Dear Growing Hope Supporter,
As we sow seeds inside the hoop house and prepare our garden beds for the winter months ahead, the Growing Hope team is already looking forward to the next season of growth and opportunity. I approach this winter planning with such gratitude for the tremendous support we have received from community members such as yourself.
Early in the year, the Growing Hope Board adopted a new mission statement to better reflect our organization’s holistic and catalytic work across the local food system. Our mission underpins our work to build a more equitable and sustainable local food community and economy. Only because of your contribution are we able to build a more resilient community throughout the Ypsilanti area.
Over the last year, I have seen countless examples of this resiliency: established gardeners helping their neighbors start new home gardens, Ypsilanti teachers forming school garden clubs, local farmers leading trainings for new growers, and food entrepreneurs using our incubator kitchen to scale up their businesses.
Thanks to your sustained investment in our work, Growing Hope has been the catalyst for community initiatives–supporting individuals to become empowered and self-reliant and communities to become more sustainable at every level of our local food system.
Your support makes a difference every step of the way. Because of donors like you, we are investing in a new generation of local food leaders. This year we expanded our paid Teen Leadership Program from six to ten Ypsilanti teenagers. These teens gained skills in gardening, seasonal cooking, group leadership, and discovered their voice as agents for change. With your continued support, we are poised to create a year-long teen employment program so we can deepen and expand opportunities for Ypsilanti youth to find meaningful jobs in urban agriculture and the good food movement.
Your donation of $50, $250, or $1000 is an investment in improving the lives of Ypsilanti teens and growing the next generation of local food leaders.
I am regularly inspired by the Ypsilanti networks and coalitions that exist to support these younger generations. In the last year, Growing Hope has leveraged this energy to grow the Ypsilanti Community School District’s Farm to School network. Our role as trainer, connector, facilitator, and advocate has activated teachers, staff and students to start or reinvigorate school gardens. Your generous contributions have paved the way for schools to build garden clubs, teachers to integrate gardening into their lessons, and children to eat fresh garden vegetables in their school lunches.
Growing Hope develops the infrastructure necessary for a resilient and robust local food economy. As I write this letter, we celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Growing Hope Incubator Kitchen. Because of your support, this licensed kitchen provides production space for over 14 licensed local food entrepreneurs. These hard-working entrepreneurs use the facility all hours of the day and night to cook, bake, and process local food and realize their dreams of small business ownership.
With your dollars, we provide the resources and staffing needed to support our weekly, year-round farmers markets. These markets connect local farmers and food producers to our residents. Your funds also fuel Building Blocks for Local Food Entrepreneurs, our free business workshops helping to train a new generation of vendors and food business owners.
Your donation of $50, $250, or $1000 is an investment in our local food infrastructure such as the Ypsilanti Farmers Markets, the Growing Hope Incubator Kitchen and our Building Blocks for the Local Food Entrepreneur workshops.
With your continued support, we have come a long way to build the capacity of our community and schools, but diet-related health and life expectancy disparities remain a reality for many of our neighbors, relative to the rest of Washtenaw County. Working together, we can foster the resiliency we know exists in every neighborhood to create a stronger, healthier Ypsilanti.
This year, for the first time, we utilized the power of peer-to-peer networks by matching seasoned Ypsilanti home gardeners with new vegetable gardeners. Our garden mentorship program provides leadership opportunities for returning gardeners while growing the capacity of neighborhood support systems.
Because of your contributions, we were able to overhaul our urban farm with newly built demonstration garden beds to better support garden education and provide home, community, and school gardeners with thousands of free seedlings.
When gardeners of all levels visit the Growing Hope Urban Farm to learn, be inspired, and connect with fellow gardeners the ripple effect is large. I’ve seen these gardeners become garden educators in their own neighborhoods and return as volunteers at Growing Hope.
Your donation of $50, $250 or $1000 ensures these gardeners are growing their skills as leaders so they can increase access to healthy food in their own neighborhoods.
Despite these many advances, our community faces an ongoing struggle with high levels of poverty and food insecurity. Growing Hope’s work is far from finished, and your support is needed to eliminate barriers to accessing healthy food and participating in our local food community as a food grower, producer, or entrepreneur.
Through a shared commitment to our local food community and economy, your donation will address issues of health, poverty and economic empowerment. Let’s work together to give everyone a chance to grow!