Growth and Partnership with Madison Christian Community Gardeners

By Ashley Staley

Raspberry Plans and A Dragonfly Friend

Harvesting Strawberries

Growth is the theme of April at Chrysalis, and for good reason! Spring is a time of change and re-emergence after hibernation, a time of rebirth and renewal as evident by the natural cycles all around us. A very clear example of growth, both metaphorically and literally, is in a garden. Chrysalis reaps the benefits of partnering with Madison Christian Community, where a group of committed volunteers help maintain a food pantry garden, by which Chrysalis Pops is a recipient and participant.

Our partnership has continued to grow and flourish over the years – and this year’s Chrysalis Pops season is another example of growth. Chrysalis Pops, a social enterprise of Chrysalis, is undergoing its own metamorphosis – it is being integrated into the Chrysalis Clubhouse where clubhouse members will support and contribute to helping maintain the business from “Seed to Sales.” Clubhouse members will be out in the MCC garden twice a week; members will not only support the garden to thrive, but will sow seeds of recovery and wellness in their own lives, morphing and growing right alongside the garden. 

I asked Dani Rischall, executive director at Chrysalis, and Jean Einerson, MCC Food Pantry Garden coordinator, to share more about the growth of our partnership over the years. 

  • How did the partnership between MCC and Chrysalis sprout
  • How have you seen the partnership between MCC and Chrysalis bloom over the years?
  • How does Chrysalis benefit from the support of MCC/ How does MCC benefit from the support of Chrysalis?

Dani: The story of how Chrysalis and MCC connected is one of my favorite partnership stories! The experience highlights how meaningful change that is mutually beneficial can blossom with shared values, trust, and an openness to just give it a try. I first met some of the wonderful folks of MCC at a grantee award ceremony through The Willy St. Co-Op Community Reinvestment Fund in 2016. Chrysalis was being awarded funds to start sourcing local, organic produce for Chrysalis Pops and MCC was awarded to support food pantry donations from their community garden. As I was chatting with the fellow award recipients my ears perked up as I heard the MCC folks talking about potential access produce in their gardens and wanting to make sure the produce went to those in need. I was able to share more about our Social Enterprise and plant seeds to further explore a partnership. 

Soon after I was introduced to Ann and Jean, the MCC Green Team Leads who support the  incredible work of their community gardens. I was in awe of all they were able to do, their knowledge of gardening, and their commitment to supporting the community. As I think many strong partnerships do, we started small. The first season MCC donated produce directly to Chrysalis Pops. It didn’t take long to realize that there were more opportunities to make this partnership fruitful. Over the last six years we have shifted to having participants onsite at the gardens supporting the entire community garden process. Time spent at the garden is now a highlight of the program. MCC has donated hundreds of pounds of raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries, and cucumbers. These donations not only make it possible for us to make our pops, this partnership also offers opportunities for skill building and community integration.  

We are so grateful for the folks at MCC, Ann, Jean and the entire Green Team for doing so much to support the Chrysalis Mission and Chrysalis Pops.

Jean: A seed was planted 7 years ago when one of our church pastors heard about Chrysalis at a meeting for nonprofits. The food pantry garden team connected

with Chrysalis and a partnership was established.  Our food pantry garden’s mission is to be good stewards of the land.  We do that by growing food for those that struggle with food insecurity.  Relationships with Chrysalis members grew when we watered, weeded and picked fruit and vegetables side by side.  Relationships, like plants, can be fertilized to develop deep roots and grow to be strong and beautiful.  A good garden example of this is planting spinach seeds in the fall.  Watering, composting and keeping the plants covered over the winter will hopefully provide a spring bounty. 

The food pantry garden team values the relationships that have been fostered over the past years. It is a mutual relationship, much like companion planting and hope the partnership will continue to flourish in years to come.

Over Wintered Spinach

Cutting Flowers and a Butterfly

Jean and Ann, MCC Garden Volunteers