This guest blog post is by Marci Cameron. Marci has supported Growing Hope’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity for the past three years. 

It’s that time of year to reap the harvest of the summer’s garden.  For many, it’s an annual effort but for a number of new homeowners, it’s a new adventure.

Growing Hope and Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley have joined together to promote and support vegetable gardens for families.  Since 2015, Growing Hope has installed raised gardens in over 20 homes.  The organization is an Ypsilanti-based non-profit organization with the mission to increase access to healthy food and thus to help people improve their lives and communities.  Recognizing that food insecurity is a key issue for many in the Ypsilanti area, their work now includes supporting gardening in home, school, and community settings; managing and advocating for farmers’ markets and farm stands; increasing economic development through food and agriculture; engaging youth and teens each year in healthy cooking, nutrition, and gardening; and advocating for local to national policy change to support healthy schools, families, and communities.

Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley makes affordable homeownership achievable for low-income, hard working families who log sweat equity hours working to renovate their future home, other Habitat homes and helping out at other community events.  In addition, Critical Repair and Weatherization projects – repairs and upgrades that reduce energy bills and can prevent foreclosure – have been conducted in neighborhood houses.

Most participants had no prior gardening experience, yet consulting visits showed gardens that are flourishing and reaping fruits, vegetables and herbs.  Asked what inspired her to join the program, a Habitat homeowner with four children exclaimed, “Having our own home!  In the beginning, I had trouble telling the difference between weeds and plants, but I knew I was going to have a garden once we had our home.”

Parents report that their children are more interested in eating vegetables since they’ve watched plants grow and they’ve been eating fresh vegetables at an early age.  Says one homeowner, “I’ve never gardened before and I didn’t think I would, but I thought why not try.  It helped me to get out of my comfort zone.  Now I can’t wait for collards to come – eat great and save money.  The boys were not that interested but they look out the window and see, wow, they’re growing!”