UW-W Enactus chapter leads food growth project


Sutton Rettig, Staff Reporter

Some may find it incomprehensible that real world change can manifest via the social entrepreneurship initiatives of ordinary college students, but UW-Whitewater fosters the furthest thing from ordinary college students.

Given the university’s outstanding business school and ambitious students, young minds put in work on a daily basis to make sustainable change in underprivileged areas both at home and abroad via their management knowledge and entrepreneurial skill.

UW-Whitewater’s Enactus chapter, a social entrepreneurship group on campus, is made up of nearly 40 dedicated and socially driven students looking to serve a greater good. Hydroponics for Milwaukee serving as one of the premier committees within the organization.

Junior Michael Quintana highlighted what makes this project unique.

“This project is unique because we are showing middle school students from Escuela Vieau how to grow their own food,” Quintana said. “Milwaukee is a food desert and many people don’t know how to grow their own food. Not only are we teaching these kids how to grow food for their own health, but we are also empowering these kids to teach their family and friends.”

Serving as one of the project leads for this cause, Quintana also mentioned the importance of developing meaningful connections with those the organization serves.

“Have the students share their knowledge at their future high schools throughout the city of Milwaukee and eventually build a greenhouse and other agricultural infrastructure for the school.”

As co-project lead of Hydroponics 4 Milwaukee, Enactus enthusiast Abraham Alvarez has lead a charge to establish an increase in locally grown organic food. The Milwaukee native founded a creative way to utilize used milk cartons as the first step to making change happen.

“I started speaking with my former high school mentor from Escuela View Elementary in Milwaukee, and we contacted the principal to discuss the issue of food deserts in the area and how we can fix it,” Alvarez said, “We essentially cleaned out discarded milk cartons, placing soil and lettuce seeds in them and showcased our projects to the student. They were attached from day one and once they started to grow, we transported them to the hydroponics system and watched the results transpire. This project is meant to show the students sustainable change.”

“We go to Milwaukee every Friday afternoon and put in the work to create change for these students,” Alvarez said. “That’s what I love about it.

UW-Whitewater junior Michael Quintana said the biggest hardship Hydroponics for Milwaukee has faced is building a consistent following eager to help their cause.

“Things don’t happen overnight and having the dedication to attend every lesson on a constant basis is a difficult quality to find in others,” Quintana said. “However, the students who have helped make you hopeful about the future for these students who want to create a healthier lifestyle and continue education.”

“These kids planted lettuce using milk cartons. We then transported the plants that grew strongest into the hydroponic systems.  We also set up lesson plans to teach these kids about good nutrition, as well as mentor them about the importance of going to college.”

Hydroponics 4 Milwaukee is blossoming into one of the most noteworthy committees in recent memory for one of UW-Whitewater’s most popular student orgs. Enactus meets on Tuesday evenings in Hyland 2307 at 6:15, welcoming all students of any major eager to create change.