This year, Gardening Know How’s School and Community Garden Sponsorships was fortunate enough to help support 10 gardens with a $1,000 each. The gardens selected represent a small portion of the multitude of school and community gardens out there, and we are excited to share each of their stories with you. Once a month we will be highlighting one of our sponsorship recipients so that you, too, can see how wonderful and worthwhile these amazing gardens are. This month we are featuring the Focus on Youth’s, Seeds of Hope.
Located in Portland, Oregon, Focus on Youth is dedicated to empowering and educating at-risk and homeless kids by providing classes in sustainable gardening, healthy cooking and photography on their one-acre farm. The Seeds of Hope program allows area youth to take on leadership roles and give back to the community with the skills provided and obtained at Sunflower Farm. They learn to grow food in the garden while earning credits towards their GED in science and photography.
Over the past year, students in the Seeds of Hope program have grown more than a ton of organic produce, donating over 1,300 pounds of this to their local food pantry. In the coming year, by partnering with the homeless shelter Outside In, students will also get paid for their work experience on the farm. Not only are these kids learning important life skills and a strong work ethic, but they’re helping to give back to others in need, perhaps even inspiring more youth to do the same.
Currently, there is no indoor classroom or kitchen space designated for the students at Seeds of Hope. With the help of Gardening Know How and the City of Portland, however, Focus on Youth hopes to change this. Rather than holding classes in their outdoor canopy area, which you can imagine gets downright difficult during the chillier months, especially in rain, sponsorship money will be going towards the completion of an indoor kitchen, classroom and seed-starting area. This will allow them to continue teaching kids how to grow food through hands-on activities and the importance of cooking and eating healthy vegetables.
It’s well documented that homeless youth are at a higher risk for developing childhood obesity and related illnesses. Growing and eating fresh produce is critical in preventing such issues – and it starts with educating young people. Additionally, 1 in 5 homeless kids go hungry each week. It is the mission and dream of the Focus on Youth’s, Seeds of Hope program to help put an end to this. Not only do they want to add classroom space, but they hope to implement community garden areas too.
No child should ever go hungry. No child should ever live on the streets or be denied opportunities that can thrust them high enough to reach the unreachable. Gardening has a unique way of teaching life skills and providing unity where it’s needed most. It all begins with hope, and Seeds of Hope is planting smiles and growing dreams across their community. Gardening Know How is excited to be a part of that mission!