“Last year, I started not knowing much about gardening, and when I leave the LIFE Project, I’ll have so much more knowledge in plant growth and growth within myself.” —Melissa*
ACH Child and Family Services’ Sprouts Gardening Committee is celebrating one year of growth since beginning their journey in ACH’s garden in March of 2020. Despite a few challenges, the group is proud of the work they accomplished and has high hopes for the future.
“I am so excited for a new year to learn more,” said K, one of the young adults in Sprouts.
ACH’s LIFE (Learning Independence from Experience) Project is a program that builds self-confidence and self-sufficiency in young adults ages 18 to 21 who are homeless or are in extended foster care. Young adults are given guidance and support in developing life skills—such as applying to college, entering the workforce, and preparing to live independently.
A Successful Year
At the start of the pandemic, young adults in ACH’s LIFE Project program created a volunteer initiative by founding the Sprouts Gardening Committee on our Wichita Street campus.
During such an uncertain time, gardening became a healthy, peaceful activity. For the young adults in our care—many of whom come from a life in foster care or homelessness, gardening brought healing and a sense of belonging, which was incredibly beneficial for them.
“I am excited that we are turning one year old because it shows the dedication to a project, especially during a really hard year both in the world and in everyone’s personal lives,” said Cassie Morgan, LIFE Mentor.
In November, the committee received the Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy award by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Fort Worth Metro Chapter. This award honored the more than 200 volunteer hours the committee spent in ACH’s garden.
Of all their accomplishments, the biggest blessing of the group was the new friendships that blossomed.
“I am excited because we still have our team together,” said Cole*, Sprouts member. “It’s the same people still sticking together, facing challenges we’ve never faced before.”
Melissa*, one of the young ladies in Sprouts, attributes gardening to helping her develop patience, something she struggled with before.
“I enjoyed watching the plants grow and change while learning more about myself as an individual,” said Melissa. “Last year, I started not knowing much about gardening, and when I leave the LIFE Project, I’ll have so much more knowledge in plant growth and growth within myself.”
The group also learned the hard work necessary for maintaining a garden.
“There is nothing cookie-cutter about gardening,” said Cassie. “We had to find what works best for us and our garden.”
Enter the Polar Vortex
Sprout’s first year was one for the books. They had some surprises, including the February Texas Winter Storm, which proved to be a valuable teaching moment for the committee.
The group, as with most Texans, was not prepared for such extreme weather. That week, they made their safety a priority and held out hope for the garden.
“We took care of ourselves instead of the plants,” said Cole. “It was frightening and scary, but had high hopes that the garden would survive, and it did… kind of.”
The group was sad to see some plants die but happy to see most of the plants hanging on. To be better prepared, the group formed a Weather Committee within Sprouts to track the local forecast in case of any extreme weather occurrences.
LIFE Mentor Cassie Morgan looks forward to another year of gardening.
Having recovered from the storm, the committee is focused on their surviving crops, which include sea kale, cabbage, rosemary, and some flowers.
“We are excited to grow more this year and build on the skills we learned last year,” said Cassie. “Every time we check on the plants, there is more new growth happening.”
With volunteerism at the heart of the committee, Sprouts would like to open the group up to members of the community who want to volunteer in the garden. The group is even working on creating a resource guide for those future members.
“When we opened the garden, it was kind of difficult,” said Melissa. “When new Sprouts members come in, we want them to know what to expect and how to care for the plants.”
Help Sprouts Grow
For the garden to flourish, the Sprouts Gardening Committee needs a helping hand from our community. They are currently asking for in-kind donations that include seeds, plants, soil, and gardening tools. Most importantly, the group needs a wheelbarrow to help transport their supplies across campus.
If you would like to donate to the Sprouts Gardening Committee, click the button below. All donations must be new and unopened and through appointment only.
*Names have been changed for privacy purposes