Written by Elizabeth Hoffman
Maria was actively working with the Bridge Communities to continue her education and find opportunities to better herself when Bridge connected her with The GardenWorks Project in 2014. Maria knew she would love to have her own garden as soon as she heard about our program.
Maria had never had a garden before, but with no hesitation she knew she wanted to experience it. She learned that The GardenWorks Project volunteers help her build and plant the garden, and would also match her with a garden coach for support throughout the growing season. “I love to eat healthy, so what better than to eat homegrown tomatoes that also taste so much better,” said Maria.
With no gardening experience, Maria wasn’t sure if anything would grow, but she decided to give it a try. On the day of the garden build, the volunteers explained everything, making her feel more confident and empowered. They even got her four-year-old son involved and he enjoyed digging in the dirt and finding worms.
Maria was busy with work and trying to raise her son. But with just a little weeding and watering she watched the garden flourish with ripe vegetables. With little free time, going to the garden with her son was a welcome retreat. It was something the two of them could experience together. They would get their basket, pick vegetables, and bond during that precious time. “It was a great experience doing it together,” Maria shared.
Maria found it easy to use a lot of the tomatoes and peppers in recipes, and had fun finding new ways to cook vegetables that were new to her, like Swiss chard. The great thing about the garden was that she found food security with having so many fresh options to choose from. In fact, the garden was so abundant that she was able to share the vegetables with her neighbors. This helped her feel a greater sense of community in her neighborhood as well.
“I had never before done any type of gardening, not even flowers, and the fact that I could keep them alive was a great accomplishment. My son and I are really looking forward to another year of gardening. I found I really love it,” Maria said.
The GardenWorks Project is so thankful to work with courageous clients like Maria! Maria and her son are one of five families who tend GardenWorks Project-built gardens in a sunny spot behind her apartment building. If you'd like to get involved, donate or volunteer today.