Riverview Gardens is a non-profit social enterprise in Appleton WI, focused on job training for people in need, operating with the core concept that all people have value and can contribute to the community where they live. Riverview Gardens has five social enterprises, including a 15-acre certified organic urban farm with an apiary, microgreens operations, hydroponics greenhouse being constructed, a bakery and a soon to be launched retail operation. A prairie is planned for installation on the urban farm in 2016.
The seed for Riverview Gardens grew out of Executive Director Cindy Sahotsky’s participation in the inaugural class of the executive Social Innovation Leadership Experience (SILE) sponsored by Marquette University, the J. J. Keller Foundation and the U.S. Venture Fund for Basic Needs. Poverty and homelessness have many causes and cannot be resolved through shelter alone. Some source of income is required to be eligible for transitional housing, and it is often impossible to secure employment without a current address and recent work history. The enterprises provide unlimited job-training opportunities for the people served and a source of revenue. Riverview Gardens sells produce, microgreens and bakery items through a community supported agriculture (CSA) program, at a farmers market and to restaurants, grocers, hospitals and corporate cafeterias.
Founded in 1898, Riverview Country Club and golf course was Wisconsin’s oldest private country club and an Appleton institution until its closing in 2011. Riverview Gardens’ founders saw the beautiful, prominent property as an opportunity to address critical community needs in a completely new way, at the same time preserving and protecting the land for agricultural use. Riverview Gardens is the collaborative transformation of a 72-acre golf course and related country club. This transformation addresses serious regional challenges, including rising unemployment, homelessness, poverty, and lack of access to nutritious, fresh food, all with a financially self-sustaining model.
While Riverview Gardens isn’t training people to be farmers, job-training participants grow from the lessons of farm life and gain critical transferable job skills that helps them move forward to self-sufficiency for themselves and their families. ServiceWorks, the job-training program, has successfully provided job-training to over 500 of our community members in need.
You can get involved in this transformative project by joining volunteering your time or donating much-needed garden tools. You can also enjoy walking, running and biking on Riverview Gardens’ 72 acres daily from dawn to dusk. For more information, visit http://www.riverviewgardens.org. Riverview Gardens is transforming land, lives and the non-profit idea.
Written by Kelly Nutty
Posted by Bev