Mercy Home Garden Kickoff

Mercy Home Garden Kickoff

While many rainy days in spring keep our city streets drenched, the bounty of rain made for a wonderful Garden Kickoff! Our young people planted a variety of produce and flowers that will be tended all summer long.

Gabriel Avalos, Mercy Home’s Post-Secondary Options and Career Resources Coordinator, designed this year’s Garden Kickoff Event, with meetings beginning as early as January. With icy frost covering our campus, Avalos and a Garden Committee of other Mercy Home coworkers already had a vision in mind for the hot, summer months.

“We met regularly to discuss the layout of the garden for this year, but we realized that we wanted our kids to take more ownership of the garden,” Gabriel said.

For Gabriel and his team, this meant that our young people chose which plants to purchase and which foods to harvest right outside their Home. Including them this year also gave them the opportunity to learn something new and to be more thoughtful about their food choices.

“We wanted to teach them a new life skill and how to care for something,” Gabriel said.  “For the youth, it’s important for them to think about the food they eat and to see the whole life cycle of a plant.”

As the sun shines longer and brighter here at Mercy Home in the months to come, Gabriel hopes to see interest in the garden grow. For many young people at the event, this was their first time working on a garden. Being able to learn and work together was a great bonding experience.

We wanted to teach them a new life skill and how to care for something. For the youth, it’s important for them to think about the food they eat and to see the whole life cycle of a plant.

– Gabriel Avalos

“It created a lot of connections for youth in different programs, and most of all it was great to see them have fun,” Gabriel said.

While our kids hit the beaches of Lake Michigan and beyond this summer, a wide variety of produce will be growing steadily back home. Their plots are dedicated to tomatoes, three types of spicy peppers, cilantro, thyme, baby squash, and flowers to help with pollination.

But our plants won’t have to do all the work on their own. Our coworkers are selecting representatives from program to weed, water the plants, and perform general upkeep over the summer. Not only is this important to sustain the garden, but Gabriel and his committee are also excited about the opportunity to give our young people the opportunity to develop their leadership strengths.

Finally, at the end of the gardening season, everyone at our home will be able to enjoy the delicious results of their hard work. Our coworkers in the kitchen will incorporate the food grown into their recipes and everyone will get the taste the fruits of our kids’ labor!

So while we may still be waiting for summer to fully arrive here in Chicago, just imagine the tasty dishes that will make every drop of rain worth it!

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