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Cherry Street Community Garden takes beauty seriously

Two people stand on either side of a small mural, depicting a grandmother and granddaughter harvesting greens in a wheelbarrow.
Sam Woods
Isaic Pulliam (right) created this mural of Santana Webb (left) and her grandmother harvesting greens to help beautify Cherry Street Community Garden this summer.

It can be easy to take beauty for granted, or think that a place is either beautiful or it is not.

But Lisa Roszkowski, board member at Bloom MKE, knows that it takes effort to build and maintain a beautiful space that welcomes nearby residents.

Roszkowski and her husband Rick founded Cherry Street Community Garden in 2012, and over time have doubled the amount of garden beds, added cherry and apple trees to line the perimeter of the garden and this summer added public art and infrastructure to turn the garden into a gathering space.

In addition to producing fresh produce for nearby residents, Roszkowski also wanted to create a place where beauty was taken seriously.

“I firmly believe that every neighborhood in this city deserves beauty,” Roszkowski says.

To underscore this, Roszkowski brought in student artists to add their craft to the garden. This has come in the form of murals, as well as functional art such as benches and a shade station engraved with carvings.

Together, the plants maintained by neighbors and art supplied by community artists create a sanctuary of natural and artistic beauty amongst concrete.

Santana Webb has been gardening at Cherry Street with her grandmother since it was founded, and noticed how the additions of trees and public art have made the garden more welcoming.

“I feel like art attracts people,” she says.

Webb also noted that the garden provides a place to connect to her family’s agricultural roots. She noted that her mother and grandmother use food grown in the garden for recipes she learned growing up in the South.

“They make fried green tomatoes every now and then,” she says. “And stores (collard greens) in freezer bags for holidays.”

Isaic Pulliam is a student at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design who created a mural for the garden. He chose Santana and her grandmother Linda as his subjects, depicting them harvesting a wheelbarrow full of greens.

Pulliam is proud of how the piece turned out, but he’s also happy to see it placed in a garden because he sees gardeners as artists whose medium is soil.

“There’s a lot of connections between gardeners and artists,” he says. “You’ve got to plan out the process, what materials you use and you don’t know how it’s going to turn out.”


Sam is a WUWM production assistant for Lake Effect.
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