Building Food Justice Capacity in South Madison


*Stages: diagnosing problems and prescribing strategies 
**Funded by the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies (Charlotte Zieve Teaching Fellowship)

Fall 2013 – We conducted community-based research focused on understanding what makes a successful farmers’ market.  Students facilitated three focus group discussions engaging a total of 22 Madison area farmers’ market vendors. The findings have helped us understand vendors’ perspectives in vending in a food dessert area.


Spring 2014 – Complementing the CBR work, we worked on some initial community organizing efforts in identifying South Madison community-based organizations (CBOs). By understanding the network of community organizations in South Madison, we tried to strategize how to engage South Madison community around safe, affordable, and healthy food.

Spring 2015 – We continued our community organizing efforts. This time we included the Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership and Development. We came to understand that working with formerly incarcerated individuals (FIIs) on commercial urban agriculture would serve multiple goals, while ultimately addressing the food injustice in South Madison. In addition to running a pilot “Eat and Greet” event, developing promotion materials, and conducting research on some potential institutional models, we wrote three different grants. One of the grant proposals was approved, that would support the Phase 2 of the project in the next two years.


*Stages: implementing strategies and assessing impacts
**Funded by the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment

Fall 2015 – We are working with FIIs through a series of civic engagement activities focused on CUA. Eventually, we are recruiting two individuals that we believe have the leadership and commitment to address the food injustice in South Madison.

In addition, we are working with SMFM organizers in setting up a new nonprofit institution that will organize local food justice efforts and work with broader SM community. Lastly, we are developing social campaign materials for potential donors and social media engagement.


Spring 2016 – As the recruited individuals participating in a CUA training session, we will continue our civic engagement efforts to enhance their learning. At the same time, we will work with them in initiating their first growing season. We will also continue the efforts in setting up a new nonprofit institution and developing social campaign materials.

Summer 2016 – The growing season will be well in its way. We will mobilize South Madison community to participate in the growing season, and support the CUA activities from growing to marketing. Not only will this be an opportunity for the recruited individuals to lead their community, but also to help expose these mobilized community members with hands-on CUA activities. This way, we expand the CUA impacts to a broader community.

Fall 2016 – We will continue our activities in summer, and will finalize the growing season. We will collectively develop an evaluation tool set so that we can measure the degree of success.

Spring 2017 – We will implement our evaluation tools and design the next steps.

Key Personnels: Dadit Hidayat, Alfonso Morales, Margaret Nellis, Abby Jackson, Lexa Dundore, and Nelson Institute Capstone Students in Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, and Spring 2016.