Front Porch Management is making a big splash as a new partner of the Winona County PartnerSHIP (SHIP – Statewide Health Improvement Partnership) this year. SHIP funds were used for supplies to help launch a community-based agriculture project at Prairie Island Campground this summer, featuring more than 20 plots for campers and community members to plant at no cost. A produce donation policy was created so that extra produce would be offered to the Winona Volunteer Services food shelf.
SHIP will also fund signs in English, Hmong and Spanish, to be placed by the garden, to welcome guests, thank them for not using tobacco products in the area and inform them of the campground’s mission “to promote healthy eating, serve as a gateway to outdoor recreation, engage community members with multiple perspectives, provide learning opportunities for youth, and sustain biological diversity.”
The partnership also included ways to encourage campers and community members to be more active. Later in the year, SHIP supported the purchase a bicycle fix-station and a 19-bicycle fleet, complete with trikes for older adults, two-bike trailers to transport young children and smaller bikes for kids. The City of Winona provided bike racks. The fleet became available just in time for Boats and Bluegrass music festival, and the campground sold out for the entire weekend. A policy was implemented to waive the rental fee for low-income populations.
“The SHIP funds allowed us as new managers to transform how people engage with Prairie Island Campground from the first day we opened. The community garden became a central gathering space for various events related to the arts, recreation, health, and community,” said Anne Conway, co-owner of Front Porch Management.
Throughout the summer, the garden left an impression on thousands of visitors who entered the campground and guests for the eight Campfire Concert Series events. The connection campers felt to this effort shows in the donations received for the painting of a mural, by high school students and resident artist Celeste Sullivan. A painted banner stating, “We are all one,” serves as the backdrop to the space.