Forward Garden is ready to serve

Madison Area Food Pantry Gardens
Matt Lechmaier, pictured with his children Hazel (left) and Oliver (right) and wife Lauren, joins the Madison Area Food Pantry Gardens as the Farm Manager of the newly established Forward Garden in the Town of Middleton.

The Madison Area Food Pantry Gardens’ (MAFPG) newest location, Forward Garden, opened this month. Located at the Pope Farm Homestead in the Town of Middleton, adjacent to the Pope Farm Conservancy, Forward Garden is a 12-acre site that will produce an estimated 30,000 pounds of fresh, first-choice, free vegetables for the emergency food system in Dane County this year.

While the Madison Area Food Pantry Gardens remains a volunteer driven nonprofit, the organization is pleased to announce Forward Garden is being overseen by Farm Manager, Matt Lechmaier.

The first employee in MAFPG’s 22-year history, Lechmaier is a Madison native who received his Bachelor of Science and his Master of Science in Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As the Farm Manager, he oversees day-to-day operations of the garden, volunteer recruitment, outreach, and fundraising.

“As we enter a summer of anticipated increased demand on the emergency food system in Dane County, the Madison Area Food Pantry Gardens is excited to have Matt on board,” shared Thomas Parslow, MAFPG Board President. “He joins a team of dedicated volunteers who have worked tirelessly for the past twenty years to bring fresh, nutritious, and culturally relevant vegetables to the people of Dane County.”

Lechmaier brings a great deal of talent and energy to the position. During the past decade, he has spent two years working as a Gardening Specialist at UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden and eight years as the Youth Education Program Manager for a small non-profit organization in California. Lechmaier is also the founder and farmer behind Kingfisher Farm in Winters, California, a 1.5-acre organic vegetable farm.

Volunteer support is still needed at Forward Garden with the need expected to grow as the summer progresses. If community members are interested in volunteering at Forward Garden, or one of the other MAFPG locations, they are encouraged to contact Katie Schmitt, Volunteer Marketing Coordinator, at or visit for more details.