The installation of a garden will (hopefully) root community and sprout purpose and pride for the residents of Poudre Valley Mobile Home Park this summer.
“(The scholarship) makes it so (schools, different non-profit organizations and low-income neighborhoods) are coming to us if it’s their desire to garden,” growing project executive director Dana Guber said. “That’s instead of us going to them and saying ‘Hey, we think you should garden,’ whether or not that’s what they want to do.”
Starting this summer, the garden will be the classroom for a curriculum of nutrition education from Sproutin’ Up. Executive Director Anne Genson said all of the lessons are connected to the Colorado state standards, but a lot of the education happens “organically” as the garden serves as both the lesson space and material.
“So, for example, one week might be junk food and weeds and we tie those things together, or we talk about the garden and hydration and talk about our bodies and hydration,” Genson said. “So, every time we’re talking about the garden and how it can be healthy, (we talk about) our bodies and how we can be healthy.”
Through the 10-week program, children can earn up to $100 during the summer for working in the garden, attending lessons and working a weekly produce stand that gives out free produce and nutrition advice to members of the community.
“I’ve never had people take advantage of (the free produce),” Genson said. “People are super respectful – they really only take what their family needs for the week.”
This is the fourth season for Sproutin’ Up, but Genson says she has been working to bring a permanency to her program at the mobile home park for 10 years. Previously, the program took place at local food bank garden, and the children would load their produce onto a bike trailer and ride it back to their neighborhood.
“It was scary, to be honest,” Genson said of the bike ride down North College Avenue.
When the children asked for a closer garden, Poudre Valley Mobile Home property director Sharon Meaney got approval to install a garden next to her main office building.
“It’s something different,” Meaney said. “It’s bringing families into the park more than just paying their lot rents.”
When Genson came to break through the asphalt covering the soil and install raised garden beds, she was impressed by the support and enthusiasm of the community.
“We looked up and all these men were coming over with shovels and wheelbarrows, and the moms were bringing us cold drinks,” Guber said. “It took us less than an hour.”
The Growing Project is a private non-profit that has volunteer opportunities as well as open workshops through TGP Univerity. Visit their website at thegrowingproject.org to learn more.
To volunteer for Sproutin’ Up, submit contact information at sproutinup.org.
Collegian A&E Writer Sierra Cymes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @sierra_cymes.