Growing Hope is a local organization whose mission is to improve communities through gardening and healthy food access. They advocate education, self-reliance and improved nutrition, with a focus on community outreach.
Growing Hope blossomed out of the efforts of The Perry Learning Garden, an organization started in 1999 as a school and local garden. Perry Learning Garden expanded their organization though partnerships with other organizations, and focused on building gardens, sharing garden-based learning and extra-curricular programs for communities.
To financially support the programs at the Growing Hope Center, the organization applied for funding, built partnerships and started a relationship with Ypsilanti schools. They also had the support of Creative Change Educational Solutions and the City of Ypsilanti.
Reaching out further to the community, Growing Hope established the Youth Employment Program, which takes Ypsilanti Public School students and employs them through Michigan Works for the summer.
Not only are they given a job, but they are also taught about urban gardening and nutrition. When the students reach a certain competency, they go out in the local community and participate in workshops.
In May 2012, Growing Hope moved to their new home at 922 W. Michigan Ave. in Ypsilanti. Several hundred supporters of the organization attended the opening ceremony of the new center.
Growing Hope’s Executive Director Amanda Edmonds said the organization hosts charity dinners and accepts donations to support their programs.
“In the past we had one huge dinner with as many as 10 chefs. The event became so big that the property could barely contain the guests. This year we decided to have three separate events, all having different themes,” Edmonds said.
On Aug. 19 the first of three fundraising dinners titled Chefs in the Garden, occurred at the center.
The theme was food culture and heritage and more than 50 guests supported the event. Local chefs Emil Boch (Hearth Foods) and Kim Nichols (Harvest Kitchen) created many delicious dishes.
The dinner was held outside in the garden, with wine accompanied by appetizers to start things off, followed by a main course of braised chicken, summer vegetables and roasted red pepper polenta.
Almost all the herbs and vegetables were grown in the garden the guests dined in.
The next two Chefs in the Garden dinners will be on Sept. 16 and Oct. 14 with the themes of sustainability and economic development, respectively.
Each dinner will welcome two guest chefs and will be from 5-8 p.m.
Tickets are $45 and can be purchased online.
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