This garden started with four simple beds (10’ x 5’). The vision was simply to build the beds and add a few vegetables. We had done some research prior to their arrival, and momentum grew when they arrived and quickly got to work on tilling the ground and purchasing supplies. After day one, the preliminary beds were made. Day two, we had massive rainfall. However, this did not stop the Pelicans! They donned ponchos and got to work, finishing the beds in the pouring rain. We brought them hot chocolate and coffee to warm up and they had so much joy; even in the weather. On the last day of their visit, they filled all four garden beds with vegetables and complimentary herbs and marigolds. You could tell they knew what they were doing! The youth that helped them plant were the founding members CARES Center Hope Garden garden club.
In the weeks that followed, a Canopy staff member created the Garden Club to learn about tending to a garden. She taught them how and when to water, how and why they had to weed, and how to tell if the plants were thriving or needed more attention. She empowered them to research and decide what will be done with the vegetables from the garden. The garden club has gained a lot of traction, and the plants have grown tremendously! The boys in the club have enjoyed cherry tomatoes and jalapeño peppers! They quickly learned how spicy jalapeños can be with all the seeds.
One day in garden club, two of the boys suggested the creation of a greenhouse. They knew that the garden would likely stop growing during the winter months without one. The youth drew blueprints, created a materials list, and waited patiently for the day their idea would come to life. The Praying Pelicans Mission team from Dallas, Texas, took the Garden Club youth and the volunteers to gather materials from a hardware store. When they returned, they laid out the frame and started prepping the ground. On day two, the greenhouse was built in approximately eight hours. It took problem solving and leadership by the youth and volunteers to ensure a timely completion, and they did with 100% success! The youth involved joined volunteers in being “project managers” throughout the whole week, and they picked out the vegetables they wanted to grow in the greenhouse as well. By the end of the project, the youth were beaming with pride.
Garden Club members marveled at how the garden started out as seeds and that less than 24 hours earlier, there was no greenhouse at all! Because of their efforts, future CARES Center youth will benefit greatly.
“This is exactly what therapeutic recreation is all about! Empowerment, reflection, self-confidence, relationships and emotional growth. It was so powerful to witness and be a part of this project.”-Brooke Holloway, CARES Center Residential Life Manager