Our purpose is to educate young minorities on the importance of plants and environmental friendliness by way of a mobile greenhouse

Photo of LeAisha Wells
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Written by

Date You Started Your Project Started

July 2019

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Lack of knowledge on how plants benefit our health and environment. Low rates of urban agriculture. Urban agriculture provides foodstuffs for about 700 million people today. Most residing in urban areas liked Detroit. Lack of knowledge on how natural living can decrease illnesses such as the current strand of COVID-19. Lack of fun family experiences in the city. Not having a green thumb.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

We want to improve our community’s sustainability by bringing back the ideas of environmental friendliness while also providing an experience for the whole family to enjoy. We plan to educate urban communities on the importance of plants and enhancing our health. The Gardenia initiative is based on the idea of a mobile greenhouse. The greenhouse will display a plethora of plants, vegetables, and fruits that will be able to be purchased by the community. The products will be sold at an affordable cost. Not only do we want to provide healthy options but raise awareness on how eco-friendliness impacts not one, but all of us. We are hoping that our mobile greenhouse will not only serve Detroit but inspire other cities.

3. Using STEM as a force of good: Please specify how are you using STEM to solve for an environmental challenge you are passionate about.

Without a doubt, STEM plays a huge factor in bringing out The Gardenia life. Engineering plays a huge role in building our mobilized greenhouse. We must figure out a way to safely build our greenhouse onto a truck without creating any hazardous problems through design and mathematics. Science also plays a role because we must figure out how to properly care for our plants and produce. How does a greenhouse work, what is the ideal environment for the plants we need to grow, how does Detroit’s climate play a role in plant growth--these are some of the questions science will be able to answer. Technology will be used to monitor the temperature in the greenhouse and track the inventory grown and sold. We hope that one day we can create a mobile app that allows residents to access The Gardenia.

4. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

Being neighborhood locals, we would always hear the story of the “Fruit Man”. Our parents describe him as a hero in disguise because of his efforts to deliver fresh fruit throughout the streets of Detroit for a low cost. He didn’t have much, just a bike with a connected wagon that held good produce. We would like to imagine that his days were long but the joy of being the “Fruit Man” to local communities kept him persistent. Some would say that the “Fruit Man” was just trying to get extra money but it was so much more than that. It was the same efficiency, productivity, and passion he possessed that allowed low income and middle-class families to have a healthier lifestyle. We were inspired by the story and profound joy. With our project, we plan on making our city better just like the Fruit Man did.

5. Video (Keep it simple, a video made on a hand-held phone is great): Please upload a 1-minute video to YouTube that answers the following “I am stepping up to be a Changemaker because...”

6. Please highlight the key activities you have carried out to bring your project to life.

In this journey, we have come across many difficulties like how we wanted to improve our city and in doing so, how we would fund our ideas. So far in our project, we continue to accelerate in the planning process. We developed the idea in July 2019 and presented it in August 2019 while participating in the SMASH Wayne State program. We continued to refine the idea outside of the SMASH program because of its importance to health and Detroiters.

7. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Our X-Factor begins with the personal connection that we have with our hometown. Being born and raised in the Motor City has led to a continued awareness of major community and social issues. When creating our project we had the thought of one thing, and one thing only--the thought of making our city better. Our X- Factor is the fact that we can provide education, healthy foods, and unity--all in one place.

8. Impact: In the last three months, please detail the impact your project has made?

Within the past three months, we have been focusing on ways to improve our project’s purpose and work on the things we would like to do to make it better. We asked our peers, family members, and SMASH administrative staff for their input on our project and what they thought could be beneficial. By doing this we got to hear their perspective on things and come up with ways that our project can assist everyone. We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback and excitement about our idea launching so that Detroiters can begin to benefit.

9. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Our ideas for taking our project to the next level is coming up with an ergonomic design on how we want our greenhouse to look and function. Being that there are so many different aspects of our project, we hope that we can further our education on the different components our project requires. Lastly, we hope to get the word out! We want the people of Detroit to know that there is something special in store for the city. One day, after enough planning, we hope Gardenia can go nationwide for other urban cities to enjoy.

10. Please share how you have influenced other young people to get involved in your project and/or care about environmental sustainability.

As participating scholars of SMASH x Wayne State, an initiative to expose and engage underserved Detroit high school students to STEM, we often connect with other teenagers during conversations about sustainability, considering that most of us are from the same area. We hope by having these needed conversations, our peers’ mindsets and perspectives are changed and hopefully they try to make a positive change by eating healthily and by lending us a helping hand with our project when the time come

11. Please share ideas of how you can partner with other changemakers to make a difference?

We want to partner with other change makers and organizations to get the word out about our plan and with their help, we can execute our ideas. For example, we would like to partner with General Motor Company to design our mobilized greenhouse. We can also partner with other local urban farms, such as D-Town Farms, to learn best practices on starting and maintaining a greenhouse.

