The Home Garden Project

What if homeless and runaway youth knew they had a safe place to go, that gave them a sense of belonging and ownership?

Photo of Helen See
3 1

Written by

Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

I believe the cycle of poverty can be broken and the most promising way to do that is by showing youth who grew up in poverty how beautiful life can be if it's given the proper care. Hearing life stories from homeless and runaway youth, I know they want to succeed, they just don't have the resources to do so. Gardening can be therapeutic, and it can also help solidify the concepts behind nutrition and help them understand why it is so important to eat fresh food that can be grown from the ground. It's a skill that can bring them joy wherever they may be in the future. Also, it gives staff a chance to bond with the youth in a non-traditional, "patient-doctor" setting which may allow the youth to be more open to sharing some of his or her needs. Planting in the garden box is not a life altering program, but for those introverted youth who enjoy quite and calm settings, this program may offer a comforting environment in times of difficulty.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French, Caucasian)

Website

http://www.childrenscabinet.org/

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • Nevada

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

Reno

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • Nevada

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

Reno, Washoe County

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Youth Homelessness. Currently there are no transitional living centers in Reno that an individual under the age of 18 can be housed. Thus, Reno's youth homelessness is a growing issue. Soon the Children's Cabinet will be opening the first transitional living center and there needs to be programming put in place for youth who stay. Youth who plant in the garden box may feel a sense of belonging and ownership, a feeling they may not be accustomed to.

I believe the cycle of poverty can be broken and the most promising way to do that is by showing youth who grew up in poverty how beautiful life can be if it's given the proper care. Hearing life stories from homeless and runaway youth, I know they want to succeed, they just don't have the resources to do so. Gardening can be therapeutic, and it can also help solidify the concepts behind nutrition and help them understand why it is so important to eat fresh food that can be grown from the ground. It's a skill that can bring them joy wherever they may be in the future. Also, it gives staff a chance to bond with the youth in a non-traditional, "patient-doctor" setting which may allow the youth to be more open to sharing some of his or her needs. Planting in the garden box is not a life altering program, but for those introverted youth who enjoy quite and calm settings, this program may offer a comforting environment in times of difficulty.

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Communities of color
  • LGBTQ or non-binary individuals
  • Low-income communities

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Child and Family Services
  • Community Development and Empowerment
  • Education
  • Mental Health

Year Founded

1985

Project Stage

  • Idea (poised to launch)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

Youth who check into the Transitional Living Center (TLC) may stay for one weekend, or as long as they need. As a group activity, youth can plant vegetables, fruits and flowers in the garden box, and be responsible for the upkeep. Watering and de-weeding will be apart of the daily tasks established by the TLC staff. For those youth who stay long enough, they will be able to watch the fruits and vegetables grow and be incorporated into the cooking classes that will be offered at the TLC. Nutrition education will be offered in videos and programming that can reference to the garden. The goal is for a youth to leave the TLC with a better understanding of the importance of a well balanced nutritional diet and a new found hobby.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

I am a graduate student at the University of Nevada, Reno. I helped conduct a needs assessment for a homeless youth drop-in center in Reno in 2015 and I helped conduct the Nevada Substance Abuse, Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Needs Assessment Report of 2015 for the Department of Health and Human Services. I know there is a need for more mental health services in the Reno area, but there is also a need to increase the public's knowledge of resources available to them. The TLC can connect youth to other services and catching them at an early age and educating them about the support they are entitled to can increase their self-efficacy for the future.

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Annual Budget

  • $1k - $10k

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Start up will cost around $1,000-1,500 dollars, but once the box is built and filled with soil it will be low cost to maintain. Many of the garden activities will require the use of recycles items such as water bottles. Community partnerships with the many businesses willing to help in Reno can establish relationships in which nurseries can donate or contribute.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

There are other Garden projects in the Reno area but non that take place on the site of a transitional living facility for children. Many of the elementary schools in the area have found these projects to be a success. There are many businesses and organizations willing to partner with the Children's Cabinet to help ensure the health of our city's future.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

Children are the fastest and most efficient learners on the planet. Exposing them to as much information as possible and encouraging them to dive deeper into their passions can give them a steady foundation for the future.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Email

Evaluation results

4 evaluations so far

1. Relevance: Does this project seem to help children (ages 0 to 12 years) develop a strong sense of self, belonging, and purpose?

