This week at Growing Hope we completed the last two raised bed builds in the community. Growing Hope is given a grant for 40 families to participate in Growing Hope’s Growing Garden’s program for free, providing each family with three raised beds, free installation and compost material to fill each bed. The participants also receive ten seedlings and ten seed packets to start growing produce right away. The idea of the program came about when the organization noticed that some people in the neighborhood who were interested in growing their own food were hindered by their financial resources. Providing these resources allowed many more people to participate in growing their own food and taking better care of themselves and their family’s health. In a community where many people are disadvantaged, Growing Hope realized that teaching and providing resources go hand in hand. Ypsilanti has seen many more people get involved in the urban food movement because of what Growing Hope has been able to do in outreach. Interestingly, Growing Hope was created out of a service-learning type graduate research project for Perry Learning Garden , a school garden that facilitates learning about food for students who attend the Perry Child Development Center. The Perry Learning Garden was a successful project in that educated students how to grow and prepare healthy foods, and also allowed them to apply their new skills right where they studied. Now at Growing Hope, education remains the forefront of the outreach in Ypsilanti, because only knowledgeable community members will be successful with their personal gardens and feel encouraged to pass along the information they’ve been given to their neighbors. It’s a balance between helping the Ypsilanti community and listening closely to community members about what is needed; the same balance is held in service learning projects among college students who don’t have large resources but can use skills learned in class to help organizations, those that have a presence in the community and can facilitate changes. Once students learn what is needed in the community, they can then apply the right skills to come up with an appropriate solution.