What You Plant Now You Will Harvest Later
by Renette Gonzalez
(Originally appeared in All About Food, September 2014)
Dropping Out of School
I was supposed to graduate from high school in Arizona in 2007, but instead of graduating I dropped out. School was difficult because I had a hard time focusing. In 2008, I left Arizona and moved to Vermont to live with my aunt and uncle. I wanted to go back to school, but all I could think about was how much I hated school and how much I had struggled before. I was 19 and had already been out of school for over a year. I thought it was going to be the same struggle, only in a different state.
Finding an Alternative Program
Not knowing what to expect, I enrolled into a high school completion program at The Tutorial Center (TTC) and started fulfilling the credits I needed to graduate. I had class five days a week, and eventually I progressed to the point where I was able to take dual enrollment classes at the Community College of Vermont. I had so much support from instructors at TTC. They made me feel comfortable and built my confidence as a student; I was able to graduate in 2009.
Learning While Growing
At YAP, we had three gardens to work in. One garden was located at the local middle school. On Tuesdays, we worked there, harvesting crops and baking cookies in the Home Economics room to sell at the Farmer's Market. I still drive by the various plots we tended, and I marvel at how developed they have become. Each time I drive by and see youth working, I always hope they can learn as much about gardening and the community as I did.
Fulfillment and Inspiration
It was fulfilling to get out into the community and provide a service while being able to learn about various topics like bees and nutrition. While doing all these different services, the program also made us think about future employment. We built resumes and discussed ways we could build off our successes in the program. I participated in the program again in 2010, and this time I was not a participant, but more of a mentor.
|Related Projects: New England Literacy Resource Center (NELRC), The Change Agent Magazine|