There’s a garden in Halifax that not only grows produce, it actually grows people’s futures as well.
Hope Blooms is a community garden that launched eight years ago in an underprivileged community “that had a lot of stigma around it,” according to Jessie Jollymore, the organization’s executive director. And the way the program works is remarkably simple.
Children and teens plant and maintain the garden. The crops they produce are then used to make salad dressings which sell for $8 a bottle. All the money raised then goes towards a scholarship fund for the young gardeners. In fact, the project is about to send its very first student to school.
Mamadou Wade’s studies will begin this fall, but he has no intention of leaving his old garden behind.
“I want to make sure all our youth can go to post-secondary school,” he said, explaining that he plans to mentor other youth who participate in the Hope Blooms program. “Education is such a big tool in society and I believe it can open doors … regardless of your age, gender, where you come from, the postal code that you’re encompassed in.”
To make matters even better, Hope Blooms just got a huge boost when Loblaws agreed to carry its salad dressings on its shelves. Dozens of Syrian refugees have also flocked to the garden, where they now regularly tend to crops.
With these kinds of results, Jollymore is hoping to see Hope Blooms expand across the country. You can learn more about the program in the video above.