Unfortunately, the landowner who runs the community development corporation decided not to allow our friends to continue with the project and start their own 501c3. I’m heartbroken for them, but I also believe in their gifts and our call to love our cities in tangible ways like youth gardens. I know that this sort of experience feels like failure, but I believe God uses our humble efforts to build his kingdom, sometimes in ways we cannot see. So I’m going to leave this post here, to remember steps taken in faith that end up feeling futile. Even if they seem to be steps in the wrong direction, they are still steps steeped in redemption. -Kristen, 4/26/2012
If we had stayed in Birmingham after Michael graduated, we were praying about moving to R——e. One of the things that made me most excited about living in R——e was community development work like the youth garden.
Our friend Keith (husband to the girls’ amazing Spanish teacher, both pictured above) took two vacant lots donated by the neighborhood community development corporation and turned them into organic gardens where he employed teens (both working in the gardens and selling the produce at farmers markets) and generally involved the neighborhood from planning to getting dirty to enjoying the harvest.
The funding that made R——e Youth Garden possible has fallen through. I rarely promote causes on this blog, but I’d encourage you to think about making a donation. R——e Youth Garden provides access to fresh, organic produce, education about food, and a sense of hope and pride to youth in this community.
Yesterday Kate and Lexi saw me looking at some pictures on facebook and said, “That’s Farmer Keith in his garden! Remember when he showed us all the worms? And let us water? He grows the best peas on earth there!”
(Kate holding out some peas she gleaned from theÂ youth garden last spring. They really were exceptional.)
Keith is patient and kind, the perfect person for this sort of work. He delights in little things like lifting up compost and helping kids find worms. He is a good teacher and listener. As a bonus, has a background in accounting and did an internship with Jones Valley Urban Farm. If we hope for urban renewal, we need a lot of Keiths, investing in neighborhoods in our cities. There’s so much work to do, it can feel overwhelming at times. But we have an opportunity to save R——eÂ Youth Garden, or at least, help it through the summer while they restructure, fundraise and plan for the future, so they can continue to invest in R——e and empower that community.
I really wish we were in Birmingham and could give our time to help in the garden. If you are and can, contact Keith, he’ll put you to work. One simple way to help: if you shop at Pepper Place Market Saturday mornings, look for R——e Youth Garden and give them your business. Tell others to do the same.
If you don’t live in Birmingham but are moved to help, I’ll sweeten the deal. If you donate $25 or more to R——e Youth Garden, I will make you a free custom design from my etsy store. (Offer good to the first five people who ask, and follow through on the donation end.) Let’s work together to help each other do good and love our cities.