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Wendy Madson named Dayton agriculture leader of the year

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Wendy Madison

Wendy Madson was named Dayton’s “Agriculture Leader of the Year” during the Dayton Community Recognition awards banquet on September 27, 2013 at the Dayton Valley Country Club. Wendy is Healthy Communities Coalition’s manager for the nonprofit Community Roots Garden Center, and the Coalition’s school gardens and farmers markets liaison.

The awards were co-sponsored by the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce and the Nevada Appeal.

Supporting Agriculture and Gardening Education: The average age of the American farmer is over 55, and a dwindling number of children raised on farms become farmers. This means that we have fewer young people trained in agriculture than are needed.

This is where Community Roots, with leadership from manager Wendy Madson, has been very important for the Dayton region.

Community Roots, with strong leadership from manager Wendy, has had a far-reaching, positive impact in the Dayton region by expanding opportunities for both youth and adults to find training and/or work using sustainable agriculture/gardening practices. Wendy has been instrumental in partnering with schools, farmers, other nonprofits, USDA, UNCE, etc. to fund, implement, maintain and expand 5 school and community gardens or hoop houses in Dayton and in 3 other towns in Lyon.

School Gardens and Hoop Houses: These gardens and hoop houses (low tech green houses) serve as hands-on training sites for students and community members. Community Roots hosts “hoop house raising” events- similar to old-fashioned barn raising parties,- so that youth and adults alike can learn how to build hoop houses.Teachers then use the hoop houses to teach hands-on Science, Technology, Engineer and Math (STEM) lessons. For example, teachers such as Dayton Elementary School teacher Bob Gardner use the school hoop house garden to teach students not only how to grow fresh food, but to market and sell it to local restaurants and to donate it to the local food pantry.

Teens Intern at Farm Schools: In addition, school and community gardens and farmers markets in Dayton serve as “farm schools” for Community Roots’ teen interns who learn how to manage and sustain gardens, composts, and local farmers markets. The teens in turn teach younger students how to grow their own produce and maintain and repair hoop houses. The teens also learn how to sell some of what they produce at the local farmers market, and  donate hundreds of pounds each summer to the local food pantry.

Job Skills and Volunteer Site: Community Roots also serves as a supportive and welcoming site for Department of Employment and Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) job training for adults and youths, and as a popular spot for community volunteers of all ages.

State and National Attention: Wendy’s work on school gardens has attracted statewide and national attention. In 2012 she gave a presentation at University Nevada Las Vegas at the “Making a Difference in Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion” conference sponsored by the Nevada State Health Division, In 2011, she was a presenter at a national “Community Foods Projects” conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dayton school gardens have been highlighted in several national USDA publications and have been held up as examples by former U.S. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan.

Good nutrition including fresh produce has an enormous impact on dental health, so it seems fitting that Wendy is also the key organizer for the dental services portion of Healthy Communities Coalition’s annual Medical Outreach Response Event (MORE) for uninsured residents of Lyon, Storey and Mineral. She recruits dentists from all over the state of Nevada, and arranges for the complicated logistics required for the dentists 2 days of volunteer service to rural Nevadans in dire need of dental care.

For more information about Community Roots, contact Wendy Madson at 246-7550 or see Communtiy Roots’ Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CommunityRoots.NV

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