Fondy Park, as it will be known, will not only beautify the neighborhood, it will make it more sustainable. The new park is part of a larger project called “HOME GR/OWN,” a public-private partnership run by the ECO, which converts vacant lots into healthy green spaces to drive economic development, job creation, and increase quality of life. Fondy Food Center, a United Way program partner, is one of the key organizations collaborating on the park project.
“In addition to being a cornerstone of healthy, local food access, Fondy Farmers Market has long been recognized as a centrally important gathering space for the friends and neighbors of Milwaukee’s North side,” says Jennifer Casey, Executive Director of Fondy Food Center. “The park will expand this role by creating a welcoming green space for events and activities and for people to sit and enjoy their lunch, play a game of chess, learn about protecting our fresh water resources, engage with art, or simply relax or play.”
Some of the green features of the park include collection of rainwater to water the park’s plants, and a bioswale (sunken area with special soils and native plants) to absorb water and reduce pressure on the sewer system during storms. The bioswale will not only help prevent basement flooding in nearby homes, it will help to keep Lake Michigan cleaner by preventing sewage overflows during heavy rain.
Additionally, phase two of the project will include solar panels that will provide power to the sewer system and battery power for lighting and events requiring electricity.
Besides several eco features, the park will include an event stage and seating to host various programming and activities.
The park is a perfect complement to the Fondy Farmer’s Market, one of the few sources of affordable, healthy, fresh food for the neighborhood. Farmers Markets are associated with increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, which, in turn, is a behavior associated with a decreased risk of diet related chronic diseases. Likewise, green spaces provide a place for physical activity and promote mental health through connections with other people and stress reduction.
“Milwaukee continues to blaze trails when it comes to urban green spaces!” says Nicole Angresano, VP of Community Impact at United Way. “This project represents a wonderful synergy between environmental health and physical wellbeing and play—and is a direct reflection of what we’ve been hearing from community members during our Community Conversations: neighborhoods need safe, green spaces. United Way is so proud of our longtime agency partner Fondy Food Center and all the others who have made this vision a reality.”
The Fondy Park grand opening will take place on September 16 from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., in conjunction with the Fondy Food Market’s Centennial Celebration.
Jennifer hopes the community will come out to help celebrate: “Fondy’s Centennial Celebration and the Fondy Park Grand Opening will be a day of joy and gratitude, full of wellness programming, kids activities, music, art, stories, speakers, and all around merriment.“
Learn more about the work of Fondy Food Center and visit the Fondy Farmer’s Market!