“We must turn all our resources to repairing the natural world, and train all our young people to help. They want to; we need to give them this last chance to create forests, soils, clean waters, clean energies, secure communities, stable regions, and to know how to do it from hands-on experience." - Bill Mollison
On a cloudy, rainy morning in early August last year, I was staring at a 7-yard pile of crushed stone and a mound of cardboard that were the foundation of the sheet mulching workshop Root to Rise was leading that morning at Reklis Brewing Company. The volunteers gathered in a circle, adorned in garden gloves and hats to block the rain, more than the sun. As I prepared to go over the logistics of the morning permablitz workshop, a large white van with the Boys & Girls Club of the North Country (BGCNC) logo on the side drove up and a whole gaggle of kids climbed out and ran over to where we were gathering. We opened by stating our name and the one place in nature we enjoy the most. The volunteers began, then the kids shared, giggling and shuffling their anxious feet the whole time. When the work commenced, the kids from BGCNC jumped right in, grabbing cardboard and buckets, helping each other and helping the whole crew. We taught them how to sheet mulch and how to drill; the reminded us to be playful and not take ourselves too seriously. At the end of the day, we thanked the kids for their time and energy and I asked, “would you like us to design and build a garden at your club next year?” The response was a resounding, “YES!”
Through the leadership of Sara Shovlin, the BGCNC’s Executive Director, we began a series of conversations on a partnership between our two organizations. We held listening sessions with the kids at the club where we learned about their interest in having blueberry bushes, pizza gardens, treehouses and worm composting. We explored programming that would support weekly environmental, gardening and permaculture education sessions with the kids. We reached out to like-minded partners, like the Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust, to discuss co-teaching sessions with the kids. And then in January, we learned about the Tillotson Fund’s new grant, Empower Youth, which supports the education and empowerment of our youth in programs that give back to the environment and create more resilient, regenerative communities and landscapes. It was the perfect match to the vision Root to Rise and the BGCNC had developed together.
We are happy to announce that we received this competitive grant and that we received word that the Tillotson Fund board was very excited about our grant and the work proposed in the application. This year, from May – October, Root to Rise, along with collaborating partners, will provide hands-on environmental and permaculture education to the kids at the Club. Root to Rise is currently hosting a Permaculture Design Certification at the club and the students in the course are working with BGCNC staff and club members to identify goals for the site and a long-range vision to include food gardens, pollinator plants, flower forts, a peace garden and natural play spaces. The design created in this Permaculture Design Certification course will be further refined and implemented in phases starting with the hands-on workshops through the Empower Youth grant this summer.
If you would like to support our work, you can volunteer at our next permablitz at the Boys and Girls Club on June 15th where we will be building the raised garden beds for the kids’ garden. It’s a fun gathering of community members where we learn by doing and share food, laughter and conversation while getting a tremendous amount of work done together in the garden. Contact Stacey Doll at email@example.com for more information. All monetary support for our work can be donated at www.roottorise.net.
Celebrate Earth Day, and our Youth, today and every day!!!
Story Written by Stacey Doll, Founding Director of Root to Rise and Board President.