As my research is wrapping up, I’d like to share the highlights of what my experience has been working with Growing Hope has been. The focus for the summer has been working with the community organization Growing Hope to develop a stronger community partnership with the course Engineers Making a Difference, and to create a new design project for students who will be taking the course this fall(2011). Building a stronger community partnership with any organization means one needs to be visible and invested in the organization’s outreach. In a course-community organization type partnership, this also means that work needs to be done towards finding where each partner can both help and benefit from the relationship. In my role, one of my main duties was to help out in any way possible, and work to find ways to enable the engineering course, Engineers Making a Difference, to apply the engineering principles they would be taught in a way that would help Growing Hope. I was able to participate in working both at the Growing Hope office in downtown Ypsilanti, and also at the farm on West Michigan Ave. The projects for the engineering course needed to help Growing Hope on the farm, and be examples to visiting community members on what innovative things can be built out of recycled materials for growing their own food. Being able to work in the hoop house and on the garden beds allowed be to see what resources are necessary (and which ones would be extremely helpful) in caring for a food garden.
I also was able to participate in many raised-bed builds, as part of a installation program that encourages community members to grow their own food by bringing the raised beds to their house and installing the beds for them. The participants also receive 10 seedlings and 10 seed packets to start their own garden. For many people who participate in this program, the resources donated to them are materials they themselves are not able to purchase, or put together. I got to hear a lot of positive feedback about the program being there, talking with community members. I also got a community perspective on what ideas they used starting out, using their own resources to create gardens before they started participating in the Growing Hope program. Many people had stories about what their parents did to grow food many years ago, and how that had an affect on their decision to grow food today.
Continue reading for more on my summer experience, Week Nine-Ten under Weekly Reflections