Here at Garden Circles, we love how gardening can change lives. In a story along those lines, we are happy to report on a donation we made early this summer to The Shop in Brainerd, Minnesota.
This is Cindy Moore, Director at The Shop with the garden beds we donated.
in Cindy's words: "TheShop is a youth defined space for transitional age youth (14-22). We find that those who visit daily live in the margins of our community. These teenagers and young adults often struggle within the educational system, have mental health issues, frequently use alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, live in poverty and may even be homeless in the city they grew up in. We are caring adult mentors offering opportunities such as our Bicycle Recycle, Computer Refurbishing, Service Projects or our soon to be set up TarTop Garden to help our at risk youth develop assets that support healthy life transitions and experience personal success."
This is what they did with those garden beds, some pallets and a couple of tires to turn a rough old asphalt parking lot into a growing experience for local teens.
Cindy describes how the community really came together to make this happen:
"Urban gardening 101 called The TarTop Garden began with a vision. Forces began to align with the invention of Garden Circles (Thanks to Ryan Hunt). 25 minutes and we had 3 ready made raised beds installed on the tar in front of TheShop. Hugglekulture videos (Thanks again, Ryan), a mess of yard waste (Thanks to Amy), a few yards of dirt (Thanks to Thrivent), and a rain barrel (Thanks to Bethel Church) and we had the beginning of our project. Our VISTA (Volunteer In Service To America), Heidi Jeub taught urban gardening basics to youth and staff and set us up with pretty cool journals."
Over the summer, the gardens thrived and grew lush.
"Truth, we did not realize just how successfully a garden in the middle of our parking lot would take off and bring in some serious vegetables in such a short time. By using the power of sunshine and 40 buckets of water daily we have teaching moments for youth, for the neighborhood, and for the community."
"Today we have a jungle of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, patty pans, zucchini, squash, kohlrabi (because it’s alien looking), potatoes, beans, more tomatoes, kale, basil, cilantro, parsley, onions and even a pea or two hidden in the tangles. We have learned a thing or three and have fun sharing the produce with our neighbors. We invite you to park in front of TheShop on Washington and take a look at what can be done to produce fresh foods in “any” yard, office parking lot, daycare, church entryway, and in the backyards of every rental property. A great way to talk to your neighbors, collectively grow produce to share and teach ourselves about the foods we eat."
"Our mission is to nurture youth to overall wellness and develop assets that support healthy life transitions.
Having the ability to teach youth the ease of growing vegetables allows at risk youth to experience the simplicity (sunshine and water) of creating fresh food for their tables. It's not rocket science. And it can be fun. Imagine if we had an outdoor water system? And then imagine the extra fun of water fights!"