5 - Yes, this is great! The project lays out a strong, compelling case for how its model nurtures children’s wellbeing. - 0%

4 - It seems like a good fit, and the model talks explicitly about children’s wellbeing. - 50%

3 - I think so. The project seems related to children’s wellbeing, but the logic is vague. - 25%

2 - Not sure. The project doesn’t have much to do with wellbeing, or it doesn’t give enough information. - 25%

1 - Nope, this project definitely doesn’t fit the challenge brief (e.g., It doesn’t help kids younger than 12, isn’t in the U.S., etc.) - 0%

2. Innovation: Does this project tackle children’s wellbeing from a new angle?

5 - I loved this! The project describes a novel model that addresses important cultural or systemic barriers. - 0%

4 - This is pretty cool. The project is addressing an important problem in a new or compelling way. - 25%

3 - I feel like there’s something there, but I want more details about what makes it distinctive. - 75%

2 - It’s a good project, but I’ve seen others like it before. - 0%

1 - It was confusing or hard to tell what it made it different. - 0%

3. Social Impact: What is this project’s potential for creating positive social impact?

5 - Lots of potential. This project is achieving impressive results, and it’s growing quickly. It could absolutely inspire changes in the ways we approach caring for kids nationally, across sectors (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 0%

4 - Pretty good potential. This project demonstrates significant positive impact so far, and it could scale regionally or nationally one day and fundamentally change how a system operates (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 0%

3 - Budding potential. This project is creating local impact, but it would take a few adjustments before it could scale. - 25%

2 - Some potential. This project demonstrates some initial positive impact, but it would require major changes before it could scale. - 75%

1 - Limited potential. This project has great intentions, but it looks like it does not include key drivers of a shift towards children’s wellbeing. - 0%

4. Overall, how do you feel about this idea?

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 0%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 0%

3 - I think the idea is great, but it needs some work before it moves onto the next round. - 100%

2 - I liked it fine but preferred others. - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. Needs significant revisions. - 0%

5. Offer some feedback. Where should this participant spend some time revising?

DEFINING THE PROBLEM. Make sure to articulate the root causes or main barriers of the social issue your project addresses. (Founding Story, Problem, Solution). - 50%

CLARITY OF MODEL. Make sure to mention (a.) the beneficiary, b) the main activities, and c) how those activities drive social impact. Keep it streamlined! - 50%

MARKETPLACE. Make sure to research other players in this space and articulate how this project is different. I didn’t get a complete sense of how this project compares to others. - 25%

IMPACT POTENTIAL. Make sure to use specific numbers to describe what your project has achieved so far! And consider how you might scale the model or its insights, through partnerships, trainings, or franchising. - 100%

WRITING STYLE. Try to stay concise and make it vivid. Avoid jargon. - 0%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 0%

3 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Lee Erickson
Team

I applaud your efforts, Helen! I can see where many homeless children may really latch onto the idea of watching something grow, and how it can give them hope for the future as well as a valuable lesson on health and nutrition. It's a very cool idea, and I wish you much success with the project! I like the fact that you link the children to other services as well.

Photo of Lisa Helfman
Team

It is so great that you are connecting gardening and the root of our food supply with health/nutrition, especially among homeless youth.  This is a great idea and I hope you can grow!

Photo of Sharon Danks
Team

Hello Helen,

Congratulations on this inspiring new project. I am excited by the idea that homeless and runaway children and youth will be able to “put down roots” in this new program and will be able to become nurturing caretakers of the TLC garden. I think this idea could scale well to other centers that care for homeless children, in other locations. Do you have a sense of how many other similar types of centers there are in your region?

If you are looking for additional information to help you get started, the Nevada Department of Agriculture held a school garden conference this year, and they posted some presentations online about related programs at schools in Nevada. Perhaps some of the information they offer would be helpful to you as you develop your garden. Here’s a link to their website: http://agri.nv.gov/school_garden_conference/

My colleagues at LifeLab in California also have many online resources available for schools with garden programs, and some of them are specifically about starting new gardens that will be used with children: http://www.lifelab.org/

Best wishes on your new garden!

-Sharon
sharon at greenschoolyards.org