Here at DietsInReview.com, we pride ourselves on being a fairly conscientious bunch. Recycling is second nature, supporting our local community through CSA and farmers market purchases is a no-brainer, Meatless Monday is always on the calendar, buying organic whenever possible simply makes sense, and being an active part of the communities in which we live is something we truly enjoy. We do yoga, we bike to work, we run full and half marathons, and complete bi- and triathlons. We really do walk our talk!
When we learned about the Kalsø Earth Shoes “Project Earth Day” scholarships, our interest was immediately piqued and we knew we were a perfect fit for the $1,000 prize they’re offering. They said, “3 online bloggers will have the opportunity to carry the spirit of the company’s annual service day into their own local communities. All you need to do is create your own Earth Day-related service project plan.”
Before we’d finished reading the information we knew exactly what we wanted to do – build a vegetable garden at Carpenter Place in Wichita, KS, where our editorial team is based. In the past few months, this incredible organization has remade itself and we want to be a part of that by making fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs readily available. As in, right out their back door.
From CarpenterPlace.org, “Carpenter Place provides residential treatment for girls in crisis ages 6 – 21 in Wichita, KS. A faith-based agency affiliated with churches of Christ, services are provided in a family setting in four group homes on a 13-acre campus.” These young women come from a variety of backgrounds, and each one of them in dire need of setting their feet firmly in the right direction. Often, within days or even a week or two of arriving at Carpenter Place, they are completing GEDs, learning to drive, interviewing for jobs, and even considering running half marathons.
In January, I was invited to prepare a healthy homemade dinner for the young women who live in the private residences (which are furnished through donations of used furniture – a valuable way to recycle). Over chicken and black bean enchiladas with fresh guacamole (my specialty!), they learned how easy homemade meals can be, I learned how hard each one of them is working to put their lives on track. House parent Jennifer White passionately shares these girls’ successes through social media and makes all of us fall in love with them and support them.
As Carpenter Place is a privately funded, non-profit 501(c)(3) entity, money is tight, like it is for most non-profits. They often receive food donations and have to make grocery budgets stretch across multiple live-in residents (they can house up to 25 young women). Having their own supply of fruits and vegetables right out their backdoor would open up their grocery budget to buy other healthful and nutritious foods these girls need to heal their minds and bodies from the inside out.
During the creation of our fruit and vegetable garden, which we could do on Earth Day 2012 (April 20), we’ll have lively conversation about the benefits that even two or three small beds can provide for the consumers, as well as the impact it will have on the environment. We’ll also be giving these young women first-hand experience so that they can grow their own garden when they graduate to living on their own.
Our early plan is to create two or three raised bed gardens with a large variety of fruits and vegetables, and even herbs. Budget permitting, we’d like to set them up to compost as well, and reduce the amount of food waste and create rich soil so that the gardens can live on.
We hope Kalsø Earth Shoes will consider our application for one of the Earth Day scholarships, and allow us to plant seeds of hope, change, health, and veggies at Carpenter Place.