12. How would you engage others who have never heard about your project to get their buy-in?

Today, the world is growing rapidly in technology. Social media creates a way for anything to be recognized by the entire world. Gardenia having a good presence on social apps such as Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc. could boost consumer interest. Our participation in some pitch contests would always be of assistance in explaining our never heard before idea. We would also meet with other high school students to teach them about the importance of eating healthy foods.

13. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Mentors/advisors

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Other

Evaluation results

6 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

Yes, absolutely! - 0%

Probably - 50%

Maybe - 33.3%

Probably not - 16.7%

No - 0%

2. CONNECTION to Environmental Sustainability

5 - Absolutely! It is totally clear that the solution is contributing directly to environmental sustainability and/or addressing climate change - 33.3%

4 — Yes, it establishes a connection to environment/ climate change but could be stronger - 50%

3 — Somewhat, the entry speaks to this environmental sustainability, but the direct impact is not well established - 16.7%

2 — Not really, the connection to environment/ climate is very weak - 0%

1 — No. The entry does not have a reference the solution’s impact on environment and/or climate change - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

3. Is this entry CREATIVE?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 16.7%

4 - Yes, I think so - 66.7%

3 - Maybe - 0%

2 - Probably not. - 0%

1 - No - 16.7%

No Answer - 0%

4. Does this entry demonstrate a COMMITMENT to changemaking?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 0%

4 - Yes, I think so - 100%

3 - Maybe - 20%

2 - Probably not - 20%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Does this entry value CHANGEMAKING through collaboration with other stakeholders in its approach?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 0%

4 - Yes, I think so - 50%

3 - Maybe - 50%

2 - Probably not - 0%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

6. Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 16.7%

4- Yes, I think so - 0%

3- Maybe - 66.7%

2- Probably not - 16.7%

1- No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

7. FEEDBACK: What are the strengths of this project?

CONNECTION: You have a great understanding and personal connection to the problem - 100%

CREATIVITY: You have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions to aid environmental sustainability/combat climate change - 50%

COMMITMENT: You have a thoughtful plan for growing your business, and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 66.7%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: You value thinking around how to activate other changemakers and empower them to care about your cause. You also have a clearly defined plan on how to collaborate across multiple stakeholders - 50%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 0%

VIABLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 16.7%

Other option - 0%

8. FEEDBACK: What are some areas for improvement for this project?

CONNECTION: Why you care about the environment/ climate was unclear – It would be great to elaborate on what this solution means to you, personally and how it affects you and/or your community. - 0%

CREATIVITY: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 0%

COMMITMENT: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 0%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: Try to provide more insights into how you are activating changemakers and empowering them to innovate through your product or programming. How will they care about environment/climate if they currently do not? Think about how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 20%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 100%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 100%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 0%

Other option - 0%

Attachments (1)


Join the conversation:

Photo of Isha Patel

Hello! I love your idea and would love to know when it is actually applied! Good lck!!

Photo of Sarah Holcomb

Hi LeAisha and team! I love your passion for this idea and I could immediately sense the close connection you have to your community. So excited to see where this idea for the mobile greenhouse leads as you move into the development and implementation stage. One of the hardest parts of launching a venture is building the business plan to make it financially sustainable. Here are some resources you might find helpful: and Best of luck!

Photo of Carson McBain

I love your enthusiasm and radiant, positive attitudes! With that mindset there is nothing you cannot accomplish. You have a very strong personal connection with your city of Detroit which shows in your writing, and I really enjoyed the story of the 'Fruit Man' who inspired you to start Gardenia. The biggest challenge at the moment seems to be the design of the mobile greenhouse - are there any agricultural orgs that you could reach out to for design advice or financial support? Until you have the greenhouse up and running, I think there are other ways you can cultivate support for your project such as pitching to companies who might be good sponsors or help with social media marketing. I don't have expertise in marketing myself so I am limited in what I can say, but I know that good marketing makes a huge difference so would love to see you form some local or national partnerships to support here. I can easily imagine this idea catching on in other cities like you suggest, and applaud the originality of your idea. Best of luck to you and keep it up!

Photo of Megan Chen

Love this idea! I am also working to tackle problems such as food insecurity through my organization The Urban Garden Initiative and love seeing how you have tied tech and gardening into your mobile greenhouse. Keep up the amazing work!