One of our very successful programs is Growing Rural which was modeled after the Growing Rural ~ Growing SMART Project of the Center for Rural Outreach and Public Service (CROPS) program in San Pierre, Indiana.
The Goal of our Growing Rural Youth Garden Program is to link youth to Gardening Programs centered on our mission, that build leadership, provide academic improvement and life skills training as we also instill an appreciation for our environment among our youth.
Children and youth learn to develop skills within a structured youth empowered Gardening Project (directed by Alamo RCD) that is a “hands-on” project proposed, planned and implemented by the youth (ages 8 to 11 years and under the supervision of adult volunteers) that is "gardening with a purpose".
Growing Rural is an innovative program designed to create rural leaders for tomorrow. In direct alignment with our mission, Growing Rural builds skills gardening along with critical thinking and problem-solving, collaboration, innovation, character development, leadership, employment preparation, and youth philanthropy. The program encourages youth ( their families and their adult mentors) to work together toward the betterment of their local community.
The Growing Rural program aligns with our agricultural roots, through a rural development model where youth go through six steps as they implement the project:
- Field Analysis: What does the community you live in need? How could gardening help food insecurity or hunger in your community?
- Soil Preparation: How can this need be met? Planning the gardening project to take care of the need.
- Seed Planting: What Academic Skills do we need to meet the need? Science, Math, Art, Research & Technology….. Growing SMART! We have developed our own Growing Rural Journal Curriculum with gardening academic lessons that is a required part of this program.
- Plant Nourishment: How do we get the funding to meet the need? Project proposal, Budgeting, Writing a Funding Request, community donations, matching funds, Who can help?
- Crop Harvesting: What good will come from our project? What are our outcomes?
- Land Enrichment: How do we insure the continuance of the good that comes from this project? Evaluation of our outcomes and sustaining the project into the future.
Growing Rural Projects
2019 and ongoing The BCFS Education Services (Kendall County Head Start Program - Boerne, TX.
The Head Start Family Director, Sherry Johnson, approached our program for four classes with Preschool kids ( 3 & 4 year olds) at their location at the Benedictine Convent in Boerne. A garden area was selected and Alamo RCD provided a training workshop for the teachers, provided garden materials such as garden gloves, hand spades, 5 gallon planters, 2 gallon planters, classroom grow lights and our curriculum packets for 80 children (age 3 & 4 classes) along with a grow light for all four teachers and three garden story books. They have completed the Bean Seedling classroom project under the grow lights in the classroom. Our full program will begin in the fall after we build a deer fence around their garden area in August so that they can plant a fall garden in their 5 gallon planters. The planters at the end of the garden cycle will be provided to the families within the program so that they can continue to garden at home. A total of 80 students and their families will be active participants in this program in 2019.
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2016 -2018 St. John Lutheran Vineyard Community Garden-Boerne, TX.
Our Growing Rural Program has been partnered with the Boys & Girls Club of the Texas Hill Country, Boerne Chapter, various Home School Groups, and local families at this locaion. In the Spring of 2016, 26 students from the Boys & Girls Club began the program. Since then multiple students and their families have planned, planted, nurtured and harvested from four garden beds at the St. John Lutheran Community Garden (Vineyard) in Boerne.
2017-18, Homeschool Programs Boerne TX.: Students from individual families, from local Homeschool Programs have participated in our Youth Garden Program with great success (Over 30 total to date) at the St John Lutheran Vineyard Community Garden as they Learn - Grow and Give. The students donate their produce to our Senior Assistance Program at the Comfort Golden Age Center in Comfort Texas.
2015 Hill Country Family Services-- Boerne, TX.
Our Growing Rural kids have created a Bucket Garden at Hill Country Family Services so that families who are in crisis, with financial challenges or health challenges can learn how to grow their own vegetables in containers. They are planning on this garden growing into a full training center for those in need that are served by Hill Country Family Services in Boerne, Texas.
2015-2019 and ongoing
Our Growing Rural kids from the Boys & Girls Club of Bandera County have planted, cultivated and harvested, two large raised bids at the Lakehills United Methodist Church Community Garden. In the summer of 2015 the project moved to the Hill Country Elementary Campus, home of the BGC, where they planted two more garden beds with great success! From 2016 to now, they have been cultivating 6 to 8 garden beds at the Hill Country Elementary School Campus where they hold their programs. Over 157 children have been become gardeners though this program to date!! They have been so successful that they have shared their harvest with senior citizens and other families in need in the Lakehills/Pipe Creek Texas area. We are so so proud of these kids! In the fall of 2019 they now have planted three garden beds with fall vegetables and two Butterfly Gardens and now there are 34 members in the club.
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In the fall of 2016 the REACH (Realizing Educational Achievements through Christ at Home) Home School Program joined our Growing Rural Program family by offering a Container Garden Class for kids ages 8 to 12 who are enrolled in their program. With Peggy Hollin (our instructor and writer) as their instructor, 13 kids are learning how to complete a container garden from the ground up! They are also following our Growing Rural Journal Curriculum and are gaining in multiple life skills and academic skills in the process as they also work side by side with their families.
Bexar County -2017-2019 and ongoing,
We have had the pleasure of working with the Sunshine Cottage School for Death Children in 2018. We have 14 children who have learned all about gardening in containers as they planned and nurtured beans and tomatoes in pots at their Campus garden. The children also worked on our Growing Rural Youth Garden Curriculum and submitted their Journals. We thank the Sunshine School and the third grade class of Mrs. L. Vasques for their awesome participation.
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Within the Alamo RCD Growing Rural Youth Development Program projects, Alamo RCD is the facilitator, trainer and supervisor and we also provide each agency with support that provides the youth with all the materials, garden products, equipment, etc that are needed to complete that project. The students also approach the community in order to "match" our contribution dollar for dollar as they implement their project.
Partners in our projects to date are: Hill Country Family Services, Boys & Girls Club of Bandera County, First United Methodist Church of Lakehills, Methodist Healthcare Ministries Wesley Nurse Program, Hill Country Elementary of Bandera ISD, Boerne Family YMCA, The Boys & Girls Club of the Texas Hill Country, St. John Lutheran Church Community Garden, St. John Lutheran Church in Kendall County, Bandera and Kendall County Food Policy Councils, HEB Corporation,REACH (Realizing Educational Achievements through Christ at Home), St. John Lutheran Church Vineyard Community Garden, BCFS Educatuib Services Head Start Program, in Comal County, The Sunshine Cottage School for Deaf Children in Bexar County, The Center for Rural Outreach and Public Service (CROPS of Indiana, Patagonia Corporation and the National RC&D Youth Corp.
We also want to give a special thanks to the Baptist Health Foundation of San Antonio and the Patagonia Corporation for their assistance provided to this program!
DONATIONS are needed to match each grant and beyond in order for each project to continue into the future so that communities can be enriched by the work of our Growing Rural youth.
PLEASE GIVE by donating on line or by mail.