Playground Movement Community Gardens at Lake Crest Drive

by Jim Dittmann
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BY: Trina Justman Reichert – Blue Zones Project Dodge County

Playground Movement, Blue Zones Project® Dodge County, Dodge County Extension FoodWIse, and neighborhood volunteers held a build day for the new Community Gardens at Lake Crest Drive Saturday, May 8. Funding for the project was made possible from a Growing Together WI Mini Grant and Rock River Women for Agriculture, and a generous donation from Drexel Building Supply. The City of Beaver Dam approved building of the gardens on a small city-owned parcel last March, just before the COVID-19 pandemic stalled the project.

“We want to build community,” said Laura Goral, organizer of Playground Movement. “We are excited about this opportunity to provide space for our neighbors to grow food and to rebrand Lake Crest neighborhood with the community endeavor.”

As a way to increase access to healthy foods, build community, and create positive experiences around fresh vegetables, partners worked together to build raised garden beds in the Madison Street neighborhood. Eleven raised garden beds were built and will be maintained by youth and families connected to Playground Movement as well as residents of the UMOS, Lake Crest and Bay Shore Apartments. The gardens are located behind the Habitat ReStore in between the Lake Crest apartment complexes. The produce will be made available at the Beaver Dam Food Pantry and the new food pantry housed within the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

Next steps will include a “plant day.” Gardening education will be provided by Dodge County Food Wise staff, Blue Zones Project (BZP) engagement staff and volunteers. Master Gardeners provided direct education related to creating a garden, sowing seeds and harvesting prior to the build day. BZP will provide education related to using and eating produce through cooking demonstrations or other hands-on activities. FoodWIse will provide the Beaver Dam Food Pantry and ReStore’s Free Food BD with recipes, produce info cards, handouts and education related to the produce available that was grown in the gardens.

Brought to Dodge County by Marshfield Medical Center-Beaver Dam, in collaboration with Sharecare, Inc. and Blue Zones, LLC, Blue Zones Project is a community-by-community well-being improvement initiative—designed to make healthy choices easier through sustainable changes to environment, policy, and social networks.

For details about becoming a Blue Zones Project Approved organization or general information about Blue Zones Project, Dodge County, call 920-356-6547,or

About Playground Movement

Playground Movement Beaver Dam’s urban-inspired pop-up playground in the South Madison ST neighborhood. It provides a safe place of community and supervised activities for participants, and uses the activities to build deeper relationships with all involved. Playground focuses on family support through activities that encourage team-building skills, anti-bullying awareness, family-focused learning and leisure, as well as youth leadership, parental support and financial help that comes through Playground’s school break lunches (spring, summer & winter) and food boxes and backpack programs. Playground is a place people can come to for help and we aim to connect those in need with resources available to them.

About UW-Madison Extension FoodWIse

FoodWIse advances healthy eating habits, active lifestyles and healthy community environments for families with limited incomes through nutrition education at the individual, community and systems levels. FoodWIse is federally funded by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). Each year FoodWIse delivers nutrition education to more than 50,000 participants statewide. Partnering with community-based organizations, we use a combination of evidence-based strategies designed to promote change for individuals, families and communities and help make the healthy choice the easy choice. FoodWIse works out of county Cooperative Extension offices and in collaboration with state and local partners.

About Marshfield Clinic Health System 

Marshfield Clinic Health System is an integrated health system whose mission is to enrich lives through accessible, affordable compassionate health care. The Health System serves Wisconsin with more than 11,000 employees including over 1,200 providers comprising 86 specialties, health plan, and research and education programs. Primary operations include Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield Medical Center hospitals in Marshfield, Eau Claire, Rice Lake, Neillsville, Beaver Dam, Weston, Park Falls and Ladysmith, Marshfield Children’s Hospital, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, Security Health Plan and Marshfield Clinic Health System Foundation. Learn more at

About Blue Zones Project

Blue Zones Project® by Sharecare is a community-led well-being improvement initiative designed to make healthy choices easier through permanent changes to a city’s environment, policy, and social networks. Established in 2010, Blue Zones Project is based on research by Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow and New York Times best-selling author who identified five cultures of the world—or blue zones —with the highest concentration of people living to 100 years or older. Blue Zones Project incorporates Buettner’s findings and works with cities to implement policies and programs that will move a community toward optimal health and well-being. Currently, 57 communities across North America have joined Blue Zones Project, impacting more than 3.8 million citizens. The population health solution includes two Health Districts in California; 15 cities in Iowa; Albert Lea, Minnesota; the city of Fort Worth, Texas; Corry, Pennsylvania; Brevard, North Carolina; the Walla Walla Valley in Washington; and communities in Southwest Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Blue Zones Project is a partnership between Blue Zones, LLC, and Sharecare, Inc. For more information, visit

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