hours last year. Hasbrouck volunteers about 40 hours a week.

"You want to learn or just get your hands in the dirt, come on out," said Hasbrouck.

Who gets to benefit from fruits of their labor?

Last year, Fitchburg Fields donated 3,318 pounds of fresh produce to local food pantries.

"We we first stated we went to the Allied Drive food pantry and asked them what they wanted and so that's what we planted," said Hasbrouck.

Hasbrouck hopes to have raised enough money to buy a piece of land of their own by 2013.

"Everybody can do something," said Hasbrouck. "Big projects happen from small projects and so whatever you can do start doing it."

Click here for more information and how to donate to Fitchburg Fields.

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