Through Celebrating Healthy Communities, The Garden Project of SW Colorado invites teens to work, learn, and volunteer their time to something important every Monday from 10 am to 1 pm. So far this year, the Manna Garden and the Manna Garden Apprenticeship Program has hosted groups from the Boys and Girls Club, Upward Bound, La Plata Youth Services, Boys Scouts of America, and plans to work with SUCAP for a local farm visit and vegetable culling. Some of our young helpers are already enjoying meals with their family at Manna and choose to help before or after food service takes place. The Garden Project has found that while the quantity of youth/teens in the garden has not exceeded our expectations, the quality of their experience has.
One of our younger shining stars was an apprentice who came from La Plata Youth Services. She arrived every Monday morning to learn about different gardening topics like composting, trellising, soil health, weeding, and harvesting. Coming to the garden as a youth at promise, our star (12 years old) rode the trolley alone every day from the Spanish Trails Suites where she lived with her family of 6. She didn't have the space to garden or play outside at home so the Manna Garden Apprenticeship program provided that for her.
While working with The Garden Project she experienced mentorship that reached beyond the garden and was able to take some important lessons from the garden and apply them to her own life. She felt empowered by her ability to create something viable from a pouch of seeds and we hope that feeling of empowerment will help her pursue other goals in her school, work, and family life. She came to the garden super excited to learn, get her hands dirty, and be outside. Our helper admitted to to the fact that she was making poor decisions in school but after showing genuine interest in plants, insects, and natural sciences she may have found a topic that drives her to work harder. Our helper also took some of her knowledge back to her family and bragged that she created new delicious dishes with the kale and vegetables that she could even get her family to appreciate.
Youth working, volunteering, learning, perusing, touring, eating and experiencing at the Manna Garden can gain 31/40 developmental assets. This experience is rich and we believe that it makes an everlasting impact on the lives of our youth. This project is building Developmental Assets for youth, Search Institutes' evidence-based framework for supporting youth to grow up healthy, responsible and caring adults. The more assets, especially relationships, the better choices youth make. See Ourhealthycommunities.org for more information.
If you know of any youth who would like to be involved in the Manna Garden please email Brooke at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to extend these benefits to more youth in our community. If you are also interested in partnering with the Garden Project of Southwest Colorado please email.