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Hope grows in La Crosse Victory Gardens

Kaitlyn Riley

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Young volunteer Sydney Taerud examines the rows of freshly planted vegetables in a newly planted Victory Garden at Aptiv.

Strengthening roots in a community cause, the City of La Crosse, businesses and volunteers began planting Victory Gardens to feed the community.

Victory Gardens date back to World War II as a way to answer food shortages. Thus, the City of La Crosse decided to develop similar gardens to instill hope and positivity in the community while providing food for those in need.

Serving as one of six locations, Aptiv staff and volunteers were busy Thursday putting potatoes, onions, carrots, lettuce, radish, kale, and other crops in the ground.

Cindy Taerud, Aptiv director of marketing and communications, was on-site with her daughter, Sydney spades in hand.

“There is so much food shortage, and there are people in certain parts of the community that have food scarcity,” Taerud said. “They are not close to grocery stores. They are not close to transportation, and there are income level challenges too. The garden here is a perfect location.”

Cindy and Sydney Taerud were among staff and volunteers working in the garden Thursday.

Aptiv is a nonprofit that offers support and training to people with disabilities. The organization’s goal is to help the members it serves live and work independently. Taerud says once their doors open again, Aptiv’s participants will help maintain the gardens.

“This partnership is positive for the community, and it is so positive for us to be able to utilize these gardens and help our participants grow skills they maybe didn’t have,” Taerud said.

Once fruits and vegetables emerge, anyone from the community can harvest what they need. Additionally, Aptiv has raised garden beds that have been used for years. This year, those crops will also be donated to the Victory Garden.

Kaitlyn Riley’s passion for communications started on her family’s dairy farm in Gays Mills, Wis. Wanting to share agriculture’s story, she studied strategic communications and broadcast journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In college, she held officer positions with the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club while volunteering as a news reporter for the college radio station. She also founded the university’s first agricultural radio talk show, AgChat. In her professional career, Kaitlyn has worked in both radio, print and television news doing everything from covering local events to interviewing presidential candidates, and putting back on her barn boots to chat with farmers in the field. Today, Kaitlyn can be seen covering local stories that matter to you in the La Crosse area.

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